This post could be triggering, or it might be helpful. However you feel, after reading this – please take three deep breaths. After that, ask your body, “How can I love you more?” and GO DO THAT. Let me know in the comments what you do.
The purpose of this post is to go a little deeper into my personal story around body dysmorphia and excessive exercising. It’s one aspect of an eating disorder that gets tricky to identify if it has gone too far. Maybe because those who are doing it probably look “healthy”, “strong” and “in control” from an external perspective. But some days it’s actually the most consuming and hate filled part of the disease.
I can remember the moment vividly.
I was sitting on my couch desperately wanting to feel better about my appearance. In this particular instance, it was January 1, 2014 and I think I was watching some reality TV with my mom while scrolling online to figure out what workout I could punish or “treat” myself with the next day. I found Tone It Up on YouTube – right where those girls originated. I remember seeing Karena and Katrina’s bodies and being obsessed with their figures.
I longed to have a flat tummy and skinny legs.
They were pitching the “Love Your Body” series and I fell for it. Just like someone desperate for guidance to stick to a new year resolution, I fell for the idea that the best way to love my body was to shrink, starve and sweat it as much as I could physically handle. They promised that by Valentine’s Day – the day after my birthday, I would FINALLY love my body, look great, and have SO MUCH FUN eating chocolate. Sold.
I got hooked on Tone It Up because I saw results. I saw the results of working out 6-7 days a week for a month straight and eating a half a can of tuna with celery would ultimately give me. This feeling of control was something I had NEVER felt before when it came to my body. I was hooked. They released little snippets of their nutrition plan – which is basically anorexia glorified (in my opinion), and how the perfect snack to curb your hunger is exactly one portion of almonds.
I stuck it out with Tone It Up for more than three years. They would release a new HIIT workout with their chiseled bodies next to the ten workout moves and I would associate THAT workout with THOSE results. Of course, I yo-yo’d back and forth. Went on binges during times of stress and would consider myself “over it” if I dragged myself to the gym and put miles on the treadmill.
If you knew me during that time of my life – you probably noticed my confidence soar. It’s no joke that these routines helped me walk into a gym with a plan and I truly did start to feel comfortable in my own skin. It was senior year of college, I had just shed some really toxic friends, gained amazing new ones, was feeling super single, and seriously felt I was living my best life.
I also started obsessively taking pictures to compare myself day to day, week to week. I would stop to pause at my belly in the mirror several times a day to make sure I wasn’t fat. I had to get a glance to make sure bones were sticking out in the right places. #TIUTRANSFORMATIONTUESDAY ew. barf. it’s still a trigger. take deep breaths.
The community of women on social media who validated and cheered each other on for pushing and losing those extra pounds was intensely motivating. I thought this was empowerment, control, feeling good about myself.
Tone It Up DID give me confidence in the gym and in my skin. But it also sent me on a wild goose chase. To feel validated and worthy based on how many workout I completed and how well I stuck to my “meal plan” aka hella restrictive dieting. The guilt I had when I skipped a workout, because I didn’t have the time or energy, was enough for me to wait until 12pm the next day to feed myself.
I got really into workout schedules and I still kind of am. When I schedule a workout three days in advance, I am more likely to get it done. Workout schedules definitely help with accountability and achieving “results” – whatever that means for you, which I see value in. As long as results are not defined by a number on the scale and the external opinions of others MORE than yourself.
I am still very much dealing with all this. I go for 2 hour runs to escape. I’ll overbook studio classes so I don’t have to deal with my to do list or the anxiety about the to do list. I push my body and not nourish it the way it deserves when I feel guilty about a late night binge.
I still use food and body control as my numb of choice.
Want to know a huge game-changer? Yoga. You can flow with me anytime, FYI. The mind, body, breathe connection is the most healing journey anyone who is addicted to the struggle can go on.
However, HFH amplified my healing. This program helped me surrender to my emotions and grow from the pain. I understand where my lack of worthiness came from better than I ever have – and it didn’t start on the couch that one day. It was a long held belief I had been grasping onto since I was a little girl. Food was my numbing drug of choice.
That’s why I enrolled in this Hungry for Happiness program. I just wanted to be a client. But Cheryl convinced I’d be a great coach…so here I am. Pushing my boundaries, meditating every single day, so aware of the pain and the purpose.
Accepting this eating disorder as part of me and better noting my belief system was step one. Understanding the childhood trauma my body holds dear and the way I continue to cope was steps two to twenty. Integrating mindfulness, love, and curiosity of my behaviors and underlying beliefs is the work OF LIFE.
I cannot WAIT to help more women overcome their food and body issues. Right now, it feels like my purpose. That feels really good.
I have an entire series dedicated to this Hungry for Happiness journey as – check it out here if you’re curious. You’ll find part one of my story in that series.
Contact me to schedule a get to know call for January 2020. Just let me know your name, how you found this blog, and what landed with you.
Thanks for making it to the end – you’re magic.
XO + OM