Thursday, July 10, 2014

Getting healthier wasn't a piece of cake

I wanted to write this because I want to make something very clear: it took awhile and it took a lot for me to get myself better. I've been reading some health and fitness blogs/instagram accounts for awhile about people who went through struggles with their weight or self-esteem but they tended to focus more on how they were healthy now. Don't get me wrong that's great and awesome to celebrate health but there wasn't much talk about much how they got there. This seems silly to admit but I started worrying that their recovery had been so much simpler than mine. Almost to the point where I felt ashamed that I went through something much different, as though there was something wrong with me. I'm not trying to criticize anyone, really and truly, because everyone goes through different things and not everyone wants to share their experience in that great of detail. I get it completely because that was me for about the past two years but after reading other stories I started to feel bad about myself thinking that maybe I was really messed up. Then, one of my favorite people I follow on instagram opened up about her backstory and it was so raw and honest that it made me feel better about my own situation. She went through experiences almost the exact same as me. In fact her more recent posts have been focusing on the hard times during her recovery because she has been going through a few struggles recently. The honesty in her posts has been a blessing and an answer to a prayer! I wasn't alone and you aren't either.

I also realize that these are highly personal situation as you have so many emotions and thoughts swirling around that it's completely understandable if you don't want to share that with strangers on the internet. But it meant a lot that she does this because she does it for us, those who might be going through something similar and just needed to know they weren't the only one.

I have never talked about any of this with anyone, not even friends or family so when I started this journey I didn't know what was normal and what wasn't. Sometimes I still feel ashamed because I'll look at my sister or friends who have so much confidence that I think to myself they don't ever feel the way I do. That maybe I'm just really messed up in the head and no one else really has thoughts like me about their own body. But we all have had some negative thoughts towards our image at one point or another. It's human nature. We compare ourselves to others even if we don't open up about it. 

So I'm here today to tell you exactly what I went through. I'm going to be as open and honest as I can because the truth of the matter is that I'm ashamed of how bad I was towards myself. I cringe at the negative thoughts about my body and the things I would say to myself. The extremes I was willing to go to just to get to a certain weight. Like always I'm not perfect at it now but I'm a lot better towards myself than I was a year ago. 

I guess I'll start in early 2013 because that's when I began putting weight back on and that's where it really started to go downhill. I remember so specifically the day I had my first binge in the end of January. My body was worn down and crying out for food but I was unwilling because I was afraid of gaining weight. I eventually lost and gave into my cravings because I couldn't handle the deprivation and the hunger anymore. I'll be honest I had a couple times when I lost control before this but they were few and far between compared to what was coming. Looking back now I don't even consider them binges based off of what happened in 2013. They were practically a drop in the bucket. 

Anyway so it started in January 2013 and try as I might I couldn't get my eating back under control. I was so hungry after depriving myself for nearly a year that I became terrified about being around any trigger foods. Basically anything that was chocolate or peanut butter I wouldn't allow myself to eat because I knew I wouldn't be able to stop myself after a bite. I was so ashamed because I had such awesome will power before this. My family and friends saw me as the healthy and fit girl that I didn't want to admit I was having these problems. I didn't even know it was possible but my anxiety of food suddenly tripled. I was afraid of being tempted at all because it would inevitably lead to a binge which I was terrified of gaining weight. 

I hate looking back now but those were some of the roughest days for me. I remember standing in front of the pantry in tears because I was at war with myself. The first day I stepped on the scale in weeks and realized I had gained a pound was emotionally draining for me. It was like I was living my worst nightmare of gaining back the rest of the weight. I was so fragile and at rock-bottom that I was so unhappy with my body. I tried cutting back my calories drastically but that only made the binges worse because I was trying to deprive myself even more. 

This lasted from the end of January to early April. By then I had put on roughly 5 pounds and in full crisis mode. I remember my mom confronted me because she noticed I had weird eating habits like trying to sneak food in the kitchen or getting "sick" when actually I would force myself to throw up and then claim I just wasn't feeling that well. I don't think she ever really knew the full force of what I was going through or she would have put me in therapy for sure but my point is that I wasn't fooling anyone. I thought I was but my mom had her eye on me since day 1 of losing the weight. I've never been diagnosed with any kind of eating disorder (although I never agreed to go see a doctor) and I wouldn't say I was ever anorexic or bulimic but looking back now it was blatantly obvious I did not have a healthy relationship with either food or my body. I just never realized it at the time.  

The next phase was a little better as I learned to accept the changes in my weight and decided that I was going to do things healthier from now on. From April to end of May I probably put on the last 5 pounds for a total of 10 in all since January. Gaining the last 5 was healthier than the first but I was still in a very fragile state. I had gained more control over my eating and probably only had a binge maybe once a month which was a huge decrease from close to twice a week. 

I can't explain it because I honestly can't say if my intentions back then were to gain weight but at the same time I knew I had to gain weight because I wanted to get better. It's a paradox and complicated but you can only understand if you've been through it. The more I gained weight the more I reminded myself that it was healthy and that I needed to gain it back. But then at the same time I was so disgusted with myself and felt incredibly fat. I was so unhappy but also trying to force myself to face the reality of my situation. Looking back now I know I could have done it in a healthier way but I wasn't educated on how to do it. I should have taken the opportunity to schedule an appointment with a nutritionist but I was too stubborn and afraid. When I went to see a doctor in December 2012, she actually told me I wasn't producing enough estrogen because of my diet and that I should see a nutritionist. I brushed it off though and never booked the referral. Maybe the process would have been easier but I have to say I learned a lot about myself. In the end what happens is meant to happen so I can't look back now at the what ifs. 

