A Different Kind of Success-- 1 Year Free From ED

breefoshee
breefoshee Posts: 398 Member
edited December 2020 in Success Stories
Tomorrow marks a different kind of success for me, one year free from purging. It's been a long year, but I am so proud of what I have accomplished! I've been on MyFitnessPal for years and I hope that my cautionary tale will help others avoid some of the dieting pitfalls that led me to an eating disorder (ED).

Like many people, I began putting on weight in middle school and by the time I had reached high school, I was 275lbs (at 5'5). I really had no idea how to lose weight and barely tried. I never struggled with an ED in my teens, I just enjoyed too much junk food.

In 2011, I got a cool opportunity to teach English in Peru for one year. With no access to many fast food places or driving, I walked everywhere and easily lost 20lbs in the first few months. I began "researching" how to lose weight (AKA watching YouTube videos) and putting in effort-- though I still ate Doritos and chocolate covered almonds every single day. By the time I returned to the US, I had lost 60lbs just by making a few small changes.

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I was so pumped, but I still had more to go. At this point, I had never done anything unhealthy to lose weight. But I got stuck... At 215lbs, the scale was no longer going down and I had to do more "research". I cut out gluten, ate "clean", no dairy, no sugar. I began to restrict myself greatly, which resulted in weekend binges and my weight began to climb back up.

I began working out like a maniac. 2 hours of cardio a day. Stricter "clean" eating. This lead to more binge eating and still the scale did not move. Or if it did, it went up. I was so afraid of gaining the weight back that one day after eating off plan, I purged.

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In 2014, I got on MyFitnessPal and was introduced to better information on calorie counting, deficits and macros. I learned a lot, but would not put some key things into practice. I still set unrealistic calorie deficits, worked out for too long, spent a ton of time obsessing over the numbers-- leading to more binges/purges.

I tried a ton of things: Keto, low carb, high carb, clean eating, IIFYM, but most included me trying to lose 3lbs a week or hoping for "big numbers" in the first couple months, working out more than necessary, and having an all or nothing mentality.

I did not begin to see my ED as a problem until 2019-- when it became less of a once-a-month-thing, and more of an everyday struggle. I did not want to deal with it because I still had so long to go and wanted to lose weight. I kept thinking, "If I can just get to my goal weight, then I'll work on kicking this issue." I also could not afford a therapist and the free ones interfered with my work day.

So I read some books on it and took it one day at a time. I realized that I was stuck in a cycle that began with heavy restriction. I would restrict so much, that my body (and mind) was literally hungry and needed nutrients. Then I would frantically eat, feel guilty and purge. Then resolve to never do it again and restrict myself more.

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When I finally realized I had a problem and needed to break the cycle, I began taking vitamins and allowed myself to eat more calories. I gave myself permission to gain weight. Then, I practiced not gaining for a while and maintaining. A couple months ago, I began losing in a way that was healthy. The urge to binge/purge became less and less. Now, I am only 3lbs away from my lowest last year!

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I feel so excited to begin the new year, knowing how hard I have worked to overcome my ED. I am not at my lowest weight, but I am not at my highest and I have set forth some really healthy habits to carry me into the new year. Sometimes I still fight some unhelpful thoughts, but they are so much less now.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, please get help. There are resources out there! You are not crazy, this happens all the time in the diet world.

If you are just starting out your journey and 2021 is your year, I encourage you to set realistic goals and care for your mental health. Most people who develop ED's are normal people who want to lose weight and become too restrictive, begin binging and then try to "fix" the damage they did.

Be kind to yourself!

Replies

  • brenn24179
    brenn24179 Posts: 2,143 Member
    yes I tend to do the all or nothing also and this doesnt work. I have been eating right many sweets since Xmas but in moderation so didnt gain weight, maybe this is ok since I am not restricting myself but I feel a little guilty for eating sweets but really no need to.
  • breefoshee
    breefoshee Posts: 398 Member
    Congratulations and thank you for sharing your story! It takes a lot to overcome an ED and develop not only healthy eating habits but (probably more importantly) a healthy approach and mindset when it comes to food and weight. You look great and better yet--seem to feel great and healthy! I definitely agree with you in advising others to set realistic goals and care for their mental health.

    I hope you don't mind me sharing a bit of my story, too, hoping it may help others as a cautionary tale. I didn't develop a full-blown ED, but like you, my disordered eating began after I lost about 30 lbs in high school. I was always a bit chubby, and I began with a severely restrictive diet (900 calories/day). Then, once I hit my goal weight I decided I wanted to be as thin as Kate Moss (if anybody else is old enough to remember the "waif look")--I wanted to weigh 100 lbs at 5'6 (and still growing). I dropped down to 500 calories a day, which eventually led to bingeing and attempts at purging through natural laxatives (I HATE throwing up) and eventually drugstore laxatives. Although I didn't diet this extremely afterwards, this period set up years and YEARS of overly restrictive eating and bingeing, and it wasn't until after I had my 2nd child at age 36 I lost weight in a healthy way and kept it off (so 20 years later). So, the fact that you have taken control of your ED at this point is great, and it really seems like you are committed to keeping it up.

    Unfortunately, based on my own personal experience, I cringe inside when I hear of others being overly restrictive or over-exercising, as I'm afraid it may set up the diet-binge-purge cycle.

