How I Found My Balance
It's hard to believe that years ago I was a completely different person when it came to my eating habits and my attitude towards myself.
It hurts me when I look around and see so many girls so unhappy with themselves, in search of the perfect fix that will make them feel skinny enough and worth it. I long to change that.
I come from a past where self-love was something I never thought I could achieve. When I was young, I remember being confident, but like most girls, I had my insecurities. I remember my self-loathing began in 8th grade when I hit puberty. I was filling out more, getting a butt, boobs, hips- I was becoming a woman! This change scared me. I was a gymnast my entire life, and was used to having rock solid abs. Frankly, I worked out so hard at gymnastics I never really had to think about what I was eating before that moment.
Because I was unhappy, my mom introduced me to a more healthy lifestyle. She showed me the meaning of treating your body right and feeding it with fuel. There was nothing wrong with that, however, over time I had formed this idea in my mind of what was 'good' food versus 'bad'.
Fast forward to high school...
I don't remember freshman or sophomore year being super problematic when it came to my eating. I was pretty healthy, and remember feeling like I needed to watch my weight. However, junior year is when the problems arose.
I had just torn my ACL in gymnastics and required surgery. This put me into a major panic because I wouldn't be able to exercise for 8 months to a year. I was terrified of gaining weight, and knew that I had to be super careful. After surgery, I began restricting my eating and tried to be super clean. I would try so hard to not eat the whole day at school until I got home. A lot of the time, this resulted in binges because over time, my body started putting itself into starvation mode.
Within the next year, I became very depressed. I talked horribly about myself to my family and friends, I worked out as pure punishment because I felt fat and worthless. I would frequently visit profiles on Tumblr and Instagram that encouraged anorexia and starvation. I would even write down all my calories and everything I ate that day in my notes in my phone. Every. Single. Day. On top of that, because of all this self sabotage, I had gained 10-15 pounds.
These habits dragged into my senior year for that entire year as well. I would cry every day and I tried every diet out there just to lose the weight I had gained within the previous year. Weight Watchers, South Beach Diet, Paleo, Vegan; you name it, I tried it.
Aside from not being able to lose the weight, I had developed a terrible habit of binge-eating, and I couldn't stop. At that point, I honestly just wanted to be normal again. I couldn't even go a day without overeating because of the harm I had caused on my body. I tried therapy, thinking that it would 'fix' me, but I just left feeling helpless.
Finally, I found something that helped.
I came across a book called Intuitive Eating and it completely changed the way I thought about what was happening to me. Obviously the book isn't what magically made me recover, but those principals were the basis of my recovery and basically my bible. Essentially, it taught me that I was looking for diets to change me, to make me skinnier, to make me beautiful. In reality, I realized that until I stopped dieting once and for all, I was never going to be at peace.
So how did I change?
1. I vowed to never speak badly about myself again. Out loud or in my head.
2. I unfollowed all those people on Instagram that I used as body "inspo" and started following people who really inspired me.
A few of these people were and still are Kelly U, The Balanced Blonde, Josie Mai, Kylie Mitchell, and Cambria Joy. All of these people were honestly HUGE parts of my recovery. Who you associate yourself with and who you choose to look up to is everything.
3. I started practicing self-love
I began doing things for myself because I deserved to be treated right. Whether that was eating a food I was craving, or taking a hot bath. Self-love rituals became a daily occurrence.
4. I followed the principals of Intuitive Eating
5. I stopped looking at foods as "clean" or "dirty" and just treated them all the same.
6. I started incorporating some of my 'forbidden' foods into my everyday life. I still continue to practice this today.
7. I exercised to feel good, not for punishment. If I didn't feel like working out that day, it wasn't the end of the world!
8. I practiced letting go of food guilt. For months I still struggled with binging, but I got through it by letting go and moving on.
9. I started sharing my story with those around me. It not only allowed me to help others, but also was a form of therapy for me.
10. I started focusing more on life, and less on food and exercise. Life is short, and it just wasn't worth it anymore to waste away all that time.
It's impossible to say that I'm 'cured' because honestly, I am still progressing each and every day. Even though this issue took place so long ago, I look back a year ago and still have made so much progress since then. I constantly am introducing new foods and facing new challenges. My journey is ever-changing.
I share my story not only as a form of self-healing, but also to help you. I know I'm not an expert, and I don't have the magic cure, but maybe just one thing I say resonates with you and inspires you to get help or change the path you are on. If you made it this far, thank you so much for listening to my story without judgement.