Confession: Food and I weren’t always friends.

We are now, but we have a bad history. Today I was going to write about a recipe that I love and make all the time both because it is delicious and Betty approved, but also because I am a REALLY terrible cook and there are only a few things that I can make without practically burning the kitchen down. Then something happened and I decided to switch gears and get a lot more serious. With this being National Eating Disorders Awareness Week the timing of this topic is appropriate anyway. I never thought I was going to talk about this on my blog and I’ve almost deleted it a handful of times already, but then I thought maybe my experience could help someone else. So here we go.

For most of my adolescent and adult life, I’ve struggled with an eating disorder, specifically anorexia. I’m sure you are all know what that is, but here is the disorder defined by the NEDA website:

Anorexia Nervosa:

  • Restricting food intake to below the requirements for a particular individuals physical requirements
  • Intense fear of weight gain and obsession with weight and continual behaviors to prevent weight gain
  • Inability to recognize true body shape or recognize the seriousness of condition

This described me to a T. I was at my very worst between the ages of 17 and 20. There was a time when all I would eat in a day would be a bowl of Uncle Ben’s long grain and wild rice and then I would go to my apartment complex gym and stay on the elliptical for hours. I mostly dressed in tee shirts that were several sizes too big for me to hide the areas of my body that I considered to be fat. I used to obsessively feel the bones in my shoulders and would measure my thighs 10, 20 times a day by circling them with my fingers, worrying about how much they touched when I stood up. When I was in middle school, a boy told me I had thunder thighs. I don’t know if I really did or not, but that moment was burned into my brain forever.

I will never forget the sense of accomplishment I felt stepping onto the scale at my college gym and seeing that I weighed under 100 pounds. I am 5’6″ tall.

Today I look at photos from back then and can’t believe I never realized then how sick I was. With my bleach blonde hair, pale skin, and big sunken eyes, I looked like a ghost.

From high school into adulthood, it was like I was on a roller coaster. I would get better, then relapse (though it never got as bad at those late high school/early college years), then get better again, but even when I was at my healthiest mentally the body dysmorphia, food issues, and fear of weight gain never really went away. I went to group meetings for a while. Then I moved to Hollywood and while it was occasionally fun let me just tell you that it was about the unhealthiest environment for someone like me to live in.

In my early 30’s I moved back east, got married and eventually pregnant, and pregnancy was a TERRIFYING time. So many women report never feeling so beautiful in their lives as during pregnancy and I was just a mess. But I also knew that there was never a more important point in my life to put plenty of healthy food – several times a day – into my body. At around the middle of my second trimester, I started getting on the scale backwards at the doctor’s office. I wasn’t going to fight the weight gain, but I also didn’t want to know the details. I exercised and ate well throughout my pregnancy and in the end I found out that I gained somewhere around 35-40 pounds total. This is me exactly 2 years ago!

preggo

If I look like I’m SO OVER being pregnant, it’s because I was. Betty was born just a couple days later and by July I had lost pretty much all the baby weight and I decided it was time to make peace with my appearance. I am a mom and in my mid-30’s. I wasn’t going to run out to buy a pair of mom-jeans or get a perm or anything, but I wasn’t ever going to have my old body again and I needed to accept that. Now there was a little girl in my life that was going to look up to me, so even on my worst days I would not let her see me pick myself apart and I would not let her see me starve myself. At 140 lbs, I was a normal weight and BMI for my height. I kept on exercising with the same healthy eating habits that I picked up during my pregnancy, hid in my signature flowy clothes that gave me a sense of false confidence, and tried to get over myself.

Then I started running in April of last year. The running started out of pure boredom with no plan to lose weight. I already did a lot of cardio anyway so that wasn’t even on my radar. But then I did lose weight. A fairly significant amount of it. It came off very quickly and realized that I needed to eat more. For the first time in my life I started to regard food not as something to be feared, but as fuel. After running for just a few months, I would look in the mirror and feel so happy with the person looking back at me; not because I had lost weight, but because running makes me feel strong. Powerful. Accomplished. Confident. I started tossing all the flowy stuff into the back of my closet and filling the space up with things that actually fit me. Including a LOT of tech shirts.

I reached my current weight (which shall remain nameless because it’s a number that doesn’t matter) around October when I ran my first half marathon and it has been holding steady ever since. I do not need to, nor would I ever attempt to lose another pound. Finally being comfortable in my own skin – especially after the majority of a lifetime of internal struggle – is the most freeing feeling I have ever experienced.

