And it sucked.
I don’t even know how to start this post. It feels like no matter how I start, there would be a better way to. So I decided to just do it in a chronological order.
It started when I was 24.
I happened to find myself in a situation where I suddenly had to very intensely take care of another person in my life other than myself. I do not want to go into further detail as I want to respect this other person’s privacy.
My daily life suddenly evolved around this person and I felt like losing control of my own life. It turned out the only thing I still had control of was the food I consumed and the exercise I did. So I started to become obsessive about it. And was sadly but knowingly kind of destructive about it. Excessive exercise and restriction of food was my only coping mechanism with this out-of-control situation of my life.
I started running only for short distances, a few times a week. And then every day. Then up to long distance runs. Every. Single. Day. On an empty stomach.
I wouldn’t allow myself consuming fats anymore. Or carbs. Anything that really tasted good or was fun. I remember eating a salad at our work’s cafeteria, picking out the beans, because carbs! I remember lying in bed at 11pm, of course not able to falls asleep due to the lack of proper nutrition and my enormously high levels of cortisol, going to the fridge and „allowing“ myself to eat only a whole raw paprika. I think I don’t even have to get started about my digestion at that time.
I was losing weight very quickly. And people around me noticed of course. I remember being on my way to a meeting at work, really well prepared to present my knowledge when suddenly, my boss came over to me asking me if I was okay as I „was looking sick“. I was so shook so I had a complete black out and could not remember any of the topics I wanted to present during the meeting. I realized people were noticing. And it made me feel ashamed and embarrassed. And angry. At them and myself.
You might ask yourself if I lost my period at that time. And the answer is – I do not know.
Because I was on the pill. And when you’re on the pill, you do not have a period. You only have a withdrawal bleed. But I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have had a period.
Via social media and my friends, I first got in touch with my now favorite ever topic of hormones. I learnt that malnutrition and excessive exercise can and eventually will negatively impact your hormone balance and might lead to health issues – short term and maybe reversible but also long term and irreversible. And I started to be concerned. Like really concerned. I didn’t want to be or become sick. I wanted to be healthy and heal. So I decided to make a change.
I knew I would need to change my diet, integrate carbs again, eat more fats and in general eat more (!). But it was so hard. In my brain it all made total sense, but I could not do it.
I don’t even remember how I got into this, but I eventually landed on YouTube and saw a video of a young woman eating in front of the camera. I later learnt this was called „mukbang“ – a concept (originally from South Korea but now spreading around the world) where people would sit in front of the camera, eating large amounts of food. That’s it. Nothing more. Sometimes they would talk while eating, telling their audience about their day or whatever. Sometimes they would just eat and look into the camera. I know this might sound super weird to you, as it was for me too. But somehow (!), I got into it, because it gave me a feeling of security. It somehow showed me that only if you eat more, it does not automatically mean you gain enormous amounts of weight.
So I started watching these mukbangs on a regular basis. Sometimes just while lying on the sofa. Sometimes while eating myself. It was like eating with another person on the table. And weirdly enough it really helped me to allow myself to eat more. And integrate foods again I had avoided for so long.
Another big motivator for me was my period health. I knew I wanted to have a healthy period again after the pill and that a massive contributor to this would be a healthy body weight and a regular eating schedule with nutrient dense food.
When I started gaining weight, it was so hard for me at first. And I gained weight quite easily, because my body obviously really needed it. I found myself at my weight which I had prior to my eating disorder and it was extremely difficult for me to look at myself in the mirror. In my head, I was still this very malnourished, underweight girl and suddenly I saw a woman in the mirror, with curves, a rounder face and rosy cheeks.
So I was at a healthy weight again, but was still battling the intrusive thoughts of anorexia in my head that would pop up frequently. And there are sooooo many triggers. Women around you skipping breakfast, doing intermittent fasting, smashing HIIT workouts every day. When I started my weight gain journey, I completely stopped working out. I quit running, HIIT, intense yoga. The only workout I did was very slow yoga and walking.
The triggers that you are faced with will become more quiet over time, a lot of them will disappear, but some will remain. And that’s ok. When I am triggered today, I realize it, sometimes I even speak it out loud. But I do not let them influence myself anymore. I do not change my eating habits, I do not change my workout schedule.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder or are obsessed with working out, I hear, see and feel you. So much. I know it is extremely hard to get out of this destructive mindset, but please believe me, IT IS SO WORTH IT. And you can do it. I promise you, you can do it.