Hope you are having a good week. I wanted to come clean about something. I have struggled with anorexia. Not so much recently, but about 7 years ago (Eeek I can’t believe its already been that long) I was hospitalized for my disorder. I was afraid to say something about my eating disorder on this blog because I don’t want it to taint my image and set myself up for criticism. I don’t want to have people make assumptions about my choices and judge me unfairly. I know that fitness competitions can be a slippery slope into eating disorders but I am confident I will not let that happen. I actually think my history makes me more resilient in that respect. The reason I decided to come clean now is because I want to be honest with you. I want you to know where I am coming from as a competitor and as a person. I also want to be able to help anyone who is currently struggling with an eating disorder. I want to show you that there is hope after anorexia.
How did it happen? I could literally write a book on this topic. I don’t think there is any one thing I could point to and say “you see, that is the cause of my anorexia.” What I do know is that I started by slimming down for prom and then continued to avoid the freshman fifteen and then I got completed sucked down the rabbit hole and became obsessed with losing weight.
By the time I was hospitalized I was completely miserable: I could barely walk up stairs, I was cold all the time, My hunger pangs kept me awake at night and I was on death’s doorstep, literally. I had to be admitted immediately due to my low weight. I was in the process of seeking help for anorexia but I was not prepared to drop everything and spend a month inpatient at a “mental institute.” Although I was devastated at first, I was also ready to get better. I had reached a point where living the way I was living was scarier to me than gaining weight. People call this hitting rock bottom and I am not sure that my recovery would have been successful had I not hit it.
Although hitting rock bottom was the first step, recovery was and continues to be a journey. I think there were 4 important landmarks on my road to recovery and I will share them with you:
1. “Why are you afraid to be fat?” That’s what one of the nurses at the hospital asked me the day that I was admitted. It was before I got to the eating disorder unit so I think this was just a regular nurse trying to understand why someone would take a diet to these kind of extremes when most people have trouble sticking to theirs. This question haunted me throughout my stay at the hospital because I could never really come up with a good answer to it and the more I searched for an answer the more I realized that anorexia did not make sense.
2. Changing my mindset – In the hospital I told myself to imagine that I was gaining weight for a movie role. Actresses earn Oscars for their dedication to changing dress sizes, I figured that if I look at gaining weight in a positive light it would make things easier. It did.
3. Strength Training – I am not saying that this works for everyone because maybe some people used strength training as part of their disorder but for me, getting stronger and gaining muscle was another goal that allowed me to see the benefits of fueling my body with healthy food and gaining weight.
4. Being a mom – Something about taking care of a little person that I created forced me to put my needs second. Suddenly my body was not my top priority, my son was. Taking care of my baby made me realize that I was capable of putting things before my diet and exercise regimen and helped bring balance to my life.
I have been in recovery now for 7 years and cannot say that I have had a relapse ever. The prospect of ending up where I was before I entered the hospital is far too terrifying. I have too much to live for now. My mindset has changed and I feel I have become a more balanced healthy person. I now know that I could never have the body I want or be the person I want to be by starving myself. The one thing I wish I could shake is this shame I feel for my journey. I hate sharing that I had anorexia because I don’t want eyes on me at every meal or when I am trying to exercise. I want to live without that kind of judgement. But if I can help one person with my story, it is worth it to me to come clean.
Do you have any secrets that you are afraid to come out about? Have you struggled with an eating disorder?