If you search this hashtag on Instagram, thousands of posts come up – this week in particular. National Eating Disorder Awareness week is this week. Thousands more results for #edrecovery #edsolider, ect. This blog isn’t about eating disorders, but I did want to share a little, as I see SO MANY people go through this.
Here is the quick & dirty version – I was teased a lot in junior high. Two kids in particular were really bad. I was shy, loved my horses, and was probably “that weird horse girl” to them. To make matters worse, I wasn’t good at taking their teasing and letting it roll of my back. I took everything they said to heart. They even had a “we hate Jen” website, and floated the rumor they would fill my PE gym locker with deodorant so that I wouldn’t smell like horses anymore. Like what?! I look back on those days and wish I could tell 14 year old me to flip them the bird and move on. HAHA!
High school was easier, I had a best friend, and a group of girl friends. When I went to college, I felt like it was my chance to reinvent myself. I didn’t want a repeat of junior high. I was terrified of the Freshman 15, and was determined that I would not succumb to it. So I started writing down everything I ate, and working out at the school gym regularly. I’ve worked out for most my life, so it wasn’t new to me. However, the more regimented about my food I got, I would lose some weight. It felt good. I felt like I was doing the right thing. I was at college living a healthy lifestyle, unlike everyone else who was partying and getting fat. The level of intensity I had about it did require that I have zero social life, and getting to close to anyone else put them in position of judging what I ate. I kept pressing on and on – eating less and working out more. Pretty soon I was very underweight.
My parents were my saving grace here. I can’t imagine having this conversation with my child, and I am endlessly grateful to them for they way they handled it. My mom never told me that I was wrong, or tried scare tactics. She just talked to me, in the way only a mom can. She took me shopping at Whole Foods for fancy, healthy snacks that I would eat. When I came home for summer break after my Freshman year, they introduced me to a trainer and nutritionist, Angelo. His wife, Ashley, also worked with me. They showed me what a good day of eating should look like, encouraged me to slather peanut butter on anything and everything (praise their sweet souls for that!!), and taught me how to lift weights. I am so grateful to have my confidence in the weight room because of them! My dad started working out with Angelo’s gym too. He would come visit me at college and we would go try all the fun restaurants together. He would patiently hang with me as I poured over menus to pick where we would go.
As I got older, I still had a lot of body image troubles, and I think so many people – especially women – have the same. I may always have this. I try really hard to train myself not to think that way. Running is really were I felt a turning point. I felt so much more physically confident. Being able to accomplish a goal made me proud of myself, and my body. THAT is an unstoppable feeling.
The thing is – you just can’t be very fast or lift heavy when you aren’t eating. You gotta fuel and recover if you want to run. Even just recently, I am relearning all over again that if I don’t want to be injured all the time, I need to treat my body with respect. I don’t have the answers to the perfect formula – I think that it looks different for everyone. I do know that a lot of people in the world struggle. Really struggle. Having your life back is worth it. Don’t let food and the way you look take over your thoughts. Literally NO ONE else cares what you weigh, your BMI, or your body fat percentage. I wish for anyone that struggles with these feelings to have family like I do and to find something in life that means more to them than just calories and numbers.
Balance and moderation are truly the most difficult thing to master for someone like me. I’m the extremist, it’s easier to be restrictive than just have one cookie here or there, a glass of wine when I feel like it, take a day off. But I’m getting better every day, and I really think those things are what makes someone whole, and healthy.
You can learn more about NEDAwareness Week here.
And with that, I’m off to have a glass of wine!