My Battle with Disordered Eating, and How I Overcame it

Good morning, lovely friends!

It’s Monday morning, and I got back from Santa Monica last night. It was a wonderful week of fun, sun, beaches, and mountains. I kind of fell in love with it.

image

For three of the days I was there, Shane was busy working, which meant I had the entire day to myself. It doesn’t happen often, so I like to take advantage of this solo time. I spent a LOT of it walking – around downtown Santa Monica, along the beach, shopping, etc.

While I walked, I did a lot of people-watching. And I while I people-watched, I noticed there’s a lot of beautiful people in Hollywood. And while I noticed there’s a lot of beautiful people, I smiled to myself when I noticed that I wasn’t comparing myself to them at all.

image

Ten years ago, I would have spent the rest of the day thinking about how I could restrict my food to be able to fit in a size 2. Ten years ago I would have shamed myself for indulging in beer the night before and bacon that morning. Ten years ago, I had an obsessive, bad relationship with food.

I’ve talked about comparing yourself to others before, but today I want to talk about comparing myself from ten years ago to myself today, free from obsessive thoughts about eating, and a good relationship with food and my body.

I don’t speak about it often, but when I was a sophomore in high school, I stopped eating for a while. My weight plummeted from 150 lbs to 108 lbs, which looked skeletal on my nearly 5’10 frame. I wrecked my metabolism, lost my cycle, suffered in volleyball, and started getting heart palpitations. I was ruining myself.  Although I was only in the deep throws of anorexia for about 6 months, I continued to have disordered thoughts about food for about 4 or 5 years after. It wasn’t until I was 21 that I finally broke free from my obsessive thoughts about food.

Disclaimer: What I’m about to share is very personal, and I debated whether I should write about it for a while. I mean, every day I write about how to live a healthy, fit life – so sharing such a deep struggle is tough for me. But it happened, and I sometimes get emails about how I have such a positive body image and relationship with food now. So if this helps one person who doesn’t have a good relationship with food, then it was worth it. And please, if you think this might be triggering for you, STOP reading right now. Please.

How it Started

It started innocently enough. I wanted to lose a couple pounds and look better in my jeans. I’m pretty sure I was obsessed with Britney Spears a la Baby One More Time and Christina Aguilera. They looked so good! I wanted to look good, too. So I threw out anything and everything in our house that would “make me fat” and started counting calories. No one really ever told me how important it was to eat enough, so as I was eating 900 calories a day and seeing the pounds go down, I thought wow! This is great! If I eat even less, I’ll lose even more! I was SO incredibly uneducated. I started losing weight, and I became obsessed. It was something I could control, and I couldn’t stop.

image

I was also going to the gym and doing cardio, just to see that rewarding number on the screen: calories burned. In my extremely uneducated state, I thought that my calories burned from exercise and calories consumed from food should equal a net amount of 0 for the day. And then I also started taking fat burners, because I thought at the time, why not? I remember those little red pills – Fat Predator, I think – so well. They made my heart feel weird and my ears feel clogged, but they were helping that scale go down, so in my mind, they were worth it.

I wouldn’t hang out with friends if I had to go to the gym. I started getting weird looks at the lunch table as I ate and peeled my orange – my lunch for the day. My muscles were being eaten away, and I could no longer jump and powerfully spike a volleyball into my opponent’s court. My friends were concerned, going to my school counselor and my parents, who were already concerned themselves. But I didn’t listen to anyone – no one could get through to me.

How I Stopped

It was getting harder and harder to convince others that I was eating and healthy as I continued to look sickly skinny. I remember I was in church one morning with my friends, and my mom had decided to come to my church that day, too. We were singing, and I had to leave the service and rush into the bathroom because I was going to faint. I literally didn’t have enough energy to stand and sing. Call it an act of God, but my mom saw me, rushed into the bathroom, and told me then and there that I had 2 choices: start eating or go into treatment. Treatment apparently scared me more than eating did, so I decided to start eating again. I still remember that first meal – a minute steak and mashed potatoes. I didn’t eat all of it, but I ate some, and that was the start of my eating again.

How I Recovered

It wasn’t an easy journey to recover, but I continued to eat, and gain weight. I remember going to buy jeans, and telling the sales associates that I needed my pants a little baggy- they wouldn’t be baggy for long. That first year I started eating again, it wasn’t without disordered thoughts. I still counted every calorie I ate, and obsessed about food. The obsession lessened over the years, but it took a good 6 years to be completely free from disordered thoughts any time I ate. And I did it on my own. Looking back, I think I probably should have seen someone to work through my issues, and perhaps make the process a little less painful.

image

But I did it on my own. I feel I’m one of the lucky ones who didn’t relapse back into my eating disorder, but I never did Basically, some things happened in my life throughout those years that I wouldn’t have predicted in a million years. There were a few upsets that made me realize I needed to treat my body with the utmost care, and that meant not stressing out about what I ate, as well as not depriving it from the nutrients it needed. So I worked to make eating not a stressful event for me by enjoying food – the process of cooking it, enjoying it with friends, and choosing nourishing ingredients that were both pleasing to my taste buds and my body.

