NEDA Awareness Week | Strong, Not Skinny


For three years, I destroyed my body in a pretentious search for confidence. Reflecting  on past attempts taken to attain peace with my self-image, I have come to realize the grave reality behind starving or over-working my body. However, before I realized how much I was hurting myself, nothing could make me love my body.

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My story begins in the year 2012, and portrays the journey I took to become strong, not skinny. In the beginning, I looked upon my body with utter revolt – I hated it with passion. Nothing made me more upset than waking up every morning and looking in the mirror. So, I decided to change my appearance.

I tried everything I could: weight loss pills, calorie restrictions, and daily workouts. I also began to change my diet by  cutting out junk food.. Though I missed snacking on salty potato chips, I thought to myself, “this will help me to lose weight,” and picked up an apple instead. However, my impatience to see results grew.

At 14 years old, losing 5lbs was not good enough for me. So, I lowered my calorie intake to 1800 calories a day and lost about eight pounds- but I still was not satisfied. At my lowest point,  I was eating 0-300 calories a day. I thought I needed in order to weigh the least amount possible, so I kept decreasing my food intake. At the beginning of winter in tenth grade, I hated my body more than ever. I listened to my eating disorder over anyone. I lied about eating, not working out, and losing weight. After restricting myself for so long, I didn’t know what “normal” eating was anymore. I had forgotten how to eat.

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In time, I witnessed my weight steadily drop from 120 pounds to 78 pounds, my absolute lowest. At 78 pounds, I was threatened with needing hospital attention. 78 pounds was when my life spiraled down to darkness. I was too disgusted with myself to ever be in photographs. At 78 pounds, I felt nonexistent; from here, the only path was up.  I needed to gain weight. If I wasn’t satisfied at a BMI of 14.4, I wouldn’t be satisfied at a BMI of 10. In the end, I probably wouldn’t be satisfied until the scale read zero. Back then, I was blinded when I looked in the mirror; all I saw was fat. Fat stomach, huge thighs, small boobs, and a chubby face. Nothing was how I wanted it to be. Little did I know that the person judging me was anorexia, or “Ana”.

Looking back at myself now, I looked disgusting. Emaciated face, jutting ribs, and a huge gap between my thighs. My mother used to cry; she said I looked like a holocaust victim with my brittle hair, broken nails, dead eyes, dark circles, anemia, and osteoporosis. I was rotting from the inside out. Thus, in July of 2013, I began my upward journey to become Madeline again, not “Ana”. So, I changed my lifestyle to become healthy again.


I started eating a bit more per day. I went from 0 calories to 300 calories a day, and from there to 600, where I finally increased it to 1200 calories. 1200 calories is the lowest amount recommended that one should eat in a day. I thought 1200 was high enough, and at this turning point, I weighed around 83 pounds. But I wasn’t as strong as I needed to be yet, because 1200 calories isn’t enough to maintain a physical, healthy lifestyle.

Along the way, I joined a very supportive community through Instagram. I met and talked with people who were having the same struggles as me. I even met a few girls who lived in my city or nearby. They helped me continue fighting and find the strength I needed to beat my eating disorder. With their support, I pushed on and ate sufficiently. Since I had no medical or mental help, these girls helped me create a meal plan based on theirs. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but it was finally enough.

Within a half of a year later, I was supplied with a stronger mind and support, and  I started to eat more. I binged on everything, because my body needed food, but that made things worse. I hated eating so much, even though my body needed it. After reaching 100 pounds, I started to grow taller, sending my BMI even lower. Again, I was threatened with needing the hospital-  the thing I wanted the least in my life. So, I gained more. I began to eat 4000 calories a day, as opposed to maintaining on 3500 calories a day. It was a struggle, but I finally reached my goal of a healthy BMI: 18.5.

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Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, I developed celiac disease. This made recovery harder, because it meant more limits. No more pizza, pasta, or bread. After my supportive followers on Instagram told me how great Quest bars are, I decided to try them (after all, they’re gluten free!).

This was the point at which I began to eat three Quest bars a day. One with my morning snack, another with my afternoon snack, and lastly one with my night snack.  I couldn’t eat any of my favorite foods, unless they were made from corn or rice instead of wheat. I was devastated. I began to lose weight unintentionally. I went from 123 down to 110, and back to 105. However, Quest bars are full of healthy calories, fats, and proteins, and have aided me on my journey to health.  I’m proud to be able to run 5 miles without having my purpose being to  lose weight. I no longer run 10 miles a day, or do ab workouts for 2 hours. I am achieving my goals at a strong, reasonable pace.

In March of 2014, I became Madeline again after gaining 43 pounds. In five weeks, I will be weight restored for a year. Though Ana still has a craven voice in the back of my head, she is the one now starving. Ana is rotting from the inside out while I am thriving.

My name is Madeline Barone. I am sixteen years old, and I am stronger than ever.


Madeline’s 5 Tips To Success

1. THROW AWAY THAT SCALE. You don’t need to weigh yourself 5 times a day! You don’t need to know your weight at all! Only your health professional needs to know.

2. If you think you’re gaining weight, you’re probably not. Just because you look bigger on the scale does not mean you are actually “bigger”.

3. THE NUMBER ON THE SCALE DOES NOT DETERMINE YOUR SELF WORTH. It only determines your body’s relative mass in relation to gravity.

4. Eat your suggested calorie amount! It always seems like a big number, but it is what is best for you!

5. Be happy. Love yourself. Tell yourself how beautiful you are every day. Find something that you love about yourself, and embrace it. Maybe it’s your cheekbones, or your eyes, or your nose, or even your feet arch. It doesn’t matter what it is! Just be positive, and never tell yourself that you aren’t good enough. Everyone is beautiful, you just have to realize which way is yours.

Follow Madeline on Instagram.

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!