Disordered eating. The darkest time of my life. There was no logic that would work for me. No change in perception. No mindset shift was going to end my compulsive weight loss journey. I didn’t start it because I was fat and I wasn’t continuing it because I thought I was fat. I started out of fear, continued out of excitement, and couldn’t stop out of compulsiveness.
What changed? Pain. Opening my eyes to the present moment. Not avoiding what I was and not fearing what I may be. But being what I was in that moment. And in that moment, I was pounds away from the hospital yet many pounds into tearing my family up. But eating disorders are like that. Logic does not matter. I knew I wasn’t eating enough. I knew I couldn’t sit through class on a metal chair without my butt bones killing me or make it through a day of school without shivering cold. I knew I couldn’t allow myself birthday cake at a friend’s party. I knew friends parents were calling mine concerned and I knew I was being a score keeper instead of a star basketball player for my school. I knew I was trading cookbooks instead of novels and I was sitting on our kitchen heating vent instead of a couch with my girlfriends. But I couldn’t stop.
Until I saw the present moment pain. Not in me. In my family. I write this blog on Father’s Day because in a mix of vivid details like my size 3 gap jeans that were falling off and blacked out moments of things I still can’t recall… there is one that stands out. There is only one moment I can attribute my recovery to. And in involved my dad.
So my mom took me to the doctor. I remember the outfit I was wearing to this day. It was a follow up visit to the one two weeks earlier that said if I lost any more weight I wouldn’t be able to go on spring vacation with my dad and sister to Florida to see his family. They weighed me. I was under 100 pounds. ME. Under 100 pounds!!!! That scared me. They forced me to go to a counselor or else my next stop would be the hospital.
So my dad took me to a counselor. Funny thing is, she is houses down from my current business I own today, where I vowed to not perpetuate this weight loss cycle or preoccupation in anyone I encounter. 15 years later and a world of a difference.
So in we went. I did not want to be there one bit. First thing and only thing she wanted to talk about was my parents divorce a year earlier. Now, if you know my family, we were like the “picture perfect” family and it shook my town when they heard about the divorce. Especially because it was before it seemed like divorce got “popular.” And then the divorce was as amicable as I had ever seen one since. My mom let my dad still come by. We saw him whenever we wanted. It was as good as a divorce could be. It wasn’t bothering me. And I sure didn’t want to talk to this counselor about it. But she pushed it. She wanted me to talk about it. How it made me feel. I don’t remember much else until I left her office in tears. I begged my dad to not take me back. Don’t make me go back!!
And I saw tears in my dads eyes. A mix of “Lisa, please start eating. Please be you again,” and pain, just like mine. Pain that was a wedge between one of the best relationships in my life. It was effecting me and him. Me and my sisters. Me and my mom. I was causing drama we didn’t need. And I saw my dad so upset. He just wanted me better. He wanted me to be able to go to Florida with him.
We left the doctor and I went to my dad’s. I tell everyone this was my turning point. I ate dinner at my dad’s and then that night when he dropped me off at my mom’s, I ate her dinner, too. And so it began…. my next memory is getting to go to Florida with my dad and sister. My dad describes my recovery as… “I remember you baking a cake in Florida… and eating it. That’s when I knew.”
I remember eating my dessert at my birthday party from my friend’s mom which is still one of my favorites. The next morning I ate PBJ sandwiches. Yes, 2 of them. And I found myself in the bathroom after that. Not on purpose. But my mom was worried I was making myself go to the bathroom. I wasn’t! I just ate real food and real amounts and my body was like wtf.
But that was it. I know this is not your typical recovery. But I write this because of the memory with my dad. Because that counselor is still
Working on the same street as I am today. And eating disorders are no joke. Whatever you want to call mine, it was disordered eating. It was compulsive behavior. It was driven from a fear or gaining weight. I did anything possible to avoid it. Why?? What did it mean if I gained weight after quitting competitive gymnastics? And let me tell you. I did gain weight. I settled at a weight higher than when my eating disorder started. But I never cared.
I took those pounds with happiness and a life instead of losing it in a hospital. So when I see people so preoccupied with a number. Not living their life just to control their body. I want to help.
I don’t ever worry I’m going to go back to essentially starving myself. I did more work the last few years than the first decade after that eating disorder but it got done and it was necessary. It took research. It took a few different coaches. But most of all, it took me getting present. Living in the moment. I didn’t want to miss out anymore.
If you are struggling, look at your pain and your fears. Where are they coming from. And what are they worth? Are they actually rational or are they playing out from a story you have made up in your head? I will promise you this. Your fears and worries are almost always worse than the reality. You can change your story. You can change the dialogue you tell yourself.
We all make our choices for certain reasons. Are yours out of fear and control or love, trust and freedom?
And thank you to my family for sticking it out with me. Family is my why. And it’s worth more to me than any goal weight.