Imagine yourself standing in the mirror and you don’t hate yourself. You find flaws in your skin or rolls at your waist and you remain calm, grateful, and in love with this vehicle. It’s unfortunately a rare occurrence these days as we are constantly told by media, gyms, and even friends that we are not good enough the way we are. Luckily this notion is truly attainable for everyone. We are not born inherently hating our bodies; It is something that is learned, something we are molded into. I am here to help mold you back to accepting your appearance (whatever that may be) and to find your deeper, truer purpose, beyond manipulating the way you look.
When I was 8 years old I remember noticing my body was different than some of my peers. Not in a “good” or a “bad” way but just in a notable way. One of my best friends at the time was very thin, and I was in a more “average” sized body. I remember sitting next to her on the playground and watching as my thighs squished out from under my shorts and hers stayed relatively the same, at the time I even asked her if she knew why that was. I don’t trace back my issues to here, but I do find it interesting that as human beings we take notice of our differences at such an early age. Luckily for me I didn’t start to tie value to these differences until much later in life.
Fast forward to being 19, taking classes at a community college and living with my parents. Drinking too much, not sleeping enough; not caring for my body at all. This lifestyle, along with probably just my age in general had an affect on my body and I started to gain weight. I had never really tried to manipulate my weight before and had a very naturally intuitive relationship with food my whole life. So I of course did what every adult woman does in this country at some point; I put myself on a diet. A “pescetarian” diet to be exact. I thought oh well this instantly limits the calorie intake and foods available for me to eat so I will definitely lose weight. The whole time I thought this was the healthy thing to do. Gaining weight = unhealthy, losing weight = healthy. Normal right? Wrong.
This dynamic went on for years. Unfortunately it progressed quickly into something scary. The more I limited myself on the foods I “could” choose from the greater my obsession with food grew. My once very healthy relationship with food was rapidly turning into an eating disorder. It started with over exercise ( this so easily flies under the radar because it carries the guise of health) and extreme restriction. I had convinced myself I was only worthy of having a few hundred calories a day. I was working full time and a full time student who was living off of sugar free gum, and copious amounts of water. My obsession with food was in full force. I had always enjoyed cooking and at the time was working at a cafe, just as a cashier but because of how many foods were off limits to me I found joy (like many others who have suffered from eating disorders) in preparing these foods for others. It started off baking pastries part time at the cafe and eventually it compelled me to enroll in culinary school. Meanwhile the extreme restriction took a toll on my body and the bingeing started (bingeing is the physiological response to extreme deprivation). This scared me. I thought that I had “such good control” of myself and this was seemingly out of control. Cue the purging. I was in the depths of full blown bulimia all while holding down two jobs and attending culinary school. I felt like this was the way to exercise my control. In the throes of an eating disorder we can so easily find ourselves thinking “this is not a problem, I have this under control” (see the recurring theme here?) I hated my body, and I hated myself. I met my now husband in late 2012 right in the thick of all of this. He admired me for my dedication and hard work and passion with my career, he says this is what drew him to me. Inside I was out of control and hurting myself. On the outside I was rapidly losing weight, getting positive attention, but behaving erratically. I couldn’t eat anything without physically feeling sick. The mental side was even worse. I couldn’t sit down to a meal with anyone without thinking “okay when can I run to the bathroom and get rid of all of this.” The anxiety around meal time and food in general was suffocating. Physically, I was falling apart. I was breaking out all over my face, my skin was insatiably dry, my hair was falling out, and I was more exhausted than ever. Yet I was still getting compliments on how good I looked.. Still think thin=health? (still wrong)
Eventually the burden was too great to bare alone and I decided to confide in Philip. It was February 2013 and I told him one night while we were together that I was bulimic. The support and understanding I received, floored me. Never had I met someone all accepting as him. He made me promise to stop, so being the in love and stubborn girl I am; I did. At first it was not without flaw and not without immense anxiety and mental despair. But the behaviors stopped. This is where the story used to end. When I first publicly shared my story this was the happily ever after. I met the man of my dreams, he accepted me for who I was, and cured my eating disorder. Hooray! Unfortunately since then I have learned that this was not the end of the story but just the beginning of another.
I replaced bulimia with veganism. Like many people I chose that lifestyle with the implication of health and as a way to protect my environment. I now know that at the time this was a transferral of addictions and possibly more dangerous than my bulimia. When I dug deep (years later) I realized this was just another way to practice control and restriction over myself. So many foods were off limits. Soon enough I found myself in the same old behaviors, minus the purging. This time the binges were just accompanied with immense guilt, anxiety, and fear. I was thinner than ever (still let’s not confuse that with health by any means) and radically unhappy with my body. I had a fiance’ that told me I was perfect the way I was, but I wasn’t at all. I understand that veganism can be the right choice for so many people and for our environment but let me clarify something here. When any choice about what we eat comes from the motivation of manipulating the way we look, or even with the guise of “health” we are treading in the dangerous waters of disordered eating.
Fast forward to 2015, pregnant, married and extremely happy with my life except for one thing: my body (read: myself). Pregnancy brought a whole other slew of dangerous territory. This is a fragile and radically impactful moment in a woman’s life. We are literally made for growing human fucking beings yet we are worried about how much weight we gain? All throughout our world and society, getting larger is communicated as a negative thing and pregnancy is literally 100% getting larger. This was hard for me mentally. I wanted so badly to love the beautiful oven for my child but still the concept of true self acceptance was so far out of reach.
Time went on and I met my beautiful daughter, and more than ever I wanted to feel at home in my skin. I wanted to nurture my body and myself in a healthy way for her sake. There is only so much saying “I love my body the way it is” can do for you when you’re still partaking in harmful behaviors. Eventually I was in a place where I could receive the message. I came across Christy Harrison’s podcast, Food Psych and the first episode I heard was about “eating disorders in the food industry.” Holy shit was this a sign? Did someone make this specifically for me to hear? It felt like someone walked into my brain and turned on a lightbulb.
She spoke so openly with her guest about their eating disorder recovery and she spoke about it in a way I had never ever heard before. She identified as actually being recovered. At this point I had dabbled in Eating Disorder Recovery Awareness and had already publicly shared my story but I always related to recovery as an ongoing (forever) process. It was like drug addiction, you were going to be suffering with some level of this for the rest of your life. Never had I humored the notion that there was “the other side” of recovery. Finally it felt attainable and something I desperately needed. Through Christy’s work I learned how disordered my choice of veganism was. I read intuitive eating and started to fully adapt the lifestyle. I also learned about so many other great women and resources for recovery such as, Isabel Foxen Duke, Caroline Dooner, Ellyn Satter, Julie Duffy Dillon, Emily Fonnesbeck, and of course Linda Bacon. The list feels endless. All of these women taught me that not only true recovery was a real, and very much achievable thing but that the realm of disordered eating stretched so far beyond “full blown eating disorders.” This is where the work really began for me. I instantly felt so connected and deeply rooted in this work. There was no more denying that this was the next step.
I have since devoted all my efforts to spreading these messages in hopes of reaching those that were once like me and in such dire need of receiving them. My goal is to work with, and reach as many people as possible. I want to spread the radical notion that we are perfectly imperfect, exactly the way we are. This is where it all begins.