I spent months learning to appreciate my body enough to nourish it again. I had good days, when I could go out with friends for morning bagels and resist the urge to run right after. Then I had bad days, when I couldn't even look in the mirror, scared and certain that an obese girl would stare back at me.
It wasn't even the health risks that shocked me back to reality, but rather the gradual realization that I wouldn't find what I was looking for through weight loss. Being thin didn't make me happier, or prettier, or better. All it did was put me at war with myself. Recovery didn't come all at once, but steps in the right direction got easier as I got stronger.
And it's difficult -- there are times when I find myself thinking about getting "thin" again. But forcing my body into an unnatural state had downsides that far overtook the positives. Here's what I don't miss about being too skinny.
Everyone telling me to "just eat a cheeseburger"
When you work so hard to get to a certain weight, people criticizing the results can be frustrating and hurtful. I was overweight as a child, but I found that the derogatory thin comments stung just as much as the fat comments. It was like I was inconveniencing other girls by having a smaller waist, and people would tell me to "just eat" like I would be doing them a favor. When these comments came from friends and family at the height of my illness, I knew it was from a place of concern and support. But I didn't expect to hear it from strangers and acquaintances as well.
I sacrificed my feminine features
It's funny how few guys tell you how sexy your clavicle is! I lost so much weight that I sacrificed a booty most people in the age of Beyonce's Queendom would kill for. I had a flat, boyish shape that -- surprise! -- wasn't as appealing as I thought it would be. This is where the "grass is always greener" philosophy comes in. I wish I had trusted that my body as it was could be desirable, far more so than the one I nearly killed myself for.
Drinking became dangerous
One cocktail did two things -- it got me on the verge of intoxication, and it led me into the very scary cycle of bingeing and fasting. Alcohol practically eliminated my inhibitions, and I'd often wake up with an empty bag of cookies or jar of peanut butter next to me. The overwhelming guilt that resulted caused me to fast and over-exercise as punishment. Now? I can have a couple drinks, play a few rounds of beer pong, and say no to 2am pizza (sometimes).
I had zero sex drive
An extremely low body-fat percentage results in a lack of estrogen production and the shutting down of the reproductive system. I had almost no desire to engage in anything physically intimate, distancing myself from potential relationships and connections. I was also constantly self-conscious about what my body looked like, which, let's face it, is one of the biggest mood-killers out there.
I had to buy all new clothes… in the juniors section
The realization came when trying on a pair of jeans in The Gap... a size 00 pair basically sagged off my butt. Getting rid of the curvy, strong features I was born with gave me limited clothing options that didn't suit my age or my style. I eventually lost interest in fashion, dressing in T-shirts, workout clothes, or an oversized flannel every day.
I avoided social situations to stay skinny
Imagine feeling like you're failing a test every time you put food in your mouth. My body was so deprived of good eats that I'd get physically anxious when it came time to ingest calories. I hated going to restaurants and avoided outings where I'd have to eat. I felt distanced from friends, isolated all for the sake of avoiding weight gain. My comfort food in these trying times? A bowl of raw mushrooms.
Working out was an obligation, then not an option
Exercise was not fun. I was a slave to the elliptical. I couldn't shimmy my way through a Zumba class or go for a casual bike ride. I had to watch the calorie-burn count creep up on the monitor, subtracting hundreds from the final tally to arrive at what I thought was a more accurate number. No amount of exercise felt like enough to maintain the weight my body didn't want to be at. Eventually my heart rate got so low that I couldn't exercise at all for six months. Now, I sweat through a whole range of workouts that are fun and challenging, always rewarding myself with fuel before and after.
If disordered eating or over-exercising is something you struggle with, you're not alone. Find help and support towards recovery at NationalEatingDisorders.com.
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