Overcoming eating disorders Mary’s story
Overcoming eating disorders Mary’s story
For every member that walks through the doors at Bodhi, each of them has a story of their own and personal reason behind why they want to embark on a journey of health and fitness. For some, it is a matter of simply losing a bit of weight and toning up. While for others, it’s much deeper than that. As coaches, both Jess and I have heard many of the motivations and struggles of our own clients and as such, aim to supply our own knowledge and experiences in hopes that we can help. While most people assume that both Jess and I have always been “fit and healthy,” that is most certainly not the case. In fact, both of us started from very unhealthy beginnings and did not always have our knowledge to rely on. For the both of us in individual ways, we are recovering from forms of Eating disorders and Body Dysmorphia. In honor of February 26 to March 4th being National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Jess and I wanted to share our stories with our members and bring light to a problem that is usually never talked about but yet so prevalent in today’s world. This is my story of how I battled with overcoming eating disorders.
Imagine struggling with a disease no one knew you had or better yet, believed you had. Well, I don’t have to imagine, unfortunately, this is a part of a past I once knew. From the young age of 10, I remember being confronted for the very first time with feelings of unworthiness and poor body image. I thought I was chubby, ugly, stupid and there was no way to change that. I don’t know where that even came from, to be honest, but all I know is that those little seeds of thought would soon grow into something much more sinister and soon control many years of my life.
When I entered high school, the very years that I am sure many teenage girls can relate to as a time of awkwardness, I let those detrimental thoughts continue and take root. After dealing with the loss of friends and teammates in a car accident and coming to terms with the death of a sibling, which had happened many years prior, I paired my feelings of inadequacy with feelings of sadness and instability and used food as my outlet. If I couldn’t deal with how life dealt its hands, then I would control my own feelings and myself.
I went on this path throughout high school and into college. I cut back calories severely, starving myself for days at a time until I could no longer last. At that point I would then let myself eat, more like a feast, to be honest, binging on everything in sight so that I could then go throw it up. I knew how to hide it and still to this day, I don’t think my family or friends truly ever caught on. Staying within a normal weight range, I never appeared sick. I guess many would consider this a good thing but to me, it was anything but. I struggled silently with all the symptoms and mental thoughts a person with an eating disorder has but to the naked eye, I looked fine. I had anxiety and would lock myself away, creating excuses for why I couldn’t partake in events. I bought packs of water pills, laxatives, and Sudafed, which I took daily to rid myself of that “extra weight” I thought I had and keep my appetite suppressed. And when my body and mind could no longer stand it, I would give in and go the completely opposite way and eat like crazy, knowing I’d only repeat the cycle again. I was a mess, to say the least.
Junior year of college was the only time I looked sick. In a 3-month span, I managed to drop 40+ pounds and got to a weight I hadn’t seen since being in 8th grade. I survived off of a piece of fruit and packet of oatmeal a day and tried to run if I could somehow find the energy. I knew there was something wrong but I didn’t care. I felt so poorly about myself that it almost felt good to punish my body in this way. Of course, though, since I didn’t look like a skeleton yet, no help was sought after. I remained in the in between of normalcy and illness. I was in a place where people were talking, causing stir and rumors amongst my sorority, but did not look bad enough yet for intervention. It was an awful place to be.
Finally, in my last year of college, I was convinced to seek help after I had a full fledged panic attack and my roommates finding me crying on the floor outside my closet. I was hesitant, of course, but when looking back now I couldn’t be more thankful that I went. It was in this therapy that I was finally given a name to my crazy eating behaviors: Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. According to the DSM-IV, this “is a feeding or eating disorder that causes significant distress or impairment, but does not meet the criteria for another feeding or eating disorder” (National Eating Disorder Association, 2016). In lament terms, this is when a person exhibits behaviors that fall under anorexia nervosa and bulimia, but do not meet the full criteria for either. Unfortunately, this is a disease that affects up to 60% of those who seek treatment for an eating disorder (http://www.nedc.com.au./ednos, 2016).
Overcoming eating disorders
I couldn’t have been more relieved to finally have a name put on the face of the illness I was battling with on my own. Once I knew what it was called, I then could learn how to deal with it and grow. It has been about seven years since I was diagnosed and I am happy to announce that I have made much improvement. However, I cannot tell you that I am completely over it or recovered. In fact, I will never be without it. BUT THAT IS OKAY! I have come to cope with my thoughts and illness and have learned to pick up behaviors that make me stronger each and every day. I practice daily gratitude, fill my thoughts with self-love and forgive myself for when I have days where I just don’t feel good. I never use my love for working out turn into a negative thing or punishment and when there are days that “I am fat” thoughts creep in, I make sure I eat anyway even though that’s the exact opposite of what the little thoughts in my head tell me to do. I keep myself reminded that I am in a profession to inspire others and that in order to do that, I need to inspire myself and treat myself right. I want to lead by example.
For those perhaps struggling, like I did, let this be a message of hope for you. It is possible to find a body and mindset you are happy in. While it may seem like you are alone in this, please know that there are people like Jess and I out there that share similar experiences and are here to help and support you. Bodhi is more than a gym. It is a community of people inspiring people. Everyone that comes to Bodhi has a past and story of their own. We hold no judgments and make everyone feel welcome or better yet, make them feel like family. We will be here to cry with you, laugh with you, and vent because let’s be honest, we’re all human and even us coaches have our bad days. Remember that each day is another step in your journey, whether is good or bad. Each day is a part of the process of healing. Trust in that and trust in yourself and if that should ever fail, trust in us at Bodhi. We’ll always have your back.
I coach many group fitness classes at bodhi and really enjoy meeting new members and having the opportunity to share stories and inspire others! You can check out all of the classes I coach over here –thisisbodhi.com/schedule See you soon!
Believe in yourself!