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Changing Disordered Eating with Crossfit

Hi! My name is Maegan and I’m a 17 year old member of Empowered Rx!

My eating disorder began when I was 13 years old. I had always compared myself with my twin sister and my older sister, both of whom were smaller than me. I also struggled with pretty severe stuttering as a child. My twin struggled in the beginning, but she grew out of it while I was left in the dust, still forced to go to therapy, wondering what she was doing right and what I was doing wrong.

Of course, growing up as a twin, it’s expected that everywhere you go people either comment, “oh yeah I could tell you two were twins!” or “You two don’t look alike at all!” I knew I was bigger than both my sisters, or at least I believed I was, and for a little bit I was okay with it. But one afternoon, right after I had turned 13, my twin showed me her calorie counting app she had been using, and she recommended I download it and we could track and lose weight together. I figured that if she had to lose weight, then I certainly did too; plus, she had always been the leader in the twinship, so I didn’t have too much of a choice.

It took off from there. The app introduced me to a whole new world of viewing food as nothing but numbers, and equations, and exercise as simply a subtraction sign. My undiagnosed OCD also had an unknown role in this addiction, and caused me to go from 0 to 100 within 24 hours. Months later I was hospitalized for a deadly low weight and heart rate, but was sent home within a week to begin Family Based Therapy while it fell onto my parents to force me to eat, a nearly impossible task.

But we did it - I like to say “we” but really I mean “they”. My parents were there for me every meal for four years; it was hell. I had never been so challenged in my entire life and I’ll never forget the afternoons I spent at school in a private room with my mom while she tried to get me to eat, and kids would walk in on me bawling my eyes out and hyperventilating over a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That was when I realized most kids my age weren’t going through what I was going through.

We managed. I was still heavily reliant on my parents to prep and supervise meals, but I very rarely cried over meals anymore. Plus, my sisters were both away, my older sister at college and my twin at a pre-professional ballet boarding school, and I didn’t have to compare to them.

But then Covid struck.

My sisters came home, I was stuck at home, I was overwhelmed, my trainer, who had become my only best friend, was charged and arrested for sexual assault, and I was surrounded by constant advertisements reminding people to exercise while they were in lockdown (of course, TikTok was also a MAJOR trigger). I relapsed into my eating disorder, and struggled in silence for about a year.

While in lockdown I developed binge eating disorder; I would starve myself all day in hopes that I could finally eat what I wanted at night. It was a miserable cycle. I exercised and hid food more than I ever had before, and I felt like I was getting dragged farther and farther into this black hole that I couldn’t get out of.

I told my parents and my therapist that I needed residential treatment. They were all surprised, because I had been so good at hiding it. But they eventually believed me, and I was sent to residential care 24 hours after my 17th birthday.

Residential was… well, interesting. The first few weeks I struggled with comparison to all the other girls who were genuinely struggling and I felt like a fake. I could eat anything and I hardly ever got upset about it. So I followed their lead to try to fit in, but eventually I couldn’t stand it any longer. So I committed to full recovery, right then and there, and I was actually able to really enjoy my time as res because I was full of food and full of light. I actually made a great friend with a Recovery Coach there, named Tess, who I still email with any and all updates on my life and recovery.

Leaving residential, I was terrified. Terrified of relapse, of comparison to my sisters, of everything. My parents were determined to keep me in recovery so I stayed in a hotel for 2 months at a PHP program in New Hampshire. That was where I started to binge again and I also began to self harm. At residential, they had told me that as long as I was eating my meal plan, I would “never binge again”; yeah, well, that didn’t quite work out.

My extreme hunger was still there, and I became so frustrated with my binging that I turned to what seemed like the only option. I began to self harm and within a week I was hospitalized for the self-harm. After leaving the program, I returned to school where things continued to take a turn for the worse; I began restricting, severely over-exercising, and my self- harm continued to increase. My friend from program committed suicide and that caused me to reevaluate my life. I unfortunately had to leave school the last semester of my senior year, but it’s been surprisingly motivating; I never want to let my eating disorder take away one of my biggest dreams like going to prom ever again.

Since joining Empowered, I’ve had to truly tackle my battles head on. It took hard hard work - I showed up to every group even when I didn’t want to but now I do it because I know it will benefit me. I remember telling my friend from program every weekend “Im not trying. I want to try, I really do, but I’m not”. I was severely overexercising and restricting and I kept it a secret for the first few months of my journey here at Empowered. But eventually I became honest and open, and that has helped me more than anything else. Recovery has caused me anger that I sometimes release on the people that are trying to help me, but I’ve learned how to channel it into Crossfit. I’ve never been so dedicated to my recovery, and it’s all due to my engagement and commitment to do what I have to do, even when it’s uncomfortable. People say that recovery isn’t a flip of a switch, and for many that may be true. But I’ve become dedicated to doing what I have to do, and I have found a new light and a purpose in Crossfit. Every time I have an urge I just remember the feeling I get when I walk into the gym, and how I don’t want to lose it. I’m not going to lie to you, it takes painstakingly long

and hard work - there’s no way around it. Recovery isn’t all yoga mats, green tea, and avocados; it’s tears and yelling and screaming and crying and constantly wanting to give up. But when you find your WHY I promise you it’ll be worth it. But you have to fake it until you make it - and by that I don’t mean simply going through the motions. But you have to pretend like you want recovery until you truly do. And I promise you, some day soon, you WILL want recovery. I never thought I would be able to enjoy exercise again, until I found Crossfit. I feel strong, I feel welcomed, I feel accepted, and above all I finally feel proud of myself for what my body can accomplish. I no doubt have bad days. But I’m doing the best I’ve ever been for five years, and Crossfit has become my main motivator to stay on track with my meals, snacks, and rest days.

I hope I can prove to people that no matter what road you take to get there, you can always recover. I’m certainly not fully recovered, but I am headed there for sure. And I’ve found a passion for Crossfit that I know is going to be life-long. I’m determined to make a difference in the world, and I can only do that once I have made a difference to myself. For the first time, I’m finally recovering for me; because I deserve better than the cards I’ve been dealt. And you do too.

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