So I wish that was the end of it, but it’s not. At this day in age we are all pretty well familiar with the concept of fat and skinny shaming (I don’t like the term “fit shaming” because you can be fit at a variety of sizes). In a society where media glorifies a waifish appearance, I think a lot of people are in denial that skinny shaming is actually a thing. But it is. Negative commentary on anyone’s weight – whether they be big or small – is inappropriate. People come in all shapes and sizes and no one has the right to make someone else’s appearance their personal business. And unfortunately I’ve been getting a lot of crap for mine.

I am writing this post on my wedding anniversary and as it is my wedding anniversary, I changed my cover photo on Facebook to one from our wedding 4 years ago. This one to be exact:

wedding

That’s my husband. Isn’t he handsome!? I look really pretty, but back then I still thought I was too heavy which I know now is just dumb (though I do think my triceps look much better now). That poor, patient guy has had to endure the question “Does this make me look fat?” more than most and I bet he’s probably pretty enthused to not have to hear that ridiculousness anymore. Anyway, shortly after posting that picture I received a text message. It was from a very close family member and I will quote it directly so that when they read this post I will not get called out for making things up:

“TBH, you look prettier with some meat on your bones. Just sayin’.”

Because that’s exactly what I was hoping would happen when I posted up a photo in celebration of my marriage. To be picked at about my weight.

This is not an isolated incident and not nearly the harshest thing I’ve heard. I have been told repeatedly that I look terrible and that no one else is being honest with me about it. I apparently have no idea how I look. This look is “unattractive” on me. My arms are “gross”. The way my weight has been approached, you would think that I look more like this:

Egyptian_mummy_by_BryonyMayTidball

Than this:

fountain

God forbid I decide I want to order a salad out at dinner or say that I’m full without having to dodge a snide comment. It hurts. Then when I say it hurts, I get told that I need to have thicker skin. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I feel good about myself. Instead of being able to enjoy that feeling, my appearance is repeatedly insulted by one of the people I hold most dear in my life.

Due to my past, I can only hope that the reason I’m hearing these things is because the person saying them has no concept of how much my mindset has shifted. They say that the unkind comments come from a place of concern, but I think there’s a point where well-meaning concern becomes harassment. Especially after I have repeatedly asked them to stop talking to me about it.

Do I think the issues I used to have with food will ever entirely go away? No. That’s something I’ll deal with for probably the rest of my life. They hide in the back of my mind and occasionally whisper mean things when I’m pouring marshmallow topping on my frozen yogurt. But the important thing is that I’ve learned how to ignore them. Eating disorders ruin lives and I’m refusing to let mine control me anymore. Now if I could just get the naysaying to stop, life will be a delicious bowl of fajitas.

Fajita bowls. That’s the recipe I was going to post about. I’ll save that one for Monday.

Thanks for sticking with me on this one, guys. While writing about it was really cathartic for me, I feel like I just got naked on the Internet. I would like to mention that if anyone reading has gone through anything similar or is going through it now, I always have an open ear to discuss things like this and like to help in any way that I can.

~ Salt

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40 thoughts on “Confession: Food and I weren’t always friends.

  1. hellyfast says:

    Thank you for sharing Salt. I’ve never had an ED but I do get comments on being too skinny and why am I not having seconds…

    You are a strong, beautiful woman whom I admire a great deal. You. Are. Awesome.

  2. Kelly @ Turned up to Eleven says:

    I’ve always thought you were one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever known. Inside and out – for whatever size it didn’t matter. You are my LT/LE – MY LOVE YOU for you. Thank you for sharing this and for helping others with the story of your struggles.

    I think tons of people struggle with their weight – to heavy, too skinny – we all have a battle we are waging without ourselves and I agree that shamming at any size is unacceptable.

    You are a strong and now confident woman, mother, wife. You are finally feeling like yourself, comfortable in your own skin and taking things day by day.

    Discussing your feelings about CA reminds me of how I felt in Florida. I gained a lot of weight there (fast food-aholic) and then felt so uncomfortable with the bikini bodies etc. I was miserable, moved home, changed my lifestyle and dropped the weight. I yo-yo all the time. I’m trying make life changes, just like you said to get a handle on myself and my own issues.

    Biggest bonus of all this – I love that you are keeping B’s welfare in your mind too – not downing yourself in front of her. Girls need this. I think I because a very self confident woman, because my mother did the same for me, even if she battled weight demons in her own mind.

