My Journey

Looking back on my journey, I realize that many small details I considered insignificant actually were not. They were signals, red flags, details someone could have noticed and possibly helped me with before things got worse. At an early age, I was subjected to many longs talks about weight, losing weight, and being the “perfect” weight. My mom was the epitome of weight-obsessed. My sister struggled with weight her entire life. My dad introduced some major life changes during high school. I can now see that these insignificant details, when combined, created the perfect concoction for a weight-obsessed adolescent, eventually turning to an eating disorder.

My mom was constantly worried about her weight. These were the stories that we heard. When my mom was younger, she enjoyed eating raw potatoes, but her mom considered it unhealthy. To stop my mom from eating the raw potatoes, my grandma would tell her, “Eating raw potatoes will give you worms in your stomach.” Whether this has any validity or not, I have no idea, but it stopped my mom. It also gave her a tool to use as her journey through weight obsession began. My mom explained to us that remembering the repulsion she felt from hearing raw potatoes would give her worms, she began to apply the same logic to other foods she craved, and began curbing her appetite from disgust towards the food.  Whenever she was hungry, it was easier to convince herself that food would give her worms, than to just eat in moderation. It was easier, and a quick way to lose weight. She also told us that she would also tape pictures of thin, beautiful women to the refrigerator and cabinets in the kitchen so she could see those images and remember her goals before eating. This was disordered thinking towards food. Someone should have realized it. But as usual in her family, things were quietly swept under the rug and never discussed, leaving her with a lack of self-confidence and a handful of bad habits to pass on to her own daughters.

I vividly remember my mom telling me the stories of weight control from her childhood. But not only did she tell me, she also told my younger sister, and if I had to guess, my youngest sister knows the stories as well. My sister has always struggled with her weight. Growing up, this wasn’t because she overate or didn’t exercise – if anything, I ate more than my sister. We were both always outside, running around, playing. Her metabolism just wasn’t as fast. This didn’t seem to stop my mom from talking. She still would tell us these stories at an age when what she said was very impressionable. The things she told us stuck. I can’t speak for what it did to my sister, but it helped lead me to feel that on my quest to perfection, I needed to control my weight no matter what the cost.

Not only do I remember the stories my mom would tell, but I also remember the times when she would obsess about going to the gym or a new diet. These obsessions were never consistent. She would begin a gym regimen, diet, start to feel good about herself, then stop. This would be followed by a period of self-loathing where we would constantly hear about how she could not go out in a bathing suit because of how she looked. Then, she would start the routine again. It was an unhealthy cycle, and it affected my thought process about what normal exercise was, and why people diet. This was just more fuel for the fire that would become my disordered eating habits.

As I continued to grow up, it wasn’t just my mom that had an influence on my eating habits or body image. I think some of my body image issues stemmed from watching my sister struggle with her weight. She was ridiculed in school. She would come home upset and embarrassed for being called pregnant; she was in elementary school. I knew kids were cruel and I was scared of giving them a reason to be cruel to me. I heard my parents talk about my sisters’ weight as a bad thing. I did not want to struggle with weight, but I was her sister, if it could happen to her, why not me? We had the same parents, the same genes, we even looked similar, who was to say I wasn’t going to gain weight and get made fun of? That scared me, a lot.

A big proponent of eating disorders is a need for control, which can sometimes manifest in Obsessive-compulsive type behaviors. This is perhaps the biggest red flag I displayed.  I was terrified of germs. I was afraid germs would somehow get on me and infect me, so I constantly washed my hands or used hand sanitizer. This lead to my hands being dry, raw, and cracked open. My parents took me to my pediatrician, who quickly told me to stop washing my hands and sent me on my way. The obsessive hand washing didn’t stop there. I didn’t magically stop worrying about the germs. In fact, I became even more obsessed with the thought of Anthrax (this was 2001) and would wash my hands anytime I had the opportunity. But this didn’t spark any thoughts in my parents to get me help from someone else, someone more qualified. I understand this doesn’t directly correlate to the eating disorder I would later develop, but it leaves me wondering, if I would have learned normal coping skills, or a better thought process, would I have been able to avoid the problems in the future?

Looking back, there are times I can remember hating my body when I was very young.  I can remember different instances where I didn’t feel I measured up to what was expected, even though these weren’t stated expectations.  I remember thinking my stomach was huge when we were at the beach and I was wearing a bathing suit.  I was probably 10 years old and should have been enjoying a wonderful vacation. Every year before our dance recital, we were measured for our costumes. This was a point in the year when we should have been nervous and scared about the upcoming performance. Instead, I was worried that my measurements would be larger than the other girls in my class.

