Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Journey Towards A Healthy Body Part 3 - Overcoming My Obstacles and Seeking a Healthy Life

The fall after I graduated high school, I entered college over an hour away from "home". I was finally got away from my parents and old life like I had always dreamed of doing. I met who was to be my husband during this time. With no one to worry about now, I did my disordered eating full force and also started drinking on the weekends. While I had drank before and had my first drink when I was 15, this was the first time I was drinking every weekend with a few friends I had made. My girlfriend and I were starting to have issues since she called me multiple times a day at school and seemed to be very clingy when she had hardly been around all summer. This sudden claustrophobia like behavior led me to dump her only two weeks after I arrived at school. Two days before this, I asked my future husband out and prepared for dumping my girlfriend. That turned out to be a very smart move on my part and I was able to focus more on my new life, or so I thought.

Unfortunately the mental baggage from my previous life well as my disordered eating followed me to college. I ate light meals all day and often had salads with fat free dressing and mostly veggies and grilled chicken in them for dinner. I was able to lose 5 pounds within a month of arriving and got down to 130 despite the weekend drinking my boyfriend and I with our small circle of friends was doing. While I was the happiest I had ever been socially, my past and the trauma from that time were eating me alive. I was chain smoking to cover this up and was very close to a nervous breakdown. Unfortunately (or so I thought at the time) my new boyfriend noticed these things going on inside of me and one night asked what was wrong. He also pointed out that he noticed that I ate like a bird and told me that he was concerned about me. I remember breaking down and crying in front of him while trying to hide my face. I was raised to never cry in front of people, so that was an awkward moment. At the end of this unplanned "outburst", I agreed to see the school psychologist about my "excess baggage". I only agreed to this at the time since my boyfriend threatened to break up with me if I didn't seek help for my issues and for dealing with my emotional traumas. Turned out to be one of the best decisions that I had ever made.

Shortly after that night I nervously went to the school psychologist's office where he saw various students two-three days out of the week. I went there about two days a week for the next six months. The first things he did with me after asking me a series of questions was tell me that I needed to stop smoking and drinking since they were both crutches I was using to deal with the emotional pain I was feeling. I failed to mention the "eating" issue, but my boyfriend was there and mentioned his concerns to him. I was given antidepressants and was diagnosed with clinical depression. From that point on I was also watched by my boyfriend food wise. It was at this point that I turned the "starvation" part off and started to binge eat instead. I was tired at that point of hiding this and feeling "icky" at times from not eating enough food. I cared enough about my boyfriend and finally felt I had a reason to stop doing this to myself.

The one thing my psych failed to mention was that the weight can come on fast. Especially if you go from restrictive eating to eating whatever you feel like eating without regard to portions and calories. I also ignored the scale for the first time in years and hardly ever weighed in. As a result, I gained over 40 pounds in less than a year and a half and went from barely a healthy weight to overweight. I half heartily attempted to stop this "massive" gain as my clothing size went up by doing diets like Atkins, South Beach, and Slim Fast, but none of those worked out for long. For awhile, I also went to the gym while eating whatever I felt like, but that didn't help me lose any weight. The wake up call on this came at the doctor's office in December 2004. Only 14 months after I entered "recovery" and stopped my restriction practices I weighed 175. The doctor also ran diabetic tests on me since I still had irregular periods, luckily those came back negative. I knew I had gained weight, but thought I weighed 150-160 at the most. By this time I had gone from a size 6 to a size 14, that should have told me something. However I was in denial and finally felt free to enjoy food after having food as my enemy for so long. The thought of being hungry made me freaked out and I ate to solve everything.

Luckily after the holidays and a few negative comments about my weight, I started to come to my senses. I started the process of losing weight for the right reasons, for me and for my health. At first I resorted to diet pills (Trim Spa), but felt hyper and icky on them so I stopped those after a week. I also counted calories for a month which I lost 10.8 pounds on my own and bought a scale. A month later I got fed up with calorie counting and joined weight watchers at work with one of my friends at work. The start of that journey was February 15, 2005 and I weighed 164.2 that day. That is the day which changed my life forever, without that catalyst I probably would be unhealthy and possibly obese by now I imagine. I lost almost 25 pounds by July of that year to reach my official goal weight of 140 set by my leader. I got there by counting points and eating healthier, lower calorie foods. Started to eat more veggies and fruits and less junk food. A few months later I reached 135 and then briefly 130, but couldn't sustain that. Over the next five years, I stayed with weight watchers and did their various plans while cleaning up my eating habits slowly. I switched to whole grains for most of my grain intake, kept up the fruit and veggie intake, and also explored vegetarianism on and off.