Where I am Now

I know some people think that those who have had eating disorders in the past will always have an impact on them (mentally, emotionally,) but I now consider myself to have a 100% completely healthy relationship with food. Ninety percent of the time I choose meals and snacks that I know will make me feel good while and after I’m eating them. But I also enjoy myself when the time presents itself. For example, the other day, I enjoyed a healthy breakfast of turkey sausage patties, peppers, onions, and potatoes. Then that night I enjoyed a beer tasting with Shane and his co-workers. The main point in breaking free from these thoughts can be boiled down to one factor: guilt, or rather, the lack of it, when I choose to enjoy or indulge. Get rid of the guilt!

Without the guilt and obsessive thoughts, I can now put that energy toward productive things – like love, life, and work. And I couldn’t be happier.

image

Have you ever dealt with disordered or obsessive thoughts about food? How are you working/did you work to overcome them?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Comments

  1. thank you for your honesty and sharing such a personal experience Paige. You are so wonderful and honest and so freaking beautiful on the inside and out!! xx

  2. Wonderful wonderful for you to share this! I think it will help open the eyes of a lot of people who struggle with these kinds of thoughts/actions. You rock! Glad your trip was fabulous

  3. I wrote on a similar topic a few months ago. I realized I was taking ‘healthy’ into ‘unhealthy’ with disordered eating patterns and negative mentality over it all. I still struggle with not feeling bad it i eat unhealthy/to much food, but I’m realizing that I prefer being happier over skinnier.
    Erica { EricaDHouse.com } recently posted..Homemade Kombucha, Starting my Garden & Marathon #2?My Profile

  4. Thanks for sharing this Paige! I 100% believe that it’s possible to completely recover from an eating disorder, and clearly, you are an example of that. You are amazing!
    Sam @ Better With Sprinkles recently posted..The Weekend Where I Didn’t Really Cook Anything.My Profile

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this Paige!! I certainly look up to you when it comes to living a healthy, yet fun, life. I’m still striving for that balance and hope to find it soon. Thank you for being such a great inspiration. :-)
    Alaina recently posted..My Favorite Dessert With Shari’s BerriesMy Profile

  6. Thanks for sharing your story my mulu :) u are awesome, and so strong!! XOXO

  7. thank you for being so open and honest. you are in a much better place now! so glad!
    christinaorso recently posted..Weekend.My Profile

  8. Thank you for sharing. You do have an awesome relationship with food and your body and I admire that and strive for that. I have struggled and still do, with disordered eating and body image. I am far from my worst but still far from where you are at. You give me hope.
    Jennifer Dunham recently posted..Blogging Sochi: An Olympics RoundupMy Profile

  9. I love this!! Thank you for sharing!! It isn’t too often that you get to hear/read how people come out of disordered eating and are free from that bondage. You are beautiful… inside and out!
    Brittany @ Delights and Delectables recently posted..MIMM: Snow BabyMy Profile

  10. Thank you for sharing even though it was difficult to write. I suffered from aneroxia in highschool and bulimia for the past 7 years and I still have disordered eating problems. Your blog is a constant bright moment in my day and it helps me gain confidence about the way I look and how I eat.

  11. I think it’s great that you shared your story. Thank you for being so brave!

    I wavered on an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise for the past several years, until this summer when I wanted to get pregnant but wasn’t having a cycle. It was a complete wake-up call for me. Now, I’m striving to find that balance. My first priority now is to have a healthy baby, but once I’m ready to start losing the baby weight, I want to do so in a healthy and guilt-free way, and find a truly healthy lifestyle where I can enjoy the exercise I love to do and fuel my body in the way it needs.
    Katie H. recently posted..Weekly Workout Recap: The Filthy 50 & an Arm-Blasting WorkoutMy Profile

  12. Thanks for sharing your story – I have no doubt you will help others! I can relate to a lot of it myself. I also never sought professional treatment and I seem to be doing A-OK.

    For what it’s worth, you seem to have a completely healthy relationship with food now. I always admire you for being real and not food-obsessed like so many other bloggers out there.
    Tara @ Sweat like a Pig recently posted..A log PR and a possible injuryMy Profile

  13. WOW, what an amazing read. So much good info to take away from this. Amazing you turned it around on your own. It’s also pretty amazing you have such a great appreciation for your body now. I hope you share more posts like this, I feel a lot of women struggle with this topic. I too hit a really low point, and came out of it. I don’t know if I’m 100% free of those thoughts all the time..but each day I like to think I’m finding more balance. Thank you again for sharing such a personal experience.