In 8th grade, I was in Advanced Gym, lifting weights and running with most of the boys and about 5 other girls from my grade. One part of Advanced Gym was to “weigh in”, in order to track progress throughout the year. This terrified me. I absolutely could not weigh more than the other girls in my class. Looking back, I was probably about average among them, but the thought still terrified me. Not only was I scared of my weight being compared to those girls, but also worried that my friends in another class might find out and compare my weight to themselves. My best friend was very thin.  I was extremely scared of her knowing I weighed 103 pounds when she probably didn’t even weigh 100 pounds yet.  When I talk about when my disordered eating first began, I forget to mention this part of the process.  I didn’t begin partaking in the actual behavior aspect of it until later on, but during this part of middle school, and even earlier, the underlying thoughts were definitely there, consuming me and ultimately controlling everything I did.

During my freshman year of high school, my parents introduced a new diet in our family in order to help my sister with her ongoing weight struggles, as well as help everyone get healthier. This diet was introduced as a “lifestyle change” but radically shook our world. Everything we were used to eating was taken away and replaced with baked fish or chicken and vegetables. Looking back, this diet wasn’t all that bad, but the way it was implemented was. The problem was, the diet was just dropped into our lives, everything changed very quickly and there was a lot of emphasis put on the idea of weight loss, but so little put on actually being healthier. The logic I took was to be healthier by being skinnier. I don’t think my parents realized how radical of a change this was to me, to us. I also don’t think they were aware that this way of thinking was unhealthy. I was always considered the “thin one,” so I guess they thought eating healthy would be fine with me, which it was, until they decided the diet wasn’t working and we stopped it. Just like that, the focus of food changed from eating semi normally, to eating extremely healthy in order to lose weight, to eating unhealthy once more. No more weight loss. No more “good” foods. This was the breaking point.

I couldn’t give up eating healthy because I wanted the weight loss that was promised. Without the ability to choose my own food, which would have consisted of healthier (cleaner) options than what my parents were providing, I began restricting what I ate. I couldn’t just stop caring; that was no longer an option. I had to control what I ate, and since I couldn’t control the what, I controlled the how much. I started eating a grapefruit for breakfast – I had heard it jump started the metabolism to lose weight. For lunch I would eat a snack bag of Cheerios, or a snack sized bag of Cheez Its, or something of the sort – never over 250 calories. With lunch, I drank a Propel, which is what I relied on all day in order to curb my hunger. When my stomach would growl, I would drink some Propel. When it would growl more, I would chew half a piece of gum. After school, I would go home and refuse to eat anything until dinner. For dinner, since I was eating with my family and I hadn’t yet come to the point of openly restricting, I would eat what they ate, only with smaller portions. Since my day was filled with so little calories before dinner, I allowed myself to eat their “unhealthy” food, and that is where the majority of my calories came from. After dinner, I wouldn’t eat anything else the rest of the night.

My obsession with counting calories began. I would sit in class calculating how many calories I had ingested already in an attempt to figure out how much I could eat at dinner, my goal being to eat as little as possible without causing suspicion about my behaviors. This type of eating persisted for a long time.

During my freshman year of high school, I met D. It took a while, but in May 2006, D and I started dating. As freshman year turned into the summer, D and I didn’t see each other that much because I spent the majority of the summer with my best friend at the time. During summer of 2006, my eating disorder was very much active. I would try to go all day with just eating a yogurt. This was the summer that I hit one of my lowest points throughout my entire journey.

One day during the summer, I woke up later in the afternoon – I had no energy to get out of bed any earlier because I had eaten so little the day before. I forced myself out of bed and dragged myself down the stairs to my parents’ bedroom – to the scale. I was so tired just from that little bit of movement, but as soon as I stepped on the scale and saw the number, my energy soared. 100.5! This was the lowest I could ever really remember weighing in the years that I had actually paid attention to the scale. This high didn’t last long. My energy was gone again, so I climbed back up stairs and went back to bed, finally feeling successful with my eating and my weight. I called my best friend at the time and told her about my accomplishment; needless to say, she didn’t find it all that wonderful. This began the long unwinding of our friendship. It would be a long time before we completely stopped communicating, but that was definitely the beginning. She was so upset and hurt and worried about me that instead of asking me to get help, as she had done so many times before, she gave up on me. She never said she did, but I could feel it, I could hear it in her voice, I could feel it in how she treated me from then on.  We were different. This was the first friend my eating disorder stole from me.

