Along with a new love for food, I've realized that labels can be so damaging. I don't believe in labeling foods as "clean" or "dirty" or "bad" or "good." Food is food. It all serves a purpose, whether it is to build muscle or simply because it tastes good as a treat. I realize now that there is a proper balance, just as there is to anything in life.
I feel like the common misconception with IIFYM, is that we sit around eating Pop-tars and Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches all day long. This gives IIFYM such a bad rep, but the people who actually try IIFYM know what it's about: eating towards your goals with nutrient-dense foods and treats when they fit.
Since I've slowly been adding calories into my diet each week, my body has seen some major changes. My muscles have grown, and I've leaned out, lost body fat, and have had so much energy in the gym and throughout the day. My digestion is healthy and functioning. My skin is somehow clearer than it's ever been. I've seen more results in the past six weeks then I have in a whole year of clean eating. It's been an eye-opening experience.
The physical results are obviously wonderful, but the mentality I have now is the real reward. I feel like I have overcome so much. It's scary to think that eating disorders are so much more common, and more than just anorexia and bulimia. There are plenty out there, and I'm sure a lot of women don't even know they are suffering from them. I'm so happy to have been working towards a healthier mind each and every day. I know I haven't cured myself overnight, and that it is a process, but I know I'm getting there.
[anorexia athletica is characterized by excessive and compulsive exercise. An athlete suffering from sports anorexia tends to over exercise to give themselves a sense of having control over their body. Most often, people with the disorder tend to feel they have no control over their lives other than their control of food and exercise. In actuality, they have no control; they cannot stop exercising or regulating food intake without feeling guilty]
My story with it:
I worked out 2-3 times a day. I did endless cardio trying to work off the minimal calories I had eaten. I worked out when I was sick, even with the flu and laryngitis. I was literally running myself into the ground. My arms and my legs were so tiny. I sucked in an excessive amount to look like I had abs. I was proud of what I looked like. I know there were those that were worried about me, and I just shrugged it off. I felt like I was in control when I knew how many calories I was burning off. I just wanted to keep burning them off, but ultimately I just burnt myself out.
I don't know how I broke out of it. I think I was so damn tired of feeling sick and having digestion problems and spending all my time in the gym. I wasn't happy. It was scary to break out of it. I spent hours reading and researching, trying to find a better way. I am still striving for mental health every day and having a better relationship with my body. It's a process, but I'm happy to be part of it.
If you are suffering. Please, get help. Look for support. Know that you can break out of it. You can break out of the vicious cycle. You can find happiness and love for your body. Research and read. Stop looking up to unhealthy fitness accounts. Find role models that make you feel good about yourself, not guilty. Find a love for food again. It will be okay. You are beautiful.