My Fitness Journey, Anorexia?!, and Daring to Move On
High school was pretty crappy in its entity. I think I started on the wrong foot when something really tragic happened to me in the beginning of my 10th grade and I told everyone I knew about it because for some reason I don’t understand to this day, I thought these people cared. I was miserable and tired, fitness and well-being were the last things on my mind.
One day while sharing depressing pictures captioned “It’s not a bad day, it’s a bad life.” I ran across the most random shared pictures of some yoga stretches. I don’t really know what pushed me but in no time I was in my mother’s room, where I could be alone, and started stretching. It kind of hurt, I didn’t know back then that it meant I was tense. Nonetheless, it felt good in a way I couldn’t describe. I kept doing it every single day, often rushing so no one could see me because I felt embarrassed, not sure why. I didn’t dare mention it in school or anywhere else for that matter.
One day, a guy in my class who would turn into a crush and nothing later, asked me “Do you ever eat?”
For someone who had been called “fat” so many times, I was stunned. “Of course I eat,” I said, “and a lot,” I thought.
And it was true, I was one of the slimmer girls in the class, though not the slimmest. And, day by day I was getting slimmer because I started to do things well – for wellness.
I would start my day with water and honey, I still do and I think this is the best habit I created back then; I’d drink peppermint tea every single day in my giant cup and I would record all the calories I took or lost.
I discovered Blogilates and that became the secret behind my weight-loss and toning. Very soon, I started looking better and feeling better, or so I thought. I motivated so many of my friends to start their own journey and it became an integral part of my personality: I was the fit girl.
I won’t deny it, I looked really good and I was so motivated I didn’t understand why people made motivational videos.
My grandmothers would often nag me of being too thin and not eating at all, and soon enough my mother started doing the same. Most of my family members would at some point try to “talk some sense into me” but I would just look at them and feel sorry for them. Once my aunt entered the room in which I was working out; I was somewhere by the end of the 100 burpee burnout and past many other Blogilates videos. My face was red, my shirt was wet and my aunt was shocked. She literally tried to physically stop me from “harming myself”.
My friends would speak about how my body was absolutely gorgeous and there were people really taking my advice, although most of them wouldn’t acknowledge that it was my advice, claiming they have woken up one morning with the bright idea of doing everything the way I did. I didn’t mind – that much.
I never realized how toxic my life was becoming until after one summer, every day of which I drank 4 liters of water, ate 1200 calories of healthy food, worked out 1-2 hours and slept 8. Except for reading books excessively, which is my real passion that never burned out, I had no life. Now, there are many contributors to this state I was in but certainly, I had a problem. I was sore all the time and loved the feeling. By the time I was finishing high school, I went to prom wearing a size 0 dress, yes…size ZERO. Some people called me “dreamy” and a “model” and “utterly inspirational and amazing” and I must admit, I felt so myself.
Finishing high school was good, I was finally out of that judgy space where everyone knew the tiniest details about my private life and I was completely careless about theirs. When I started college, it was a different feat, it was just as judgy but gave you a little more privacy. It couldn’t be much different because many of the students who went to my high school went to the same college, both private schools, both places in which I often wondered why I was there, I still sometimes do.
I remained the same motivated person, worked out regularly despite the plentiful assignments and things I had to do throughout the year. College was smooth, fine…I made friends and I fell in love, the latter exponentially improving my college experience.
This is where I tell you that my bubble popped.
My boyfriend worked out double as much as I did and he had his body to say that for him, he looked stunning, sculpted and symmetrical. We spoke about it often, he had shaped a perfect body for himself. He also loved how I looked so he’s not the reason my illusion shattered.
I realized I was obsessed with how my body looked, that’s what popped the bubble, I realized.
It was once right before college when I got so sick from the flu that I had to go to the hospital to get some infusions of sugar and salt. The doctor was a friend of my mom’s because this is how things work in my country, you call your doctor friend if you want someone to take care of your sick child, but if you don’t have a doctor friend, you and your sick child wait. So my mom’s friend looks at me and she has a sort of inexplicable irritation on her face, she starts telling me about other patients they had “with anorexia” as she puts it.
