My battle with
I remember when I went to the dentist, a mere two weeks after the end of my bikini competition training plan, when I was, the smallest and most muscular I had ever been. I had probably gained, like, a pound of water weight... or something. My dentist asked me how training was, and I said, "well, I'm not doing that anymore... obviously," as I made a hand gesture toward my body. As if, OBVIOUSLY I wasn't training anymore, because, look at me. GOD BLESS the dentist because if I had been them I would have been like, "WTF are you talking about? You're annoying. Stop."
It pains me that I thought this way, it pains me that it constrained so much of my life, so much of my happiness and openness to connection and love.
I haven't come clean about this yet. And, I can't seem to get passed things until I write about them. What's more, I can't seem to get passed things until I share them.
So here we are.
I have struggled, for the past five years or so, with an eating disorder.
An eating disorder that eventually led to intense anxiety, depression... super effing fun stuff that I'm SUPER stoked to talk about.
I've been able to put on a brave face, throughout most of it, but I think the worst of it came this year.
This year, everything got to it's worst. This year, I realized I was a walking self-deprecation - oozing the need for self-love and self-acceptance out of my pores.
Sound fun to be around?
Five-ish years ago, I became obsessed with how I looked. Though, I never really understood the fact that you actually could eat AND be fit and healthy. I was never overweight, though in my mind, I was. I saw myself different than others. The mirror tricked me - my own eyes tricked me - into seeing myself in a different light.
Every time I hung out with anyone, a comment needed to be made about my weight or food or fitness. Every time I ate off track I decided that "tomorrow" I was going to start a better lifestyle.
This, as most things do, escalated. It escalated slowly, as I was still in school and a bit preoccupied with figuring out my life and being social and working and getting a "real" job. But, nonetheless, it escalated.
Slowly, but surely, it became an obsession. When I had to "re-brand" myself and get serious about my career, when I had to become perfect in every way in order to be the badass career woman I wanted to become, it escalated fast. Why? It fed my need to be perfect. It fit in seamlessly with wanting to be organized in every way. If I ate the correctly planned meals, and followed the correctly planned schedule, I would be perfect.
As I started to figure out what to do with my life, as I began to carry the insane pressure of adulthood and the pressures which I put on myself - I freaked.
My obsession with my looks and food started to takeover.
I remember every comment ever made regarding my weight - positive and negative. I remember every comment made about my friend's weight, my family's weight, an acquaintance's food intake, someone's workout schedule.
I remember it all.
I didn't look forward to trips, because of what I thought I looked like. I obsessed over it each and every day. I can't really fully explain how much of my life it took over, because the magnitude is too great.
Here is what I dealt with, because, looking at me, you definitely wouldn't think I had an ED.
That's because my struggle is different than the ones that result in weight loss.
My struggle results, actually, in weight gain.
I had never truly gained weight (other than the freshman 10 or so via alcohol and many-a-fun nights), until I started obsessing over it. I had never really had trouble fitting into clothes or obsessing over nutrition and diet until it overtook my mind.
So, as much as it still pains me to say this, I would overeat, in my mind saying, "I'm starting tomorrow." Then, I would go on a crash diet for almost a week, just to do it again. For awhile, this wasn't a huge issue. Maybe a little bit of weight fluctuation, but never anything drastic.
But again, as I navigated the world of adulthood and dreams, it got worse. As I strived for the perfection I once knew as a ballerina, it got worse. As I tried to live up to what I thought others expected of me, it got worse.
This is when my anxiety hit. I went to the ER for an anxiety attack, I had different bouts of freak outs, I couldn't go a day without checking in with my calendar, schedule, and much too detailed of days (I'm talking to-do lists of normal things you should just know to do... because, perfect people don't forget to take out their garbage, they just don't).
So, finally, I decided to do something about it.
I entered a NPC competition. For those of you that don't know, NPC competitions are those things where you eat on an alarm clock, weigh your food, workout multiple times a day, and then get a spray tan and walk on stage in a bikini to strut your stuff.
It was a great experience, and boy did I see results.
But here was the big problem with this strategy.
I wasn't learning balance.
In fact, I was learning the opposite.
I'm not convinced that someone that was obsessed with food, their body, and everything else in that realm, should enter a competition where ALL they think about is what they look like, what they weigh, what and when they're eating, and if they're small enough to be on stage with the other girls.
