First off, I promise to never have a post as long as this. But given the fact that I have been dealing with disordered eating for over a decade now, an in depth history is a must! I will be chronicling my journey to really overcome my disordered eating and I'll try to post every day =) Happy (long) reading!! Oh and please comment if you'd like-- I'd love to read your thoughts!
I have been admitting the fact that I have an eating disorder (s) for about 8 years now. But in reality, I've been dealing with disordered eating and body image issues since I was probably 14 years old. I'm not really sure what triggered it. It could have been a slue of things.
I'm Persian, and like all Persian women I have naturally bigger upper thighs and butt. I went to All-American schools where everyone was tall and lanky and extremely thin. I always thought, why does my body not look like that? But before I was in high school it wasn't a HUGE thing. I was too busy being a kid to really worry about my body-image issues.
To boot, I have a mother who is very body-concious, and has been for as long as I can remember. She is a very petite, beautiful, and thin woman, but she was/is never thin enough for her own liking.
So once high school started, I realized just how different my body looked from the other girl's. They had legs that were long and thin and beautiful, and mine had stopped growing in the 8th grade. Mind you, I was always a thin girl, but being 5'2" doesn't leave much room for loooong skinny legs.
During freshman year of high school I joined the softball team. Everyone would bring and eat lots of unhealthy snacks. We were 14. That's what we did. But for some reason, other people could stop eating junk food, and I just couldn't. I would get around ritz crackers and cheese and keep eating until I was too embarrassed to eat any longer. Why? I have no idea. It could be the fact that around this age my mom told me that if I ate a lot of bad snack food I would get fat, so I should only have a couple of cookies. But it's not like she physically tore me away from the cookies. So yes, that's when it all began.
I remember, at 14 I weighed 113 pounds. And after a while I started feeling like I was so fat. In my mind, I was way past 'normal eating' and wanted to have control over my body shape and food intake. I split food up into 'Good' and 'Bad' foods. Good Foods were things like carrots, bananas, and jello- very low calorie, very unsatisfying! The Bad Foods list was much much longer. It includes things like cookies, chips, cheetos, ice cream, chocolate, and many other things. And every time I got around 'bad foods' I got so excited and freaked out that I felt like I was fighting an urge to 'go in for the kill'. I saw these foods as the evil that was tempting me and keeping me away from my lanky legs and non-existant American waist. And the more I resisted, the better and more awesome-er I was. God it felt good to look a box of ice cream in the eye and put it back in the freezer. But then an hour later I would find myself on the couch with a bag of cookies, two bags of cheetos, and a couple of bags of chips. You see, once I ate even one cookie (a BAD food), I had RUINED my eating habits and my 'goodness' for that day. So I might as well have eaten whatever else was in the house. And if I had something sweet, I then wanted something salty, and then I wanted something sweet again. And man, did I inhale the food. I ate so fast that I didn't even taste most of what I was putting in my mouth. And I wouldn't stop shoveling all kinds of crap into my mouth until my stomach hurt. I would also hide food and eat it when others weren't looking. It was so sad.
So, you can kind of see the predicament that I was in. Obviously I couldn't control myself around Bad Foods, so I had to keep as far away from them as possible. But it's so hard when it's all around you. What do you do???
After a couple of years of secretly doing this, I realized that something was really wrong, I had gained 30 pounds! And I HATED food. But if I hated it, why did I shovel it into my mouth like it was going out of style? So, I did what most people would have done and googled my symptoms. It turned out that I had an eating disorder (duh!) that was called Binge Eating Disorder (BED).
Once I figured out that was suffering from BED, I tried to think of ways that I could fix myself. But it was just so hard. And the other hard thing was that no one in my family believed that I had an eating disorder. They just thought I had a lack of will power. And when I explained to them that I honestly could not control myself around food, they just laughed and said I was being dramatic.
