In honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness week, I’ve decided to designate a special post to recognizing the struggles of all those currently battling this deadly mental illness. If you or someone you know is fighting this battle, please don’t hesitate to reach out to someone for help. There IS life beyond eating disorders and I’m here to tell you that you CAN get through it. Prayers and good thoughts to all of you who may be struggling.
Scales are interesting things. Such a simple device seems to hold so much power over our society. Our weight is consistently associated with our attractiveness and self worth. We’re consumed by media sources filled with “Get Skinny Quick” schemes and our grocery stores are full of “light”, “sugar/fat-free”, and “skinny” foods that are filled with chemicals that somehow make us better human-beings–all because they make one number we read on a scale slightly smaller than it was before.
As I type this out, it seems almost ridiculous that I fell victim to such a crazy scam. How did I go from being the girl who laughed at people who passed on burgers and fries when going out to eat to the girl who wouldn’t even look at them on the menu in a restaurant? Somehow, looking at an item on a menu that I had once loved immediately triggered fear rather than delight. All because of a stupid number on a stupid scale.
Now I don’t want you to take this out of context. Eating healthy is NOT a bad thing! Deciding to choose a salad rather than a burrito at lunch is sometimes the right choice to make. Sometimes our bodies are craving whole foods packed with nutrients to get us through the remainder of our days. But folks, sometimes we just want the damn burger. And sometimes that’s exactly what we need. And that’s okay!
In the darkest days of my eating disorder, I was so consumed with controlling my weight and lowering it each time I hopped on the scale (sometimes up to twice a day after each practice). I tortured myself after practice by not refueling to make sure I was at my lightest for my “weigh in”. And seeing a number pop up slightly smaller than the day before gave me a total high (because it’s not like we have water weight or anything that changes all the time–DUH!). I realized if I ever wanted to get better, I needed to let go of the scale, ignore my weight, and let my body do it’s thing to get to the stable weight it was meant to be. So I did. And guess what? Life went on. I woke up each morning and ate what I needed to in order to get better. I slowly stopped associating myself with a number and started to find all of the things that made me a great person. I started to appreciate my strengths rather than hate my flaws. And slowly but surely I started to love myself again.
This didn’t happen overnight and for those of you who have read my eating disorder story before, you’ve seen that it was quite a process to officially kick my anorexia. I’m not here to tell you that ignoring your weight is the super easy way to beat your eating disorder because I know that it’s such a bigger battle than that. But I can say that letting go of the scale was a turning point in my life and was one of the greatest decisions I made along my recovery road. It allowed me to worry less about my appearance and more about my health and overall well-being. To this day I choose not to weigh myself. I know my weight fluctuates and I know I’m not nearly as skinny as I’ve been in the past, but I’m okay with that. And I’m so thankful to have finally found a place of such inner peace.
So for any of you out there who may be struggling to accept yourself for who you are because of your weight, I encourage you to step back and remember that it’s just a number. People won’t remember you for being at a certain jean size, but they will remember you for who you are as a person and how you make them feel. Let go of controlling that portion of your life that doesn’t even matter in the long run. Appreciate your body for what it can do. Enjoy margaritas with friends and eat that slice of pizza you want so badly. Life’s way too short to sacrifice good food and good company to fit a mold you just may not be meant for.
Love yourself! You ARE beautiful!