I used to count every… single… calorie. At least up until I hit 400. That was my limit for the day. 400 calories a day (mostly comprised of Goldfish crackers, almonds, dried cranberries, and Special K). I would then run a few miles in the afternoon (no matter what the weather was like), calculate my estimated amount of calories burned, and proceed to replenish my burned cals to get back to 400 (usually a dinner of deli meat, veggies, NO BREAD EVER), and then hit the hay until the following day. Then, it would start all over. I knew just about every single food item’s calorie amount in the Calorie King website I frequently checked before anything went in my mouth. The control of my food was only the beginning of my disorder.
From the control over my diet then began my obsession to control my weight. It became a game with myself. Something I knew I could hit. A goal. I ended up teetering on the edge of 105 pounds and 115. I fluctuated throughout, but I told myself as long as I wasn’t over 115 I was “ OK”. I was fitting in a size 00 Abercrombie Skinny Jean, and at 5’8” it didn’t look “good”. It looked sick. I was a skeleton looking at myself in the mirror at all my flaws and areas I could improve on. What I didn’t realize was how terrible my disorder was quickly becoming.
Between the food control, weight, and obsession with working out, I had created a deadly combination of habits. I was also on birth control which affected my heart in weird ways, however, looking back now it could have been a result of the toll of Anorexia. It was out of the blue one day I first heard concerned remarks from professors at my university. Mosty, asking if I was alright. Of course, I was thrown off and had NOT a CLUE they were trying to figure out why I was so skinny. Next, I was getting hints of concern from my sorority sisters and friends. Little subtle things, like, “You’re SO skinny”. For some reason that only fueled the fire. It was as if they were saying exactly what I needed to hear to know I was accomplishing all my “goals”. A compliment in my eyes. What came next was the real shocker.
I was in my dorm one day when my mom called me. She told me that if I didn't change my ways she was going to pull me out of college.. I was completely blindsided. Now, all the little hints and clues were making sense. People were talking about me behind my back concerned. I was panicked and a little defensive. Like, what I was doing wasn't that bad. I was FINE. Then, I became angry. How could people be talking about me like this?! Next, I started realizing the truth.. maybe what I was doing WAS that bad. Could I have really taken it too far? Gee, I guess it was possible.. the obsession of knowing all the calories in every food item I ate.. counting calories up until a certain amount and restricting myself of things I needed to really live. I had become lethargic in classes and my grades weren’t the best they had ever been.. Was I really killing myself, though?
I went home for a few weeks. I think it was Spring Break.. My mom took me to the doctor. I’ll never forget the words that came out of his mouth. “If you were to get sick right now with something like, pneumonia, you probably wouldn’t make it. Your immune system is so shot and you don’t have the stamina”. This shook me. I don't know if it was a scare tactic, but I did the job. I was all of a sudden immediately aware of what I was doing. I couldn’t believe it, but I guess I was Anorexic. I had to admit to myself that I had an eating disorder and I had done it all to myself. How could I have allowed this to happen? I’ve been naturally thin my entire life.. what was the need for more?
I know this is all a ton of detail and you may be wondering why I’m sharing this with you now. I just feel that I keep that side of my life in such a small dark spot so that no one knows, but I really should share more. I think there are people that were in my exact shoes who aren't yet aware of the harm they’re doing to themselves. I hope that my contribution to National Eating Disorder Awareness Week brings light to someone who may hear all the habits I created and see them in their own daily routines. Maybe, I can stop someone from doing further damage. I really don’t know. But, sharing it is better than keeping it all to myself and never admitting to something I was truly addicted to. Sometimes it’s hard to admit you had a “disorder”. Yes, it’s a bad thing, but an experience can be used for good.
I was very lucky to have such amazing sisters, family, professors, loved ones, who were so supportive and cared enough about me to reach out to my own family to help save me. I don’t know who actually called.. there may have been multiple calls (I’m sure), but I’m thankful for whoever did. I was lucky enough to just switch the obsession of eating off. It took time and it was a process, but I eventually weaned myself off of the counting, the weight obsession, and made new eating habits for myself to avoid being pulled out of school. I was able to really think about the reasons why it got so bad. I think it was a control thing. I think there were things in my life at the time that I had no control over, and the Anorexia was a way I was in complete control of my life and body. Therefore, it was satisfactory for me. I don’t like blaming things on my behavior, but perhaps it was some subconscious thing that had come into play there. Either way, I consider myself lucky to have gotten out of it at all. All of this occurred in a matter of 2.5 years. I know that others have suffered with eating disorders for a lot longer than that.
If you or a loved one are reading this know that there are tons of people who care about you and want the best for you. That means that I know it’s hard to believe what you’re doing may actually be considered a “disorder”, but seriously step back for a moment and think about your daily habits. Do you research and know what you should be getting and taking in everyday. If you know deep down what you’re doing isn’t normal talk to someone. Just talking about it can be the first step to all the help you may need. You are beautiful just the way you are and TRUST me when I say that life is so much more satisfying when you live it in a healthy way. Eat the delicious food, enjoy nature, stop worrying about how you look, learn to be at peace with yourself, and love this very short life we are given here.
