This weekend was perfect again, I’m beginning to think that all weekends are the best weekend ever 😉 The weather has certainly helped a lot, and doing homework and studying on Fridays makes me much less stressed by Sunday night. If I leave too much to do it is always in the back of my mind when I am trying to relax.
I ended up doing my long run on Friday because Ian was coming and I knew that we would be too busy, or lazy, to get that done while he was here, so I ran 7 miles on Friday morning. I can’t think of a better way to energize myself for the weekend 🙂 I’m going to be very vigilant about my running in March because the half marathon is right at the beginning of April! My brother Matt and his girlfriend Lauren signed up after I told them about it, so now I have some competition!
After running I had classes and was done at 11 for the week. I met my friends for lunch and homework in the dining hall, it felt great to get some fruits and veggies in because I tend to eat out on the weekends, and I knew I needed it. UMass has the best pineapple and local fruits, so its not too difficult to skip dessert and have fruit as a sweet instead!
We stayed there for a long time, and slowly worked through our weekend homework. I get very distracted when we get caught up talking about something, but on a Friday afternoon I honestly think anything could distract me 🙂 After a trip into town with Annika and a long nap, Ian arrived and we headed to Antonio’s for dinner! We both got a pesto tortellini pizza. They have really unique flavors there, it is nearly impossible to decide what to get. One slice was enough, I was happily full for the night.
On Saturday Ian ran with me, which is one of my favorite things to do together! We did an easy four miles and rewarded ourselves with Dunkin Donut’s sandwiches because he had gift cards left over from Christmas. We didn’t go to the dining hall once this weekend, it was definitely a treat to eat at different places than usual. After napping and Netflix-watching we went to Ian’s grandparents’ house and went to meet up with their relatives for Italian food in Northampton. But before we left we watched a bit of Captain Phillips, I had forgotten how good that movie is! After I finish up this blog post I’m going to finish it before bed 🙂 Anyways, the Italian food was amazing, we were all filled to the brim and all the boys got dessert (the rest of us couldn’t eat anther bite), but the cheesecake looked amazing. I wish I had a picture of it to put on!
The weather this week has been awesome (except for Wednesday was very rainy), so I was able to run in a t-shirt and shorts twice this weekend! I look so tired in that picture because I run at 7am usually. Sometimes I accidentally take a bunch of pictures on my phone while I run, its pretty funny when I get back and there are about 70 pictures of the sidewalk that I have to delete 🙂
Today the weather was great again, so Ian and I walked a mile and a half to Glazed donut shop for breakfast, and all I needed was a light sweatshirt, it was perfect! I think donuts the day Ian leaves has become a tradition now (and not one that I’m mad about). I didn’t even need anything else until dinner because mine was so satisfying!
I have gotten so much better at allowing myself to “recharge” over the weekend, and it definitely helps getting back into things on Mondays. Spring break is in two weeks, so until then my plan is to do a lot of studying right up until that Friday, and use running to help keep me sane! I wish the weather would stay like it has been this past week, but I know better than to have my mind set on that. Speaking of great weather, my mom is in San Diego and she is having a blast, it makes me so happy!
So, this week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and although I was in the depth of my eating disorder almost five years ago (wow that is crazy), it still affects me every day, and it may affect me for the rest of my life. A lot of people don’t see how a 16 year old girl could be going through a horrible mental battle with herself at that age, so I want to put that to rest so people can understand the seriousness of it. Sure, anorexia can be hard to talk about, and even awkward sometimes, but I don’t want this to go untold. At this point I am weight restored, but that does not mean that I am “recovered.” My boyfriend, Ian, probably knows this the most. I don’t know how he hasn’t gone crazy yet with my mood swings coming from the smallest things (like how I freeze up if my hot chocolate was made with milk instead of water). It can be hard to put up with, but I think that he also knows how uncomfortable I still am around food and eating. So without further ado, I want to share my story of anorexia so that others will know how horrible this disease (no, not a phase) really is.
I have four older brothers, so I became very used to wearing baggy soccer t-shirts and shorts like they always did; I wanted to be just like them. My friends and I were “tomboys” and never really cared about what we looked like, we really weren’t that girly. It wasn’t until seventh grade when tight Aeropostale and Hollister shirts came into big fashion for my grade. (Embarrassing I know, glad that changed). I remember trying on my first shirt in the store and realizing that I didn’t have the tiny frame like my best friend since forever. How had I not noticed this?? Ever since I can remember, I never liked my body. To me, someone was always better but I had kind of accepted that fact and moved on. Although it bothered me at the time, I didn’t really change any of my habits. I ate normally, played soccer with my friends, and enjoyed food like anyone else. I ate cake and pizza at birthday parties, and was pretty normal for a kid my age. Now I can’t remember how to eat normally, I don’t remember what it is supposed to feel like. Anyways, this small amount of unhappiness stayed with me in the back of my head until eighth grade. By this time, I decided to stop eating after dinner, and to drink a lot of water. Although this wasn’t a huge change, and a lot of normal, healthy eaters do this, I felt a rush of satisfaction by the feeling of my hunger in the morning. However, I would go about my day eating normally until eight the next night when I looked forward to the excitement of only drinking water.
During this stage I can remember one particular instance that really pushed my disordered eating patterns forward. We have a dance that they call “semi” at our K-8 schools. My friends and I had dinner around 4:00 (really early) and then got ready for the dance all afternoon. I was hungry again by the time it reached 8:00, but there was nothing I could do. I told myself “there were rules to follow” and that was it for the night. I could eat again the next day. I felt so tired, weak, and starving in the morning, and I loved it. How messed up is that? I loved that feeling of being hungry. It felt like control. I wondered what was wrong with me! All the other girls ate s’mores well into the night while I sat there sipping on my water. Nothing else stands out in my mind at this time, but that night really does.
