Sunday, February 17, 2013

My confession

Confession time. I have suffered from eating disorders for as long as I can remember. As a child I gnawed ice chips until my gums bled. I didn't know until adulthood that this is a form of an eating disorder called pica and can be a result of a nutrient deficiency. (I've suffered from iron-deficient anemia for all of my childhood and some of my adulthood). In high school I tried (yes, tried) to become anorexic. This did not work for me and wrecked my already fragile self-image. I became bulimic in high school and this continued into college. Freshman year after passing out on the steps heading up to class I realized I had a problem. A went to the doctor for help and he sent me to a psychiatrist. After hearing my initial concerns the psychiatrist lead me to a scale, my most feared place, and had me step on it. She tsked-tsked at me, nodded dissaprovingly and stated I "weighed too much to have any issues with eating". She prescribed me some anti-depressants, said I needed a tutor to help with my grades then sent me off. Each visit with her left me feeling worse than before stepping in her office.

I felt lost, hopeless, and utterly foolish. The doctor said I was in excellent physical health, and with a psychiatrist telling me I didn't have a problem either, I turned towards binging and purging for a "quick fix" in my mood.

Then an article caught my eyes that has changed everything.

I have no idea what magazine it was or what the article was actually about, but I do remember reading that a half hour of daily exercise can be more beneficial than anti-depressants. It suggested to take up running. I immediately weaned myself off anti-depressants within a couple of days and went out for my first run. I was a failed high school track member so running again terrified me, but I wanted something in my life to change. I had no idea what I was in for.

It was no easy road to get to where I am today. My eating disorder was at it's worst when I served as a volunteer in Peace Corps.  I became the strongest I ever had been physically while training for my first ever non-track meet race, the Kilimanjaro Marathon. With no watchful eyes around me I became the skinniest my 5-foot 6.75-inch medium-built frame has ever been.

137 pounds....

This number has haunted me since I left Africa and came back to the states. I wanted that number on the scale again oh so bad but even in times I suffered relapses I never saw it again.

I last relapsed approximately a year ago with a single purge fueled by rage I felt during the initial period of time I was dealing with separating from my almost-ex-husband. For the first time ever I did not get the "high" afterwards. This flipped something in me, something I've needed flipped so desperately. I no longer think of binging and purging. I no longer purposefully go without eating for "just a little bit" to see if the number on the scale will budge. None of that at all. It's an incredible, freeing thing to not be held captive by food and a number.

These days I live for food and love cooking. My flexitarian foodstyle fuels my body with an abundant amount of energy, keeps me strong, and enhances many aspects of my health. Each and every day I look forward to eating. I have no fear of food. I rarely step on a scale these days. The last time I stepped on a scale was back in December.

"Being happy doesn't mean everything's perfect. It means you've decided to see beyond the imperfections."

For the first time in my life I love my body, imperfections and all. Today, I stepped on a scale. What I saw shocked and amazed me in the same moment. My love of fitness (particularly running of course!) and my exploration into a flexiatarian diet has allowed me to beat the beast.

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