I was baffled, “I read so much about anorexia, I don’t have it” I utter in the midst of the exhaustion and stomach pain.
My words don’t mean anything to her and she keeps conversing more with my mum than with me, trying to convince her of my mental problem, “She should not be allowed to work out, nor to control her portions…she’s not healthy at all…look at the hollow in her stomach” the doc says pushing her hand on my stomach to show the hollowness. I can’t argue, I’m too weak for that yet I often roll my eyes at their nonsense and remind myself that I know myself and I’m not nearly anorexic. But I can’t help thinking “Did I ever feel truly happy with my body?”
After I felt better from the flu, my lifestyle barely changed. I didn’t exercise for about two weeks, two very long and annoying weeks, just to pretend when my mom was looking, but soon I was back on track. I’d work out in a sense of hurry so my mom wouldn’t notice my obsession. Yet sometimes I’d remember the times I’d worked out at school, doing squats in the school toilet-room with my best friend, in front of mirrors to make sure we had the proper form. But that’s just passion, it’s not an illness I’d remind myself.
Fast forward to my time in college when I finished the 1st year and left for Chicago. I stayed there for a month during which I struggled to keep my exercising and eating regimen. My trip consisted of me eating tasty dishes made by my aunt, chilling and reading so much so that I felt I was not having the time or care for my “regimen”. All the while I was just living. I didn’t enjoy it as much because I was constantly feeling guilty and as if I was breaking some really well-set rules. However, I kept eating and not working out and I was feeling just fine.
I came back from the US and life kept going and getting even better at times, I ate well, looked well and certainly felt well. I hadn’t gained any weight and I was feeling great. I’d often and still attribute it to Pilates, why I didn’t gain weight during this past time that I hadn’t been working out. Pilates works miracles, I still have abs and honestly strong legs.
As time passed, I realized I sat in a chair of false comfort, I was eating so much and having so much fun with food, which I absolutely love because I thought my body won’t change. I believed so much in this because it was true, my body was barely changing and I was eating all I ever wished to.
Alas, it didn’t last longer than around 10 months and I started noticing something wrong. All of my family was praising me for the “perfect body” which in my mind meant I’m “fat” because they’d say that I didn’t look like a skeleton anymore and that my tall body needed all the calories. Soon enough I started realizing that I wasn’t where I wanted to be. All the food, the late nights working, the lack of exercise had taken a toll on me, not enormous but certainly evident, enough so that I would start feeling miserable again.
As I’m writing this, it’s the day I have set to go to the gym, to bring back more energy and strength to my body, but I can’t lie to myself nor to my reader, I also want to maintain a beautiful body. It has taken me so long to bring myself to this point again and I hope I will hold on to it.
I understood the point of motivational videos when I was too unmotivated to even search and watch one.
I might have had a real problem and I might still have it, but I understand that those things take time, care and love. Having people who do care about you and your health is so important, yet having ones that also listen to you is more important. I realized that I changed the way I behaved towards my body at times when big events happened to me, mostly sad and painful ones. But ever since, I have put up with them and stood up for myself.
I feel that I’m back on my feet again and I can’t know if and when I will receive another blow, but I wanted to share my story so people know the truth behind what they see, a confident woman with a beautiful body. True enough, my confidence almost never wavered because I didn’t base it solely on my body. But I do understand, how it feels not to be content with your body or to work out so much you think your heart might beat out of your chest and leave you dead right on that spot.
I’ve heard it so often that balance is key and doing things in moderation will save a soul. I choose to believe that because of different reasons but mainly because I want that in my life. I want consistency and I want things to go smoothly.
As I wait for the hour to strike 5:00PM to leave for the gym, writing this during my break at work/internship (read: not during my working hours!) I can’t but hope that I will not let myself down this time. I hope that I will not pretend, to myself, to be perfect but I will push myself to the limit. And as Cassey from Blogilates would say “not to the breaking point, just to the limit”.