Then I got pregnant in 2010 as I discussed in a previous post. I miscarried at 10 weeks, but started comfort eating for awhile after that. I tried to get back in the game and kept eating some of the healthier foods I was used to, but ate too much food overall. Then March of 2011 I found myfitnesspal and started half heartily calorie counting until July. On July 5, 2011 I decided to take my health/weight more seriously again and got to work on losing weight again. This time I weighed 159 and aimed for 140 once more since I feel healthiest between 140 and 145. This time I lost slower, but I got to learn how to eat balanced meals in addition to additional healthy foods. Since I have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (found that out in 2010), I lose slower now and have noticed that for the past three years. I manage this well, but use calorie counting to keep my eating balanced and to stay healthy both physically and mentally. I also exercise 5-6 days a week for 30-60 minutes on average to manage my depression issues as well as my health/weight.

Currently I am a few pounds away from my goal, but am feeling great most days and am still actively in recovery from disordered eating. While I was never formally diagnosed with a specific eating disorder, I definitely am a survivor of disordered eating. I have my thin days which I never had until recent months and my fat days where I feel and look gross to myself. I also still have occasional days or meals where I binge eat or eat due to stress or emotions running wild, but have this mostly under control now. This is a life long process for me as well as for anyone recovering from disordered eating. I take my recovery one day at a time.

I look forward to your comments about your experiences as well as anything you may want to say. Please share this and the other two posts with others you feel may be interested or would benefit from reading about my experiences with disordered eating. Thank you for reading and sorry for the long posts. I tried to sum these up, but this has been a long journey. A journey of recovery that I will continue through each day for the rest of my life.


Leah (The Kind Weight Watcher) said...

I think that they are VERY smart for not telling the ED patients about the big possibility of rapid weight gain. I know that if I had known that risk (gained LOTS as soon as I was recovered from anorexia/EDNOS), I may have never recovered. So it sucks, but it's a good thing that they didn't tell me!

It's crazy how long I've been recovered from anorexia/EDNOS and yet I still have a bad relationship with food, the scale, and body acceptance. I do feel as if I'm finally at a point in life where I will leave these feelings behind me soon, and my relationship with all of the above has gotten much healthier lately.

Thanks for sharing, it's so nice to hear stories like mine!

Rae said...

Agreed, I probably would have never stopped my practices either if they had told me that I could gain a lot of weight. I pretty much have the same eating disorder. Just was never formally told what it was for sure, just that I had issues with food. Keep in mind I was also seeing this psych for depression and for overcoming trauma I had gone through as a child and a teenager, so not all of my therapy focused on food. That was only a piece of the big picture. My relationship with food as well as the scale and my weight is still far from perfect, I think I have made that clear. I accept that while it can get better over time, I will always be fighting this.

dys·func·tion said...

My mother developed eating disorders that really affected me as a child. I struggle with low self esteem, but for the most part I stay the hell away from a scale. It seemed to drive her nuts.
With my kids, and to keep myself healthy, we try and limit the junk food and provide healthy, well-rounded, and non-processed meals.
I guess I figure if I eat well, and still dip into junk food to help with my emotions (haven't moved beyond that yet) but on a minimal level, I'll be good.
Only time will tell, but I'm comfortable with my approach.

I love your writing to pieces, I really do. I've started another blog...more of a mommy blog...that isn't anonymous. If you're interested, then I'd like to email you the new address. (Leave no trail and all that hahaha) I feel like you're a really honest and true person and I'd love to share it with you. On the same note, if you're not interested then I won't be offended.
Keep up with writing about your life, the more often you tell your story, the more you own it and the less it owns you.
A secret is only powerful if someone thinks they can hold it against you. If you own it, the secret loses its' power.

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