My Eating Disorder: Post by Deanna Harder, aka Fitbabe

Deanna Harder looking gorgeous during her last Figure competition. Photo and caption by FFG.

Deanna Harder looking gorgeous during her last Figure competition. Photo and caption by FFG.

MY STORY

Just eat.

How hard is that? Food is fuel silly.

If it were only that easy. I hate being hungry. I really hate being full. I am afraid of food. But food is fuel, right?

 When people are afraid of food they have strange eating patterns. We will decide, for example, that there are six foods that are safe. At least, that is what I did. I shouldn’t speak in absolutes. But when I was 16 years old, I thought that fat was bad. The less fat, the better. I didn’t eat meat. I didn’t eat any sugar. For two years I ate only six different things:

-Apples

-Low fat bran muffins which I made myself

-Carrots

-Air-popped pop corn

-Salad

-Dry cereal—a lot of dry cereal.

I do not know how I lived! I played volleyball and field hockey at the same time. I also began going on long distance runs at night that were between 5-6 miles long, and then I would eat a few carrots for supper!

Deanna onstage during her last Figure competition (June 2013).

Deanna onstage during her last Figure competition (June 2013).

The more I exercised and restricted, the better I felt. I felt like I had control. I began teaching aerobics classes, and I needed to look thin for my participants; this was my new identity.

But then something happened….I BINGED! It was Halloween and my mom had a ton of candy in the house to give to the trick-or-treaters. The leftovers taunted me. After I had one mini Oh-Henry bar, I couldn’t stop. I ate an entire bag. I panicked, which led me to make myself throw up. I felt so much better. But that was the beginning of my new way to control food: I could eat what I wanted and then simply throw up! It seemed to be the perfect diet plan, until I couldn’t even eat clean foods without feeling the urge to throw up. I was out of control.

The binge purge cycle continued until I went to college, where I was taking courses in Personal Training. Now I was consumed with all things health and fitness. I was in heaven. I continued to teach six fitness classes a week as well as doing physical fitness at school all day. When combined with working part time at the college fitness center for extra money, I was in the gym all day. That is when I changed disorders; I went from binge purging to eating normally but only because I was over exercising all day. I would train three hours day. I reasoned that if I ate something that I considered unhealthy, it was ok because I could just burn it off. I had found another way of purging without throwing up. I was exhausted. I also started gaining weight because my poor body had to store calories in order for me to keep up with the amount of exercise I was doing.

Deanna and Lianne in Paris, Spring 2012.

Deanna and Lianne in Paris, Spring 2012.

What saved me?? My instructors. They noticed the amount of activity I was doing and pulled me aside to voice concern. I then signed up to get counselling from an Eating Disorder specialist and began my journey to recovery. What else saved me? Getting involved with Bodybuilding. I learned that in order to achieve a healthy muscular body I needed to EAT THE FOOD….AND KEEP IT DOWN! This was so hard for me. I went from eating two small meals of under 700 calories while training for three hours per day, to eating six daily meals with a total of approximately 1800 calories and training 60 minutes a day. I got leaner! My body image improved and that correlated with a better relationship with food.

All eating disorders—bulimia, anorexia, binge eating disorder, etc.—have one thing in common: PERFECTIONISM. Those with eating disorders are searching for a sense of control with their lives. Once you have been diagnosed, there are many therapeutic tools that can help. Still, recovery is not easy. When someone is used to being in control, it is difficult to change ingrained habits. Part of the problem with eating disorders is that those who have them do not want to admit that there is a problem. We want to protect our secret in case someone tries to make us stop. Anxiety and stress leads us to stay in the disorder. I know I got angry and defensive when I was called out for having an eating disorder.

Even though I have worked through my restriction and binge- purging, I am not completely healed. I still suffer from distorted thoughts and feelings regarding food. I hate being too full, and the urge to purge is still there. The threat of a relapse is always looming. I just take it day by day and try to be strong. I want to put my eating disorder in the past tense; however in order for me to stay strong I must keep my recovery in the present tense so I can prevent relapse.

Life is more than just food. There are things outside of the eating disorder that are worth living for. If you are suffering, please reach out. You are not alone.

Deanna Harder

CSEP-CPT

Fitness and Lifestyle Consultant

(780) 984-2264

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About fitbabe

Deanna Harder is a college-certified, highly knowledgeable personal trainer, with over ten years of experience. In addition to running her own business in Edmonton, she has competed in four figure competitions, and is always stage ready. Fitness Leadership Diploma, CSEP-CPT (Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology-Certified Personal Trainer)

3 thoughts on “My Eating Disorder: Post by Deanna Harder, aka Fitbabe

  1. Thanks so much for writing this post in honour of “Eating Disorder Awareness Week” Deanna. I have some questions for you: 1) Are perfectionists more likely to develop an eating disorder? 2) Is it really common to swap one kind of disorder for another? 3) Do many people have such a disorder without realizing it? Or do they simply live in denial?

    • I am so happy you enjoyed my story. I would feel more comfortable referring you to some specialists so they can answer your questions. I only know how my ADHD and OCD was part of my eating disorder, but perhaps this is not the case for everyone. A great place to reach out to is http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org I was never in denial. I knew exactly what I was doing, and I couldn’t stop. I was embarrassed. I was successful in everything I attempted in my life, but my eating disorder in my eyes was my biggest failure. It held me down for a long time.
      Warm Regards,
      Deanna

  2. Speaking as an ex anorexic binge/purge subtype and also as an ex heroin addict who has drifted in and out of powerlifting and training in general (even whilst having a drug habit) I have met a lot of women who are into body building and crossfit and the other intense “fitness” areas who have histories of eating disorders and substance abuse.
    To be honest, I think a lot of people like me simply switch from one obsession to another and I think going from an ED to body building is just that. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, at all. I figure my current nail polish hoarding issues (100 bottles in 3 months) are a better coping mechanism than using smack, and since I’m currently disabled due to botched surgery I can’t find and cement my identity in weight lifting anymore, so I found another niche group.
    But, even though orthorexia isn’t recognised in the DSMV I think there’s enough people out there displaying those behaviours that people should be aware, and it’s something to consider when switching your focus from binge purging to body fat percentages and lean muscle mass.

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