This weekend’s post was one I was super stoked to share with you all. It’s no secret that I love a good designer sale, and the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale has me lusting for one too many things. I’m excited to share my sale picks with you all, but after my interview with Jordan Younger broke the internet, my heart had other plans for my weekend post. Ok, maybe I’m being slightly dramatic. The internet is, in fact, not broken, but my Q & A with The Balanced Blonde was my most viewed post to date on Heaps. Not to mention I received encouraging comments and numerous e-mails from readers thanking me for sharing Jordan’s story. I was literally moved to tears that so many of you were willing to share your own stories. It amazed me just how many people struggle with body image and disordered eating. I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to further open up about my own struggles with body image, restrictive eating patterns and balance. I vaguely touched on the notion that I haven’t always been kind to my body when I introduced my interview with Jordan, but I can’t hide behind passive comments any longer. It’s time to be honest with myself, my readers and ultimately the world. This is a post that I have dreamed about writing for so long. So long in fact, that I have toyed with the idea in my head, long before I ever even had a blog. I truly believe that words are one of the most intimate things you can share with a person, and that’s why I have put off sharing my story for so long. It’s raw, honest, real and messy, but I owe it to all of you who have opened up to me. As a thank you, here it is: my story.
I was always very self-aware of my body and it’s size, and I can remember being critical of myself as early as age 8. I have a clear memory of proclaiming myself fat in a dressing room during a shopping outing with my mom around age 10. I went on my first diet at age 12. I told no one, but while other kids were snacking on cookies and candy at lunch, I was eating a bag of pretzels because I thought that they were low fat and would make me thin. I can’t remember ever liking or being comfortable in my body during my pre-teen and teenage years. I was always extremely self conscious of my weight, my size and what I wore. I am not, nor was I ever considered fat, obese or even overweight, but rational I am not. Fast forward to my late teen years and throughout my early twenties and I have experimented with nearly every diet under the sun. Often cutting out entire food groups and/or severely under eating and counting calories to an extreme. I struggled quietly with my pain and issues with food for years. I pretended like all was fine and I was fine and I just loved eating healthy. I took pride in making it seem like I had it all: knowledge of how to nourish my body, a love for running and exercise, great friends and an overall positive outlook on life. Inside, however, I was living a nightmare. I was a slave to food, constantly overthinking what I was going to eat and when I was going eat it. I cried so many times looking in the mirror. I can vividly remember crying myself to sleep on Christmas Eve because I had eaten chocolate and desserts with my family and I was fearful that I would wakeup FAT. Completely irrational, I know, but disordered eating and the thoughts that come with it are never rational. By the time I graduated college I was quite literally fed up with being a slave to food. Around the same time I starting experimenting with running and soon developed a love of something I once hated.
Running gave me the push I needed to stop fearing food once and for all. I soon realized the importance of truly nourishing my body with a balanced diet. I began incorporating healthy grains and carbs like brown rice, quinoa and gluten free pasta. Carbohydrate rich foods were one of the things I feared most. I once lost a ton of weight following a no carb diet, during which I developed a fear of carbs. As Jordan and I discussed, it can be challenging getting over fear foods! I would always feel immense guilt and shame after eating anything rich in carbohydrates. However, when I started running I realized the importance of complex carbohydrates and healthy fats like nuts and avocado. I felt great, started to really enjoy life and my fear of food and gaining weight slowly dissipated. When running became a huge part of my life, I felt like I had finally achieved the normal eating habits and balance that my life had always craved.
As with any journey towards health there are hiccups, and life often gets in the way. 4 months ago I underwent double foot surgeries and was sidelined from running and exercise. I went from running 5 miles 4-5 times a week and burning about 2,500 calories per week to literally living a sedentary lifestyle. I couldn’t walk further than the bathroom for the first month as my surgeries were 2 weeks apart, and remained mostly in the house for the first two months. It’s no surprise that I gained weight and ultimately became slightly depressed. Anyone would, given the equation. When it comes down to it, it’s science, well math so to speak. Those unburned calories had to go somewhere! To say I have been distressed would be understatement. It has been much harder than I expected to watch my body change little by little each day, and my self-esteem definitely took a hit. In the last couple of months I have felt like the old, unbalanced and unhealthy, me. So worried about how I look and the clothes that don’t fit. In reality I should be more kind to myself than ever. I underwent not one, but two major surgeries with a lengthy recovery. I have to give myself a little bit of love and understanding. The reality of the situation is that if it were a friend going through this I would be more than loving and extra kind. I would never speak to a friend the way I have spoken to myself throughout my recovery. A month ago I was given the green light to start running again only to be sidelined due to pain and swelling. Last night I went out for my first run at my second attempt to return to running. My feetsies felt great, but I cried when I got home, realizing that 2.5 miles was a struggle. I had to walk a little too after 1.5 miles. It was like a slap in the face given the fact that prior to surgery, running 5, 6 or even 7 miles was a breeze. I am determined to feel like myself again, and though it is only the beginning, as is life, this too is a journey. I am always striving to live a healthy, balanced life. This health hiccup was just the reminder I needed that there is no greater gift to give one’s self than the gift of a healthy relationship with food and an overall balanced life.
Thank you to my loyal readers for sharing your own stories with me. It takes true bravery to open up about issues that are so personal, and I applaud each and every one of you. Eating disorders and disordered eating habits that aren’t full blown eating disorders are far too common. It is imperative to open up about our struggles to end the stigma attached to these issues. On an end note, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t matter what size you are, eating disorders do not discriminate. They come in all shapes and sizes. If you are struggling with food and disordered eating patterns please don’t be afraid to ask for help. It isn’t always about how you look, but it’s about how you feel. If food is causing you distress and worry you can get better. We all deserve a healthy and ‘normal’ relationship with food and our bodies. It is work, trust me, I know, but it is also attainable and so worth it. I am always available to chat at firstname.lastname@example.org.