A preface: if you were expecting a semi-self-deprecating post about how I’m accidentally okay at running, maybe wait for the next one.
Ever since I was a little kid, I was perpetually uncomfortable with how I looked. I was shy, and awkward, and fairly small or at least “normal” sized i.e. healthy for my age and height. I remember noticing how I felt bad hanging out with friends who were smaller than me, and better if I was hanging out with friends who were bigger than me. I was 10.
As I got older, the feeling was only exacerbated. In middle school, I made my mom buy me loose fitting T-shirts because I thought I looked fat if they were remotely tight. I ate very little, albeit very unhealthily. Think boxes of Kraft mac & cheese and pizza that could pass as cardboard. I certainly didn’t exercise, as my only form of activity consisted of walking to my friends’ houses occasionally if we couldn’t get a ride. I was always very uncomfortable eating in front of others. When I was a freshman, I didn’t eat in front of my then boyfriend for literally months, and we hung out almost every single weekend.
Once I got my license, my minimal activity decreased to essentially nothing. I played soccer for three years in high school, but we weren’t very competitive and it wasn’t exactly strenuous work for me. I never ate breakfast and very rarely ate lunch at school. When I did eat, again, it was very processed non-food. I was a notoriously “picky eater” and was gaining weight again fast.
Once Bryan and I started dating, and I became increasingly comfortable with him and his family, I started eating more in front of him/them and eating dinner at their house. His mom is chronically caring and always goes out of her way to make people feel welcome, so she would make me whatever I wanted, and a ton of it. Towards the end of my senior year, I decided I needed to lose the excess weight I gained, and rather than workout or eat healthier, I mostly just stopped eating.
So by now, you get the cycle. I was either comfortable with who I was with, and would eat a lot of mindless junk, or I was uncomfortable (i.e. when I made new friends in college) with who I was and who I was with, and wouldn’t eat at all.
Then, as I wrote about in my post about how I started running, I decided I really needed to get in shape. I wasn’t “overweight” per se, but I was really unhappy and extremely unhealthy, so I started running and tried to start eating healthier. I learned how to eat for health and started feeling more energetic and felt better physically and mentally. That year, I ate crazy well, lost 20 pounds, and was *finally* happy with how I looked and I thought I kicked the disordered eating once and for all.
But as I’ve learned this past year, it isn’t really something you “kick”, especially when you’ve been in this insane cycle for literally 15 years now. I essentially turned the previous disorder into orthorexia. And then, I started to feel like I could eat a “treat” every now and then and be fine. Apparently, this is not the case for me. Like a lot of distance runners I know, I have an extreme all or nothing attitude towards most things. I also have an extreme (processed) sugar addiction. Like, an actual sugar addiction. Once I’ve had a little, I need it, and it’s really hard for me to stop. So now I’m in this weird cycle of unhealthy “health” food eating, and I struggle frequently with binge eating. My weight has gone up and down so much over the years, always by 15-20 pounds, but just enough to go between feeling good about it, to feeling really bad about it.
I guess the point of this post is mostly that I feel like it’s something I have to get out of my head. Not many people I know know the extent of the disorder, and it isn’t something people generally casually talk about. I mean, it’s definitely not small talk. I’m certainly not perfect, and lately it’s been a constant struggle, but I’m working on getting back to not eating junk all the time. It’s been bad for my training and recovery and my skin and my wellbeing. And I need paying attention to and being nicer to myself. So I typically can’t take my own advice, but if you’ve ever been in a similar boat, don’t be so hard on yourself.