Now, I really am not hating on this sport. It honestly was a great experience and if you are in the mental space to do it, I fully support that. I would just think carefully before immersing yourself in the experience.
Back to my story. I was in the final days of training, and I had a six pack. Like, a six pack.
But guess what?
I still thought I wasn't good enough. I still thought I was "gross," had more to lose, wasn't worthy of the competition, love, or anything else.
I look back on pictures I took then, checking my progress as I did every day, and it breaks my heart to know that the person inside that chiseled body was so broken - still dreaming of the day she would be "perfect." Actually, it breaks my heart to look at photos of the girl I was even two years ago, to know she was constantly worried about her appearance, constantly shaming herself and making comments so that "other people would know she knew she was...'fat.'"
It truly breaks my heart.
Now, toward the end of my training, a couple things happened that broke my confidence in half like a piece of firewood being chopped in two. You'll read about this later, in my book, perhaps, but for now, just know I lost a lot of myself toward the end of this training. I became a walking ball of shame.
And what happened next, well, it wasn't good.
I stopped training due to the broken confidence. And, within the first week of being off my perfectly crafted and weighed food plan, I was terrified of food.
I ate less than I had been in the final days of training (which by the way is NOT much). I was scared to eat too much or too little, since I had been on the perfect plan for so long, and I had worked so hard to get here. I thought I needed to lose more, still, even though there was really nothing to lose.
I should have known right then and there that I was headed down the path of self-destruction.
My confidence was broken. All I knew of the past four years was being obsessed with food and body image, crash/binge diet patterns, and weighing my meals to perfection (and eating on an alarm clock). I was terrified of food, again.
I was walking in shame.
And so, as you can imagine, I launched, hard, I might add, into my old habits.
Crashing, binging. Crashing, binging. Crashing, binging.
I stopped training. I isolated myself. I had forgotten how to truly socialize after a summer of no drinking and not being my once fun and carefree self. I stopped seeing my friends at the gym. My anxiety got worse, and worse, and worse. I was constantly ashamed which led me to my bad habits time and time again. I thought I was huge. I got depressed, and depressed, and depressed.
And I gained weight, and more weight, and more weight.
And I got more depressed, and depressed, and depressed.
I became out of control. Using food as my best friend and my worst enemy. My vice was food, rather than alcohol or drugs or gambling or whatever else people turn to, because, it numbed the pain I felt being so alone and trapped in a world where I wanted everything to be perfect yet didn't know where to turn or how to get there.
I constantly tried to put myself back on eating plans. I watched my anxiety spike to insane levels. I felt the pain of years of not letting intimacy into my life due to body image problems and never feeling I was enough.
I wondered why I wasn't normal. I wanted out of my own head.
Everything crumbled down on me, all at once.
And I let it.
It took me a long time to figure out what was happening, to realize what I was doing to myself.
Looking back, it sucks, you know, because I'm not stupid. I understand that eating well and working out and balance would solve all of this. I understand I have a great life and am extremely blessed. Believe me, I understand all of that.
But my need to be perfect was stronger than my understanding. My need to be perfect killed me, slowly, and then all at once.
I ridiculed myself over not being able to figure this out. I hated myself for what and who I had become. I despised the fact that I wanted to be a blogger. I hated my dreams and my big heart. I simply hated myself.
I didn't appreciate anything. I couldn't find happiness in anything. This had never been me, what was happening?
I felt out of control.
My need for perfection was what caused me to become the worst version of myself, rather than the best.
Funny how that works. Funny how, your greatest desire can be what ultimately pulls you the farthest from it, if you don't choose your desire carefully.
My need for perfection was stronger than who I had been my whole life.
But it's not anymore.
It has taken me half of a year to overcome this, and I'm not there yet. Because, simply realizing and being honest about what is going on does not mean you are better.
It means you're just getting started.
Your demons have been battling you for, in my case, years. And they have been, especially in your darkest moments, winning. They have been getting stronger, while you haven't realized you even have the option of fighting back.
Now, you are stepping into battle, and you are weak.
The thing to know here, though, is that you are so much stronger than your demons will ever be.
And that is why you will win the war.
As long as you keep fighting.
So, my friends, my war is not over. No, not even close.
