I really do love to share recipes, thoughts, pics, random ramblings, and some (attempted) humor on this blog, but there are times when there are things swirling around deeper in my heart and mind that I feel the need to bring top the surface via this blog. This is one of those posts.
Did you know this week is National Eating Disorder awareness week? When I saw and heard that, for some reason my heart raced and tears were brought to my eyes. I don’t usually get very emotional so I knew I had to ask myself and God what the dealy-o is. There has been so much brewing in my heart about where I am in my own health & fitness journey and the peace I’ve had to come to in the very recent weeks, and I think it just matched so much with bringing awareness to disordered eating patterns and body image issues.
For my entire story, you can start reading here.
These pictures are the only pictures you can really see how “thin” I was. As I was looking through pictures at my lowest weight, I found barely any of myself. You know why? I remember feeling that even though I was thin, it wasn’t enough. There was always an extra 2 or 3 lbs I could lose before I was “there.” Even though I was thin, I still hated my body and felt it needed major work. I was still not satisfied, and looking back on it now, I know I never would be.
Since that time, I have gained 16 lbs. 16 lbs! If you told February 2015 Alexa that February 2016 Alexa would weigh 126 lbs, she would have cried. I don’t know if she would have made it. But here I am today and I have decided to make peace with my body, right where I am, today at 126 lbs.
People assume that those with eating disorders are always emaciated-looking, are doing it for attention, never eat a single thing, etc. I was honestly eating 5 times per day at the peak of my disordered eating. People made comments about my weight, but never to the point where they were worried about me. I made sure to never have strange patterns of eating in public or with other people so that they wouldn’t worry about me. It wasn’t this thing I drew attention to, but I definitely was suffering deeply on the inside as the depression and self-hatred consumed me. Disordered eating can look just as different as the person it consumes. It doesn’t have to be a list of 12 red flags that you have to check off in order to need help.
Think about what the breakdown of “eating disorder” means; it’s when your eating is out of order, in some way or form. For me, that meant developing fear of certain foods and living in cycles where I would hate myself or love myself based on my food choices. It meant food consumed me and my thoughts so that I couldn’t live a normal life. Sure, I had some of the red flag warning signs but mostly it was what was going on in my mind and heart that was screaming for help. For others, disordered eating can look like having all-out binges on food that you can’t stop, then feeling a flood of guilt, shame, and self-hatred. If that person doesn’t look frail and skinny would you write them off as not having their eating out of order?
Don’t put eating disorders in a box, or write off your own out of order patterns just because you are not frail or you don’t have so-and-so warning sign. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you are concerned about your own disordered eating/body dysmporphia issues:
- Is there something off or not right with the way I think about food?
- Do I worry too much about what I eat or think about food a lot?
- Am I scared of gaining weight?
- Have I ever lied about my diet or eating habits? Have I ever tried to cover anything up concerning my eating, whether it’s restrictive eating or overeating?
- Have I ever turned down social events in order to stay in control of my eating?
- Do I nitpick myself in the mirror or speak poorly about my own looks?
- Do I generally feel discouraged when it comes to my weight, the way I look, or my eating habits?
- Do I determine how “good” or “bad” I am depending on the types of foods I eat?
- Do I use exercise as punishment or penance for the way I eat? Is the amount or length of exercise correlated to how much I think I need to “burn off?”
- Do I feel certain emotional responses depending on what the scale says?
If any of these questions resonate with you, dive deeper. Don’t numb yourself…you are worth freedom, help, surrender, joy, restoration, and healing. Talk to someone (even if it’s me). Share openly and vulnerably. Be gracious and loving towards yourself. Ask Jesus to help reveal why these things bother you or control you.