My “triggered to the point of relapse” 17 year old self chose this URL. In the winter/spring of 2010 I had gotten really thin through really unhealthy habits. I recovered from that during the summer, gained about 10 pounds, discovered the world of thinspo, and hated myself again. So I made this blog - to follow thinspo blogs and lose those 10 pounds. To find thin again.
Just a few weeks into my journey, I started seeing some things in this community. I saw people like Nikki, losing weight healthily and not striving for a horrifying extreme. I saw people like Audrey, already at that extreme and so unhappy that it scared me as much as it intrigued me. Seeing things like this, as well as seeing progress in my own body through exercise, made me change my mind. I changed my goals. I didn’t want 98 pounds anymore, I wanted to love myself and have nice abs. And guess what? I started to love myself and I got a 6-pack. I felt like I had so much control over myself and my body. But there was always this nagging feeling that I could do better.
But I was healthy, right? I was healthy. I was so healthy. I ate 1500 calories and exercised for 3 hours a day. Yeah, so healthy. Not only healthy, I was special. I was more special than anyone else because I had small bones and I was a competitive soccer player and working towards being an elite runner and when you can run 5 minute miles you don’t need body fat because I WAS SPECIAL AND DIFFERENT AND HEALTHY, DAMMIT.
Not only did I have my goal of nice abs and being happy with my body - because don’t get me wrong, I was happy when I looked in the mirror - I soon reached my abandoned goal of 98 pounds. I also reached a resting heart rate of 34 bpm. A resting body temperature of 96F. A lot of hair loss. Amenorrhea. Fatigue. Dizziness. I was so healthy my body couldn’t even handle it. I was so special I could have all of the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa and not even have it. Right? Right?
Even my doctor agreed with me for a while. I knew she was skeptical the first time I went in, because I wanted to know why my period had been gone for 6 months and when I stepped on the scale in full clothing it barely hit 102. She said my weight was the reason and questioned my diet and exercise habits. I told her everything, but no numbers. It wasn’t on purpose. She just didn’t ask how many calories I ate, and when I talked about the food I ate it sure sounded like a lot. It was a lot of volume. So she put me on birth control. She said I may gain a few pounds but most likely not. I went away happy. Nothing was wrong with me. And I would not gain weight.
Well, sometimes things don’t go how you plan for them to. The birth control wreaked havoc on my hormones. I’m pretty sure I had an extremely low amount of estrogen in my body, which is why even if I did eat a lot occasionally I just kept losing and losing. Well, birth control reversed that. For about a month I was fine, although extremely moody, and then it was like my system just finally accepted that that is how things need to be and suddenly my body didn’t deal with calories the same way. This happened at an inconvenient time, in two weeks I had work camp (fast food and bagels and pizza), a team retreat (smores and chex mix and pasta), and the regional soccer tournament (my coach had literally forbidden me to order salads). MY body with MY hormones would have been able to handle those two weeks. Maybe I bounced back up into triple digits for a moment, nothing a long run couldn’t purge. But THESE hormones, which were not MINE, didn’t deal well. They said, oh, this is a woman’s body we’re dealing with. Women need fat to make babies. Let’s hold onto this as fat. So I gained weight. After the tournament I was up to 106 and then I just couldn’t make the scale go the other direction. I ran and I ran and I tried to eat well but I kept having cravings and treating myself and the scale went up and up and my self esteem went down down down.
When you tie your entire self worth to what your stomach looks like or the numbers on a running watch, you have a problem. I had a problem. It didn’t matter that I preached self love at every size and talked about how happy I was and wrote inspiring running posts. I was sick.
I gained 26 pounds from May 18th, 2011, to August 15th, 2011. That was the day I went back to the doctor. The nurse weighed me and it said 128. She sent me into the doctor’s office to wait and I just sat there numbly. When the door opened again a few minutes later I thought it would be the doctor but no, the nurse was back again. “This must be a mistake.” She said “This said that three months ago you weighed 102. I need to weigh you again.” I told her no. That was correct. It was all correct. She left the room and I broke down. I was sobbing when the doctor came in. She asked what was wrong and I told her how much weight I’d gained. I’ll never forget that look. She just stared at me, almost with disgust, like she must have been thinking “Seriously?” Which of course only made me cry harder. Finally she just said “Do you think you have an eating disorder? Because I think you do.” And I just cried so much harder and denied it until we were both quiet again. Finally I told her that it was just a lot to get used to, and she prescribed me a different brand of birth control and told me that if I continued to gain weight to stop taking it. I left, still crying. I cried in my mom’s arms when I met her in the parking lot. I cried when I got in the car when I tried to explain it to my dad. Trying to explain to my parents that their baby girl who was moving 100 miles away in a matter of days was okay and that they didn’t need to worry about it.
But I knew. I knew I wasn’t okay and that was just the smack in the face I needed to change. Not to change my body, like I had before. Changing your body to fix your problems only buries them under new problems. I knew I had to learn to be happy with myself, for me. Not for what I look like. Not even for what I can do. For what I am. Because I am inherently good enough. So I started the process of trying to change my mind about me, and what defines me. It helped that I moved out a few days later, started preseason with a bunch of girls I’d never met, and got to redefine myself to a whole school of people who didn’t know me or what I used to look like. I won’t lie, it helped a lot. It helped to be in the honors program, and hang out with smart kids who think I’m interesting even though they’re all so charming and wonderful. College helped. It helped so much.
By late September I was comfortable enough with myself to let all of you know on this blog that I was no longer the “perfect” role model with the “perfect” body. That was a big step. I just kept truckin’ along, and I do believe that I get better everyday. However, there were a lot of days that I felt huge, and I never once felt skinny. When you gain almost 30 pounds, it’s hard to have any sort of perspective about what you actually look like.
But now it’s been a while. Tomorrow marks the 1 year anniversary of the first doctor’s appointment, June 19th will mark the 1 year anniversary of everything starting to change. I’ve had to buy a lot of new clothes. I’ve had to say goodbye to some really lovely clothes. My weight has bounced from 123 to 130 and all in between since I quit rapidly gaining but seems to be leveled out around 125. I’m pretty used to it. I don’t have to do a double take in the mirror anymore. I’m just me.
And today I looked at myself in the mirror, in my XS top and my size 0 Express dress pants. And not only did I think I looked damn good, I realized that I am thin. I was thin when I started this blog. I was thin when I lost 12 pounds. I’m still thin now that I’ve gained 26. All of this fighting to be thin got me nowhere. Fighting to be me, however, has allowed me something that I don’t think I’ve ever known. It has allowed me to look in the mirror and see who is actually standing there.
So at the end of this ridiculous journey, I’m sitting here in my granny robe, and I know I’m thin. But you know what else? I don’t care that much. What I care about is that I know I’m smart. I know I’m competent. I know I can take care of myself. Those things are who I am. Thin is just what I look like.