But I'm showing up to battle, I'm not staying home.
I have found peace in this mess, because I know now that I needed to get to the lowest of my lows in order to truly get passed this part of my life. I needed to try a crazy training plan, go through more crashing and binging, and all of the above, in order to let go of this part of my mind once and for all - to learn balance once and for all. I needed this to happen, so that I could live freely for the rest of my life - so I could free myself from myself and let go of my idea of perfection.
I often wonder where I would be today had my confidence not been crushed toward the end of my training. But I realize now that it doesn't matter. Because my mind was still playing it's tricks. I still didn't believe I was enough. I still didn't like myself, to the core of who I was.
And that's what I needed to fix.
That's why all of this happened.
The other day, I tried to, yet again, put myself on an eating plan and workout regimen. Because I want #results. But then I asked myself a question, and where it came from I don't know.
The conversation I had with myself went a little something like this:
"Do you want to be the girl that eats six perfect meals a day and has one cheat a week and counts macros? Or do you want to be the girl that eats nourishing food when she is hungry, lives for the moments and not the food, works out to feel good, and doesn't obsess? Either one is OK - but which one do you want to be? Which one are you?"
I realized, then and there, that I wanted to be the latter. Now, some people live like the first option, and are perfectly happy. I am ALL FOR THAT if that's what fuels you, but, because of my mental health and what makes me, me - I knew that that path wasn't mine to take.
I want to be the girl that is carefree. I want to be the girl that loves herself. I want to be the girl that let's go of perfect plans and perfect looks. I want to be the girl that people want to be around. I want to be the girl I was.
That's the girl I want to be.
For a long time, I used the fact that I had been dealing with this, severely, for a year, and before that, for about four, as my excuse. "This isn't easy to get over when these habits and limiting ways of thinking have become so ingrained," I would say.
And it's not. It's not easy, and it's not supposed to be.
But the truth is, I was better longer than I wasn't. I was carefree and myself longer than I wasn't.
I loved myself longer than I didn't.
The girl that is stronger than this, she is me.
She is in there, begging to come out.
And I just need to let her.
Things are meant to work out in life, and I just need to let them.
I need to get over this for the people I'm trying to inspire to live their best lives, because who am I if I'm not? I need to get over this for my friends, my family - the people I have yet to meet. I need to get over this for my readers, for my little sister, for the kids I might one day call my own. I need to get over this for the man I might one day meet.
I need to get over this for me.
Tears streamed down my face as I wrote those last lines. Writing is therapy for me, where I learn what I need to do and what steps I need to take to grow. It's hard to come to the realization that you are your own worst enemy and that you are the reason your way of being has become the way it has.
But how lucky am I that I get to realize this?
Pretty f***ing lucky.
As with anything in life, there are many factors to something like this. There are many different facets of life, events, and everything in between that contribute to different hardships. I obviously have not gone into all of it here, because I'm saving that for my book (wink wink), plus, I'm just emotionally and physically (carpel tunnel?) drained at the moment.
But I do want to say this: I'm sorry.
I'm sorry to the friends that wondered why I cancelled plans. I'm sorry to the people that watched me change my attitude and way of being. I'm sorry to anyone that was ever hurt as I tried to figure out my path. I'm sorry to everyone on the other end of the line when I freaked out and cried over my own wrongdoings. I'm sorry if I made you question your appearances or health choices through my own insecurity and obsession. I'm sorry if I changed your way of thinking to the wrong one.
I'm sorry for the things I have yet to do - the things I might do as I continue to battle this every day.
But mostly, I want to say this: thank you.
Thank you for being there for me, even when I was a flake or not the same. Thank you for continuing to hang out with me even when I self-deprecated or wouldn't let go. Thank you for texting me back about the same issue time and time again, when I'm certain you were exhausted from the same discussion. Thank you for forgiving me when I couldn't forgive myself. Thank you for everything. Thank you for being you.
Thank you. Just, thank you.
I hope I can continue to do right by you, all of you.
And with that, I wrap up this extremely intense post. I apologize for the heaviness here, but this is one that needed to be written.
I forgive myself, I own this, and with all of that, I now move forward.
I love you all, and I'll write some more sarcastic, fun pieces coming up. So please, stick with me.
Peace out ma homies,