|I owe it to myself and to others struggling with an eating disorder to write my story. I have had a hidden secret for the past 7 years and I let no one in. Every day I would have to plot how I was going to eat, what I was going to eat, and then I would binge and then purge. I felt very alone.
My eating disorder actually began in high school. I had a very negative self image. I started to binge and purge. I found ways to hide my behavior from my family and friends. I did this on and off for years. The eating disorder started to get more intense my last year in college. I did well in school and started to swim faster my last year. My fear of everything getting ruined grew more intense. I started to binge and purge more often. After college, I was living at home and applying for veterinary school. I started dating the man who is now my husband. He confronted me about the problem. No one had ever confronted me, because I was hiding it, and I thought I was hiding it well. Then, as I started veterinary school, I saw a therapist and started getting help. This time is a blur to me, but I do remember talking about my self esteem issues and I started to recover. I went 7 years and never thought much more about it. Then I left veterinary school and focused on my career. I got married and then started a family.
Soon after my first child, I lost weight, at first not intentionally, but by breast feeding and returning to running. I felt happy. I had lost the thirty pounds from the pregnancy and 12 more pounds on top of these. I felt like I had more energy. I could run faster. I was unstoppable, but then the fear of gaining weight haunted me and my binging and purging cycle returned. I became more obsessed about food and eating. I would go to gas stations to purge. I would go to grocery stores to purge. I would hide in the woods at my house to purge. It became easy to live with this addiction again. After one year, the weight starting to come back on and I tried to do everything possible to stop it. This just triggered more of the same habits, and I was hooked. I felt like I had no one to talk to. It became a cycle that I couldn’t get out of.
This continued for seven years. I was trapped. I was terrified to tell my husband. I looked at my boys, and thought about how I wanted to be with them for many years to come. I was worried I was going to die and that my kids would only know me as someone that died from an eating disorder. I also thought about how lonely I was. I was not a good wife, nor a supportive wife. I was cold and tired and wrapped up in my own misery. I looked through my insurance plans and went to a psychologist. I met her once and was very turned off by the process. I felt uncomfortable talking to her. I didn’t see anyone else for five more months. I kept struggling.
Then in February of 2012, my husband went away for business for three weeks. I took this time and met another psychologist; I liked her right away. She asked me to try to not purge for two weeks. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I started to watch the scale go up and up. I cried daily. I finally talked to my husband, and thus I began to heal.
The first three months were not great. In fact, if I had known it would be that awful I might never have started my journey. I was sad; I was more tired than ever and my running started to suffer. I needed to buy bigger clothes. I was never this size except when pregnant and I didn’t feel good about myself.
I started to see Rebecca as my nutritionist per a recommendation from my therapist. This was the help that I needed. At first, I kept asking her, “When will I feel normal again? Will I ever be the weight I was before?” I was just depressed. She asked me to try new foods. She asked me to stop snacking throughout the day and to sit down when eating. This was new for me. It wasn’t easy, since I usually pick at candy and chips throughout the whole day. I lived off of candy, chips and soda, and then I would purge any full meals or indulgences. I kicked myself for this behavior. I wanted to start exercising again and to get out of my “funk”.
I signed up for a triathlon to do something besides running. This is the first change I felt. It was fun to ride the bike. I loved jumping in the water after all these years. It stopped feeling like something I had to do and started feeling like something I wanted to do. I started looking up new recipes as well as old recipes that I hadn’t made for years. I started looking at food as something to make me a better athlete and to give me better energy. I started to eat my veggies first. I sat down every morning and ate breakfast. At first, I stuck to scrambled eggs everyday but then tried cereal, yogurt shakes, pancakes (which I love) and toast and omelettes. I started to taste food again. I started to listen to my body. Am I hungry? Am I full? I never thought I could trust my body again, and I never dreamed I would enjoy food so much. I started to eat smaller meals and really truly enjoy each bite; it was amazing.
I don’t eat when I am bored. I don’t eat if I am emotional. I don’t eat when I am stressed. I found new outlets. I go for bike rides, I read books, I played wii with my kids. I had more fun. I was happy. I was less stressed at work, less moody. I started to have feelings again for my husband. I plan out meals for the week; I make several meals on Sundays so that I am prepared. I never let myself reach the point of feeling like I am starving, because this will set me up for a binge. I don’t bring full bags of candy or chips to work. I enjoy exercising as a stress reliever.
Every day now I am getting compliments on how happy I look. People ask me what has changed. I don’t tell many people my story but I do feel free. I have a huge burden lifted off of me. My secret is out, and I no longer hide. I go out to dinner. I go to family functions with all sorts of food. I don’t hide or avoid social settings. I actually want to have more people over and cook with them. I found out I am good at cooking and I like what I make! I had never eaten cauliflower before but now I love it. I like fish more than ever. If I am hungry I actually eat an apple instead of a Kit Kat bar, and I love pancakes with butter and syrup. I eat them slowly so I don’t over eat and feel guilty. I savor every bite so that it is enjoyable, and then I stop when I am full. I never stopped to eat before and I never tasted my calories, but now I do. Every week, I add new things to my menu. I look up which veggies and fruits are in season. I feel alive again!
I am turning 40 this year and it started out really tough for me but now I feel better than ever. I am training for my first ironman event, which will take place this September in Wisconsin, and I am having fun training. I am nervous that the feelings will come back again, but now I have people to reach out to when I need it. I am not scared anymore.