My Anorexia Story (Part 2)

First off, I want to say a BIG thank you to all the love, comments, and likes on part one of my anorexia story!

I would have never thought it would reach as many as it did. My story has been a long time coming, and just recently I have decided it’s time to share it with others.

An eating disorder is nothing to play with. It not only affects the person physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

Even by the end of high school, although I had recovered (in the sense of the word), I still had a long journey of struggles ahead of me.

I entered college in 2010 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. I was starting off as a photography + graphic design major and had all intentions of being an art major.

I loved taking pictures and letting my creative juices flow on creating things.

I immediately starting meeting new people, making new friends, taking mostly art classes, and I was just enjoying the adjustment to college. It wasn’t just me going to college though. Good ole Ana (the voice of anorexia) came right with me to mess up my thinking and habits.

In the beginning part of college, things were fine. I had starting to pick up running (like, a few laps and that was it), and exploring a couple different fitness classes since I was no longer playing tennis, like I did in high school.

My friends and I would eat at the cafeteria, go out and explore new eating places around Nashville, and even though it was fun and we enjoyed good food, the voice in my head started telling me I need to lose a little, eat better, and pick up more exercise. I wanted to be the girl at college that was pretty and looked amazing, because I never felt that in high school.

By my sophomore year, I had changed majors to Exercise Science and Nutrition, because even though I was still struggling with my own issues in this area, I still knew I wanted (and needed) to major in this field. Deep down I just knew it was MY major.

By the time I started my exercise science classes, I had picked up more running and was actually starting to train for my first half marathon. I loved the feeling running gave me, and I loved being able to see how far my body was able to go.

I actually had a decent balance with my nutrition when I was starting to train, and I had done some research too, but it was also around this time I found My Fitness Pal and started counting calories. I thought If I counted calories, ate the right foods, and kept up with my running, I would be able to keep slim, maybe even lose a little more, and that would make me happier.

I completed my first half marathon in 2012 and it was such a rush that my body was strong enough to run that distance, although it was slow.

After that, I wanted to run more and more half marathons. I wanted to see just how much running my body could do, and I kept counting calories, but unfortunately I was tracking at 1200 calories a day (and that is NOT enough for just about anyone…let alone at all the exercise I was doing). I thought it was ok though.

People had noticed I had slimmed up some, but it wasn’t anything like when I had starved myself. Around this time I was also doing spin classes AND running almost everyday. If I wasn’t starting my morning in a spin class, I was running. If I had free time in my afternoon, I was either running more or catching the afternoon spin class.

By the time 2013 (junior year approached), while I wasn’t underweight, I had slimmed up a lot and refused to eat a lot of foods. I had gotten back to Ana thoughts on what I couldn’t eat because it would make me “fat” again. Now, I wasn’t even fat to begin with when I started college, but in my mind I was.

My best friend was getting married March of 2013, and I was a bridesmaid. In the months leading up to the wedding, I was becoming more obsessed with numbers again. If it wasn’t the number calories I was eating, it was the number on the scale again. I had gotten to a point where I would weigh every morning and if I was up even a little, I would take something else out of what I ate that day.

By the time Staci’s wedding rolled around, I had gotten my weight down to 117-118 pounds. I was still 5’4”, but I was so tired most days, I was cold ALL the time, and I was refusing going out to eat with roommates/friends at times just because I didn’t want to “overeat”.

I was way too focused on what I ate, how much I ate, and how much I was exercising…and it was taking a toll on my body physically and internally.

Backing up some and being a little personal for a minute: Most girls when I was younger started their mentrual cycle at early ages…most before or around hitting high school. Guys…I was 16 when I started. 16. My body was delayed on me starting due to my eating disorder.

Now moving back up to this time during college. I was so low in my numbers (eating and weight dropping) that I legitimately went without any menstrual cycle for close to 6 months. That is NOT healthy when you are a woman. Secretively, I told nobody about this, and part of me was actually happy that I wasn’t having to deal with it, but it was not good for my body.

By the time my senior year rolled around, I was still in the same habits: running lots, spin classes, 2x workouts in one day, eating little/not enough, and going 2-3 months at a time before getting another menstrual cycle.

I was starting to spiral down more by this point. It came to a point that I knew I wasn’t eating enough and was so hungry, but I refused to eat more than I thought I “had” to. It resulted to me eating a bag of steamed veggies most mornings, because it was vegetables and super low in calories. How dumb is that??

I had even more half marathons under my belt by this point, and even a Disney run or two, which was so much fun! Slowly, though, I was starting to get burned out on it and my body just about had enough of what I was putting it through.

It wasn’t long after my roommates and I had gotten back from Christmas break that they sat down around me and told me they were worried about me. They were really seeing how little I was eating and how much I was exercising. Two out of three of my other roommates were majoring in exercise science too, so it was a big deal (and an eye opener) when they sat me down.

Once again, I was overcome with my body image, eating disorder thoughts/habits, and had gotten myself in a dark place again.

Graduation was approaching for 2 of my roommates in the spring, while me and my other roommat would be graduating in the summer. I went home to finish up an internship + a class that summer, and I started trying to do better with my eating, exercising, and body image.

I still dabbled in counting calories and I still ran and worked out, although I did drop it to 1x a day. I was staying busy but still struggled everyday with wanting to look better, do more, eat less, etc. All the same things that I had been struggling with in Nashville, but on a less intense level.

August had rolled around and graduation from college had finally arrived! At this point I was up a little more in my weight, I was eating a little more, but still very cautious, and I had told myself after I graduated I would finally get on the road to self acceptance, body acceptance, self-love, and food freedom.

I can honestly say now I am 95% at a place where I am truly loving my body, accepting who I am, and finding that food freedom…oh and NOT counting calories! But all of that will be in part 3 of my story soon… 😀

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What I talked about in my story above is a common thing for many girls and women. We think eating less, exercising more, and counting super low calories is going to help us reach our goals.

For me personally, I would say I had Orthorexia during my college years.

This is not as common or well known as Anorexia, Bulimia, or Binge Eating Disorder, but is something very prevalent.

According to the National Eating Disorder Awareness website, Orthorexia is defined as:

Those who have an “unhealthy obsession” with otherwise healthy eating may be suffering from “orthorexia nervosa,” a term which literally means “fixation on righteous eating.” Orthorexia starts out as an innocent attempt to eat more healthfully, but orthorexics become fixated on food quality and purity. They become consumed with what and how much to eat, and how to deal with “slip-ups.” An iron-clad will is needed to maintain this rigid eating style. Every day is a chance to eat right, be “good,” rise above others in dietary prowess, and self-punish if temptation wins (usually through stricter eating, fasts and exercise). Self-esteem becomes wrapped up in the purity of orthorexics’ diet and they sometimes feel superior to others, especially in regard to food intake.

Eventually food choices become so restrictive, in both variety and calories, that health suffers – an ironic twist for a person so completely dedicated to healthy eating. Eventually, the obsession with healthy eating can crowd out other activities and interests, impair relationships, and become physically dangerous.

I’d say after all of that, I definitely suffered with this. Their website says it’s not an actual medical diagnosis, such as anorexia, but is something very unhealthy and dangerous.

Please, please, please, if you suspect anyone you know is suffering through an actually eating disorder or disordered eating patterns, look up the NEDA website and contact someone to get them help.

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