Then July came.
In the summer going into freshman year of high school, I realized how many skinny girls would be there walking around in the hallways. I had been in a high school before, I had seen high school movies, so I knew how I was supposed to look. I needed to fit in, I needed to be “normal-looking.” I literally thought that I didn’t look normal. So I looked towards my “thinspiration.” The models on clothing websites were the girls that I aspired to be like. I went on the website every time I started to get hungry and thought: You can’t look like her if you eat right now. You already ate, don’t overdo it! I continued with this attitude for the whole summer before entering freshman year. I thought that in order to be normal, I needed to eat three meals per day, no snacks, only drinking water. I decided to follow that, but I had the wrong idea of a meal. I took that term to mean one serving of anything. I liked this idea because it meant I could have anything I wanted to have for a meal, healthy or unhealthy. But I could only have one serving. In between meals only water was allowed, no other liquid calories. I would look at the serving size on a Triscuits box, for example, “8 crackers,” and that was my dinner.
During that summer, I also began to run. Not a lot, not nearly as much as I run now- only one mile a day, maybe two. I started each morning with a mile of running, then had my serving of something for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, each at least four hours apart. These rules were locked in my brain. It was horrible, that was the way my day was supposed to go, and if something went wrong, my mind could not comprehend what to do next. It is hard to convey over text, but it is a kind of anxiety that is worse than anything I have experienced. Not knowing what to do next, how to think, what to eat, is a truly dreadful feeling. I would not wish it on my worst enemy.
Continuing, this is when I could really start to see results. People commented on how great I looked and it was absolutely the best feeling in the world. Nothing made me happier than hearing someone say “Skinnie Minnie!” or “Have you lost weight?” or “You look awesome!” This made me want to keep losing weight, seeing how far I could push my limits. So I kept going. I was always hungry. It is strange how sharply I remember these days, while at the same time my brain was in a very foggy state. The only focus I had was food, and my plans.
I remember I went out to lunch with my friend, and she was surprised at how fragile I was beginning to look. I was confused at how she was so happy when I finished my sandwich. I looked great I thought, she should be complimenting me, not showering me with looks of caution.
Eventually something had to happen. It just so happened that I had a physical (thank god) after a couple of months of this. They were shocked at how much weight I had lost, and they questioned me about why, and how this had happened. It was then that I was to begin seeing a nutritionist and a therapist (which I only attended once or twice). I remember hating it, and resenting them. I still couldn’t see how what I was doing was damaging myself.
My nutritionist went easy on me (although I could not see it at the time). She asked me to begin by adding ½ a cup of walnuts to my breakfast. I couldn’t believe my ears. Didn’t she know I had planned out all of my days already? I could not understand how she didn’t see that by doing this, my whole day would be ruined, and I wouldn’t be able to breathe because of the anxiety that would cause. I thought that by adding this to my breakfast, I would gain 20 pounds overnight.
Being afraid of food, and loving food at the same time. That is a nightmare. I used to lay in my bed at night and just hope for some relief, I wanted to stop thinking about food. I was so sick, so thin, I couldn’t think straight anymore, walking upstairs was too exhausting for me, I was cold all the time, I was distancing myself from my family and friends, I just wanted to be healthy again. I began to realize that if I wanted to be healthy again, I had to be the one to choose recovery. Nobody could tell me to recover, I had to want it. And boy, did I want to get out of this mindset. It was exhausting, and my body was too damaged to go on.
Slowly but surely, I started to add more food to my diet. I didn’t do it in an organized and watched manner like I should have, so I experienced what is called “extreme hunger.” Once I started eating a meal, I literally would not be satisfied. If I had allowed myself, I could have eaten so much and I would probably still have been hungry.
This month or two of my life I don’t remember very well (scary), but I gained my weight back. Today I remain “weight restored.” I still struggle, a lot, but I am in a much better place. Being thin is not worth the mental hardship. Being thin is not worth losing friends. I try not to worry too much about my weight because honestly, it doesn’t really matter. Of course I want to be healthy, but I’m not going to stop myself from going to eat crap food sometimes with my friends, of course I’m going to make healthy choices but I’m not going to burn every calorie at the gym afterwards if I don’t.
Control is a huge part of having an eating disorder. After a while it wasn’t about the food at all, but instead it was about knowing what was going to happen that day. Now, I try to find control in other ways, like my running or my schoolwork. Although these things can be a bit of a stressor too, it is nothing compared to what my mental state was before.
I don’t know how to end this, but I guess I just want anyone who reads to know that a lot of people experience this. It can happen to anyone. This is not a disease that picks and chooses gender or age. You are never “not sick enough to get help.” If you are struggling, tell someone. Have fun, eat good food, be healthy, exercise, work hard. I know that is all easier said than done, but that is what I strive for now, rather than being the perfect size. I have learned that people will still like me if I eat pizza, or have an extra serving. Those extra 5-10 pounds that people worry so much about? Those are pastry dates with my homies, cookouts with my best friends, late night pizza after a night out, ice cream trips in the summer, dinner dates with my boyfriend, holiday parties with my family. There is a tough line between being healthy and being disordered, but certainly don’t lose the important stuff in life. I have been there, I have done that, and it is not the way to live.