I was going to wait and post this tomorrow but I’ve decided to split it into two parts instead. This post outlines my history with weight and tomorrow I’ll explain my breakthroughs.
The fact that I’m able to talk about this here on MML is in and of itself a minor miracle. This makes talking about the break up earlier this week seem like a cake walk. For the last nine years the most dominate topic on my mind has been my weight. And for the last eight and a half years, no one had a clue about this internal battle. I never discussed it, felt ashamed, and quite frankly: I was obsessive.
Writing this, I feel like I’m shining a huge spot light on the one area of my life I’ve kept cloaked in darkness for almost a decade. But the time has come to let this out in the open and move forward.
Since going through the lessons I mentioned on Tuesday with the “relationship evolution” over the course of 2010, I am thrilled to say I have made remarkable headway in understanding my obsession with eating and weight. And I know I am meant to share this story because I am sure there are many, many women out there, just like me. Hopefully others will be able to relate to what I’m about to share. And more importantly, anyone else struggling with this obsession right now can know that if I’m able to shake this habit; given time, reflection, and patience they can as well.
I’d like to start by saying that my struggle with weight has never been diagnosed as an eating disorder. I never threw up food, I never spit. At no point did I receive any medical treatment. But regardless of the lack of anorexia or bulimia, I have made what I ate and weighed the most dominate topic in my life for almost 10 years.
What began as an innocent way to stay in shape between basketball seasons in high school between my freshman and sophomore year evolved into a daily obsession. By manically counting calories and logging my running miles, I lost 20 pounds that year. Looking back on this time in my life, I realize that I never intentionally decided to become obsessed about my weight. However I did eventually start monitoring my food intake in order to avoid dealing with difficult situations in my life. Rather than face difficulties head on, I unconsciously decided to think about something I could control: what went in my mouth.
Eventually a routine physical resulted in my doctor telling me that I was underweight. Everyone assumed that by just adding a few extra pieces of food on my plate or chocolate sauce on my ice cream would resolve the whole issue. And in time, I did just that: I ate a bit more and everyone thought things were back to normal.
But the reality was this: I learned weighing so little was bad– so I simply raised the bar on my weight goal and maintained the same frantic obsession, just at a new, “healthier” level. The purpose of the calorie counting and running was still the same: to distract myself from difficult situations. And whether I was 103 pounds or 123 pounds, I could maintain the same frantic focus as before. I just looked healthier while I was doing it.
While in college, I had many points where I was at a healthy weight, but I continued to manically monitor calories and exercise. I continued to think about the weight as a project that constantly needed attention. If I felt out of control in this area of my life, it seemed as if everything could crumble.
Until I hit a breaking point. During my junior year (right before my purpose, MML), I faced one of the most difficult challenges in my life. And rather than manically obsess about eating and working out, I did the following:
I manically obsessed about eating and working out WHILE binge eating.
This terrible combination of trying to restrict and permit at the same time was incredibly devastating and I gained 20 pounds above my naturally ideal weight for my size/frame in about six months. During the day I would do my best to eat the same restrictive calorie count I did for years before, but when feeling upset at night, I would eat candy bars from the dorm snack shop: three at a time. It was a terrible cycle. In the morning I would try to eat “perfectly” – only to find myself emotionally and physically ravenous at night. These binges again served the same purpose as the restricting did in high school: while binging I couldn’t think about my problems. And for this reason, it served the same purpose and goal, just in a very different form.
Fortunately there is a positive ending to this story, I’ll explain more tomorrow.