Battling Body Image Issues: Part 1

Battling Body Image Issues: Part 1

This is a blog written by Ali.  She has wanted to tell her story of battling with body image issues and how it led into exercise bulimia and eating disorders.  She knows many women, and yes, some men, battle with this on a daily basis and let the scale dictate the direction of their day.  She wishes that her story motivates others who are struggling to get help and not be afraid to “Eat the Elephant in the Room”.  

Hi, my name is Ali and I struggle with an eating disorder.

Saying it out loud and making it public offers some relief  from the struggle I’ve faced since I was 16. It began with purposely not eating, followed by exercising too much (up to 4 hrs a day),  laxative use, purging, and then a repeat of the cycle.

There were days I’d weigh myself anywhere from 2 to 4 times a day and when the scale showed 1 lb higher, I would be quite harsh on myself, blaming the weight gain on “mistakes” I’d made.  “I shouldn’t have eaten that spoon of peanut butter” or “my workout wasn’t good enough.”

I was a meticulous calories counter, meal skipper, and workout warrior up to the day when I started my “big girl” job.  I worked 12 night shifts and thus time was tough to come by and the 4 hour workouts I was accustomed to were no longer  feasible, so I begrudgingly shifted to an hr and a half would do.  I struggled with this “constraint” of my workouts, largely due to the fact that I believed in the “more is better” mindset.

With so much of my identity wrapped up into weight loss and workouts, what better way to punish myself and carry a sense of self hatred, than to marry someone in the fitness/ wellness realm?  Turns out that proved to be quite the challenge however it was the thing that finally held me accountable for these awful habits and behaviors I had embedded into my everyday life.

The first major challenge to my personal beliefs was that a 3o minute workout was all that was needed to be healthy and lose weight.  That was a far cry from the 4 hours of weights, walking dogs, and the occasional 3 mile run.  I was supposed to believe that working for a fraction of the time I was accustomed to was going to help me more? Needless to say it has taken me years to accept this and there are still times I struggle with the idea.

Aside from the exercise bulimia, it was important for me to take on the elephant in the room.  My relationship with  food.  And as the saying goes, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

I stopped counting calories.

I stopped with the “healthy” foods such as low fat and processed junk that was out there.

Essentially I stopped dieting and started just eating better.

In fact, just about a year ago we cut out processed foods for 45 days and stopped weighing on the scale (but measured inches before starting and at the end of the 45 days).  I lost 3 inches from my waist alone, slept all night for the first time in a long time, had absolutely no cravings, and overall felt GREAT.

Did I weigh? Heck no, that was the most crucial step. That awful digital evil machine was put away and no longer dictated my mood for the day!  I followed the 30 min workouts but would walk my dogs for 4 miles on days off, validating it that I needed to move like that because I don’t get to enjoy sunshine on my days off.

So what did it take for me to take on the most important issue I’d faced?  Check out the next part of the series!

Ben MacMillan

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