Wednesday, February 25, 2015

National Eating Disorder's Week

This week is National Eating Disorder's Week, so in honor of those who are struggling, I will reveal something personal about myself.

Upon entering college, food has been my best friend and enemy. I have always loved food and have had an admiration for famous chefs like Mario Batali and Julia Childs. As a creative person, I love to cook and bake. I plan to apprentice in the Culinary Arts after Lawrence because cooking and baking is my true passion.

But I am food obsessed. I have never been diagnosed with an eating disorder and last year I met with a counselor a few times, where she said that I would not fit into any category because I still function at a normal level. I prefer not to give it a label because it makes me feel bad about myself. I know I do have a problem, so I call my problem, a "Jenny disorder." I know off the top of my head how many calories are in peanut butter, oreos, cakes, pastas, dressings, meats, etc. I began to obsess and count calories when I was in 9th grade, because I put on eights lbs around the time that I quit ballet, grew four inches, and went on birth control to regulate my periods. Because I am small, it was a shock to me even though I was not overweight or chubby. By my senior year in high school, I kept going up in weight and realized that I wanted to look good for my senior speech and prom, so I lost eight lbs that year. I continued to lose that weight through December of my freshman year in college, but I was losing weight the wrong way. I restricted my calorie intake too much for how much I was exercising. I wasn't restricting it drastically like you hear in the news, but it was enough to make me forget how to identify hunger cues.

When I started college, food always surrounded me. I come from a family that eats homemade food, no processed or junk at all and eats three solid meals a day. By second term of my freshman year, I started to binge and channel my anxiety into food, but also because I was starving without knowing it. I began to eat things when they were available because I was so hungry, such as a ¾ jar of nutella that my roommate had or a whole bag of chips at a party. This was horrifying to me. I had never done this before. I did not know that it possible to fit that much food into my stomach. Why was this happening? The reason was because I wasn't eating enough. Back then, I had been doing moderate exercise 5-6 times a week and I realize I wasn’t eating enough to make up for it. I have never been fat, chubby or round, but as a person who is constantly aware of my weight, I noticed I gained six pounds that year and I wanted to fix it. Nobody else noticed it, but with a type A personality, I was determined to lose the weight again. With the help of a nutritionist, who got me on a meal plan, I lost the weight and from there, I began to lose it on my own without help and even more. I have been able to maintain my weight and eat even more than I was before and feel satisfied and full. I eat 4-5 meals a day, in order to make up for how much I burn during my workouts.
I enjoy being healthy and I don’t participate in eating things at college just to do it with friends or so I can fit in. People always comment on my plate and say that I don’t eat enough or my plate is too “healthy” and it used to bother me, but I’ve decided it’s similar to having an allergy. I don’t have to eat cookies or chips or pizza, if I don’t want to. It’s been a difficult road to do this, but I’ve decided I’d rather not feel guilty.

I also believe that it is okay indulge and occasionally overeat. I am not perfect and I still struggle with food even now. About 9.5/10 times I will choose to not eat the cake, cookies, fries etc. I love to eat healthy and have many days where I eat a ton of veggies and fruits.

I am on a roll. I have now been able to go at least five months at a time, binge free, three times now.  Once every few months, I accept there will be set backs. I know that there will be days where I will eat half a batch of cookie dough in one sitting, but it cannot harm me, and I will always be able to undo it by getting back on track the next day. I eat when I am hungry and I listen to my body. I have learned self-control and I've learned to identify when I am hungry.

Strong is the new skinny everyone. I've been doing strength training, crossfit, HIIT and cardio weekly for more than a year and I am so much stronger and faster than I ever have been in my life. I can squat more than 105 lbs, I can hold a 20 lb dumbbell easily and I can run 4.0 miles without stopping. Wouldn't you rather be strong and in shape than thin and weak? I also learned not to weigh yourself or go by the number on the scale, look at the changes in your body and how your clothes feel. Also, I'm trying to do less of this, but I urge you to all to not count calories, count nutrients.

I believe that my body dismorphia is temporary. When I go home, it always gets better, but when I return to college it always comes back. The voices get louder, telling me who I need to be, but it's gotten so much better with the help and support of my boyfriend and family.

I hope that by reading my story, you learned something and will be inspired to make a change or educate others on making healthy choices, whether it is small or large

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