I’ve been there. I was 20 and I found myself caught in serious food and body issues. I was 5’6” and I got down to a weight of 100 lbs. My hair was thin and breaking, my skin broke out, and ALL I wanted to do was exercise. After researching, the non-purging form of bulimia seemed to be the one that stuck out..I was never clinically diagnosed and I would never want to take away from the seriousness of those that are. My intentions in telling my story are to simply, and hopefully, give someone hope and understanding..to know that they are strong and not alone..and for all of us to start finding ways to love our body more.
It started out innocent. I was new to college and I was having a hard time. I didn’t really have any friends and being at my apartment was hard. The gym was my escape. I had never really worked out at a gym before college. I grew up dancing, and that was my daily “workout”. I just didn’t really have to worry about my body in high school or what I was putting in it.
I became a regular gym-goer and started to train for my first half marathon. I was training with my sister and we both started to get more into health and fitness. Food and nutrition became fun and we were becoming more knowledgeable about what to put in our bodies. It was something I could put my energy into.
I’m honestly not sure when it started to turn into a negative addiction. All I knew is that I was losing weight, people were commenting on how skinny and good I was looking, and I was loving it! I was learning more about nutrition and healthy foods, and that was all I wanted to eat. I started to count calories and look up the nutritional information on almost everything I ate. I even downloaded an app to check the nutritional information for any fast food or restaurant I would go to. Eating out became hard because I thought the portions were too big and the calories were too high. I liked to know exactly what I was eating and how it was being prepared. This then led to social difficulty because I no longer liked to eat out, and so many social settings were surrounded by food. I was pushing myself away from the few friends I had, and I didn’t even realize it. I didn’t realize any of it.
I continued to count calories and clock my workouts. I wanted to exert as many calories as I was putting in, only my calories intake became less and less. I was only eating the healthiest of options and working out A LOT. The pounds continued to come off and soon the only thing I thought about was what I was going to eat that day, and when I was going to get a good workout in. If I ate a treat or let myself indulge in a milkshake, guilt would take over and I had to get to the gym right away to work it all off. Sometimes the guilt was so bad that I would cry for hours. I was completely consumed in this addiction, but in my head, I thought I was being healthy. My mind couldn’t stop racing.
It wasn’t until I started to do a lot of dance auditions that I realized my body was truly different. My dancing didn’t look the same as it used to, and I knew that my thinness was the cause. I was crushed. My #1 talent and dream seemed to be slipping away from me because I let myself get so skinny. I let myself get so consumed and now I felt completely trapped. Gaining weight was the absolute LAST thing I wanted to do, but more so, I knew I didn’t want to lose my dancing ability.
I finally made a dance audition. A small company in Utah that became my miracle. My company was full of the most incredible, loving people, and they loved to go out to eat! At first, this was so so stressful for me and I hated it..but I loved being with my new friends..so I went.
Somehow, someway..this miracle began to work its way in my life. I was going out to eat, eating a little more, gaining a little weight, and I slowly became okay with it! I honestly have no idea how, but it seemed that there was a small part of me that knew my body needed the change; that my dancing needed the change. My body became healthier, my dancing improved, and my brain didn’t feel as consumed. I was finding more and more moments of peace.
This dance year had a lasting impact and I know that God sent me those people for very specific reasons. They helped heal me. Sure, I still go through those girl moments where I dislike my body or feel guilty for overeating, but NOTHING like that time in my life. Nothing like that over consuming feeling where my thoughts revolved around food and working out…I am not that girl anymore and I am no longer trapped.
I know that many others suffer from disorders like this, and I don’t want to take away from the severity of those situations in comparison to mine. Mine was only for a couple of years, while some suffer for much longer. What I wouldn’t give to take that away from those individuals… I tell my story to instill hope. To be gentle with your body and feed it inwardly and outwardly with positivity. To help you know that your body is beautiful. That you are not alone and that those negative thoughts about your body don’t have to consume you forever. You are strong and able to overcome. Ask for help and take the steps towards loving your body.
Here are some ways to start loving your body…