    Again, my love you – and I think it’s great you are taking your health into your own hands. oxox

    • runsaltrun says:

      You made me cry, Kell! Thank you so much for your kind words. We’ve been friends a LONG time and you’ve seen me at some of my best and worst moments. I’ve always found your self confidence and positive attitude so inspirational. Thank you for always being there for me. MY LOVE YOU. xoxo

  3. txa1265 says:

    You KNOW I am right there with you … just approaching it from the other side of the scale! 😉

    It is funny – I loved reading this, and was ready to comment. Then it continued – and was even better. I saw the anniversary picture and ready to comment again … but the awesome post just kept on going! and going!

    I can remember reading a post on one of my first visits to your blog and just some of your phrasing told me you had an eating disorder – and something on the anorexia/bulimia side rather than the obesity side. Funny how we gain that sensitivity.

    Happy Anniversary! You guys look SO awesome in that picture! 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thank you so much. We’ve been joking all day about how much we wish we were back there right now (we had a destination wedding in the Caribbean)!

      I knew you would understand exactly where I was coming from with this post. Some of the things you have written about have really hit home for me too! I’m very thankful that I came across your blog. Thanks so much for the support!

  4. Meg says:

    I commend you for getting completely honest. It is absolutely amazing to hear your story and to hear how you’ve grown and have become comfortable with yourself. I almost cried reading this.

    I do think you look amazing in your wedding photo. But how could you not? You’re a glowing bride! (Speaking of your wedding. I remember your trash the dress photos. Those were so awesome!)

    I have never struggled with an ED either but my mom confessed to me recently that before I got pregnant pretty much my entire family was concerned for my health. Recently I’ve had other numerous comments about how I am too skinny. And “jokes” about how I don’t need to work out. To me, it’s not about working out to lose weight, it’s about staying healthy and fit. I don’t know why some people feel the need to criticize the way they do. Sometimes I feel like they are only saying things because they care but they do t realize how it feels on the other end.

    I am really looking forward to the fajita recipe!! Might be something I try soon!!

    Again, thank you for opening up! ❤

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thank you, lady. You know I still haven’t gotten my dress cleaned after that photo sesh!

      I’m so sorry to hear that you get comments on your end too. Concern is nice, but it seems to go too far sometimes and there’s a point where we shouldn’t have to explain ourselves anymore. Exercise is an important thing that EVERYONE should do regardless of appearance. It doesn’t necessarily = weight loss.

      Thank you for being such a supportive friend. You are awesome!

  5. Andrea says:

    What really stood out to me from reading your post is how hurting and damaging the things that people say to us can be. People should realize that it’s NEVER appropriate to make a negative comment about someone’s appearance. I’m glad that running has made you feel so good about yourself. You should definitely be proud of your hard work! I know that running makes me so much more aware of how food impacts my body. If I eat junk food, or don’t eat enough, I’ll be able to tell when I go for a run. Congrats on your anniversary and for being brave enough to talk about your struggles!

    • runsaltrun says:

      TOTALLY agree. I will remember exactly where I was when that boy insulted me forever (we were waiting at carpool). It was such a small thing, but I’ve carried it with me forever. As for all the negativity now, I’ve been taking it and taking it until finally with the wedding picture comment I felt a dam break. It is never appropriate to talk to another person that way and even less appropriate to talk to a loved one that way.

      Thank you so much for your kind comment and thank you for reading. 🙂

  6. Sara L. says:

    Thanks for sharing and lots of hugs! Everyone has their own battles and we shouldn’t be judging each other, we should be helping each other on the battlefield. To me you look strong and happy! I love your guns!

    Since having my daughter, I’ve had a greater appreciation for the body I have (I gave birth with this thing!) and I want to just be a healthy example for her. I also don’t want her to ever think she is fat or unpretty because of something she overheard me saying about myself. (I’m not looking forward to her tween/teen years)

    You have worked really hard and have accomplished so much with your body – to hell with anyone who wants to criticize it or give it a backhanded compliment!

    Happy Anniversary too!

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thank you so much, friend! I totally agree…having a little one really does put a lot of things into perspective. We need to be great role models for these girls! (I think we are both VERY much on the right track!) C is so lucky to have you as her mom. 🙂

  7. irishrunnerchick says:

    Thanks for sharing. This was a really honest post. I had a friend in college who struggled with anorexia and it was heartbreaking to watch that happen to her. She is in recovery now but will always have serious issues with food.

