As it is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week February 21 – 27, I wanted to take the time to share my recovery story with you in hopes that it will provide at least one person with hope and courage that recovery is possible. This is part 3 of my recovery story series, read part 1 here and part 2 here.
As I said in my last post (part 2), I was done battling anorexia and ready to move on with my life. So, I literally moved!
After working with a dietitian for the past two plus years of my recovery journey, I was inspired to go to university and study the same in hopes of helping someone just like me one day. I wanted to become a registered dietitian and help females overcome eating disorders, so I began applying to all of the universities with accredited dietetic programs within Canada! I pretty much applied to every single province and got accepted into all of them, except one – the one in my home province! I was praying that would be the case as I wanted to move far away and start a new life, so I like to think that the universe provided me with exactly what I wanted and needed. Pretty cool how that works out, huh?
Anyways, in the end, I chose to move to London Ontario and study dietetics there. London was 30 hours away from my hometown, but I made the big moved and never looked back. This was by far one of the best decisions I ever made for myself. In London, I was able to start fresh. The self conscious girl I used to be wasn’t even part of me anymore and it was liberating. I was on university student council, I was crowned junior princess at the annual university ball, and I was more outgoing than I had ever been in my entire life! Life almost felt like a dream, it was so good.
Despite living a life filled with much more freedom than I had experienced in years, I still lived in fear in certain areas of my life. A few of my biggest fears were: accidentally under eating and losing weight. After years of dedicated recovery, I became incredibly fearful of under eating and losing weight – I couldn’t imagine losing any of the progress I had made over the two years I spent at home recovering. So, in order to prevent that from happening, I stuck to the meal plan my dietitian had given me to maintain my weight gain.
Eventually, this innocent dedication to a healthy meal plan, turned into an obsession. I knew nothing else other than this meal plan and feared coming off of it because it was all I knew. I was so out of tune with my body, I felt as though I did not know how to eat on my own. My meal plan was pretty much my everything.
Throughout this time, I was also introduced to the gym and weight training. I wasn’t much for sports when I lived back home (only dance), but, with my new found confidence in London, I walked into the weight room, felt at home, and almost immediately fell in love.
Again, this was one of the best decisions I ever made for myself, beginning to lift weights. It helped boost my confidence even more and it made me feel strong, powerful, and empowered. I seriously wish every female lifted weights. One thing weight lifting also helped me with was understanding the importance of fuelling my body properly. Progress and strength gains wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t fuel properly, so I began to eat even more to ensure I was eating enough to meet my needs. The girl who once starved herself was so far gone and it felt so good to know that my eating disorder was long gone as I was committed to fuelling myself properly, every single day.
I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with three snacks every single day. I tracked everything I ate into an app called My Fitness Pal, weighed all of my proteins on a kitchen food scale, and measured everything else in measuring cups. I felt as though I had to use these measuring tools to make sure I was eating enough and never dipping below my needs.
It’s important to note that I was eating a lot, even more than when I was following a meal plan specifically for weight gain throughout recovery, however, my weight began to dip, so I became even more obsessed with my meal plan, ensuring I was following it to the morsel.
Because I was so fearful of more weight loss and obsessed with gaining weight, I thought of food constantly and it began to interrupt my daily life. I passed up some pretty fun university experiences because I was too worried about meal timing, I brought snacks with me everywhere, I spent the majority of my time outside of class meal prepping when I should have been studying, and honestly couldn’t imagine my life without my food scale. It sounds sounds absolutely pathetic to say this, but it was almost like a best friend.
And then one day, in my fourth and final year of my undergrad, I woke up. The amount of stress, anxiety, and obsession I had with food, my meal plan, and weight gain hit me like a brick wall and I couldn’t take it anymore!
I cried, I wanted freedom. I wanted to toss my food scale off my balcony. I wanted to eat three meals if I wanted to one day and then five the next. I wanted nothing to do with a meal plan. I wanted to be free. I wanted to listen to my body. I wanted all of these things, but didn’t know where to start. I was scared because all I knew, for the past five years, was a meal plan and I didn’t know how to let go.
In tomorrow’s post I will continue my eating disorder recovery story with part 4.