In order to change my disordered eating, I not only had to change the relationship with my food, but also with my body. I was so busy binge-eating and focusing on food that I was literally killing myself since I also had Type 2 Diabetes. I felt so hurt inside that it was a way for me to keep myself physically safe and I ended up pushing away the people that cared about me. It was like I had forgotten how to express myself in a vulnerable and open way to others and had built walls around me. This was such an isolating experience and I started to fall out of touch with my body, mind, emotions, and soul. I didn’t love myself and I couldn’t remember what it was like to love my body in any capacity.
Once I ready and able to accept help, I knew that as my food shifted, my body was also going to change. I wasn’t prepared for that in the beginning. I was 150 lbs. + overweight according to the doctors I was seeing, and all I could worry about were the “numbers” of anything I was doing. Whether it was the scale, or the ounces of this food or that food, these numbers became the determining factor in my happiness level. And it was awful.
I struggled with constantly losing sight of the original purpose of getting into recovery; eating nourishing food, and taking care of my body – I wanted to become friends with myself again, not a robot that only could live life a certain way. I was still only surviving and not thriving.
There was one day about a year into recovery that I had reached my limit. I had visited a different location to my normal gym and a personal trainer who worked at that location said, “Wow, great job at getting in here, let me know if you’d like to work together on any problem areas! We could start you on a weight loss program too and work on those arms!”
I was caught off guard. First of all, I couldn’t believe he had approached me so directly and pointed out one of the body parts I was highly self-conscious about. He didn’t know at that time that I had already lost 40 lbs. I had already “started a healthy eating program”, and I was already “working on being active”. Now mind you, in the trainer’s head, he probably was trying to be encouraging and trying to help (and also get money). But, in my head, I heard, “you need to lose weight and your arms are fat.”
I came home and I cried. I got on the scale to make sure “I wasn’t fat”. I was so upset. The first thing I wanted to do was binge, because I said to myself, “What is all this for then, when even the trainer at the gym sees me trying and it’s not enough?”
A good hour later and a soaking shirt from tears and sweat prompted me to go to my closet. It was laundry day and all I had was a shirt in the back of the closet that I had forgotten about and hadn’t worn for several years. When I put it on, I realized just how large it had become on me. I did a double-take. I started crying again.
This time the crying was out of shock/realization, but also out of a tremendous amount of fear. My body dysmorphia was so high that I still saw myself as large when in fact, 40 lbs. was such a large amount of weight. I tried a few more clothes that were for special occasions and again, as my friend would say, I was swimming in the extra amount of fabric.
I realized that I HAD made progress. I thought to myself that it didn’t matter what that trainer thought, and it really didn’t matter what the scale said either. Sure, knowing what I had lost was a nice marker and good for informative purposes, but I realized that the outside physical numbers like weight or inches really DON’T make a difference. The reality is that I was starting to be much healthier on the inside and psychologically for the first time, EVER. I got rid of the scale. I put the measuring tape away. I kept being active, I kept working on myself and going to therapy and figuring out who Lisa was again.
Now I have lost over 100 lbs., and I am definitely not the same girl I was 7 years ago when I was trying to stop using food as a coping mechanism. I look entirely different and have embraced the true me and all my quirks. I feel I often look at the wrinkles of loose skin that I’ve acquired, and even though someone may see it as unsightly, I feel like it is one of the most beautiful things about me, because it shows me how far I have come from being so unhappy years ago. My body is absolutely amazing! It kept me protected when I didn’t know how, and it kept me alive when I didn’t care about it.
Now as I am an athlete, I can move my body more functionally, my Diabetes is very well controlled, and I respect my body and anything that goes into it. I listen carefully to it and have become very aware of how it’s functioning. I pay attention if something is off, and I honor what I’m feeling. I’m still stunned – I never thought I’d get to this point in my life. As I get older, I have new struggles that I often have mixed feelings about, but I am so grateful for them too. I finally am treating myself as I truly deserve; with unconditional love.