It all started when I first made the decision to lose some weight.
I was not overweight in any way, in fact, I had a completely normal BMI. I just wanted to tighten up a little bit, so I set a goal weight, decided how I would eat and started to run on a regular basis. When I stepped onto the scale the week after I was thrilled to see the scale showing that I’d lost weight! I’ve always been a person who goes wholeheartedly for whatever I set my mind to, and I really enjoyed watching my determination paying off. I continued for one more week, then another, and another, and another… until the day came when I reached my goal weight. Those magical numbers. I remember the joy when my eyes fell down to the scale.
But this joy didn’t last very long, a couple of minutes later I stood in front of the mirror and viewed my body head to toe, and I wasn’t pleased. The next week I continued to eating to a strict diet, continued to run, and my calorie intake went lower and lower. I didn’t plan to do this, but… it just happened. It became this idea that the lesser, the better. The calorie quota I had set as a default for one day when I first started now seemed extremely high in my head.
With the low calorie intake, my energy disappeared – so I began to walk regularly instead of running. I also went to the swimming hall and swam an hour every week. It felt like torture to step down into the water, with my skinny body frozen after I was done – even with two sweatshirts on. I remember my heart fighting for every stroke and I remember the thoughts and feeling that I would HAVE to give up any second. I kept going though.
In hindsight, I can’t believe I tortured my body like this. Everything in my life circled around the food, the calories and my weight. I went to bed hungry every night and had to force myself to sleep with the faint sound of my heart echoing in my ears. When I finally fell asleep, I dreamt about food. When I woke up in the morning I went (like every other morning) straight to my weighing scale. If it showed that I’d gained weight (even just a slight bit) my day was ruined. If it showed that I’ve lost some weight since the day before, I burst out in a smile before I continued with my daily set-ups.
It’s hard to believe this was actually me just two years ago. I was so sickly fixated and driven by my obsessions. I experienced all kinds of anxiety and anguish from morning to evening and the constantly feeling of never being satisfied. I deeply regret what I did to myself. But the thing I regret the most is what I put my close friends and family through. They had to watch me destroying myself. I’m so grateful to them, and I want to thank my family, my boyfriend and my friends. In the end, it was them who woke me up and encouraged me to fight through this.
Going to the gym and weightlifting was a big turning point for me. I’m not preaching that weightlifting is the way to get well – but it worked for me. Getting free from an eating disorder doesn’t happen overnight and in the beginning when I went to the gym, I carried a big deal of the anxiety with me. But instead of this developing into a new condition of the illness, it became a sort of transition. A method for me to let go of my eating disorder. Suddenly it was okay to eat. “The less, the better” attitude turned into seeing food as fuel. Something that my body needed.
I ate (mostly) healthy, but I also didn’t have problem eating unhealthy – snacks, for instance. It took time, it went up and down, but slowly I could let go of my anxiety and control issues. I went from counting every single number – calories, miles, sets, reps… to being relaxed and enjoying myself.
Today, I work out because it makes me feel good. In fact, I haven’t even written down a single set, weight or rep in a long time. I usually have a goal for my training because it’s fun to have something to aim at – bulking, cutting, weights (gym weights) and so on. But at the moment, I don’t have any specific goals set. I just want to feel good, progress and have fun. I will most definitely set up a goal again in a few months but it will happen when I feel like it. For the moment I feel the best by just being – just going to the gym and enjoying. It’s the biggest difference between then and now, I do what makes me feel best. Always.
I don’t do things just because I “have to”. If I want to take a day off on a day when I originally planned to go the gym, I take the day off. And it doesn’t make me feel bad about myself. The famous “balance” in life everyone talks about is a fine line and isn’t always easy to accomplish. For me, it took time.
The only thing I can say is that you have to be honest to yourself. How is your relationship to food and exercise? Do you workout to numb anxiety you might face? Can you skip a planned workout session without feeling bad? And a point of view that will answer what your relationship really is towards your training – do you workout to feel good… or to not feel bad?
Another important aspect that I want to point out is that you always should consult a professional to help you get better. I was stubborn and wanted to get well and healthy on my own. And sure, I managed to do so to a certain extent – but I didn’t get the help that I in fact needed to deal with the anxiety that I had been building up inside myself during my eating disorder and on the way up. When my body and mind woke up again, I had to handle panic attacks and all kinds of aftermaths. You always have to deal with and face your anxiety head on – not shut it in.
Today I’m grateful for being free to be able to enjoy myself again. And my heart goes out to those who are currently on their way down – or to those who are right in the middle of battling an eating disorder. To any of you who recognize some of these things that I have explained, please – do your best to find your way out, now. It gets harder and harder the longer it progresses, and there are few things that are as painful as being trapped in a psychological illness. But I hope that my journey can inspire, help and motivate others to a healthy living.
You won’t be happier just because you are so thin that your bones stick out. You won’t be more satisfied with yourself. You might think so now, but you will in fact feel worse. Be happy, smile, live life and do things that make you feel good, inside and outside.
Team Quest – We are here for you! Share your transformations and triumphs with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or email them to us at [email protected]. Remember that these transformations took hard work, discipline and a plan. Quest products are a delicious component of, and not a substitute for, an exercise regimen and effective diet. The Quest Community is always there for you if you need help, inspiration or motivation!