Health is a Journey, Not a Destination

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Growing up, I was teased for being "overweight". I struggled with depression and constant suicidal thoughts (most people didn't know this about me), and just overall feelings of unworthiness. 

Because I was teased for my weight, naturally I assumed the answer to acceptance was weight loss. So I put myself on my first diet at a very young age. And it worked! And I was accepted. So from then on, I believed the idea that my weight determined my worth.

Well, I may have looked differently and was treated differently by my peers as a result, but that didn't change how I felt on the inside.

I still felt lonely, isolated, depressed. I didn't know how to cope, so I often used food to numb me out. Starting at a really young age, when no one was around I would sneak tons and tons of food.

Like...I would literally eat multiple stacks of crackers, followed by multiple bowls of cereal, followed by a block of cheese...like insane amounts of food. But I would numb out during the entire process. It was like someone else had taken over my body. I would become conscious again after eating all that food, and I would be exhausted, physically nauseous, and full of disgust and shame for myself.

At the time, I had heard about eating disorders but couldn't identify with any of them. The closest one I thought I had was bulimia, but because I wasn't bingeing on purpose or throwing up, I knew it wasn't bulimia.

But I couldn't stop these episodes of uncontrollable eating, so I felt like there was something wrong with me. That I was just broken, and that I needed to develop an obsession with strict, healthy eating if I would ever save myself from weighing 300 + pounds in life.

So I would binge a lot, then I would diet a lot. And my weight went up and down, and up and down.

This continued into my adulthood...until I got into bodybuilding. I thought I had finally found the answer at that point!!

I learned to eat in a way that "wasn't a diet, it was a lifestyle change" (it was still a freaking diet)...and I became obsessive about what I was eating.

The more I got into bodybuilding, and the thinner and more toned I became, the more I obsessed. I began isolating myself from friends and family out of fear of eating the "wrong" foods. (that's where the orthorexia kicked in--an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating)

And what made it unhealthy was that I for one isolated myself from everyone, but mainly because of the cycle I was in of beating myself up and shaming myself more than ever. Because the more I tried to control, the more I binged.

And I binged in secret still. I lived with my boyfriend who was also really into fitness, and who openly shared his desires for me to be thin and fit with a six pack and fake boobs.

I figured if he knew about my secret binges, he would be so disgusted. I felt like less of a person being such a promoter of health (a personal trainer attending nutrition school who did a ton of fitness challenges) but secretly still feeling out of control around food. I felt like a fraud.

It wasn't until I started attending health coaching school and studying Health at Every Size that everything clicked. And I got my answer...I was dealing with Binge Eating Disorder the entire time!!

Text book definition of Binge Eating Disorder...that was my reality for as long as I can remember.

Once I got answers, and once I learned how important it was for me to focus on my mental health first...I said goodbye to diets and dieting behavior for good. And I had to give up on the idea of ever trying to control my weight.

That meant that I had to for the first time in my life...allow myself unconditional permission to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. No restrictions whatsoever.

Along with all that, I learned to eat intuitively (tapping into my body's natural signals for hunger, fullness, satiation, and my built in weight control mechanism) and give up any idea I had of what my "ideal" body should look like...and more than anything...how to have more self-compassion than I had ever had in my entire life.

2 years later, and I no longer experience binge episodes....EVER! I understand that being healthy takes much more than what we eat or how much we exercise...it's a mindset more than anything.

I still allow myself to eat whatever I want, whenever and never restrict (which keeps the binges from happening)

I've gained weight, I don't know how much because I threw my scale away 2 years ago. But I'm okay with that. And I accept and lOVE the body I'm in for the first time ever.

I'm happier and more confident than I ever imagined, and it has nothing to do with my weight or size.

And the last part of the puzzle...I didn't realize I was suffering from body dysmorphia until I looked back on the pictures where I was my "fittest" and "thinnest"...when at the time I thought I was disgusting and unworthy...and I was realized I was beautiful, and SO worthy. 

Looking back on that, and thinking of who I am today...I realize there is no "there" and that health is not a destination...but a long, long journey.