My mind is being blown constantly by what I am learning in school. I am currently in my second year of college, studying my Bachelor of Science, specializing in Food and Nutrition. It really has been such a humbling experience. I have learned, over and over again, how much our bodies put up with every millisecond of every day to keep us in a state of healthy balance. When I compare my old, sick eating habits with their effects on my body, I am filled with a sense of gratitude. I used to do everything in my power to override my natural satiety signals. I waged a war against my endocrine system, counting myself a failure if I had a period that month. When I went a year without one, I considered myself to be truly thin and successful. Consistently, I deliberately refused myself the nutrition that I needed to be healthy and vibrant.
It is no wonder that I now struggle with PMDD… All the years of damage I did, waging a war against my bodies’ natural set point. I am just grateful that the damage done was not more extensive. Because it could have been so much worse. Our bodies ability to heal is amazing.
This current school unit has me studying obesity and again, I am having my mind blown at just how sick I used to be. We just finished going through extreme obesity interventions – such as drugs and surgery - and I had a memory come back to me. It was my first year in New York. I was 17, and I hated the way I looked so much. I spent all my free time looking at pro-anorexia sites, trying to survive the day on a handful of cherry tomatoes. I felt like a failure if I ate anything else. I remember talking to another model in the model apartment about how proud I was for eating zero grams of fat that day (insanity). She looked at me, horrified. And said “but what about carbs?!” (also insanity).
I remember my stomach dropping, and the anxiety that set in. I didn’t even think about “carbs”, I just assumed that fat in the diet made you fat in the body (false). On getting online, I found myself searching desperately for a supplement or medication to offset all the perceived damage I had done by eating “carbs” from cherry tomatoes (triple insanity). Of course I found a variety of supplements that promised me the body of my dreams. And of course, they did nothing except cost money. I am just grateful that I did not manage to get my hands on the prescription strength medication that I really wanted. Nowadays I have zero tolerance for any fad diet or supplement. You can’t hack your way into good health.
It seems insane now to look back and remember how badly I used to want liposuction. I was a teenager, with an underweight BMI. Yet I would daydream about how I would convince a doctor to just help me out, just that little bit more weight off, then I would really like myself and belong in the modeling world. Instead of doing the work to learn about how food works in my body, learning the respect that I have now, I chose to binge. Then in a cloud of guilt, I would overcompensate. I would take whatever medication was in vogue, I would workout for hours, I would not eat for days.
Making the decision to major in nutrition has been a huge help to my recovery. I have learned why we need to eat. And what each nutrient does in our bodies. And how to get these nutrients. I have learned about what happens if we go without. To be frank, I have lived what happens if we go without.
It is very interesting to me to see how these known, studied and proven nutrition facts run contrary to faddish diet beliefs. There is so much bad, cherry picked science out there. I have certainly been guilty of espousing it, and mis-using my platform. For this I have apologized. It still doesn’t sit well with me.
At the end of the day, my recovery would not have been possible were it not for psychological intervention. For me, it was therapy. I needed someone to hold a mirror up to me and my bad habits. When I was sick, I refused to hear anyone who told me that carbohydrate and fat intake was key to optimal health. I was convinced that the second I started to eat like that, I would gain so much weight that I would become incredibly overweight. Therapy got me in a place where I was willing to begin the work. Medication got me in a place where I was willing to continue the work. Finally, the recovery of my health, energy, and desired manner of living cemented my commitment each day to show up to my nutritional wellness.
It is wild to look back and remember how frightened I was at gaining weight. I of course, did gain weight – around thirty pounds came back on very quickly once I decided to start eating again. This was disorienting, and extremely uncomfortable. But I hung in there. No matter what, I decided to do the work that the trusted health professionals in my life told me to do. With this consistency came a gradual weight loss until I reached my natural set point. My weight has not changed in 1.5 years. Some days I eat more, some days less. But nothing physically changes, except how hungry I am the next day.
The best part of this process, is realizing a few weeks ago that my intuitive hunger cues have been completely restored. I stopped having to eat everything on my plate, because I don’t know how it feels to be full. Now when I am full, I stop eating. Sometimes I override those hunger signals (if it is something particularly delicious in front of me!), but that doesn’t turn into a binge. I am at peace. It is so simple, but so life changing - the realization nearly brought me to tears. I used to dream of reaching this place – a place of balance around eating. I feel so grateful to be here.
For me, letting go of my need to control my food was the first step to the rest of my life. It has taken so much work, but I feel so lucky to be in this place now. My weight today does not define me.
I truly hope everyone gets to experience this feeling. 😀
Peace and love!