A Reflection on my Progress
I thought it was time to reflect on my recovery over the past few months. This blog was originally started with the intention of documenting my progress and keeping myself accountable and I am so glad I have been able to do that while also gaining such amazing support from so many of you. I think it is important that I take some time to recognize how far I‘ve come because I’ve found it so easy to forget how I used to be and not give myself as much credit as I may deserve. The time where I was the most starved is almost a blur (which is probably a good thing) but I still think I should be able to acknowledge that so much progress has been made. I know i’ve written about my ‘story’ but I wanted to take some time to reflect again. So, if you’re interested (totally ok if you aren’t), follow me on my journey to real health & happiness 🙂
This is where it all truly began in my opinion for better or for worse. Though dieting had been on my mind for months, I had never taken action that had led to serious weight loss. Around this time, I really began losing weight as a result of diet changes over the past month or so. My starting weight was around a 22.1 BMI (TOTALLY healthy) but I simply wanted to lose a few pounds to tone up. By the end of June, I was down to a BMI of about 19.6. This was drastically different, but I was still “healthy.” I remember feeling good at this weight and not wanting to lose more.
I was very restrictive in my eating at this point though because I really didn’t want to gain my weight back. I don’t want to be too specific due to a fear of others getting “ideas” about bad dieting habits, but I will say that I wouldn’t touch bread that was not low carb, I ate nothing that was full fat, even bananas had to be cut in half, and chips/pretzels/even BARS were out of the question. Breakfast & lunch were always identical (at least in calorie amounts) & dinner was more of a toss-up (which caused so much anxiety every day). It was around this time that my running began to increase and I would run at least 3-3.5 miles a day (If i did 3 I felt like it wasn’t enough) with little-to-no snacking. (a snack might be an apple)
By the end-ish of June, this is what I looked like. Clearly border-line if not already too skinny.
The trend continued. I was moody, ALWAYS cold (despite the fact that iw as freaking summer), energy-less & all I cared about was working out, tanning/laying out by the pool, & eating as little as possible while still being full (aka- salads). It was no way to live but yet I did not think anything was wrong with me! When people would comment that I had lost too much weight, I would say “I know, and I definitely don’t want to lose more!” Despite this, i DID CONTINUE TO LOSE. My fear of gaining led me to completely restrict & my weight just went down down down…. My parents became really worried & I was taken to a medical doctor who explained how serious my condition is and how I must gain weight at college. I agreed, half-heartedly, knowing very well that Gertrude was going to dominate this situation for sure.
This is me on the first day of college
Here my BMI was around 17.6. I was clearly underweight and thought that I was perfectly fine. My parents were under the impression that I would be gaining weight, but with the pressure of school/meeting new people I only got more engulfed by my eating disorder.
I would exercise every.single.day. I constantly compared myself to others around me. Even though I knew I was supposed to be gaining, other girls eating salads made me feel like I could too. Running was even more compulsive & the eating habits continued to be unhealthy. I had no clue that I was starving myself. I still was in denial and was completely dominated by my eating disorder. I became introverted and not myself at all.
I was disappearing. (note: it pains me to show these pictures, but I’m going to). I DESPISE the way I look in this picture… it creeps me out.
Somehow I still did not think a thing was wrong. My bones literally were sticking out. I was a skeleton, but yet I continued to exercise my butt off & eat NO real fat, very little real carbs, & never carbs at dinner (to name a very small amount of my “rules”)
This is a weird picture, but it shows how scary I got.
but this post is about so much more than how far I have come with respect to looks. I have come so far with respect to how I think, act, and behave (& of course… how much I weigh). The girl you see above at any given time had two things (& two things ONLY) on her mind (exercise & eating). The girl above didn’t stay out late with her friends because she was too tired and didn’t treat her boyfriend the way he deserved to be treated. The girl above was sad, lonely, confused & ashamed but didn’t want to change. The girl above counted calories when she was bored in class. The girl above was a slave to her scale & to the treadmill. The girl above was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. The girl above is not me and NEVER will be me again.
I was lucky enough to have an amazing family & boyfriend to support me and help me realize I need real help. When my parents came to visit me, they realized how severely underweight I had become. This weekend I completely pigged out with them because I wanted to show them that I could do this. However, when they left it was right back to my old ways and I lost the weight I may have gained that weekend. I did start to make gradual changes. I started eating real bread all the time, no excuses, exercising a little bit less (but still a lot), & eating more in general. I let myself have things like pretzels/other carbs, I let myself have snacks (sometimes). I also started my blog. This was a real life changer. I got so much support & was able to talk to others about their recovery & it helped me so much. I realized i wasn’t alone. I liked when people would tell me that a meal looked small because it pushed me to make them bigger. I suddenly felt a rush of desire to recover.
The next time my parents visited my weight was up a few pounds, which made them happy, but clearly it was not enough still.
I started to drink ensure-pluses and was beginning to admit I had a problem. It was decided that I would attend Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) over winter break. This was also my life saver. I got a meal plan & was forced to stay on track. I met some people who I will never forget (Brandi & Jessi) & I learned A LOT about the mindset that I have allowed to form due to my ed.
I never thought i’d benefit from something like Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills (DBT) but I truly have. DBT skills have allowed me to change my mind-set and learn how to cope with negative feelings.
I slowly started to gain life again. I came back to school in such an amazing place. I was following my meal plan & had SO much more energy. My friends noticed an immediate change, not in my appearance, but rather in our interactions and my personality. I was finally the outgoing, fun, loud, goofy me again!!
& now I am about two pounds from my goal weight. I know weight doesn’t define recovery, not even close, but the fact that I am almost entirely weight restored makes me feel so empowered. It is scary and of course there is still the fear of never-ending weight gain (which of course is not realistic whatsoever). There are so many fewer fear foods now. I realize that any food can be eaten in moderation and will NOT make me fat. I eat pretzels/chips, full fat cheese, real bread, full fat dressing, moe than a tablespoon of peanut butter, etc. I also can eat more spontaneously now. I am not afraid of a little sample or how many calories are in my gum (craaazyyyy).
& I totally pulled a snackface the other day- here I ammmm 🙂 I liked this outfit!
It is true that once you are at a healthier weight, you are able to think differently and more rationally. I now can’t believe I didn’t want to recover at first! Why wouldn’t I want to be healthy and able to fully live my life? It makes no sense, but it is all part of the disorder. I am so excited to continue this journey and continue to grow and learn more about myself.
I am so proud of how far i’ve come. I’m proud that I was able to pull myself out of a dark time that I didn’t even recognize as a problem. I am proud that I have found happiness. I know this journey isn’t over yet, and I still have to fight, but I also know that I can do this. I WILL be fully recovered.
To name a few things I am still working on:
1. Body Image- I want to be able to avoid fat days and feel good about myself most of the time!
2. Fear foods- I still tend to stick to safer options. Even though they definitely are enough, I think I need to venture out and try some new things!
3. Exercise- I don’t want to associate exercise with calories. I want to do it for pure fun/health/endorphins and not to burn calories.
This was one long post! If you stuck with me, thanks and I am so glad that I have such a great support system. You all mean so much to me and I will have a regular post soon!
One of the most difficult things everyone has to learn is that for your entire life you must keep fighting and adjusting if you hope to survive. No matter who you are or what your position is you must keep fighting for whatever it is you desire to achieve.
Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make you a far happier and more productive person.
~David M. Burns