    Lucky for me I never had an ED. I credit my parents and especially my Mom with this. Nobody ever mentioned my weight. Ever. She was a pretty competitive marathon runner so to her food was fuel and the word ‘diet’ was never mentioned in our house.

    Of course I still have body issues and have ‘bad’ food but getting into fitness and running has made me realize how important to eat healthy, nourishing food that will help me fuel my runs. Weight isn’t so important now but functionality – what can my body do now.

    Good luck with your recovery. I know it never really ends.

    • runsaltrun says:

      Your mom sounds like the kind of mom I hope to be. Obviously I can’t completely shelter my daughter from everything, but in our house the word diet is never to be in anyone’s vocabulary. We are healthy eaters (for the most part…we do have treats sometimes) and I hope that will continue for her as she grows up.

      I’m sorry to hear about your friend, but so glad that she’s in recovery and hope the road ahead for her is as easy as possible.

  8. Julie W says:

    Thank you for sharing. I’ve never had an ED but I totally get the “skinny shaming”. People always used to comment on my weight and how skinny I was but that’s just my body type. The most annoying thing to me would be when my mom would always criticize how much I did it didn’t eat. Drives me nuts!

    You are such an awesome person! I really look up to you and I have enjoyed following your fitness journey. You truely are an inspiration to me and one of the reasons I started running 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thank you so much, Julie! It makes me feel incredible to hear that I was inspirational in any way. 🙂

      I’m so sorry that you have been on the receiving end of negative comments as well. It’s very unfair and as you said…it’s your body type. People come in all shapes and sizes and thin just happens to be one of them. I don’t understand why this is such a difficult concept for people to understand.

  9. Laura says:

    I’m so glad you are writing about this and bring more awareness to this week and important issue. I’m glad you are in a better place and I know you’ll raise your children with that in mind – that who you are is more important than how you look!

  10. afastpacedlife says:

    *hugs* Salt. Even though it hurts, I do hope that they intend to be well-meaning and out of place of concern. You might want to send this link to your relative: http://trexrunner.com/eating-disorder-series/

    She write about what it’s like to have ED (from her perspective) with a lot of insight and clarity. My bf had a hard time understanding the problems that people with ED had and he gained a lot of perspective and understanding from reading TRex runner’s posts.

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thank you so much for that link! I think I will forward it along (and definitely read it myself too). I’m positive it is coming from a place of good intent. I just wish it were being handled differently and hopefully reading that will help!

  11. Lauren Gilfeather says:

    Thanks so much for baring your soul on here. I respect you so much and am so proud of you for getting to a place where you feel comfortable in your own skin. I think that is one of the hardest things in life, and it’s so wonderful that running gave you the opportunity to find that happy place.

    Your post definitely hits home, as I’ve been at it from both sides of the scale: throughout childhood and into my mid-twenties, before I was diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease, I was always incredibly, naturally skinny. I was teased about it as a kid and shamed about it as an adolescent and adult. With Cushing’s, I gained 100 lbs in under 3 months through no fault of my own, and now I get shamed for being “fat” (I’m still not even obese according to BMI because I’m so tall, but I’m certainly not skinny). Commenting about someone’s weight is never, ever, OK on either end of that spectrum or anywhere in between. It’s so hurtful and I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve cried about it…and I have very thick skin.

    You’re absolutely gorgeous at any weight and, most of all, your positivity, dedication as a runner, wife, and mom, and your peace with yourself radiate from you and show that you’re as gorgeous inside as you are out.

    • runsaltrun says:

      Thank you so so so much from the bottom of my heart for your kind words. I’m so sorry that you’ve heard so much from either end. I wish people would think before they speak. It’s just never okay to comment on things like this. You never know exactly what another person is going through and especially with something that is so far out of your control that is just totally unfair.

  12. fitnessmeetsfrosting says:

    Thank you for sharing! I’ve never had an eating disorder, but I’ve always struggled with body image issues. I like how you shared that a boy told you you had thunder thighs. It just shows you how much 2 little words can hurt and affect someone <–something I want my future kids to know. I remember in elementary school, my best friend at the time (who clearly should not have been) whispered something to my other friend about me being fat. My friend was SUPER skinny (naturally), and looking back at old photos, I was very skinny as well. I had never had body image issues before that comment. I have had them ever since. Sad to think that a little kid who should be worried about her beanie baby collection, was now wondering if everyone thought she was fat. Congrats on being healthy and happy!!

