Every year I see that it’s National Eating Disorder week I think about posting something. And every year I talk myself out of it because I was never technically diagnosed with an eating disorder. But that doesn’t mean that disordered eating didn’t exist in my life for a good 15 years. It’s like depression. There are a lot of people who suffer with symptoms of depression but are never technically diagnosed with it. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t effect them or that it doesn’t exist. So, here I am; posting something the week after because it has taken me this long to work up the courage to do so. A lot of you already know my history; some of you don’t. I’m writing this because I feel compelled to share my experiences. As my friend Shira encouraged me with this, “There is a woman waiting to hear it. If it reaches one it’s worth it.”

The thing about people who have dealt with an eating disorder is that it never fully goes away. Thoughts and old habits sill lurk in the back of your mind. But each day, each year is an opportunity to be better, to love yourself more, to choose what and the way you eat and exercise in a positive way –from a place of gratitude vs. fear, obsession and hate.

I could go into how and when and why it started, but to be honest I’m not real sure of the why and the how. It started as a form of control, then a way to lose weight, and then it just continued on in various forms for several years. What I do know is the person I was then is no longer the person I am now, nor someone I want to be again.

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Left: circa 2003 – I weighed probably 120lbs Right: last Saturday (4 month postpartum)

The girl on the left tried to control life by controlling everything she did or did not eat.

The girl on the left abused laxatives, abused fat burners, abused exercise, and abused her body.

The girl on the left’s self esteem was determined by the number on the scale, the calories burned on a machine, on her heart rate monitor, on the food label, on the number of times she could deny herself eating just one more hour.

The girl on the left woke up on Mondays hating herself and her body and shamed herself for eating “bad” on the weekend.

The girl on the left lived by food “rules” and played games with herself to earn food.

The girl on the left was happy and loved life; yet never felt good enough; thin enough.

The girl on the left was always looking for the next diet, or a way to lose the next 3-5 pounds.

The girl on the left used words like “long and lean” and “toned” to describe her “dream body”.

The girl on the left would have been scared to get pregnant for the fear of becoming “fat’.

The girl on the left was obsessive.

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Today I release all control to my Creator.

Today I exercise to empower myself, to be stronger, to feel better, and because I can.

Today my self esteem is not determined by measurable; numerical things rather by the kind of wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend I am to others.

Today I wake up on Mondays grateful for another weekend passed; another day to live life with no regrets; no guilt.

Today my “dream body” would be described as fit, healthy, strong, capable – whatever form and shape that looks like for me.

Today I can honestly say I loved every second of being pregnant. I loved my belly and my body for what it was capable of creating. I’ve never felt more womanly and purposeful.

Today I weigh a good 30 pounds more than the girl on the left.

The girl on the left just wanted to be anything other than what she was. And that’s sad to me. It makes me sad to think of how much time I spent wishing away certain parts of my body, wishing I looked like someone other than myself. It makes me sad to think there are people out there who struggle with the same thoughts. It makes me sad to think my daughter would ever think those things about herself. And it makes me want to help people to know there is a better way. That you are beautiful. You are capable. You are worthy. Your body is yours and yours alone. Love it. Appreciate it. Right Now. Today.

What you need to know is that often times people with an eating disorder or disordered eating habits become really good at hiding it. You may see them eating and they may seem fine; but you do not see what happens when they are not with you. You don’t know how many hours they spend in the gym after they eat, or how many hours they starved themselves before or after they met you out for dinner. It’s such a touchy subject, and it’s not easy to approach someone about it. But know that if you do, direct them to a place or someone of help. Let them know you care and be there for them along the way.

Here’s a resource with more information and an online screening. I took it a few days ago and my answers now vs. what I would have answered 10 years ago are completely different.

http://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/neda

This post has been my hardest one to share to date, but it’s important for me to put myself out there in the hopes that it will help someone else. Now being on the other side, I am grateful for my experiences because it led me to my profession, it makes me more emphateic to people who struggle with eating disorders and body image issues, and it has helped me grow into the person I needed to be for myself, my family, my friends, and my clients. I want my daughter to grow up with an example of what self love is; not self loathing. I don’t want her to pick up my once obsessive habits and behaviors and take them on as her own. I don’t want to ever tell her, “Mommy can’t eat that because she’s on a diet.” I want her to grow up knowing that beauty and self esteem come from more than our appearance and our body types. I want you to know that as well. Thank you for letting me share my story with you.

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This is one of my favorite pictures of me (at 38 weeks pregnant). I’m not sure I would’ve felt the same way just 4 or 5 years ago.