  14. Wow thanks for sharing your story! I have really enjoyed your posts on About.com and was happy to find your page. You’re very inspiring – please continue to share!
    Markita recently posted..Having a Guilt Free Valentine’s DayMy Profile

  15. I’m glad that you recognize how GREAT it is to be where you’re at- comfortable with your body and having a healthy relationship with food. I am very envious of that!
    Lauren @ Me and the Mountains recently posted..SNOW Play, FLAPJACKED Contest & BLEND DetailsMy Profile

  16. I appreciate you sharing your story and opening up. I know how scary that can be! But, I’m SURE that it helped other women out there that are struggling. I went through an eating disorder phase as well, and it took me years to fully recover. Thankfully, I’m in a MUCH better place now, and food has an entirely different meaning than it used to for me.
    Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries recently posted..My Heart Is HeavyMy Profile

  17. How you were 10 years ago was how I was less than 4 years ago. I had the same innocent thoughts at first – just wanting to look a little better in my jeans before visiting home – and those 6 months turned into a whole ordeal that I feel like I’m still battling sometimes. I speak out about it because I have friends who think tinier is better. I speak out about being tired, getting dizzy, and losing my period.

    I’m in a place now where I only eat foods that make me feel good after eating them. I indulge sometimes on gelato or pizza, which doesn’t make me feel good actually but I love it. I would say I’m more like 80% healed. I’m working on it though and you’re right, for those in recovery, someone to help you would speed it along.
    Julie recently posted..MIMM: Unintentional Intermittent Fasting on Good FoodMy Profile

  18. Love your honesty. I recently shared a “secret” of mine and it was similar. Feels good to be ME and not have shame about my past struggles.
    Jenn@Mark My Miles! recently posted..Maniac Monday: 3 available spots!My Profile

  19. God saved you and pulled you through this. And now he is using your story. Thank you friend, thank you for allowing GOD to use you. <3
    lindsay recently posted..3 Cross Training Workouts & Allowing Mental BreaksMy Profile

  20. Thank you so much for this post. Disordered eating rears its ugly head in so many places, and I appreciate your honesty about this subject.

    I began a disordered relationship with food when I was 12 – I decided that I could only have 20 grams of fat per day, so I ate only pasta with fat free butter on it. Over the years, the low-fat diet morphed into restricting my calories. Then, when I was 21, I went on a food groups diet. I lost a lot of weight…until I started bingeing. To manage, I started severely restricting my calories, but the bingeing got worse. Somewhere in that I time, I noticed that if I worked out after a binge, the “damage” wasn’t quite so bad. So my workouts started lasting 3-4 hours to make up for the binge or to ward off the next one (I was going to go into a bit more about the excessive exercise, but I don’t think it’s wise to do that – suffice it to say that I exercised much, much more than was healthy).

    The rules about food and exercise that I set for myself were a prison. A horrible, horrible prison, that I have built for myself. They are not something that I am proud of.

    At some point in those years, I read “Breaking Free” Geneen Roth, which initially upset me – the idea of eating what I wanted scared the bejeesus out of me. After a couple of years of being miserable, though, I decided I had nothing to lose. I was so, so miserable in my compulsions. I knew I was going to gain weight, but I didn’t care.

    I had done a lot of work in therapy, and I knew a lot about recovery from eating disorders. And on April 10, 2005, I gave up dieting forever; my change on that day was quite dramatic – I let go of food obsession in one day, but it was based on a lot of internal work already done. I gained some weight, but what amazed me was that I didn’t care – in fact, one of my best memories was going to the store to buy lovely things that flattered my figure. (I still remember the clothes that I bought for myself – I was heavier than I had ever been, but it felt so wonderful just take care of myself in a loving way.) I exercised when it felt right, in amounts that felt good for my body.

    In the years since, I’ve returned to a normal, healthy weight. I generally don’t obsess about food and exercise – 95% of the time, I just eat normal foods that I enjoy, in amounts normal amounts. I exercise more than the average person, but that’s because I enjoy it, not because I’m compulsive about it. When I start to get compulsive about the food and exercise, I know that it’s time to check in with myself and see how I’m doing emotionally. The food and exercise are almost a barometer for my emotions!

  21. I absolutely so proud of you for writing this. I know it is a hard topic to discuss. Heck, it scares me to even open up about my previous disorders. The thing that really sucks? I feel like it’s coming back. It’s hard to break free. I know it’s a journey, and I need to work at it.

