Today I have the pleasure of handing the reins to a guest-blogger who shall remain anonymous. She has fought demons that many “fitness” types will never admit they battle on a daily, even hourly basis. Has she won, lost or fought to a draw? I will let you be the judge – but be kind. Despite posting anonymously, I think she is courageous to share her story. I find the honestly in this post enlightening and ultimately uplifting, especially as I move ever closer to joining the fitness industry.
People look at me and congratulate me on my weight. They see the outside, borne of exercise and hard work.
They don’t realize that every compliment drives me back onto the road, pounding down another two miles. They don’t realize that, some days, I survived on less than 500 calories and gallons of Diet Coke.
That starvation is control.
And that, if your world is falling apart, sometimes the only thing you can control is yourself. But I went about it the wrong way.
I approached Luau about writing this piece a while back; after therapy, I’d finally admitted what my husband and mother already knew: that was I starving myself. That it was a badge of courage for me.
I’d started running after finally being healthy enough to do so. Combined with being the primary caregiver of two small children, working a stressful job, and dealing with a strained marriage, running gave me an outlet for all the stress in my life. But, as my husband worked longer hours, and as stress piled up, I couldn’t handle it. I started eating less and less. I told myself that I looked good, and that I was happy.
That was a lie.
I saw the truth in the mirror. The gaunt cheeks, the sallow skin. The dry hair falling out in handfuls. I felt my ribs in the middle of my chest, between my breasts, and was terrified that I had some sort of tumor. But I realized that those were my bones, rising up to meet skin because there was no fat between them. On I went, admiring the gap between my thighs, and the slimness of my calves, and the sharpness of my shoulders and collarbones.
You are beautiful, I told myself. I could model clothes with this figure, right? Most women who’d never given birth weren’t this thin; I wore my slimness as a medal of honor. My sharp angles were an award; they were a matter of pride. Every compliment fed the obsession; every word of praise was fuel to the fire of control burning within.
With help, I realized that my relationship with food, and my obsession with thinness…it was all a way to control myself. To get a hold of my life. To stop the downward spiral. She told me that I was an anorexic; I don’t know if that is true, but I think that the label “eating disorder” applies. I told my mother, and I reached out to another friend who I knew was a master of the Starving Arts.
I stopped running.
I started eating.
Later on, life improved. My marriage improved. And after I’d put on five doctor-ordered pounds, a friend said, “Thank God; you looked like a stick figure.” Those words hurt, but I know now that they were true. When my mother recently came to visit, she praised that my “face had filled out;” it took every fiber of my being not to stop eating entirely when I heard that. This, from a woman who had once criticized my heavier self in college, and who belittled her own body. Who had had breast implants and liposuction at some point to make herself more attractive.
Did she not see the walking contradiction? Did she not understand why I couldn’t believe her words?
I knew, though, that the day my beautiful daughter said her round little tummy was “too heavy,” I had to change. I immediately told her how beautiful her stomach was, and decide to commit to a life of self-love, as best as I could. And that meant admitting that I couldn’t control everything, and that I had to control myself in a healthy way. Which meant that I could no longer starve myself; I had to control that obsession and need.
Today, I look at pictures of beautiful friends, friends with soft bodies and ample breasts and hips. Friends who have a comfortable place for babies to rest on, instead of shuffling to get comfortable, as mine do on me. And I think to myself: You were happier when you were heavier. And I think again that I wish I had the courage to have their softness. Even if it isn’t necessarily the healthiest choice, that body takes the same courage that it does to run a marathon.
Their bravery is legendary to me, because I’m not sure I’ll ever have it again.
But I’ve written this story after eating a good dinner. And in a minute, I’ll have a brownie. Pretty good for a girl who used to say that no meal could be over 200 calories, huh?
And someday soon, I will run again. Not out of a need to control, but to know that my body is strong and healthy.
And that I am sound.
That life is better, and I am, too.