    I'm glad you shared! I think that it is important because the more reading I've done, the more I've learned that this is way more common in overweight people than I ever thought. It may be a reason it took me so long to see that it was an issue, because we tend to see people with ED as being rail thin and very sickly.

    I also feel a little more bold about it with more time under my belt. I would not have shared this a month into this or even 6 months into it. One year feels good!
  • springlering62
    springlering62 Posts: 5,536 Member
    edited December 2020
    Thank you so much for sharing this. Have t had an ED myself, but family members have, and they won’t talk about it. I respect that, so this gives me a little more insight.

    This needs to be heard.

    Hugs to you for your continued success.
  • robertw486
    robertw486 Posts: 2,344 Member
    Awesome post. Things like this help break the stigma of ED's, and I think it todays environment of constant comparison and judgement it's an important thing to bring to light.

    Glad to see you have broken through and overcome. I hope others can do the same.
  • mosrosdai
    mosrosdai Posts: 1 Member
    Loved reading this post... so impressed with your ability to be open and share this story. A lot of people hold their ED close and never ask for help. I won't go into detail but you story sounds almost exactly like mine but I am diabetic so it almost killed me 3 years after I developed it. I did get help and doing much better now with occasional ED thoughts. MFP helps me stay on track too without feeling restrictive. Take care!
  • callsitlikeiseeit
    callsitlikeiseeit Posts: 8,633 Member
    WAY TO GO!

    though i will admit, and I'm showing my age (or errr maybe hubbys age) when I saw ED I was not initially thinking Eating disorder :D:D:D:D
  • breefoshee
    breefoshee Posts: 398 Member
    Thanks for the support!
  • clevelandkat40
    clevelandkat40 Posts: 16 Member
    I've just returned to MFP and was SO incredibly glad to see your post. I was diagnosed with an eating disorder a couple of years ago when I was 46 (I say that because, while many middle-aged women have eating disorders, it's not as common for us to figure out we need help). I'd had an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise for decades and it eventually became completely toxic. My ED behavior sounds very much like yours, starting with excessive exercise. I got into therapy and stopped weighing myself/logging calories but my weight just kept going up (thanks perimenopause and COVID quarantine!). I don't want to become diabetic and I'm tired of feeling sluggish. So, here I am again, trying to find a healthy approach to weight loss. Fortunately, I love menu planning and cooking at home. Thank you for being willing to share your story. I feel less alone now.
  • MegBMin
    MegBMin Posts: 39 Member
    Thank you for sharing your story. I am 42 and have struggled with disordered eating since I was a teenager, including bingeing and purging (or just purging). It's a constant struggle and I need to remain ever vigalent t in my thinking. Now I error more towards "orthorexia" which I'm working hard to combat. I've found that I had a time two years ago where I was VERY happy with my body, but the number on the scale still said "fat." I'm trying to embrace that my "happy weight" should be my goal weight. I feel good. I look good. I'm able to exercise and ski comfortably. So why shouldn't that be my goal than some arbitrary number on the scale? One of the things that has helped me a bit over the past few weeks has been purging (sorry for the word choice) of social media of people who I feel like set unrealistic expectations of myself (no fault of their own!) and following more heathy body positive individuals. I'm still cutting carbs right now and feel really good, but frankly, I didn't get fat from eating carrots, so I would really like to get more into feeling confident that my body knows what it needs. Would love the support of some more body positive individuals too! Stay vigelant! Those feelings will sneak up on you! But it sounds like you have a really great handle on it and a year is an AWESOME accomplishment!
  • kirkholmes11
    kirkholmes11 Posts: 4 Member
    edited January 2021
    Thank you for sharing your story. I did not have an eating disorder but I can testify to the restriction and exercising issue. From 2005 to 2015, I lost about 40 pounds via some healthy changes of reducing portions and running regularly. I wanted to keep going to the last 40 pounds so I kept eating smaller portions while greatly increasing my running mileage as I really got into long distance races from 2015 to 2018. Athletically, I achieved way more than I ever imagined but I got stuck then injured halfway to my goal. It turns out that I recently discovered that my free testosterone has been low -- not total testosterone but the amount that is available to cells. This affects recovery and other things and also makes it harder to keep losing weight. It also turns out that the reason my free testosterone was low is that my protein requirements were elevated because of my heavy training. That wouldn't have been a problem if I was eating sufficient protein. With insufficient protein, my body manufactured extra SHBG that then tied up more testosterone molecules (making them non-free). But I didn't want to go back to "overeating". With the help of the food diary on MyFitnessPal, I've done some tracking and proved that my protein intake was too low for my training level and my calories were at the upper end. By tracking my diet, I have been able to almost double my protein intake and drive my calories down. I am eating way more food than I was, but not driving up my calories. I am avoiding sugar, dairy, high glycemic starchy carbs and I eat only a plant-based diet (vegan). But at this point, I don't think that I will impair my body function. Healthier eating keeps me from feeling like I'm starving and keeps me from reaching for the ice cream (even non-dairy ice cream packs on pounds), cookies, french fries, etc. Already, I feel stronger when working out and my recovery time after workouts is much faster. I'm looking forward to what the next few months brings.