    You’re amazing. I am beyond proud of you. <3
    Natalie @ lovenataliemarie recently posted..MIMM – What I NeededMy Profile

  22. Such a powerful post, thank you so much for sharing!
    Allison recently posted..Move Nourish Believe Challenge Week 1My Profile

  23. Thank you so much for opening up about such a personal story, Paige. I look up to you because you are honest, strong, healthy, and humble.
    I struggled from disordered eating only a couple years ago (sophomore-junior year of high school), but thankfully it never got extremely out of hand. My family and friends were able to reach out to me before things got too severe. I was obsessed though— the calorie counting, the weight loss…Little did I realize that I was withering away and becoming a lackluster, lifeless person. Everyone noticed, and thanks be to God, they made sure I was aware of this. Today, I still have the smallest tidbits of “food fears” every now and then, but I do believe I have a healthy relationship with food now.
    Keep being awesome, Paige. :)
    Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves recently posted..I ♥ The Olympics {MIMM #23}My Profile

  24. Thanks for sharing your story! I really love your honesty and I think you reach more people than you think.

  25. Almost every lady probably, had an experience like this, at some point in their lives. I think the important thing is how we got back to the right track. Thank you for sharing your story.

  26. Paige you are so beautiful! Thank you for sharing your story as we know it is helping so many girls!! We are so happy we have a better relationship with food! Like you we are much better at just enjoying food and the only thing we really worry about is making sure the food we eat is making us feel good! Because life is to short not to feel good!

    xoxo
    Purelytwins recently posted..beet fudge chocolate protein heartsMy Profile

  27. I definitely struggled with this and am currently trying to refocus and having a better relationship with my body and with food. My disordered eating began with a manipulative ex-boyfriend who insisted I needed to lose weight. Add on a stressful job and my dads cancer diagnosis, I was having real issues. I, too, never sought therapy and consider myself ok- not 100%, I still have times where I feel guilty for eating xyz, but I consistently bash those thoughts knowing it is so much better for my mind and body to just relax and enjoy that cookie :) Great post!
    Krista @ Tiny n Fit recently posted..Celebrate All the MilestonesMy Profile

    • Oh, Krista, I’m sorry to hear you had to endure all of that! Makes me happy that you’re moving toward freedom from those terrible thoughts :)

  28. This is such a wonderful post Paige. Thank you for sharing. I think I’ve really started to see the light at the end of the long tunnel (after a couple of years of disordered eating.) I’m 5’11 and have never been below 138 but it wasn’t from lack of trying. I didn’t notice much difference with my heart or muscle tone but I was freezing all of the time and had the worst mood swings. Like I said, it has been a long process but I’m starting to really move past this disordered mindset that I have to be a certain weight to fit into our beauty-obsessed culture.

  29. OH YES! I have had disordered eating in the past for sure – especially right after losing my weight & then just the battle to find the right balance! HUGS!!!! What a great post that will help so many!
    Jody – Fit at 56 recently posted..Gratitude Monday & a Gratitude Giveaway!My Profile

  30. Thank you for sharing this. You are an inspiration.
    It definitely makes life more enjoyable when we don’t compare ourselves to others

    Glad you had a good trip. Stay warm.

  31. Thanks for sharing your story Paige! I’ve been in this transition stage of recovery/getting caught up in these thoughts for a while and wondering if it will ever go away. I know as long as I keep pushing these boundaries and realizing I can recover it will happen with time. It’s definitely inspiring to read how you’ve changed your life around so drastically from where you once were and now are clearly a healthy inspiration for others to see!
    Lisa recently posted..The UpdateMy Profile

  32. While I don’t know you, I applaud you for sharing such a touching and personal story. I myself have never had issues with disordered eating, but I know they’re common place in our healthy living blog community. I’m sure hearing your story has positively impacted at least one person and likely many more. For me, I appreciate the bravery it took to post this and the honesty in it. Thank you.

  33. i love this post so much! i am so happy for you babe
    Meg @ A Dash of Meg recently posted..High Five Friday #111My Profile

Trackbacks

  1. […] before I go into the 5 tips, I have to make known: one thing I don’t do while traveling is stress out about eating. There’s no need to add any additional anxiety/guilt/stress about eating. Relax, it’s […]

  2. […] disorder recovery] Letting Go of Calories via The Story of a Girl + My Battle With Disordered Eating and How I Overcame It via Your Trainer Paige + Mental Recovery: It’s YOUR Choice via Fitting It All […]

  3. […] How I overcame my battle with an eating disorder – our friend Paige shares her journey and how she arrived at a happy place with her relationship with food! We have shared our journey here on the blog and feel it’s so important for everyone to find their way to a healthy balance and view towards food! […]

  4. […] recently shared my past battles with disordered eating, and how I overcame it with you a few weeks ago. I won’t go over that again today, but instead, I want to share some […]

  5. […] disliked the back of my legs so much that I developed an eating disorder in high school. However, that was almost 15 years ago now, and since then, I’ve developed a pretty unbreakable […]

  6. […] meal. For me personally, calorie counting and I do not get along. I don’t have the patience, nor the past for it. That said, there is a time and place for calorie counting in some people’s […]

Leave a Comment

*

CommentLuv badge