All my life, I’ve struggled with my weight. I’ve been fat, I’ve been thin, and everything in between, through nobody else’s fault but my own. I’ve struggled with eating disorders, bulimia with a touch of anorexic tendencies, and I’ve struggled with addiction to food, both ends of the spectrum. I share this mainly because I want to talk about it, I want people to know they’re not alone, I want people to know they can change, I want people to know there’s hope.
When I was little, I never really learned much about proper eating habits. Meals were largely centered around what was convenient and easy, not around what was healthy. Stuff like hamburger helper was frequently served, taco salad drowned in dressing, enchiladas, etc. I quickly became self conscious about my weight when I noticed that I was heavier than some other girls, especially my best friend at the time, so I started skipping meals away from home. I wasn’t significantly larger, just enough that it was noticeable. Nobody paid attention to my eating habits, so it went unnoticed for years, especially since I ate at home.
Once I graduated and went to college, I started skipping more meals because I was never, ever home except at night (still lived with my family) because I was working constantly as well as going to school. Even eating KFC as my only food, I was losing weight because I was eating maybe once a day, and purging. I lost 40 lb in the first 2 years after high school. For reference, I am/was 5’4, went from 160 to 120.
After a few suicide attempts and a trip to a psychiatrist, I was diagnosed first with major depression, then eventually with bipolar. I also was diagnosed with OCD, which may have contributed, and may still contribute, to my obsession with my figure, and anxiety (they often co-occur). I started medication. I’ve been in the hospital a few times, and every time, they seem overly concerned with my eating habits.
In 2009, 4 years after graduation from high school, I started gaining weight again, from a combination of depression medication, comfort foods like chocolate (even though I only ate a bit, all I ate was calorie dense shit), a sedentary lifestyle, and oh, my doctor tested my thyroid and found it was low and put me on medication. Thanks, lithium, for screwing my body up. Yes, I was lazy, and meds made me worse. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I felt hopeless, and sad, so I gave up on myself. I didn’t even try.
In February of this year (2013), I looked at myself, and I asked, is this the life I really want to live? Am I satisfied with this? What can I do? I talked to a coworker and friend of mine, who works out frequently, and she invited me to work out with her. I laughed and told her how out of shape I was, and made excuses. She showed me pictures of herself from when she was overweight. I realized…it’s because I haven’t even tried.
First, I changed my food. Candy? Why am I eating it every day? What’s with all this fried food? How many calories was I eating??? Was I out of my mind??? I started losing a little weight. But it was slow. I am/was obese, 225 at 5’4 at the time. I didn’t want to stay like that. I knew there were health risks. My family has hypertension and diabetes, among other things.
So I got up and ran one day. Well, I walked, then jogged about 15 seconds, realized I was going to die, then walked again. Gave it a try again the next day, and the next. 3 miles of walking a day. Some jogging thrown in there, but not much, because I needed my inhaler after about 30 seconds. Worked out with my coworker friend, she pushed me until I was sore, and I liked it. Suddenly, I was jogging up to a minute at a time. I started working out on my own without external motivation. I started losing more weight. I started feeling even better. I dropped several pant sizes.
Now I’m down to 190 at 5’4, and losing. I either swim or run/jog most days of the week, and eat fairly healthy (I admit to the occasional guilty pleasure, I am human).
But every day, in the back of my mind, I fear one of the older versions of myself emerging from the background and taking over. I have a continuing problem with skipping meals, although I try to make my calorie goals for the day anyway. It’s usually a thing of forgetting to eat, rather than intentionally skipping, but it’s still a problem. Occasionally, I get the temptation to purge, especially when I have something that isn’t particularly healthy. Sometimes I get a sweet tooth, and I fear that I’ll go back to the person who only ate horrible foods. It’s a battle I fight every day.
But I don’t fight this battle because of anyone else. I fight this battle because I want to be HEALTHY. I want to not have issues because of the foods I eat. I want to be able to run and participate in life. I want to be happy.