Today, I want to talk about something that I know most people struggle with, especially women, almost on a daily basis:
Comparison, Body/Beauty Negativity.
I came across this quote a friend of mine from the gym shared the other day and it really stuck out to me. This past week I have fallen back into the comparison game a little.
Think about this quote a minute. Most of us think flowers are pretty…but we also think Christmas lights are pretty. We also think fall leaves, sunsets, the ocean, or maybe even the mountains are pretty.
But guess what? They all look different…yet we still think they are all pretty.
More often than not, we fall into the trap of comparison: “If only I looked like her”, “I wish I had a body like hers”, or “I wish I was as pretty as her…I’m not pretty.”
Any of these sound familiar?
I don’t know when comparing ourselves to others started, but I’m sure it’s gone on for centuries. Most of us compare ourselves to others without even realizing it.
You know what I think about this?
God made us in His image and we are a wonderfully made creation…which means we are all pretty, beautiful, and a masterpiece.
If all of us looked or acted the same, what fun would that be? I feel it would get boring.
There seems to always be something we want to change about ourselves. I’m guilty of this. Most days I wish my face was slimmer, I had a more toned core, or took better pictures. But I have less of those days now than I ever have. If I catch myself thinking these things, I have to remind myself how ridiculous I’m being!
Comparison is the thief of joy…literally. I mean, have you ever been happy when you compare yourself, or wish you looked like someone else? Probably not.
If you aren’t careful, it can take you down a dark path.
I will leave you with this today, and make this a reminder whenever you catch yourself comparing and wishing you were different or looked a certain way:
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… 😀
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.
Thank you for stopping by today on the blog.
Today is going to be a more serious post, but one I have been wanting to do for quite some time now.
For most of those reading who know me, you may know I went through an eating disorder around my middle school years, but many don’t know the details of the story or what I have had to deal or struggle with since then.
February is National Eating Disorder Awareness Month, and it is near and dear to my heart.
Let’s rewind back to my childhood years for a quick summary.
As a child, I dabbled in sports here and there, but I loved to do things outside: ride my bike, jump on my trampoline, and even ride my horse that I once had. My dad and I would shoot a basketball around or throw a softball around.
The years of elementary school where I was on the chubbier side was attributed more to what I ate. I didn’t like many vegetables (only if it was the green beans my Granny and Papa grew in their garden), and I remember a lot of Kid Cuisine frozen meals and pasta with butter on it. What I don’t remember is a variety of nutritious foods.
Around the end of my 6th grade year, my best friend and I decided we would start making some healthier choices to lose some of our baby weight. We had both made the junior high volleyball team and transitioning to a sports team and going into 7th grade was a BIG thing to us.
We slowly started having salad with our school chicken nuggets, drank more water, and chose baked chips over regular ones. Between that and the start of volleyball, we ended up losing some of that baby weight we talked about wanting to lose.
The only thing was, while my best friend stayed at a good place, I didn’t. I kept going because I wasn’t happy or satisfied with what I saw in the mirror.
(The speck on my arm is a dust speck from wher I scanned the pictures in)
We start 7th grade…different class schedule, new building, and volleyball practices after school each day. Everything was great, but in my mind I was going to do everything I could to look my best, and in those days, “best” was if I could be as skinny as I could possibly be.
(My 13th birthday party)
I know people knew I had lost weight and really slimmed up, and for anyone who told me I looked good, I saw it as my sign to keep going. I began to eat less and less foods. For me at that point, it was more about how much can I NOT eat, as opposed to healthier food choices or having enough food to fuel me.
I wasn’t fueling my body properly, and I was definitely not fueling it enough. I begin to feel tired and exhausted the whole day at school, I refused to eat much at lunch…if I even ate anything, and most days I would end up throwing out/away what I may have brought so it would look like I ate it or nobody suspected much.
I wasn’t fooling anyone though. Even though most people didn’t come up to me and say anything, I know (and could tell) people were starting to get worried. Mom and Dad could tell what was happening and I had to do weekly weigh ins in front of my Dad. They told me that If I dropped below 90 I would be going to a doctor/therapist.
(Look at my arms!! It saddens me)
(This was after a piano recital. I look very skeletal.)
Even though I didn’t want to go to a doctor, I still kept doing what I was doing. Exercising lots and barely eating.
(Both of these are from an Easter Sunday. At my lowest point here.)
At 5’4”, I had hit my lowest weight of 87 pounds, and mom and dad said enough is enough. I was at risk for admission into a hospital with fear of a feeding tube down my throat.
That was my ultimate wake up call for how I was becoming. The last thing I wanted was someone forcing me to eat. When you have Anorexia and you hear that voice in your head telling you day in and day out to not eat because you’re ugly and fat (even though I wasn’t), the last thing you want is being force fed.
I went to see a doctor and ended up going to see a therapist after that. I will be honest and say I wasn’t a fan of it. I didn’t want to be there and I still had a hard time accepting the fact that what I was doing was unhealthy…both physically and mentally, but I went through with it for a couple of reasons:
1.I was made to and I just wanted it over.
2.Deep down I knew what I was doing was wrong.
After going through therapy sessions and starting on my recovery journey, I started high school at a higher and healthier weight. I was still unhappy with how I looked and the Anorexia thoughts were still there nice and strong. I fell back into a lot of the same habits/mindsets, but slowly started learning what foods were good to fuel me.
I had also found my love for tennis at this time, and after taking lessons and getting on the high school team, I was starting to get at a better place when it came to my body. I knew I had to eat enough to fuel my body for this sport that I fell in love with.
Most of my high school years were great, because I had gotten at a healthier place, and even though I had serious body image issues, I never starved myself like I did in junior high. I knew that was what I didn’t need in my life. I had friends, a great sport I did fairly well in, and a good youth group I was in too.
An eating disorder, no matter which one someone has, takes a toll on your body…and not just physically, but mentally.
Imagine thinking about what you were going to not eat, how you could trick people into thinking you had eaten, and when your next workout was…ALL. DAY. LONG.
That was me. I could turn my focus on my school work, but for 95% of my day, I was thinking about what to eat, what to not eat, how I could tell certain people that I wasn’t hungry or had already eaten. I particularly remember thinking that if I had over 100 calories at lunch, I would skip a snack or skip breakfast the next day.
Isn’t that ridiculous?? That’s what it was like for me. I am so blessed and thankful I never got into that pit as deep as I did in junior high.
Little did I know how I would still struggle with the after effects for years to come….