Basically, my life sucked. I was so tortured by thoughts of food- of eating it or not eating it. I thought about food about 85% of the time that I was awake. I kept food journals and recorded my feelings and what I ate that day. I tried a gazillion different diets to try to lose the weight and get my 'will power' back. Nothing worked. I stopped going out to eat with my friends because I knew that I couldn't control myself around food and I didn't want to ruin a 'Good Eating Day'. And then sad part is that this was all before I was 18. During 'Good Weeks' I could lose up to 10 pounds! This was usually done when there was a big party or something coming up. I would eat extremely restrictively. And during 'Bad Weeks' I could gain up to that amount. Apparently along with my eating disorders I had also become Elastigirl! I could get big or small at the blink of an eye. I would weigh myself at LEAST 3 times a day. I was absolutely obsessed with food and with my weight.
Once I turned 18, I started college at a state university. My parents, being Persian, had me stay at home (woohoo! Not really). The summer after college I went overseas for ~3 months and realized that so many of the people that I knew were thin. And I wanted so badly to be thin. So I started eating very very small portion sizes. I lost 15 pounds in 2 weeks. I felt amazing. I came back to the States feeling GREAT and in control. I was awesome. I was thinner. I was a Super Star. And that was the start of the Anorexic part of my eating disorder(s).
Over the next few years my weight fluctuated depending on how I ate/didn't eat. I still binge ate, but made up for it by eating hardly anything. At 20, my parents moved across the country and I had to move out on my own. I also met a boy, J (my soon to be husband!!). Very early on in our relationship I told J about my eating disorder. And he stayed by my side while I cried and told him the deepest, darkest parts of my disorder. It was sad, it was beautiful, it was freeing. 7 months later J went to S. Korea to work for 6 months. During those 6 months, my restrictive dieting was heightened. I went from 115 pounds right when he left to around 106 when he came back. I felt FABULOUS. I was beautiful, I was thin, I was on top of the world. I didn't care that I was hardly eating dinner. I had pushed food out of my mind and wouldn't really eat unless I was STARVING. And even then, I was eating very very little.
It's been 4 years since J came back, and I've fluctuated ~107-109 pounds for the most part. During this time, I loosened up on my eating, but still counted calories like my life depended on it. J and I will be getting married in less than 6 months and I decided that I wanted to look really fit for our honeymoon. Well, being 108 pounds doesn't necessarily make your body fit and attractive when you're in a bikini. My body didn't have the definition I craved. So I decided that I would start working out and I would once in for all try to have a normal relationship with food. I would try to eat a breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and not make myself feel guilty.
Since January 2010, I have been working out 4 times a week and I LOVE IT!! It's amazing. I have definition in my legs, my stomach, and my butt. But guess what? When you work out, you get hungry and eat more. And you may gain muscle. My weight has gone from 108 pounds to 111. I have gained 3 pounds. Now, to some people that may not be a lot, but to me it is! I haven't gained 3 pounds since I started packing on the pounds back in high school.
And guess what? This weight fluctuation has led to my feeling bad about my body (I look FULLER) and the way I look, and on the days that I don't work out, I am very vulnerable to binge-ing! Oiii vey.
But I'm not going to stop working out. I love it. It's amazing. Before, I was eating too little to even have the energy/drive to work out. So, that's where this journey is going...
My goal is to achieve a normal relationship with food, to not skip any meals, and to make my body strong with physical activity. My goal is to get over these eating disorders that have haunted me for the last decade of my life. My goal is to look at this as a 'life style change' and not just a ploy to lose a couple of pounds.
In reality, I could lose those 3 pounds in 2 weeks if I started restricting my calories. But, I like the gym, and I like the definition in my muscles. I just need to find a good balance so I'm not binge-ing on the days that I don't have a structured gym regimen. I also need to come to terms with my 'fuller' body. I am no longer just skin and bones. I have muscle. Weird.
I haven't really binged like that badly in about a year, and I think the reason that it's happening sometimes now is because of the change of lifestyle. My mind/body are having a WTF moment or two. I just hope that sticking to this will actually make my life better and make me happier.
Ok, I'm going to end this post now (after rambling on for an hour!) by thanking J for suggesting that I share my journey with the world (or whoever is reading this) by writing a blog about it. If you or someone are suffering an eating disorder I would highly suggest seeing a counselor or a nutritionist (I did both), and I really hope that my blog makes you realize that you are not alone.
Here is to the healthy-living journey's of all of you (and me)!!