I don’t know what it is about our culture, but I think people are genuinely scared about being vulnerable. It’s hard to admit failure, a problem, or that we’ve struggled (or are struggling with something.) Maybe it is because we are worried we will be judged or that no one will understand, or that we are the only one who is going through said problem.
However, I think the fear that makes us paralyzed and that to share our struggles is one of the only ways we will be victorious. By sharing our hearts and by being vulnerable with people who care for us, we realize we aren’t alone. We aren’t the only ones who struggle. And suddenly, we realize that vulnerability is a strength.
So, here I go. Here’s to vulnerability and to sharing my story.
It started innocent enough. I wanted to be fit, healthy, and confident in my skin. I wanted to be healthy for my future husband and family. I wanted to learn about health and how to eat better.
So, I started running. I don’t know why I chose running, because I hated running before. Maybe it’s because I saw my mom run (thanks for inspiring me mom!) or maybe it’s because I had a treadmill available to me. Regardless of the reason, I started my running journey. Not too long into running, I fell in love with the sport and quickly, became pretty good at it too.
I also shed a few pounds (probably around 10) and started feeling confident. I was good at something and I felt like I looked good too. Win. Win.
That should have been enough. I should not even have a story to share after that, but I do, and it’s okay. It’s okay, because after years of feeling ashamed, the Lord has shown me I can use my story to help others. And, that’s what I hope this story does.
As my weight dropped, instead of devouring the amount of proper calories I should have been eating, I devoured weight loss tips, tricks to eating “clean,” and articles on what foods were “good” and what foods were “bad.”
I began to slide down the slippery path of food restriction. I said no to my some of my favorite foods, took small (eh, tiny) servings at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and never ate between meals. I remember trying to find things under 100 calories to eat at each meal and if I did, I felt like I was winning. (Hello, that is not normal.)
Slowly, food became to take over my mind. I thought about it constantly and counted the hours until I ate again. (Is that pitiful or what?) At my worst, I would eat a super sad “bowl” of oatmeal at 5am when I started school, lunch at 12, and dinner around 5 or 6. All small. All pitiful meals.
I lived through other people’s love for food. I liked it when others ate “bad” foods, because I felt like I would get satisfaction out of their pleasure from the experience. And I also I felt good too, because I didn’t eat any of the calories from said delicious food. (I.e. Ice cream, cookies, pizza, chips or anything other than veggies, cottage cheese or oatmeal.)
My innocent journey down the health and fitness pass quickly turned into an unhealthy obsession and the worst part was, I didn’t see that I had a problem.
When I look back on these days, I see that God had a good plan through the mess. Even though I lost my period for almost two years, (tmi? Also, ladies, that’s not normal and don’t let anyone tell you it is.) got so skinny I scared myself and made my mom, sisters, and dad cry, and eventually felt miserable, I also fell in love with blogging, learned to love running, and grew in my passion for cooking (<< go figure that one.)
It wasn’t until my mom and dad confronted me about my disorder and I scared myself (you know you are too skinny when you scare yourself!) that I had to take a deep look into just what I had become.
I had let a food control my life, my joy, and my mind. I hurt others. I idolized my body and food. I became secretive. And I lost my love and zeal for true living. I was a mess and I knew it. Praise Jesus though, for God used this time to break my heart over my idolatry of myself and food and slowly, but surely showed me the freedom there is in His love.
“I run in the path of your commands- for you have set my heart free.” << Psalm 119:32. This verse gave me hope and clung to it. I clung to the hope that, in Christ, there is freedom! And, I’ll let you in on a secret, there is!
Honestly, I don’t remember much about my recovery. It all kind of blends together, like a foggy mist. I do remember though, that I slowly, but surely, began to realize that food is fuel. That there is no such thing as “bad,” food and “good,” food. YES there are healthier options than others, but labeling foods and banning them from your diet (unless you are allergic obviously!) isn’t healthy.
What is healthy, is moderation. And by God’s grace and his mercy, love, and forgiveness, I learned this. I learned that it’s OKAY to enjoy pasta, or cookies, or ice cream, or bread. It’s okay to treat yourself to a real dessert or to have a day where you eat salads all day long. The key is moderation.
Step by step, I finally gained healthy weight back, but more than that, I gained my life back. I gained freedom, I gained the ability to just enjoy food, enjoy family, and enjoy life. Recovering from an eating disorder is hard, but it is so worth it. One of the best things that I chose to do in recovery was to talk to people who I love and get accountability. Surround yourself with people who love you and care for you and don’t be afraid to open up. Yes, it is scary, yes it is hard, and yes I’ve been there, but oh, it is so worth it.
I praise the Lord that these days, I run, (and I love it!), but I don’t let it control me. Last week, I had to take a week off because of an injury, and you know what? I didn’t die.
These days, I can enjoy a bowl of ice cream and eat large amounts of kale. Most of the time, I do eat really healthy, but sometimes I just want to eat a piece of pie at Thanksgiving or Christmas gatherings or I want to stop in a coffee shop and grab gelato for a girls’ day and- I do. And it’s okay. And I enjoy it.
I’ve learned that my life shouldn’t be controlled by anything except my Savior. Yes, if I’m being honest, I still have times where I’m tempted to restrict, to start controlling again, or to cut back. But, then I think about my God, my husband, and my baby boy and how I want to be the best version of myself for them. And that keeps me where I should be. (Which is 6 or so days of exercise, lots of healthy food, and a few treats here and there!)
If you are going through anything similar, I hope this encourages your beautiful soul. God made my you “precious and honored.” (Isaiah 43) And recovery is possible, worth it, and oh so beautiful.