    • runsaltrun says:

      You are so right about how such a small thing can affect someone for a lifetime and I really hope I can do a good job teaching my daughter to not use words that way. Thank you so much! The transition in the past year has been a huge and REALLY welcome one.

  13. michelle k says:

    What a brave post! So glad you only posted healthy pics. 🙂

    Do you think your family member isn’t just concerned, but maybe has a great fear of you becoming sick again? Maybe he/she isn’t good at expressing their true feelings? I think those comments could actually trigger someone to relapse, glad you are still healthy. I hope you guys can work it out.

    I had similar food issues when I was younger. The sense of superiority and control I felt when not eating was completely addictive. Even though I am in a good place now, I still find it sneaks up on me at times. I’ll pass up a piece of birthday cake at a party and unexpectedly feel the high that comes with restricting. This sounds totally crazy, but even just reading this post and reflecting I suddenly feel lightheaded and foggy like I’ve barely eaten for days (I have.) Weird.

    I love Mexican food, I am really looking forward to B’s fajita bowls!

    • runsaltrun says:

      Oh I have some hidden away at home, but I’d have to scan them. No digital photography back in the mid-90’s. 🙂 My pager was the most technologically advanced thing I owned!

      I think that probably has a lot to do with it. There is no question in my mind that the person who is saying these things loves me very much. I just wish I didn’t have to keep explaining myself over and over and over again. I eat dinner with this person sometimes multiple times a week and I could eat like a truck and I still get called out. I just wish it was being handled in a different way.

      I don’t think your experience sounds totally crazy at all. I know exactly what you are talking about. Having an empty stomach actually felt good to me and I don’t know why because I get so hangry now if I haven’t eaten in a few hours. It was all about control. When things weren’t going right in my life it was always something that I had control over.

      I am looking forward to the fajita bowls too! I’m making them tonight and will take some sweet pics of the preparation. Hopefully I will not be taking some sweet pics of my kitchen on fire.

  14. Pandora Viltis says:

    Thank you for this post. I relate to a lot if it, including getting on the scale backwards when pregnant. And since I started running, my mother in law keeps saying “skinny, skinny” in a way that doesn’t sound complimentary. I try to tell her I’m string and actually weigh more than I have in the last, but it’s muscle that I need to feed. Some people don’t think about how words hurt. I’ve always been sensitive telling someone that they look like they’ve lost weight because to me the implication is that they didn’t look great before.

  15. kristenk says:

    You are so brave for posting this! Congrats for coming so far and for being healthy! I totally hear you on the snide comments thing – last year for my wedding I was almost 10 pounds lighter and literally weighed less than I did in high school and my family members would analyze everything I ate/didn’t eat as if I was starving myself. Um no, I’d just realized that working out was fun and sometimes I just wasn’t hungry for an entire massive meal! I think that people project their fears/insecurities on others and have no idea how much it hurts sometimes. And PS I think you look beautiful in your wedding picture! Happy anniversary!

  16. ambertherunner says:

    Thanks for sharing your story Salt, I know it takes guts to open yourself up like that.
    I won’t go into details, but I suffered from anorexia in high school as a well, and will forever have those thoughts in the back of my mind when I treat myself with sugary foods. While it all started when I actually ran cross country, continuing to run as an adult has truly helped me love and appreciate what my body can do.
    I’m so happy to see you’re in a better place now, and my hope whenever I encounter somebody suffering from an eating disorder, whether classified or not, it that they can find an active passion that turns their body into something they are proud off.

  17. piratebobcat says:

    I’m glad you’re doing better. Thanks for sharing. I think that all of us who are avid exercisers have some sort of body image issues at times. But you’re right, it’s good to see food as fuel that we need to keep going. That, and it tastes good!

  18. Emily in Chile says:

    Brave post, friend. I’m lucky enough not to have struggled with food or body image issues (although isn’t it telling and sad that it’s so common that I feel lucky?), but as someone who’s naturally thin I’ve had a rude comment or two, and it’s certainly frustrating and unfair. What’s important though, as you know, is that you are kicking ass and achieving goals you never dreamed of while feeling strong and healthy. I can relate to that part too thanks to Crossfit! So cheers to your yoga and running accomplishments, and I hope that the people around you can start to understand all that a bit better.

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