Though this may come as a huge shock to most everyone, I once struggled with anorexia.
I know, right?
The truth is that I've spent most of my life carrying too many pounds on my frame. Partially due to the wonders of genetics, partially due to a lifelong battle with bad knees and asthma, and partially due to my lack of discipline.
There is another reason, though.
One that I haven't admitted to many people before.
It's time though.
I do this from a place of love and support for those who need it, not for sympathy to my situation. It happened a very long time ago, and I have never slipped back into it....but I know that I could. I know how easily I could go back down that path.
When I was 14, I had major knee surgery. Recovering from it took months, and it was well over a year before I could confidently walk down stairs again. In that time, I gained a few more pounds than I'd already been carrying around.
I was exactly the age where every girl, if she hasn't already, becomes painfully conscious of her body. I had acne and terrible eyesight, my hair was stringy and my wardrobe left much to be desired. About the only thing I felt in control of was what went in my mouth, and what I could force my body to do.
So I controlled it.
I cut back on food so much that it got to the point where all I would eat for days at a time was lettuce. I'd push everything else around my plate. I ignored the rumblings from my starved stomach.
Before my knee was even really ready, I started pushing it. What started out as rehab exercises quickly became an obsession. I wrote everything down. I made lists of all the exercises I'd done, and vowed to always do more the next day. I started running. I ran and ran until my lungs burned and I'd end up in a pile on the sidewalk gasping for air. I refused to believe I had asthma. I could force my body to do this.
The weight started coming off in a hurry.
No one was concerned. Everyone kept telling me how great I looked, and so I pushed it further and further.
Boys started paying attention to me. Suddenly the girl who went to her 9th grade dance alone had 6 guys pursuing her at the same time. I was flattered. It was working.
So I pressed on. I got up in the morning and ran. I skipped breakfast. I had only a diet soda for lunch. I'd come home from school, drink a gallon of water and work out. After I mostly pretended to eat dinner, I'd go run again.
I got frustrated when the weight loss slowed. I couldn't understand why it wasn't working anymore. I refused to see that my body wasn't designed to be skinny.
I pushed harder. The lowest point I hit was 117 pounds.
To get there, I was working out 3 times a day sometimes and hardly eating. I was malnourished. I started having fainting spells.
And I still felt fat.
I still felt worthless.
I still felt like I wasn't good enough.
It seemed that when I should have been feeling better about myself, I sunk deeper into a hole. I noticed the things people said more, I interpreted things differently. I thought about what I wasn't eating and when I could work out again constantly.
I started popping pain meds to power through the searing pain in my knee. I refused to stop.
My friends were worried, but I didn't hear their concern. I just saw judgment.
It wasn't until I fainted in church one weekend that I realized how bad it was.
I came to, the church spinning around from the view where I sat, and I knew it had to stop. I was hurting myself.
A few months later, I met the man who would one day become my husband. He was attracted to me, just me. Not me, but thinner. Or me, but with better skin. Or me, but with fake blond hair. He wanted me, just as I was.
He showed me that I was worthy of love and friendship just because I was who I was, and that my value wasn't attached to the number on a scale.
I stopped starving myself.
I cut back on the workouts to a normal routine.
I got back to interacting with my friends and family the way I was supposed to.
And I fell in love. Not just with the guy who loved me, but with myself. I saw the girl others saw. I stopped trying to be someone I wasn't. With time, I came to a place of acceptance. I knew that I was never going to be thin, and that was okay. My body just isn't designed that way.
For the first time in a long time, I was healthy.
I've known too many women, and even some men, who've struggled this way. Our pursuit of alleged perfection often the very thing hurting us. The thing that could always rear it's ugly head again.
For today, I choose peace with the number on my pants. I choose peace with who I am right now. I choose to love myself because I'm deserving, regardless of what my outer shell looks like.
I choose to be healthy.
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