It took me a long time to get to where I am today. My journey to finding self-love, body-appreciation, and true happiness wasn't an easy road, but it was completely worth it. 

 

IMG_3079.JPG

I was just like any other kid...

I had an amazing childhood growing up. I spent my summers outside playing with neighborhood friends, riding my bike to get ice cream, swimming all day in the pool, and just enjoying life. I wasn't preoccupied with my body or how it looked. I was genuinely happy and felt loved. I never noticed that I was bigger than some of my friends and it wasn't a concern. I was active, ate nourishing foods, and was healthy! As I got older and began puberty, my thoughts about my body changed, and the way people talked about my body did too. The kids at school began to bully me for being chubbier and in turn my anxiety grew. I began to think about how my body looked and noticed that the women represented in our media that were portrayed as beautiful did not look like me. I started to hide behind my humor and pegged myself as the funny girl. On the outside I seemed happy, but on the inside I began to hate the way I looked. 

IMG_9921.JPG

When my eating disorder began...

When I entered High School I felt more insecure than ever. I wanted the boys to like me and to be seen as beautiful. I felt pressure to look a certain way and became obsessed with how I looked. The bullying still continued and I felt that if I wanted it to stop, I needed to change the way I looked. I began to starve myself and was consuming around 500 calories a day. I was living off Special K bars and was still very active in sports. I had no energy and began to binge and purge.  I felt guilty anytime I "binged" and it became a cycle of either purging or burning off the calories by running. I started to see the weight drop and the compliments came flooding in. I was being praised for loosing weight and was getting more attention. I kept losing, but I never felt satisfied. I still hated the reflection in the mirror. I spent hours on the computer on Pro-ANA/MIA (pro-eating disorder) sites looking for inspiration on how to lose more weight. I fantasized about being thin and imagined that everything would just be better if I was given a thinner body. 

IMG_9103 (2).JPG

I reached my goal weight, but it never felt like enough...

I spent the rest of high school and college yo-yo dieting, over-exercising, and trying to lose weight. I was never satisfied with my weight and wanted to always lose more. I had a very unhealthy relationship with food and exercise. I lost enjoyment in both and couldn't enjoy the simple things, like going to the beach in a bikini. On the outside I seemed fine, on the inside I was incredibly unhappy. I felt that I was going to spend the rest of my life hating my reflection and dieting. I was tired and stuck. Something needed to shift. Something needed to change. This time, it wasn't my body. I needed to change the way I thought about my body and how I viewed it. My body was never the issue. 

When the change happened...

I knew that if I wanted to change the way I thought about myself, I needed to dig deep and work through all of my struggles and traumas that surrounded my body. I sought out a therapist that specialized in eating disorder recovery and anxiety and also worked with a dietitian. I threw away my scale (the hardest thing for me to do!) and I stopped tracking my calories. I began to listen to my body and it's hunger cues and worked through my emotions instead of masking them. I started to realize that even though I wasn't active in my bulimia, my eating disorder was still very alive. I realized that my years of dieting, obsessing, and over-exercising, was just a mask for my eating disorder. My biggest fear of letting my ED go, was gaining weight. Guess what happened, I gained weight. But guess what else I gained, confidence. When I stopped focusing so much on the things I thought my body lacked and focusing on the things it was capable of, I saw the beauty in it. I was able to see and appreciate all that it could do. I began to enjoy things like the beach again and being able to enjoy pizza nights with my friends. I was able to finally eat the things I loved without binging. I stopped depriving myself and intuitively ate. I may have gained weight, but I've stayed the same weight within 5lbs for over 3 years now. My body is at its happy place. I realized that I don't always need to have a goal of losing more weight. I finally saw that being a certain weight or fitting into a certain size does not bring you happiness. None of those things mattered. Once I stopped focusing on my body, I was able build better relationships with my family and friends, I eliminated negative people in my life, and I found my passion. I can now say that I am fully recovered from my eating disorder and live a life free from dieting and counting calories! I still have "bad body" days, just like everyone else, but I am able to do some extra self-care, rationalize my thoughts and feelings, and understand that it is just a feeling and it's not permanent. The biggest thing I've realized in my recovery is that our bodies will always be changing. Transitions, becoming a mother, growing older, our bodies are going to change! The constant needs to be the love we have for it. Our body is our home. It holds a safe space for our soul and we need to treat it with respect and take care of it. 

These photos are about 4 years apart and the woman on the left is not one I recognize. I was insecure, unhappy, and hungry. On the right, I'm happy, free, and nourished! 

These photos are about 4 years apart and the woman on the left is not one I recognize. I was insecure, unhappy, and hungry. On the right, I'm happy, free, and nourished! 

ColorFull-94.jpg

you are powerful, beautiful, brilliant, and brave.

Remember that.