I write this for my husband and my son who I live for each and everyday. I take care of myself to be there for them. Please continue reading my guest blogger, Michele Weinstein’s story!
Here is guest blogger, Michele Weinstein. She is sharing her story about her struggle with Anorexia on todays’ post in honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Day.
So Britny asked me to share a bit of my story related to my eating disorder, yet I’m not sure where to start. Do I start with the point in my life where I started using “behaviors” or the point in my life where my mindset didn’t seem quite the same as everyone else?
So just a thought before I start… if you are not familiar with my blogs, I always like to start out with a quote.
“Your life is your story. Write well. Edit Often.”
Looking back at my life and of my struggles with anorexia, I’ve had to live my life the best way I could… and oftentimes I had to “edit often.”
It all started when my brother was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes as all the foods that I had normally eaten CHANGED. At five years old, I saw my brother go from being able to eat anything to being able to eat only “healthy” meals. The types of foods that he ate were limited and the quantity was limited as well.
Meaning, every single night, I saw my mom measure out what he could eat. Because she was new to everything, she didn’t realize that she could give him more insulin so he could eat more. Long and behold, he finished many dinners and was still hungry afterwards… my mom always felt guilty for doing what she had done. (She didn’t know better being a parent of a newly diagnosed son.)
Looking back from a five year old’s perspective, I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. Instead of learning how to eat normally, I was guided to believe that sugar free-foods were better and less food was better than more. I definitely contribute a lot of my anorexia to the way in which I grew up. But the influence of advertising and magazines didn’t help… I got worse. And I got caught up in the mentality where I believed low-fat foods were the best to have.
Instead of eating normally, I would skip the snacks at school… and when I got home, I would have one or two of those white and red peppermints for a while. I felt those were healthier low-fat foods.
As I grew up, I ended up fracturing my foot doing gymnastics in my den after my gymnastics class (my attempt to lose more weight). After that, I just remember feeling frustrated at myself and upset… leading to another bout of anorexia going into sixth grade. I lost a lot of weight in a summer and had a really hard time being a normal teenager. I would go into food jags often (as kids do) and oftentimes rely on one or two of the same foods.
Leading me to the next section of my life, senior year of highschool.
To make a long story short, there was a lot that happened in that span of time that shouldn’t have. My health deteriorated as a result. After trying to work on an outpatient basis, I ended up
inpatient in April 2009… a week after visiting the college I decided on. Inpatient is nothing to be laughed at or joked about… and I know for others without an eating disorder, this sounds crazy.
My first night there, and I was scared enough as it was. Yet, in the first meeting I had the girl whom I was in there with said she wanted to die.
Waterworks and yelling… that’s all you could hear from the EDU that night. I was mad, upset, and angry...the last thing you want to do in high school is being inpatient while everyone else is celebrating senior year. Long story short, but I stayed until I was kicked by health insurance. I wasn’t ready… and to be completely honest, inpatient didn’t help me.
Still went to college in the midst of not being ready and in the midst of my parent’s divorce. And let’s just end it with the fact that it wasn’t pretty. It was hard being on my own, especially knowing what was and wasn’t going on at home. Well I did, and there’s another story in between which will be discussed later on (make sure to go to www.afitandfabulousmichele.com and stay updated when this story goes live).
Did a second round of inpatient and to make a long story short, I eventually got to graduating (with a BA in biology and nutrition!). Battle wasn’t done there, though. For many years following, I was outpatient. I fought the system to stay in it, but due to silly guidelines, I was kicked out… left to fend on my own.
This is where everything gets tied into my blog. I started my blog to bring light into several issues that I had experienced and on a whim of hope. I was angry about all the things that were occuring behind the scenes and figured if it was happening to me, it was happening to others too. And while I’m just as passionate about this as before, my blog has changed quite a bit. I’ve now include fashion, food, and home decor, as life isn’t just about food or fitness… it’s about all these things.
So I hope you check my page out and I hope you leave feeling inspired. But more importantly, I hope that if you are struggling that you keep going despite how uncertain you are of the future. While it may not always be as “easy,” your life can be better if you take small steps daily… and do your best everyday.
Michele is a graduate of the University of Vermont with a BA in Biology and Nutrition. She is the blogger behind www.afitandfabulousmichele.com which documents a girl’s life after a ten year struggle with anorexia. Growing up with a Type 1 Diabetic and someone with food allergies to corn, bananas, avocado, etc., she has a lot of nutrition-related experiences that propelled her into blogging. Connect with her and she will get back to you!
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/afitandfabulousmichele (I LOVE QUOTES!) Blog: www.afitandfabulousmichele.com About Her: https://www.northjersey.com/story/life/wellness/2019/01/24/meet-michele-weinstein-fit-and-fabul ous-michele/2192166002/