My blog is usually light-hearted and filled with pictures of Annabelle, compression socks, and ice cream. This post is the complete opposite of that, but I feel it is important to share my story in the hopes that it could help somebody who might be caught in a similar struggle. It is very hard to share all of this, but I hope it can help you or someone you love.
I was an active kid growing up. My parents enrolled me in different sports like soccer, basketball, and gymnastics, but I found “my thing” with baton twirling. I started at the age of seven and twirled for the next 10 years. Many people don’t know much about the sport, but we practiced a few times a week during the winter months and every day in the summer leading up to the national competition held at the University of Notre Dame each July. Since I was young, active, and blessed with a great metabolism, I NEVER paid any attention to what I ate.
Can you tell which one is me?
My first “diet”
During the Spring of 2000, I was a senior in high school and prom was quickly approaching. My friend Kate and I decided that we wanted to lose some weight before the big dance, so we began a diet. The diet consisted of three parts: (1) No more cafeteria food (2) Lunch would consist of a sandwich, graham crackers, and a granola bar. Every day, Kate packed two sandwiches for us and I was responsible for bringing the crackers and granola bars (3) Eat a healthy dinner. We stuck to it and we felt pretty darn good come prom.
The Freshman Fifteen
I began college in the Fall of 2000 and I did what most other college freshman do. I took full advantage of my meal plan and the dining halls! Not only did I enjoy soft ice cream after almost every meal, my roommate Kirstyn and I loved to order late night pizza and Chinese food. No, we weren’t up late partying, we were busy watching Conan and playing on AOL Instant Messenger. It was really fun for a while, but towards the end of the school year I looked in the mirror and I was not happy with what I saw.
Me and Kirstyn in 2010
The Turning Point
Right before leaving college to go home for the summer, I started trying to eat healthier. My form of eating healthier equated to eating less. I noticed that eating less made my stomach flatter, my clothes fit better, and my body get smaller. During the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I continued to alter my eating habits and I started to lose a lot of weight. Since my parents worked during the day and were not able to monitor my habits, it was easy to hide for a while. By the time I went back to school, I was much smaller then when I left…and I was thrilled.
What did I eat?
During the Fall of 2001, I pretty much ate the same thing every day. My high school friends that I saw during the holidays, referred to my diet as the “water and fiber” diet. They didn’t know what I was eating or the severity of the situation at the time, but they did notice the continued weight loss.
Breakfast: Nutri-Grain Bar or granola bar
Dinner: Turkey on a wheat bagel and a small diet coke
Wow, I really didn’t realize how little food I was consuming. The diet coke was my “treat” for the day and I only had one small fountain soda per day…never more. I even stopped chewing gum because those were a few more calories that I didn’t need. I didn’t eat chocolate for over a year. My “diet” kept me from going out to eat with friends and I missed out on a lot of fun opportunities because I was a prisoner in my own body. PS seeing this in writing is quite overwhelming.
I am close to 5’8” tall and I weighed close to 130 pounds in the Spring of 2001. By the winter of 2002, I weighed in at 102 lbs. I lost any and all curves that I had and my face and eyes were dark and sunken in. Most alarming to me now, is that I didn’t have a cycle for one and a half years…one and a half years!
The Road to Recovery
One day in the Spring of 2002, my mom came to me and said, “I’m going to take you out of school and get you help. I can’t help you if you are here (at school) and I am at home.” For some reason, this really hit home. My mom and I are best friends and always have been. Seeing her worried and upset and to the point of removing me from school, really got to me and I knew that I needed to make a change. I would be lying if I said it was easy or if I didn’t have my setbacks and reoccurrences, but this was the beginning of a healthier life for me.
I started to add more to my diet and tried to eat three balanced meals a day. I started slow and stayed away from unhealthy foods like pizza and dessert. It took a while, but I started to gain weight and the color came back into my face. I attended fitness classes at the campus gym and I even tried out to teach the classes.
The Struggle Continues
I can honestly say, that I have maintained a healthy mindset and body image for the majority of time since 2002. However, I have also experienced my fair share of setbacks and challenges along the way. Every now and again something will happen (sickness, injury, stress, etc.) and I fall back into dangerous habits. NOTE: I have not had a setback in a very long time and I am in a really good place right now, so please don’t worry.
- Excessive exercise: Exercise is a great thing and great for the body. However, sometimes I feel like I need to exercise a few times a day and put in a few more hours because I had a piece of cake.
- Eating less…and less: At times, I just eat less (unplanned on my part) due to my job, busy schedule, or a sickness. Sometimes I just continue to eat less because I liked that I lost a little bit of weight or I enjoyed not feeling so “full” all of the time.
- Abusing laxatives: I don’t remember exactly when I discovered these, but I found freedom in eating a large meal and knowing I could “get rid of it” in a short amount of time.
I don’t think I will every fully be “cured”, but I do know how to handle the situation and I am a much stronger person because of it.
July 2008: Heavier but happy 🙂
December 2009: Skinnier (healthy skinny) and still happy. From the left: Kristie, Kate (high school diet partner), Lauren, Me, and Amber
Where I am today
I am very happy with my body and my body image. I can tell you the very most important thing that keeps me on track and healthy…my baby girl. I absolutely loved being pregnant and I knew that I was responsible for growing a healthy human being and I did everything in my power to do that.
July 2012: 3 months pregnant and super happy
I now have a beautiful almost 10 month old and I know that I need to stay healthy and strong for her. The last thing I want is for her to inherit a negative body image and I am going to do everything in my power to keep that from happening.
Thanks for taking the time to read my story and please pass this on to anybody that might need to know that they aren’t alone.
I hope you have a happy and healthy day. 🙂 Linda