I've been on a weight loss journey for four years now. I don't know why I ended up on this journey. Four years ago, I felt awful about myself and was on a mission to eat healthier and join a gym. Simple as that. I don't know why it led me to an eating disorder. I don't know why I became so obsessed with a "perfect" body. I don't know why, after all the experiences, it has placed me in a role some would call a "role model.
Truth is, I don't think this journey ever ends. Nor do I think one ever fully recovers from an eating disorder. There is always that tinge of guilt with every bite of food, no matter how much you try to pretend it's not there. There is always that feeling of failure when you don't get a workout in. I feel like those feelings of guilt and failure have only escalated since I first shared my "before and after" weight loss picture.
I never thought that my picture would go viral. I never thought it would bring about a large reader audience on my blog or a 68k following in Instagram. I never thought to watermark it so companies wouldn't use it for false advertisements for their weight loss pills. I never expected the response it received. It felt wonderful to be able to reach people, but eventually I just felt pressure and I've felt it for two years now.
This pressure pounds at me every day, especially in the past months. The pressure to post workouts, healthy recipes, and gym check-ins. I felt like I needed to keep up with everyone else's gym selfies and ab progress photos. As if that determined my value as a person. It wasn't even something enjoyable anymore. What I once loved, felt like a job I wanted to quit.
I know fully well that I am the one who lets the pressure get to me. I am the only one who can control how I feel. Yet, I crumbled. The strength and confidence I thought I had, I said I had, was at an all-time low. I completely shut out healthy foods and workouts. I despised it all. I despised the position I had somehow put myself in. I despised that people looked up to me. I despised my body.
The past month, I've eaten more pizza then you can imagine. I've had Taco Bell, Wendy's, McDonalds, Dairy Queen. I've drank more beer and margaritas than necessary. I've gone to the gym maybe once every two weeks, sometimes once a week if I'm lucky. I completely rebelled against everything I thought I believed in. Against everything I loved. Against everything I had a passion for. I threw it away.
I started questioning everything I stood for, and questioning why I chose to become a personal trainer. If I can't even practice what I'm preaching, how in the world am I supposed to help someone else? Feeling like a failure, I stepped away from my social media accounts. The few times I posted were maybe the one healthy bowl of oatmeal I made for the week. Or I posted about another fitness account. I had NO material to post of myself. I had no progress photos, gym check-ins, or any picture where I felt good about myself. I kept taking pictures for progress photos, and just couldn't commit to a healthier lifestyle where there would actually be progress. Instead, my progress was backwards as I started adding on pounds.
I've lived in baggy clothes because I've gained weight. Truthfully, I've worn oversized shirts and flowy dresses since my initial weight loss. I still had that fat girl mentality. My fiancé's eyes pop out of his head if I ever wear anything form-fitting. He thinks I'm beautiful, but I don't feel that confidence or beauty. My gym clothes are tight and uncomfortable. My sports bras and leggings are suffocating.
By all means, I know I am not fat. Yet, there comes a time when you don't feel like yourself anymore. You don't feel good about yourself anymore. Not many understand this feeling and it's difficult to find someone who can relate to. My fiancé, friends, and family try to understand or talk me through everything, but they don't fully get it. I tend to keep a lot of the feelings to myself. Eating disorders aren't an easy thing to comprehend. People tend to think "Just eat. Just fix yourself." Not that easy.
I can't even count how many times I've said that it's time to "get back on track." I started feeling like a broken record, and honestly I was broken. I am broken. I feel like I've self-destructed. I feel like I've let people down.
Through it all, I need to remind myself that I am HUMAN. I am not just a face. I am not just a supposed role model. I am a woman trying to figure things out, just as anyone is. I am searching for balance. I am searching for beauty, in myself and all things. I am painfully trying to understand the definition of beauty, and why I have struggled to feel it.
I don't have it all together. I apologize for not holding it together, but at the same time I don't. Things fall apart, so better things can come together. I know I've been pretty absent in the fitness/health realm, but I didn't feel like I could help others if I couldn't even help myself.
My passion is to help others. I want to be honest. I want to be helpful. I want to give you a hug. I want to tell you it gets rough as all hell, but it can get better if you believe in yourself. I want to inspire. I want to make you feel like you're not alone. I want to be that person to someone.
So I'm brushing myself off. I'm giving myself a hug and I'm telling myself "I love you." I'm going to study my ass off for this personal training test. I'm going to continue to surround myself with supportive and loving people. I'm going to remain strong and try not to let the pressure get to me. I'm going to continue to fight the demons of an eating disorder. I'm going to treat my body with respect again. I'm going to read and learn and listen to others' experiences. I'm going to grow. I'm going to explore the true meaning of balance. Most importantly, I'm going to learn the ways of loving myself.
Thank you to Andie Mitchell (http://canyoustayfordinner.com) for being so honest in her writing and inspiring me to express my feelings.