As fall rolled around and we started school as sophomores, D and I were still dating. This was the year that I think D probably noticed my eating habits. It was also during this year that problems began arising in my family, and I decided to confide in him.

During my sophomore year of high school, I began to notice my dad going on business trips more often than he ever had before. I was suspicious, but I was also naive. Finally, my dad introduced us to his best friend that he had met in at the beach. I loved my dad’s best friend.  I loved hanging out with him, I loved it when he came to our house to visit, I loved it when we went to his house to visit. It was great! Little did I know, my whole image of my dad and his best friend was about to change. I figured out my dad was gay and his best friend was more than just a friend – he was his boyfriend. I was hurt. I felt my whole entire life had been a lie. I view myself as a very open-minded, liberal person, but when this bombshell exploded, it took a lot of time for me to actually accept, years. I think what I took away most from this situation was that if you have a secret you don’t feel is worthy enough to share, hide it. Hide the pain, hide the fear, hide the scars, hide everything. And that is what I did with my eating disorder.

Sophomore year, my eating patterns continued – small breakfast, almost nonexistent lunch, and almost no dinner. I began counting the calories in gum. I focused on eating fewer than 500 calories a day. Anything more and I deserved to get fat. When basketball season came around, I decided to try out and ended up making the team! I was very excited – not as much about actually playing as how this allowed me to exercise on top of restricting; a faster way to lose weight. Now I could add a two hour practice full of running and expending calories on top of my few calories during the day. By the end of the day, I was excited to go home and eat dinner – I could eat a little more than usual because of all of the calories I burned and I didn’t have to worry about gaining weight! After eating dinner, I quickly realized that the calories burned didn’t matter. They weren’t enough. I would go outside and run in my neighborhood until I couldn’t run anymore, until I felt I would pass out. I ran right after dinner in hopes that running really hard would help me to purge. This is how my entire basketball season went. I was always tired. I had a headache almost every day. I was miserable, but I hid it all. I lied, I hid food, I threw food away, I was sneaky, and I was mean. And this went on for a very long time.

Around the end of sophomore year, beginning of junior year, I began to rely on drinking in order to get through my issues. This just created more problems. My weeks revolved around  skipping meals, and looking forward to the weekend so I could drink with people I thought were my friends. I would drink in order to feel. During the week, I couldn’t feel anything but anxiety about eating, or hatred towards my body. I couldn’t feel happy about anything. I couldn’t feel upset if it wasn’t related to eating or losing weight. Alcohol allowed me the small break I was looking for. It allowed me to feel, even if it was only temporary. I relied on drinking for a while, until my parents caught me summer after junior year. On to the next coping skill.

Junior year of high school, I was tired of fighting the thoughts in my head, and so I reached out for help with my eating disorder. Besides D, I had never actually told anyone about my problem. I finally told my cousin, who was very supportive and has been one of my biggest allies throughout this entire process, and a childhood friend. I was advised to start going to therapy and try to get help. With much convincing, I asked my mom to take me to a therapist that another person I knew went to. This therapist worked out of a church, which should have been my first clue not to choose to go there, but I went anyway. This was an awful experience with therapy. My therapist focused our discussions on my dad, whom I had recently had an argument with – we weren’t on speaking terms. He had moved in with his boyfriend and we were selling our house to move in with my grandparents. This was difficult, but it wasn’t the basis of my problems. I wasn’t talking to my dad, and our relationship didn’t get better immediately, but that didn’t cause my problems. But, this is what my therapist wanted to talk about instead of the real problems. She wasn’t happy about the fact that my dad was gay. Forget the eating disorder, the real issue was that my dad was gay and she believed that was wrong. I stayed with therapy for a little while, but ultimately quit going and promised myself never to try therapy again.

