Updated: Nov 19, 2020
I’d say it started freshman year of high school when I felt too fat to be a flyer on the cheerleading squad. I was 112 lbs, very active between cheerleading, soccer and softball but I seriously struggled with self confidence. Thinking back to what was going through my mind, I thought that life was easy if you were pretty, and skinny was pretty, so if I was skinny and pretty life would be easy. almost perfect.
And that was the start of my eating disorder. I starting researching how to lose weight fast, trying every fad diet, ditching my friends because I was scared I’d be pressured to eat... I counted every. single. calorie. and only allowed myself 800 a day. I cut out carbs then sugar then dairy. I skipped out on family events because there’d be birthday cake and I refused to eat anything fried. The “fat” on my arms made me cry in the shower. I stared at myself in the bathroom mirror and made a pact to change my body. The ridiculous restrictions, constant calorie counting and the pressure to be perfect lead to a cycle of binge eating at night, starving myself the next day and running miles on miles to burn the extra calories.
By junior year I reached my goal weight of 100 lbs. 100 is like perfect, right? Not quite. Seeing results was exhilarating and I became obsessed. I’d wake up at 6:00 before school to workout and after school I’d go to cheerleading or soccer practice. If I didn’t have a game I’d go run 8 miles and I’d always squeeze in squats or crunches before going to bed!
My body was banging but my mental health was suffering. I vividly remember my dad and I getting into a huge argument because I wouldn’t eat pizza with my family and he told me I was not okay, but in response I said “if the worst thing I do is eat too healthy, then you must be a really proud parent.” I couldn’t admit I had a problem. My eating habits became routine and honestly I ate great, just not enough. I would cut out a meal on the weekends so I could binge drink with my friends, but even the hangovers wouldn’t keep me from working out and by senior year I saw my lowest weight on the scale at 96.5 lbs. The stress of moving to college the next year was weighing on top of me and little did I know the pressure to be perfect was going to grow.
One afternoon senior year, my guidance counselor pulled me into her office and she told me she was worried about me. Other than my dad, she was the first person to actually tell me that she could tell what I was doing to my body and she explained to me that it could get worse. I knew deep down I had an eating disorder but I covered it up with the “healthy” facade. I don’t think any of my friends or family knew I was struggling, I was really good at hiding it but it almost seemed like they didnt care. That conversation with my guidance counselor proved to me that someone cared, cared enough to tell me that I’m not perfect and that that’s okay.
Going to college with an eating disorder is a whole different struggle. It seemed like every outing involved eating or binge drinking. No matter how healthy I tried to stay the lack of sleep, mental and physical strain and the guilty stress eating took a toll on my body. I gained 20 lbs freshman year (and i still haven’t lost it). Ask anyone in my family or my friends and they’d say I looked so great and healthy, but I hated myself. I hated the way my face looked fuller, I outgrew all of my size 0 jeans lol and my six pack had faded. I absolutely despised the way I looked by sophomore year and I was consistantly comparing my body to others.
I knew I needed to change. Over the course of the past two years I have made some major lifestyle changes. Rather than working out because of regret or comparison, I work out because it mentally made me feel great. The gym became my therapy, I run when I'm upset and pilates is my stress relief. I eat more, healthy balanced foods and still subconsciously avoid eating gluten, dairy and processed foods. Rather than demanding so much from my body and setting expectations for the way I look, I fuel my body to be able to move and do the things that make me happy. At the end of the day, it isn't my physical appearance that brings me joy, it's my ability to move and run. I don’t eat healthy because I think it’ll make me skinny, I eat whole, healthy foods that taste great to feel good. It’s a rude awakening to realize that my desire to fit in in high school turned into an eating disorder and mental struggle but thanks to a big realization and a dose of self confidence, I’m glad that my struggle made me a stronger, healthier and happier person.