As some of you may know, when I was 17, I struggled with an eating disorder. (I go into much greater detail here: https://emkayed.wordpress.com/2015/04/28/the-secret-could-have-killed-me/). I lost about 75 pounds from September-March of my senior year of high school. When I tell you it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through, I don’t say that lightly. I started losing weight because my life was spiraling out of control. I desperately needed structure, something I could methodically and meticulously manage. Food and exercise filled that role for me. My eating disorder quickly became my life. It was my every thought, my every glance in the mirror, my every second from the time I opened my eyes to the time I closed them at night. I learned every trick of the trade. It was all-consuming. It became my sole identity as I eradicated everything from my life that didn’t put me closer to my “fitness” goal. I was miserable and miserable to be around. I lost my friends because I completely removed myself from the outside world. I stopped pursuing the things I loved. I carried my disorder around with me, even when I was crushed by the weight. As the days got longer and the number on the scale got smaller, I hated myself more and more. Facing daily tasks seemed daunting. I was perpetually exhausted from being constantly at war with my body. And then one day, after talking to many people who loved me and many, many tears, I waved the white flag. I began to heal.
Slowly but surely, I started to love life once again. More importantly, I started to love myself. I went to the beach. I went to the mountains. I ate good food. I played softball. I moved out of my parents house and 250 miles away. I started college. I ate more good food. I started my job. I road-tripped. I ran and hiked and thoroughly embraced the days and nights. Every day certainly wasn’t perfect, but for the first time in a long time, I was allowing myself to live. I had times where I struggled with the demons that living with an ED brings, sure, but I was leaps and bounds of where I had been. I was finally moving on with my life. And I was happy.
Interestingly enough, all the weight that I had once lost found me again. Plus more. I knew it was bound to happen, but I don’t think I was quite prepared for the extent of it. I had no idea I would gain all of it back. While some was definitely necessary, much of it was most definitely not. I struggled for weeks because I knew that once again, I wasn’t treating my body the way that I should. The last thing I wanted to do was slip back into my old habits, but I knew I would enjoy life more if I made changes to be healthier. One day this past February, I decided to start over again. I wanted to change, but this time, it was because I loved my body, not because I hated it. It was because I wanted my body to be able to do more, not weigh less. So I decided to give true health a shot. And this time, my intentions were pure.
Since mid-February, I have lost roughly 40 pounds. There is no before and after, because I am not a finished product, and I never will be. I am on a never-ending journey of just doing the best I can every single day. Some days I feel myself slipping back into the security of my old thoughts and I’m sure that’s a struggle I will always face. I try to make good food decisions most of the time, but I know that having a piece of cake here and there won’t kill me. I don’t see food as the enemy anymore. I run every day because I love it, not because I feel the need to punish myself. And I drink water like it’s my job because I know it’s what my body needs. I try to make choices that I know will make me happier and healthier. While I want to lose weight, sure, I am much more focused on making sure I’m living the life I want to live in the process. I want to love and appreciate the body I currently have, even if I’m trying to change it. I don’t like to think of things in terms of a goal weight because my plan does not include a number on a scale or the tag on an item of clothing.
I’ve already weighed the least I probably ever will and I know for a fact that alone cannot bring you joy. If I have learned anything for certain, it’s that “skinny” is not the greatest adjective you can be. Kind, thoughtful, passionate, adventurous, grateful, happy: these are all so much more important. So this time around, that is my goal– not to be a smaller person, but a better one.