As junior year went on, I continued to eat as little as possible, count calories, and skip meals. My weight fluctuated because my body stored everything I did eat as fat. At one point, during one of my physicals, my mom mentioned she thought I had a problem to my pediatrician. He responded with, “Well she seems to weigh enough so I don’t think there is much of a problem.” This hurt and provided motivation to try harder. My whole life was focused on being skinny, and I wasn’t even doing it good enough. I still had headaches constantly, and sometimes would black out. I was tired and weak and needed help, but I didn’t know how to get it since therapy was so unsuccessful. D and I had been dating for going on 2 years during this time, and I began to rely even more heavily on him. I usually went to his house after work and wouldn’t eat much over there. I am very surprised his family didn’t know what was going on. I would talk to D about my thoughts, trying to use him as a sounding board and get over my problems. It didn’t work – it only put strain on our relationship. He wasn’t a psychologist and I couldn’t expect him to be one.

I remember one night after D and I had talked a long while about trying to get over my issues, we were getting nowhere, I was very upset and so was he. He was so worried about me. He didn’t know what else to say. Everyone else had either given up on me or not cared by this time, and I was scared he was going to become the same way, so I decide that night just to stop talking about it, and try as best I could to just ignore the thoughts and push them away. This was hard. I pushed the thoughts and feelings deep down inside. I started eating more. I knew this wasn’t actually recovery. I wasn’t choosing to recover – I was choosing not to lose someone else that I loved. I wasn’t addressing the problems, I was avoiding them, and my insecurities and need for control began to show themselves in other ways. I became really overprotective of D because I was scared he was going to cheat on me – a problem that lasted for almost two years. D had never given me any reason to think he was going to cheat on me. He was always faithful, never lied, never did anything to make me believe he might cheat, but that didn’t matter, I was still worried. This was just my need to control manifesting itself in another way, since I would not let it come out in my control of food in fear I might lose him. I turned from being lying, sneaky, and mean to crazy, bitchy, and irrational overnight. This fear continued throughout my freshman year of college, until finally I had to let it go, or risk destroying the one thing I cared about the most.

As soon as I let go my irrational fear of D leaving me or cheating on me, I began to feel the thoughts creep back into my head. I felt fat. I felt like everything I ate was going to make me gain weight. I was still eating healthily, but the thoughts began to invade my mind. By the summer after my freshman year, I weighed 117, a healthy weight, but too much for me to be happy. I felt insecure in a bathing suit. I felt like I always had to hide my stomach. I was not happy with my body once again. I realize now that I had never been happy with my body – I had just changed my thinking from one disordered form to another, and once I let the other go, the first came back as strong as ever.

In May of my freshman year of college, I decided to try a vegetarian diet. I watched the PETA video and wanted to help animals, but more than that, I saw cutting out a food group as a way to cut calories. A few weeks after I decided to try this lifestyle change, D decided to give it a go as well. We also decided to rid our diets of partially hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. We felt so much better, lighter, healthier. D began to lose weight, while I stayed around the same weight. This didn’t help the thoughts that were once again taking hold of my mind.

By August of my sophomore year of college, I knew I needed help again. I was scared to turn to D. After all we had been through, I don’t know why I was so scared, but I was. Instead I turned to a friend at the time, A. I knew I could trust her to help me, and she did. She suggested that first, I tell D. She said he would understand and since he was constantly around me, he could monitor my eating, whereas she couldn’t. A told me I really needed to consider getting help from a therapist at school. I listened to her and told D, but I was hesitant to find a therapist. I thought it was embarrassing, I was scared to open up and to be vulnerable, my previous therapy sessions had gone terribly wrong, so I didn’t want to take that chance again. D talked to me about what was going on, tried his best to help me eat healthy, and also tried to explain to me that I needed professional help. Finally, I decided to go get help. I was terrified, but I knew no matter what happened, I had D and my other friend as support. I went to our campus medical center, was triaged by a case manager, and told I would receive a call back in a few weeks.

I continued to go about my days, struggling to eat enough, feeling bad when I did. I was relying heavily on D, and A, when I didn’t feel like I was bothering her. Finally, I got a phone call and was able to make an appointment with a therapist. Waiting in the waiting room on the day of my appointment, was terrifying. Would my therapist be the same as the last one? Would they be a male or female? Would they even understand how to help me? Would they believe me? Would they think I was not thin enough to need help? All of these questions and more flooded through my head. Then I met C, who I owe a huge amount of my success to. We went to her office and began talking, and I was actually sort of comfortable talking to her. I still wasn’t comfortable opening up completely, but I would answer her questions and listen to her advice, and I slowly began to feel somewhat better. I began going to meet with C every week. It got easier to open up and talk, but I was still having the negative thoughts and it was still a fighting struggle with myself to eat and feel ok about it. I had weighed 117 over the summer, I now weighed 112. Then 110. Then 108.

