“I’m the hero of this story
Don’t need to be saved.”
- Regina Spektor
As I child, I was always healthy. My parents made sure my brother and I ate plenty of fruits and vegetables. There were swim classes twice a week, gymnastics once a week, and dance classes once a week. Some days, I even tagged along to my mom’s yoga classes. I was healthy, happy, and active. Never as a child did I give a thought to my weight. In middle school, I was notorious for eating junk food for lunch. I prided myself on never gaining weight either, but that was because I continued to participate in an active lifestyle.
Then, there was high school. That’s where it really started. Around my sophomore year, I stopped swimming. I was never a fan of any other sports. When someone said “marathon,” my first thought was TV (for the record it still is). My high school activities consisted mainly of speech and forensics. However, it was never an issue until my junior year. The stress of preparing for college set in, and my course load only made it worse. This was also the year I started learning to bake and cook. At first, the act of turning simple ingredients into something magical was enough of a stress reliever. Then, it became about the eating. What started of as stress eating quickly spiraled into bingeing. I went from a happy 112 pounds to 120 pounds by that summer. I felt awkward and self conscious, and that summer I vowed to lose weight. Since I hated exercise, my approach was purely diet based.
Sugar? No. Fruit? No. Bread? No.
Boiled eggs? Allowed. Fresh vegetables? Allowed. Plain yogurt? Allowed.
By the start of senior year, I weighed 107 pounds. Was I happy? Temporarily, yes I was ecstatic. Friends and family gushed over how much prettier I looked! My clothes were so much looser! At the same time, I was miserable. I was terrified to bake or cook, because I hadn’t learned moderation. Carbs tormented me constantly. The peanut butter in the pantry cried out to me. I had deprived myself for so long; it was only a matter of time before the stress of senior year triggered the bingeing again. That year I went from 107 pounds to 123 pounds. I avoided taking pictures for my graduation because of the weight gain. My photography for the blog fell by the wayside. There was never a time when I felt confident that year, despite having won two prestigious scholarships.
When had I learned to associate my weight with my self worth?
Again, I spent the summer trying to lose weight through dieting. Again, I rebounded in my freshman year of college. That year was the hardest struggle of my life. My bingeing morphed into full on Binge Eating Disorder, which I tried everything to keep bottled. I went to spin classes twice a week; I tried running; I dabbled in rowing. Nothing made me feel better, which only made me feel worse. The worse I felt, the more frequent the binges became. I spent most of my spring semester huddled in a giant sweatshirt, when I had absolutely adored creating new outfits for everyday. That’s how awful I felt about my body. The number on the scale determined if I would have a good day or a bad day.
When did I start defining myself by others’ standards of beauty?
Last summer, I truly changed. I resolved to start living a healthier, happier, more active lifestyle. Most importantly, I decided to start living. The approval I received when I was thin wasn’t my approval, and the standards of beauty weren’t mine either.
What did I really want?
I wanted to be strong. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be confident. I wanted to enjoy life.
So, I contacted a friend who had been lifting for a few months and loved it. She introduced me to lifting this fall, and I could not have started this journey without her because I was scared of the “big boys” in the gym. A month later, I found Brittany. When I started working with her, it was magical. Not rainbows, glitter, and instant transformation fairy tale magic. Real magic. The kind with sweat, hard work, determination, and consistency. Brittany taught me about IIFYM, lifting, and balance. However, Brittany didn’t save me from my darkest demons. I saved myself.
I am binge free.
I am happier now than I have been in years.
I am confident.
I am More Than A Number.