If only it had all stopped in May 2013 but no there was another full swing of it on its way. I told you I was going to be as honest about all of this as I can which means it's gonna be a long post. So it's now about June 2013 and I'm back to a healthier weight but I still haven't gotten my periods back. I was still in such a fragile mindset that those negative habits soon took hold again. I began tearing myself apart once more for my weight and it came with such a renewed vengeance that it was probably the worst it had ever been. I became desperate for it to stop and in my mind there was only one way: lose the weight again. I should have known that this wouldn't work and would lead to more problems but I was still in an unhealthy mindset back then. My metabolism was still shot because I hadn't repaired it even with all the binges because I wasn't taking in the proper nutrients it needed. 

So what I did to try to lose weight was I dropped my calories to around 1000-1100 and amped up my cardio. I couldn't figure out why I couldn't get the toned look I wanted but no matter how much I ran I never looked muscular. Once again I wasn't properly educated but I'm not gonna focus on that now. The point is my body didn't change much because I still wasn't healthy. My eating was back under control so I felt better because I wasn't always so guilty and I did lose a couple inches as I tightened back up with the extra running. Things were okay from about June to July but not going as quickly as I wanted. 

Then one day in early August I thought I had figured out the secret and what would get me back to my weight. The first time I stopped running and then cut calories, right? So I decided to take a break from running and then promptly cut my calories from 1200 to 500. Only 500 calories a day, I thought I could survive on that?! 

I remember so clearly the day when my sister picked me up from work and we were driving out of the city. We were going along one of the main roads and I saw a girl about my age and height walking along the sidewalk. She was super skinny and I immediately began comparing myself to her and felt bad about myself. I told myself I was so much fatter and in my "mind" she had the perfect body. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't stop until I looked just like her and was that skinny. She honestly probably only weighed 90 pounds but I wanted to get to that weight. At my lowest I was about the low 100s, which never classified me as "underweight" but I was dangerously close because for my height the line is about 99lbs. When I was restricting I had never been under 100 but I now made it my mission. I thought if I did then I would finally be happy.

But I wasn't happy and tried so hard for the next month to just drastically lose the weight. All that happened was I lost more and more of the already little muscle I had from running. I don't know why I thought that only eating 500 calories a day would give me a toned and lean look. Muscles need food but I refused to see reason. I was stubborn and thought I would just starve my body until it gave me what I wanted. I was at complete war with myself. I eventually caved around the beginning of September because I couldn't keep up with it-- my body was exhausted and I was exhausted from hiding it from my sister and family so they wouldn't realize I was hardly eating. I barely ate anything while I was at work all day so that when I came home for dinner I'd be able to eat enough to avoid suspicion. I resolved then and there to try it out the healthy way. I began to slowly increase my calories again as I incorporated running back in and by the end of October, my periods finally came back. After 21 months my body was finally at a healthy balance again.

It was a roller coaster with monstrous ups and downs but somehow I made it through. Once I made the firm commitment to become healthy once and for all last September I haven't looked back. My mind and body are so much stronger than what they were last year and I'm proud of what I've accomplished so far. I'm still knee deep in the recovery process but this time it's different than when I first started. I have more faith and trust in myself and I've learned so much about true health as well as recognize the disastrous mistakes I have made. I've seen and now understand the error of my ways and I won't be making those same mistakes again.

Like I said I'm still on my journey and of course I have my ups and downs but in the big picture it's still been progress. My major accomplishment this year was that I just got back from vacation and I actually felt confident stepping onto the beach in my bathing suit. Last summer I put my bikini on once, looked in the mirror and cried. No lie and I refused to be seen in it because I felt so ashamed of myself. Looking back it breaks my heart because there was no reason for me to feel that way but again it's something you can never understand unless you've been through it. I was trapped by my own mind and fell victim once again to those negative thoughts about my body.

So I'm not going to sugar coat it and pretend to tell you that my recovery is a piece of cake because truth be told it wasn't and still isn't. In fact, it has been more difficult for me than when I was restricting and at my lowest weight. I've put myself through hell and back but with the grace of God he has been healing me. I've begun to see myself as the person I was created to be and I'm proud of where I am today because I've fought tooth and nail to become the woman I am now. If you're at rock bottom now believe me it gets better because there was literally nowhere for me to go but up and that thought sustained me throughout the process. I had already been at my worst and knew what that was like so all I knew was that I didn't want to go back to that point. I made mistakes, cried, bullied myself, and questioned whether or not I could do it but made myself keep going because I didn't want to end up back where I had been.

I've put it all on the table, the nitty gritty details of what I went through. I wanted to be as honest and open as possible so my prayer is that this reaches someone who needs to hear it, too. It was such a relief for me to find out I wasn't alone and that people go through similar struggles as myself. I hope to be there for someone else in their time of need as someone else's story was there for me. As always, please don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or just need someone to talk to. I've been there before and completely understand! Like I always say I'm not an expert or professional but how about a friend?


No comments:

Post a Comment