The next two years are a blur of trying to recover and failing. I learned things about myself. I learned coping skills (some of which I still use). I hated my body, I wanted to be skinnier, to weigh less. I struggled with thoughts of cutting myself. I sat on the floor holding a knife contemplating cutting off the fat that I saw that nobody else could seem to see. I started scratching and hitting myself. I struggled to eat normally. I counted every calorie meticulously through MyFitnessPal. I struggled to eat in social situations. Some days I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Some days I felt like I could be normal, that I could love myself through my flaws. But ultimately, my eating disorder destroyed my go at a “normal” college experience. I avoided making friendships until junior year of college. I avoided eating in front of people. I abided by the rules I had created in my brain, all for the sake of being skinny.

During these couple of years, I started running as a means of coping. Running provided a release I can’t explain, many people call this, “runner’s high.” Running gave me power, strength, and another form of control. Running was a coping tool until it became an obsession. I ran 5k’s and 10k’s without a problem. Then I decided to train for a half marathon. Training was brutal. Of course I overdid it. Why run the set amount of mileage per week when you can run more? Why eat what MyFitnessPal says you should in order to maintain your weight if you can eat less? I swear those red numbers on MyFitnessPal will plague me until the day I die.

Senior year of college, C told me two wonderful things: we were getting a registered dietician, A, on campus and another therapist, N, was starting a support group for people with eating disorders. She recommended I give both a try. At this point, I was willing to take whatever help was offered, so I agreed to the dietician. The group took a little (or a lot) more convincing.

Meeting with A was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Through our time together I quit using MyFitnessPal, quit counting calories altogether, started a meal plan, finished a half marathon, found out I had a stress fracture, took time off from running in order for the stress fracture to heal, started running at a healthy level, began eating healthily, and more. I also made a lifelong friend.

The support group was a little different. Each week was a constant battle with myself over whether or not I was sick enough to go. I heard stories of which mine could never compare. I could never live up to some of these standards of eating disordered. Which ultimately taught me something else, my story is just that – my story. I don’t have to compare my story to anyone else’s. My story is unique. My eating disorder is unique. My journey is unique. And nothing about that meant that I was not worthy enough to join in this support group and just be me. This group also left me with another lifelong friend, K.

Senior year of college consisted of student teaching, class, and biweekly appointments with A, Dr. M, whatever therapist I happened to be seeing at the time, and a weekly support group meeting. All of this, while also trying to hide the crazy and maintain normalcy in front of the friends I had finally made! At some point I finally opened up to MB, who was extremely supportive, non-judgmental, and gave some really great advice!

All in all, senior year came and went, all too fast. I made friends. I lost friends. I graduated and moved to Fairfax, Virginia. My entire world changed in the blink of an eye. I was in a new place with new people. I found a job, met people, and got connected. I made lifelong friends. I met my best friend. I met amazing friends. I got married to D! But once again, I was on that downward spiral. You see, just when you think you have things under control, you realize how quickly that control can shift. And that’s just what it did.

Once again, I was eating less, counting calories, and running all of the time. Finally, I reached out and got help, again. I joined MentorConnect and was connected with an amazing mentor, B, who has helped me considerably and is so much more than a mentor, but also a friend. I confided in my best friend, C (different C), who has been there for me every step of the way since day one. I enjoyed countless meals with A (different A), as I pushed myself to try new things and eat without worrying about being judged for eating “too much.” I tried therapists, I hated therapists, and finally I found a therapist who played a significant role in helping me along the past year or so. I was still on this rollercoaster ride of recovery – trying one thing after another and never seeming to go very far. Until summer of 2014.

Summer of 2014 was a huge success! It started out at a low point – I had an idea that D and I might be moving soon and I was extremely worried about losing the friends I had just made (trust issues). I seemed happy! I put on that fake smile and treaded on. I was at my great summer camp job, I had wonderful friends, I was married, but still, something wasn’t right. I still felt fat, depressed, and just not good enough. I started scratching myself again.

But, I also met another friend who would also play a huge role in my recovery. She just also happened to be my personal trainer. I started lifting. Not just lifting light weights like I had before in my BodyPump class. I was lifting big, heavy weights. Squats, bench press, deadlift, shoulder press, clean, you name it, I did it. I saw my body change. And with that body change came an attitude change. I didn’t just want to be skinny. I wanted to be strong. I wanted quads and biceps. I couldn’t get enough!

