June 26, 2017

28

I turn 28 this week and I’m really proud.

The past year has been one of the most difficult and rewarding years I’ve had. Just over a year ago, I began to fight back against some really disordered eating practices. What started innocently as a goal to hit the bodybuilding stage three years ago quickly escalated into a full-on textbook binge eating disorder, although I didn’t recognize it at the time. I understand there are perfectly healthy and mentally stable people out there pursuing fitness and aesthetic goals, but mine morphed into an obsession with food and exercise. I weighed every gram of food I ate and never missed a workout at the expense of other commitments. My self-worth became tied to the numbers and I would be completely devastated when I didn’t hit arbitrary targets. The leaner I became, the more deprived and depressed I felt. I was driven by my blindsided determination to reach this goal, no matter what the cost. It broke my heart and crushed my soul to put in the effort and not see the results I thought I should’ve had, not realizing it was more than what I ate and how intensely I worked out. I stopped socializing and felt incredible anxiety in any situation that involved food or spontaneous activity. I wasn’t able to think clearly. Perfectionism intensified the issue, turning even one bite of food outside my plan into a ‘bad’ food day which became a “screw it, I’m eating everything and anything” binge. You wouldn’t believe the amount of food I’d take down and the loss of control I felt. These episodes were always followed by overwhelming feelings of shame, guilt, and hopelessness, fuelling the next binge cycle.

I was stubborn AF and kept pushing while these binges happened, thinking that I could just ‘try harder.’ It took a while to learn that it’s not a self-control issue, but a deeper primal urge that causes the loss of control and subsequent takedowns of crazy amounts of food. I probably could’ve capitalized on being a competitive eater during my darkest days. I would’ve dominated. I felt trapped and spiralled deeper into each cycle. It wasn’t until I felt I had nothing left to lose that I knew something had to change.

Two years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to go out for dinner with a friend. One year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to feel true hunger or fullness. Today, I know I will never go back to that. It hasn’t been an easy path, but it’s the best thing I’ve done. It hasn’t been a linear path either, and what felt like setbacks were normal. Ultimately, the frequency and intensity of binging has lessened through putting in an honest effort. I explored the depths of my deepest insecurities and overcame a lot of baggage (we all have it). I’m still learning to be kind to myself. I’m grateful this whole thing happened because it magnified my existing issues and made me face them head on. I came out a stronger and more compassionate human being. It’s not always easy to love ourselves as we are, especially in the world we live in. I’m proud of taking a stand against what we’re fed as ideal beauty and re-defining what it means (spoiler alert: it has nothing to do with physical appearance). This next part spews double rainbows and glittery kittens riding unicorns, but we really are so much more than what we look like and we all deserve to love our bodies for the amazing things they can do (shameless share – I hit a new PR of 285lbs on my deadlift this week!)

I know there are people silently suffering or not even aware they are caught up in it like I was. This post has been difficult, but it’s too important not to share. Only when I began to open up did people share their stories, so I’m doing my best to be brave and start that dialogue. There are many resources and a community of support out there! If it helps just one person start that conversation with themselves or someone else, it will all be worth it.

– Angela

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