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Wellness Wednesday. Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

Usually writing pours out of every one of my pores. Whether it’s a light-hearted blog post or a highly technical press release. Interesting or bland. Writing comes naturally for me.
Except this post.

This is difficult to share. However since it is Eating Disorder Awareness Week and I know just how many women (even some of those closest to me) have at one point or another struggled with how they perceive their body or how they too struggled with an eating disorder, I feel compelled to share a message that if it resonates with just one person I feel I’ve made a difference.

Times of Chaos

If I reflect back on how my eating disorder and body image issues began at the ripe age of 12 years old, I can confidently say it began out of a need to control. Control myself when everything outside of my own being felt out of control. Death. Divorce. Family troubles. Being severely overworked and underpaid. Dating woes. Cruel teenage girls. I could continue on – but my point is when life got out of control, I took control. In a destructive and devastating way.

My Oh Shit Moment

I was studying abroad in London during my junior year of college sharing a two bedroom flat with 5 girls. Sharing a small space with all of those females left little room to hide my eating disorder. Within a few weeks of starting the semester, my roommates went to our Dean, who then contacted my parents and told them I’d need to return home. I was devastated. At first I was angry, and then I was sad. I knew things had gotten out of control and I agreed to come home to get some help – so long as I could return if I changed my ways. My parents conceded and let me return to London after treatment. But the disorder didn’t stop. I simply became crafty at hiding it. I wish I had an AH HA moment to share with you. A moment where I threw my arms up and said that’s it, I’m done with this disorder and never looking back. But it hasn’t been that way for me. I have healed myself – but it’s taken a long, long time. And quite honestly, I still struggle with body image. I still look in the mirror and some days wish my hips were narrower, or my stomach more defined. But what has changed is how I look at food and exercise.

How I Find Happiness Post-Recovery

No longer a punishment for what I ate, exercise is a privilege. Some days, it’s the highlight of my day. My stress reliever. My confidence booster. I love getting my endorphins pumping and the blood flowing. I am constantly amazed at what my body can do when I treat it with love and respect. I’ve kicked butt in CrossFit, completed triathlons of varying distances, more road and trail races than I can count, placed in the top 5 of my first (and likely only) bikini competition. I am stronger today – mentally, emotionally and physically – than ever before. And I attribute it to treating myself with grace and kindness. I started asking myself, “If you had a daughter, would you say these horrid things to her?” Of course the answer was “Hell NO!” and so I began changing the way I spoke to myself. And it’s made all the difference in the world.

Food is no longer something to feel guilty about. I enjoy quality, nutritious food when I want and need it. I try and maintain a level of awareness around the macro-nutrients I eat (fats, carbs and protein) to ensure I am fueling my body properly, but the days of feeling guilt-ridden for eating a slice of bread or a scoop of ice cream are long gone.

As I mentioned at the start, my intent in writing this is to let you know – if you are struggling, or have struggled, with an eating disorder or unhealthy habits when it comes to nutrition and exercise, you are NOT alone. We all cope and process differently, and professional help is the best way to get treatment that is right for you. You don’t have to battle this on your own. It’s okay to ask for help – and to let that help in.

On the other side is freedom. On the other side is love, health and happiness.

Happy and healthy me! Strong > Skinny.
XO,

Jenn

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