With lifting, I also realized (or more was told a million times and finally gave in) that I needed to eat more. I couldn’t gain muscle by eating minimally. I decided to change my lifestyle – I began eating meat, began counting macros through IIFYM, and added another 800 calories to my daily intake, taking me from 1500 calories a day to 2300. This was the MOST I had ever eaten. Period. I was scared, I was worried, but most of all I was excited for changes. And change is what I got.

Scratching myself had gotten out of hand. I realized this when I was in the car on the way to my therapist appointment. I was in traffic, running late, and I couldn’t breathe. That’s how it always started. So, I got out my usual tool and began – instantly I could breathe again. I walked into my appointment and told my therapist what I had been doing and that I knew I needed to stop. I wish I could say that it was easy, but like any habit, it was a process. The next day I was leaving for C’s bachelorette weekend and had to decide whether or not to pack what I had been using. I decided against it and left it home. That weekend was about celebrating my best friend getting married, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that with the option of hurting myself in my room.

I stopped hurting myself. I stopped hating myself. I started LIKING what I saw in the mirror. Granted, there were days when I saw the scale go up and I had a panic attack, but I eventually realized that as the scale went up, so did my squat max. I was getting strong. I was gaining muscle. And I was eating.

Food became fuel. Food was no longer good or bad – it was just food. I realized that if I wanted to lift more, I had to eat more – not just calories, but protein, carbs, and fat. And so I did. And that is what I continue to do.

Everyday is not easy. Every day is a choice – a choice between doing the hard thing and continuing to recover or doing the easy thing and relapsing. But my goals are more than a number on a scale. My goals are for strength, for loving myself, and for being the best me possible.

In the last month, I moved from my wonderful, happy life in Fairfax, VA to Amsterdam, Netherlands. No friends, no gym. Everything is different. Was it easy, no. Are there days that I want to give up and just not eat, absolutely. But, I have to remember my goals. I get D and my friends to remind me of my goals. They remind me that I am more than this eating disorder that has held me hostage for far too long. They remind me that even if I haven’t lifted in 3 weeks, that my muscles need the fuel for when I finally do find a gym. They remind me to love me. They are my support group, confidants, lifesavers. Each has helped me in ways that they will probably never fully know.

I have spent a long time looking for a way to pay it forward. A way to help others realize that there is hope. You are not your eating disorder and things can change. In December 2014, I took the NSCA-CPT exam and became a certified personal trainer. I want to use what I know, what I’ve been through to help others find freedom.

I can’t look back and pinpoint one thing that led to a chain reaction to an eating disorder. I can’t look back and say that my Grandpa dying hurt me so bad that I lost control and turned to restriction. I can’t say that finding out about my dad being gay had a huge influence. I can’t even blame my mom’s constant struggle with her own body image. Nothing huge completely altered my world in a way that could spark an eating disorder. My struggles started slowly, with little incidents building on top of each other until one day I realized I had lost control of everything I thought I was controlling.

As struggles with obesity rise, self-consciousness surrounding weight increases steadily. As this self-consciousness rises, so do eating disorders. Eating disorders plague today’s youth and adults. They are not prejudice; anyone can be overcome by this disease; man, woman, young, old, black, white, rich, poor. This disease so much deeper than a vain sense of wanting to look better than the person next to you. It gets inside of you, grips everything you know and contorts it to fit into a disordered perspective. It controls you, it changes you, it makes you sick, it makes you hate yourself, and eventually, it kills you. Yet, eating disorders are such a taboo topic that people avoid. People are applauded for admitting their alcoholism and encouraged through AA, people are seen as strong after recovering from drug addiction, yet eating disorders are often hidden, seen as embarrassing, shameful. Mental illness is an illness just like any other. No mental illness is shameful. People with mental illness should be able to reach out, ask for help, and find support without judgement. Rant over.

Admitting to struggles with food is hard. Reaching out and confiding in a loved one is hard. It can be embarrassing, uncomfortable, and worst of all, you can’t control the reaction you might receive. I am at the best point I have been at in at least 10 years, and I truly believe that is a result of me reaching out and trusting people in Virginia.

I want this blog to be about many things. I want to focus on recovery, on learning to love and accept oneself. I want to focus on eating healthily – not through restricting food groups and dieting, but through moderation and balance. And, I want to focus on fitness as a means of coping, recovery, and gaining strength. If I can help just one person through this blog, then it is worth it!

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