Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Weight Loss Fail & An Eating Disorder Past

I've reluctantly updated my weight loss...ahem...gain... on my sidebar.  Once again I've seriously considered removing this part of my sidebar since I'm sadly coming no where near the goals I had set for myself.  I thought that 5 pounds a month would be a reasonable, achievable goal.  But, here's the kicker....it still requires work on my part!

And, there you have it.  I haven't put the effort into losing weight that I need to.  I don't exercise.  I eat whatever I want.  And, I've resumed snacking at night.  So, what can I expect really?

I wrote yesterday that I've been tracking my moods & am noticing a pattern that seems to tie in with my hormonal cycle.  Some of this I attribute to my age.  But, if I'm honest, my weight and my eating habits are also probably huge contributing factors.

Here's the thing.  I want to be healthy.  Would I feel prettier/more attractive if I lost weight? Sure.  But, I'd gain other benefits as well - more energy, better moods, feeling comfortable in my clothes (there's a biggie!  I refuse to buy the next size up, so a  lot of my pants are too tight & are really uncomfortable), diminished varicose veins (part of that is definitely genetic, but if I weighed less they wouldn't be as pronounced), better overall health.

I can't do calorie counting, food points, or anything that feels restrictive.  I want this to be a lifestyle change and I can't and won't spend my life counting calories.  Not to mention,  I am a recovering perfectionist (You wouldn't know it by looking at my house.  I know.) But, I was absolutely the typical oldest child, type A, perfectionist when I was younger.  

In school anything less than an 'A' I considered a failure.  If I got an 'A-' I wondered why it wasn't an 'A' or an 'A+'.  Then my quest for perfection & control combined with a low self-esteem led me into a battle with anorexia.

I was in junior high at the time.  I believe I was between the ages of 13 & 14.  I was my adult height (about 5'6) and I was 'chunky'....about 145/150 lbs.  I wasn't fat.  But, I felt like I was because it seemed that all the girls around me were so skinny.  And, other kids my age told me I was fat.  I felt unacceptable.

I went on a crash diet where I drastically reduced my calories. And, I watched every single calorie that went in my mouth.  I remember I tried to eat less than 1000 calories a day (usually around 800).  And, on one 'good' day I only consumed 350 calories.  I wouldn't chew gum because of the calories.  And, I even limited my water intake because I thought that would contribute to my weight.

I lost about 50 pounds in just a few months.  I was also pretty fanatical about exercise.  I was obsessed with 'diet' articles in magazines.  And, I was obsessed with food.  Even though I wouldn't allow myself to eat much, I'd fantasize constantly about food and I loved to watch others eat.  The one saving grace for me is that I could never bring myself to purge.  

So, here I was a 13 year old girl who lost a huge amount of weight  by basically starving myself during one of my most critical times of development...adolescence.  My monthly cycle stopped (it didn't return for almost a year).  I was skin & bones.  I had no energy.  I was always cold.  

My parents were horrified.  They didn't know what to do.  They pleaded with me to eat.  They yelled.  They cried.  Nothing could convince me to eat like a normal person.  During this time period they took me to our family doctor who also had me start to see a psychiatrist and a nutritionist.  

The psychiatrist that I saw was a middle-aged man who I felt absolutely no connection to.  How could he relate to an adolescent girl who was willing to starve herself to fit in?  He encouraged my parents to take away privileges if I wouldn't eat.  That summer I wasn't allowed to go swimming.  But, nothing worked.

The 2 things that finally clicked for me were this.  When I reached 100 pounds the doctor & psychiatrist told me that I could not go any lower.  If I went under 100 pounds they would put me in the hospital & I would be force fed through tubes.  The other point that was made to me was that I was messing with my fertility.  If I continued to starve myself I might never be able to have children.  Even then I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wanted to be a mother.

I finally, slowly started to gain back weight.  I was petrified that I would get 'fat' again.  Every story that I read about other girls/women who had battled anorexia showed them at healthier weights after recovering.  But, in my mind, healthy looked 'fat'.  And, I didn't want that to happen.

The ironic thing is, losing all the weight didn't help me fit in any better with the other kids.  The same kids who had called me fat now chanted 'Anorexic.  Anorexic.  Karen is anorexic.' when they walked behind me in the school hallways.  

Even though I eventually conquered anorexia (although I still obviously have food issues) I walked away from the experience with an even more shattered self-esteem.  I told myself if I couldn't make myself thin enough for people to like me, then I must truly be unlikeable.  This 'thing' that kept me from fitting in went deeper.  It must be something at my core.  And, that lie of Satan's is one I believed for a long, long time & set me up for a very dark period in my 20's.... but that's another post, another time.

I'm not sure what inspired me to share all this.  I just started writing and it came out.  I have wanted to encourage young girls who I see falling into the same trap I did.  And, I believe the pressures today are even more intense than when I was young.

The other point I guess I was making is that food and I have a long history.  I used to view food as my enemy.  Now I'd say I view food as my comforter.  Either way it's unhealthy.  And, I would love to finally reach a point where I am at peace with this issue.  And, that I use food as God intended...to nourish and strengthen.


  1. Karen, I can hear your heart in your post!! Sending hugs. I wish I had answers. I don't. I'm struggling right now with many of things you wrote about (didn't have an eating disorder, though). Just started back on the exercise wagon June 1. I *am* counting calories at the moment just because I want to stay under 1200 per day. I'm hoping something will work. If I could just see some weight loss it would help. Just know you aren't alone! Good luck with whatever you find works for you.

  2. This was such a touching post. You opened your heart and shared something that will change lives. Others will know they aren't alone and that is so important. I think as women we all struggle with the image we have of ourselves and it's hard to live in this world without thinking we're too fat/plain/unlikeable or some other thing.

    Healthy living is about balance and in today's world it's hard to find. We're told to eat nothing or everything. No one preaches moderation.
    Thanks for sharing this story. You're not alone. We're in this together, as women fighting to be healthy in a world that wants us to be anything but. If you ever need encouragement or support, I'm always around. You can do this!

  3. Oh, sweet Karen. It takes courage to make yourself vulnerable by sharing your story like this. Thank you for trusting us enough to do it. I think you're awesome.

  4. What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it with us. I am totally with you when it comes to counting calories or doing points. I do not want to have to worry about all that stuff either.

  5. Who would of known? You broke my heart. All I could think is I so would of been your friend! You are awesome.
    I am praying for you.
    I think I do not pray enough about my own weight loss.
    I do not think it is as serious as other people's problems, so I don't take it to God.
    I am so wrong though.
    I may lose some weight on my own.
    But with the Lord I know I can make a lifestyle change and keep it off, I just need to give it over to him everyday.
    Praying for you.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

  6. Karen, you really need to give me a call on this. I have lost 30 pounds in six months. It involves some calaie counting but as an educational tool to help you mKe a life style change. For example I would eat mcdonalds 2-3 times a week, now the thought of eating there is kind of repulsive. I am not doing any kind of fad diets and I am not excersizing beyond being active with the kids. I am just making healthier choices but have educated myself on how many calories are In stuff, am no longer making poor choices like I used to do.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this. I too struggled with self-esteem/weight issues as a teenager, and it has morphed into some of the same comfort eating as an adult. To complicate the matter I have some hormone imbalance that makes it extremely difficult for me to even lose weight. It IS possible it just takes a LOT of effort on my part. Bless you for making yourself vulnerable in this way!!!


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