I was never a raging anorexic, nor was I a raging bulimic. I would eat… sometimes and I would starve myself… sometimes. Binge eating became a way to enjoy the magical wonders of food, but only because there was the option to throw up afterwards, or the more common go-to, starve myself afterwards.
I started tailoring my eating habits in middle school, putting myself through periods of starvation diets for days at a time. Thinking about it now makes me shudder, but at the delicate age of 13 when hormones are raging and emotions are exploding, most rationale goes out the window. All I wanted was to be sexy enough for the hot jock to look at me. JUST LOOK AT ME GOD DAMNIT.
Growing up female is hard. Your body is under scrutiny from an extremely young age, constantly being told, whether explicitly or not, that you are not perfect enough. For some girls, it’s their family members who put an unseemly amount of pressure on them to be skinny. For others, like me, it was television and the media. And before anyone rolls their eyes, let me explain.
Even before my middle school “diets”, before the hormone-induced pressure of wanting to be skinnier, I started sucking in my tummy. I’ve been doing it ever since I can remember. It wasn’t for anyone else. It wasn’t out of competition with other girls. It was of and for my own self image. What I saw in the outside world, on TV and in magazines, told me I needed a flat stomach. My mother told me I was beautiful. My father loved me to pieces. But even so, I tried my hardest to do to be skinnier.
And so, at age 6 I began sucking it in and 20 years later, I still do it, involuntarily. To relax my stomach muscles takes extreme, diligent focus. Who knows what kind of developmental damage I’ve done to my diaphragm over the years.
After the tummy tucking came the above mentioned binge-eating/starving fiasco that would follow me into college. I had a few years of healthier eating in high school, but it was as long-lived as my high school relationship. To say there’s a correlation between my eating habits and my love life would be an understatement. NOTE: eating habits should not be confused with body image, my body image was always, “I’m fat.”
It wasn’t until post college, living as a pauper in the real world and surviving off of $1 slices that I realized I needed a diet change. But why then? What was the giant motivating factor that would force me to realize the detriment I was doing to my body? A fissure in my anus. That’s right, one day, I started gushing blood from my butthole and if that doesn’t wake you up, then you’ve got way more problems than bad eating habits.
After that horror, I took steps to cut out the daily pizza slice and switch to healthier, greener meals. I added breakfast into my routine. I had giant lunches with lots of protein and tiny snacks for dinner.
Some of you may be thinking, well why not add dinner to the mix. Two things, I am of the strong opinion the 3 meals a day thing is not an accurate way to healthy living. AND let’s not get crazy, I still have body issues and I was trying to be healthier while maintaining a body weight that made me comfortable. My biggest feat, was learning how to eat when I was hungry. Neglecting my stomach needs became a thing of the past and I was so proud of myself for finally listening to my own body.
But then that mother fucker decided to change. At age 24, I developed a serious sensitivity to wheat and dairy. After putting so much effort into finally getting on a solid eating regimen, I now had to face the fact I was poisoning my body every day because of my love for carbs and cheese. I just couldn’t cut out my morning egg-avocado-bialy sandwich on my own. I needed a drastic lifestyle change, so I decided to go on a detox.
And detox I did.
Through an amazing vegan-based health, wellness & beauty company, I did a 30-day detox with friends to get our systems cleansed and rebooted. This meant NO gluten, dairy, added sugar, pork, fruit (only berries & green apples)… basically your plate should be 75% veggies, 25% protein. I was stoked. The more people I told, the more I found out they would NEVER do something like this, which only made me want to do it more. I was ready to get “cut.”
Turns out, I don’t do great with food restrictions.
I turned to living off of protein shakes since it was the easiest thing to make. One protein shake in the morning. A limited lunch of unfulfilling salad. And then nothing for dinner. I would be full of hunger, but instead of eating I would lay there and bury it until I didn’t feel it anymore.
Over the next two weeks, I dropped 7 pounds. I watched myself shrink. I watched myself fall back into habits I worked so hard to overcome. I felt like I was nearing the edge of a pit that would suck me back into my anorexia, back into a place of shame and body disappointment.
Prior to my detox, during my transition into healthier eating habits, I learned to love my body. I learned to appreciate it in all of it’s glory. I wasn’t fat. I WAS NEVER FAT. To fall back into my poor eating habits wasn’t only unhealthy, it was a psychological strain that made me feel like I wasn’t proud of my body. That was the cut that hurt the most.
So I stopped the detox halfway into my third week. I got what I needed from it — I figured out how to eliminate wheat and dairy. My digestive issues lessened; I got rid of that nasty bloat that made me sick day after day. I felt great. Or at least I thought I did…
Shortly after going off the detox, I realized I was binge eating the hell out of everything. Two servings? No thank you, I’ll have three. French fries for lunch and dinner? OKAY. I stuffed myself until I could stuff no more. The scene was not a good look. I was back to who I had always been, the skinny girl trying to catch up after days of not eating. It made me sick, physically and mentally.
So now I’m here, working to not overeat, nor undereat. It’s a constant process to maintain a healthy weight and diet, but I’m getting there. Every morning I have my egg-avocado sans bread, along with a hearty protein-filled lunch and a light fare for dinner. Most of all, I have a realistic perception of my body. I am not skinny. I am not fat. I am me and I am beautiful.