The year is 2010. A girl has just started college. She has the whole world in front of her. Exciting, but scary. She cares deeply about the way her body looks and has for a few years now after losing weight and finally getting skinny. In this new, scary world of college she is determined to not let her body gain the cliche “freshman 15”.
With that worry comes obsession. Meals become the same almost every day. They become smaller and smaller. More methodical by the month. Normal college parties and activities with food are turned down because that would disrupt the food schedule. Have to stick to the schedule.
Friends and family begin to comment that the girl is too skinny. That they’re worried about her eating habits, that she’s not really enjoying her college time to it’s fullest. But how could that be? This girl has always been near the top of the class, one of the smartest girls in her high school, excelling with her grades in college. She’s going places. But is she REALLY happy?…
She loves food, always has. She loves to cook. And even chose Dietetics as her major in college! No way this girl could have an eating disorder.
Well…the truth hurts. The girl was blinded and kept putting away the idea that she had a problem for so long. Sure, she probably exercised far more than the average girl, probably should loosen up her eating schedule so she wouldn’t freak out when a friend wanted to grab lunch or dinner someplace new. She kept telling herself nothing was wrong. Until it was.
When the girl finally started to read more on orthorexia. When the girl finally started to take off the rose colored glasses and see her body for how skinny and tired it really was. When she started to see how tired her very soul was of not enjoying life to it’s fullest. That’s what sparked the change.
This girl is me. I was that girl who entered my college years, what were supposed to be some of the best years of my life, with constant fear and worry about the food I was eating and the exercise I was getting. I was constantly worried about gaining an ounce. The scale was my frenemy.
That was then…
This is now. While I wouldn’t call myself 100% recovered from disordered eating or warped ways of thinking about my calories in vs. my calories out, I’d say I’m about 95%. Which is a hell of a lot better than I could say I was 4 years ago.
So what helped me recover?
- Having a supportive family, friends, and fiance. First and foremost, having a team at your back to give you emotional support makes the road to recovering from orthorexia a thousand times better! My family – my parents – would comment on my health and the fact that my disordered eating habits were influencing my mood and my social life. But they never pressed me. They would suggest, but never press. And my fiance, then boyfriend, Wade…as I’ve mentioned in the past, he has some pretty quirky and picky eating habits as well, but he supported me by always ALWAYS calling me beautiful, no matter what my size. When I’d see my body as too heavy or too skinny he would remind me how much he loved me no matter what.
- Vacations. Strangely enough, when I was challenged the most with keeping up with my calories in vs. calories out and exercise on vacations was actually when I strengthened my resolve to get over those hindering habits. When they say challenge = change, they’re right. I still do this today, I notice that when I go on vacation is when I start to eat more intuitively and worry less about cleaning my plate (which has always been a leading problem of my overeating to the point to feeling sick to my stomach). I start to listen to what I’m craving. It also helps that I don’t usually have as many snacks in easy access on vacation as I do at home.
- Reading other’s stories. To any other blogger, author, storywriter that has published their own journey with orthorexia, THANK YOU. Reading other’s stories was how I finally figured out there was something wrong with my obsessive ways of eating and exercising. Reading other’s stories is what helped me understand the root of the problem and how to work on letting go of those control issues. Reading other’s stories is what made me want to write my own to hopefully pass on the learnings from my own journey to help that one other girl/guy that may not understand how to get out of that obsessive, controlling rut of worrying constantly about food.
- Realizing there are far more important things in life than food. This is a big one for me to admit! Especially for a food blogger. But it’s true and it has to be said. Yes, I love cooking, nutrition, and everything that goes along with all things food; however, it was a sad circumstance that happened when my father got extremely sick with cancer and eventually passed away just five short months later that I believe finally gave me that last kick in the ass to concentrate on more things in my life than food. When I started cooking for just my mother and I after his passing as I was job searching and getting ready to move to Texas with Wade, and even when I eventually did move to Austin, I had to really grow up. And the growing up included getting over worrying about something as silly as calories in vs. calories out.
I’m still a health and food nut to this very day but my viewpoints on the “evil” of calories has changed by a mile. I work out regularly, about 5-6 times a week, but I keep it much more reasonable now. Typically I try to do 20-30 minutes of exercise videos at home on my workout days and Wade and I are frequently walking and hiking in Austin both during the week and especially on the weekends.
As for the food, I now focus on eating my food to enjoy it rather than worrying constantly about every little bite possibly putting some weight on my body and having to work it off later.
The extra perks? My bra size finally went up a whole letter (I’m a B for the first time in my life!) and my booty is bigger than ever, much to Wade’s delight. I’ve got curves. I’ve got some cellulite on my thighs and butt. I’m the most fit and strong that I’ve ever been. And I couldn’t be happier.
No questions today, just do me a favor: go to the closest mirror to you. Look yourself in the eyes. Tell yourself you’re a beautiful, wonderful human being. Then smile. 🙂
Linking up with Amanda for Thinking out Loud and Heather for Friday Favorites