Food can be a scary concept, as someone who used to struggle with disordered eating I know that first hand. I also know that it may sound a little messed up to actually say that out loud because it's just food but to me it wasn't and to a lot of other people it isn't either.
I know what it's like to be afraid to go out with friends because you don't think that the restaurant will have an option that "suits your diet" or your friends might want to get dessert and the thought of indulging in something unhealthy and possibly opening up the flood gates to more unhealthy food or a full on binge is terrifying to you. I know what it's like to go to the gym as a punishment with the guilt of last nights binge weighing on you. I know what it's like to look in the mirror and be forced to look at a body you are not happy in, to pose and flex every muscle, to suck in your stomach, to squeeze your skin and wish that you saw something different. I used to have these thoughts too, all the time.. I get it.
My disordered eating started when I was around 17 - I tried every diet and restrictive eating method there was, I obsessed over every single thing that I put into my body and fought myself on my body image for years and I was absolutely miserable the entire time. I didn't tell my parents or even my friends about how I was feeling, I thought the less that they knew the better because I didn't want anyone to try to intervene. I pretended I had already eaten when friends would ask me to go out for food. I did hours of cardio because I wanted to be thin and I probably read somewhere that cardio was the best way to achieve that. I only ever exercised to "work off" food and I saw it as a way to try and change the body that I hated living in. I only ate what I thought was healthy - low calorie, low carb, low fat. This mindset caused me to feel very restricted and lead to me binging (hard) almost daily on everything I could find which left me feeling worse than I did before and guilty for what I assumed I had just done to my body and my progress - and then I would do it all over again. It was a viscous cycle.
My obsession with being healthy consumed me, I was so fixated on looking a certain way and in the back of my mind I was sure I would never look how I wanted to. I would spend hours looking at pictures of models, celebrities, fitness gurus and girls I knew and wonder why I didn't look like them - why my stomach wasn't as toned or my butt wasn't as big as theirs. I would pick my body apart piece by piece and make myself feel awful and then I would turn to food to make me feel better.
I would binge because I hated my body and I was convinced that I only hated my body because I binged.
A little over two years ago I found macro based dieting and it helped me actually regain control over food. It helped me find balance between what I wanted to eat and what I could eat because if I really wanted to eat something that was not "healthy" I could fit it into my macros and eat it without guilt. This way of eating worked really well for me for about a year but unfortunately my obsessiveness towards food slowly started to come back, only now it was in the form of numbers. I got to a point where I was so consumed by the numbers of my macros that if I did not hit them perfectly I would actually get stressed out and start to put myself down for it. I weighed everything that I ate, I would look things up before I went out and eat next to nothing all day to make sure I could fit a certain meal in later and if I went over then I would make myself feel like shit for not being good enough at it.
So I decided enough was enough, I deleted my macro tracking app and I slowly started to eat what I wanted to, when I wanted to and because I wanted to. I would be lying to you though if I said that I let go of all restriction overnight just like that. I was still thinking of my macros in the back of my head and I was still restricting myself of certain foods that I didn't exactly classify as "clean" but it was a start. It was actually only a couple of months ago that I truly started to fully understand the concept of listening to my body's cues and eating intuitively - I talk about this more in my Intuitive Eating Post. Intuitive eating is a completely different ball park than what I was used to and it has taken me a long time to get to a point where I actually feel comfortable and confident in what I am putting in my body and don't feel guilty if I'm hungrier some days or am craving something out of my usual norm.
I am not perfect and I have days where I find myself thinking about how many calories a certain food has or if I can "fit" a food into my day without overindulging or sometimes I eat too many treats after dinner and start to feel guilty but I have learned to catch myself in these thought processes and remind myself that tomorrow is a new day and that life is a constant journey full of self growth.
It's normal for old thoughts and habits to trickle back in some times but it's up to me to remember that that is not how I want to live my life anymore. I spent such a huge part of my life focused on eating healthy and "perfectly" that I completely lost touch with what food really is; fuel, nourishment and enjoyment! If you think about it food is one of the greatest enjoyments in life, every single milestone is celebrated in one way or another with food.
I think that what has been the biggest factor in my journey is the fact that I decided that I didn't want to let food or how I felt about my body control my life anymore. I didn't want to watch other people enjoy food and eat freely anymore while I sat on the sidelines. I didn't want to spend every day wishing that my body looked a certain way or that my jeans were a size smaller.
Becoming a Trainer and Nutritionist has also played a huge part in my journey, it has opened my eyes to so much that I was missing out on and I've learned so much about how to properly workout and fuel my body. I eat to nourish myself and to make my body, mind and spirit feel good and I eat carbs and healthy fats at almost every meal now, which is something that I never thought I would say. I exercise 5-6x a week but my reasoning is so much different than it was before. I workout because I love my body and I love to push myself and see what I'm capable of! And you know what? I'm closer now to my fitness goals than ever before, because I stopped obsessing and decided that I was going to love the process, the journey and myself in all stages.
I decided that restriction and having abs does not equal happiness to me and I haven't looked back since.
I have never felt so free and positive when it comes to food, fitness and my body in my entire life, I workout when I want to and eat what I want to, when I want to and I feel amazing. Don't get me wrong though I eat a very healthy diet - I crave healthy food, I love veggies and fruit and healthy complex carbs and good fats and my daily meals consist of mostly real whole foods but I also love a glass of wine (or two) on a Friday night with my boyfriend and pancakes with real maple syrup on a Sunday morning and chocolate after dinner and warm banana bread and yam fries and I enjoy all of these things regularly now. I practice balance and I allow myself to eat what makes me feel good. That to me is happiness.
I'm at a point in my life and journey where I no longer see food as something to be feared. I see it as what it really is, something to be enjoyed.
If you're struggling with disordered eating, body image issues or self love please ask for help. I know what it's like to not want to think a certain way anymore but not know how to escape your mindset. Send me a message, I'm always here to help.