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:
-Low fat bran muffins which I made myself
-Air-popped pop corn
-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!
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.
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.
Fitness and Lifestyle Consultant