Disclaimer: This story contains details of anorexia and mentions suicidal thoughts, which may be upsetting to some.
“It all started when I was just a kid. A happy little girl living her best childhood. My godmother has always lived what was considered to be a ‘healthy’ life. She was working out, eating salads, whole-grain pasta, bread, and ‘lean’ foods. She used to tell me I was fat, should do some exercise, and should eat healthier. When my mom was giving birth to my younger brother, I stayed with her as my dad was in the hospital too. She literally forced me to eat whole-grain spaghetti even though I begged her not to because it didn’t taste good to me, and my father was encouraging her.
My grandmother from my father’s family wanted to see me during the holiday, but she acted almost the same. She expected me to come over, but at the same time, she was stopping me from eating any sweets, because I would get fat. I’m not saying I was an ideal child with an ideal body and weight, no. What I am trying to say is that my own family was dragging me down and that’s something that should never happen to anyone. I guess that was the first point that started my journey to anorexia. The second one was definitely primary school.
As I was ‘bigger’ than other girls in my age, I experienced bullying. Kids in the school were calling me ‘cucumber,’ ‘fat,’ and ‘that one with big boobs.’ What could be worse than kids hurting other kids? Even my pediatrician made me go to weight-controlling therapy for two weeks, far away from my family and friends, because she thought I was fat. At that time, other doctors found out I had hypothyroidism which basically means my thyroid was smaller than it should be so it couldn’t work properly. At the therapy they taught me how to eat regularly, but still, they were restricting kids there. Every piece of food our families brought when visiting us had to be left at the nurses’ office and they wouldn’t give you any when you asked. There was another example of a toxic world. Even being at the hospital facility, they regulated your food intake and it didn’t matter whether it was enough. You were hungry? You had to overcome it.
Working Out And Restricting
During my last year at primary school, I started to do light workouts with my own weight at home and also running. I was eating a balanced diet with proteins, carbohydrates, fats, but also sweets and juices. Anything I wanted, but still giving my body the nutrition it needed. My body was changing, my curves were starting to show up, and my weight was slowly going down. I was happy with that, but as usual, it wasn’t enough and I wanted more. At 15, when I was already at the gymnasium, I excluded almost all carbs from my diet. I thought they were bad and I thought I would gain weight when I’d eat them.
I can remember some of my lunches being just carrot and cheese. When I was eating lunch at school, I just ate vegetables and meat. Pancakes? No way. Rice? Nope! Pasta? God, are you crazy? Very early, my diet became extreme. All I was eating during the day was coffee and one yogurt, while having one cheat day a week when I ate everything I wanted. Yes, I swear it really looked like this. Soon enough, I was thin, lean, and happy with my weight.
But my body wasn’t. My energy level was decreasing. I lost my period. And, at that time I didn’t realize it, but my bones were showing up everywhere on my body. At my lowest, I was 83.7 pounds. That was the time my pediatrician actually noticed I had a problem. She sent me to a psychologist and recommended weekly checks with the endocrinologist. Doctors told me if I didn’t want to die or go to the hospital, I needed to eat. Seriously. The truth is, it wasn’t doctors who helped me. It was finding a boyfriend and falling in love.
My Loving Boyfriend
I met him at 16. He was a strong hockey player with good manners. Honestly, it was very difficult for me to hide my eating disorder. He was eating a lot, going to the restaurants, and having hard training, while I was just a walking skeleton and I was ashamed to even tell him I didn’t eat. I was ashamed to show him my body. That was the time I realized it for the first time and, most importantly, I started my recovery journey with his help. He took me to the gym, but only under one condition-I would eat. Yes, he was truly this caring (and he still is). Suddenly, I wanted to become a strong woman, to be able to lift heavy weights, to have beautiful curves, and just be healthy. And that couldn’t happen without eating properly.
When I look back at that time, I was truly happy. I had a loving boyfriend, my eating habits were improving, I was eating everything without restriction, and my period came back. On the other hand, there were days I was extremely depressed. With gaining weight, the feeling of becoming fat was also growing. I was afraid weight gain would never stop and I would be obese, and it didn’t matter if I was working out. When you are depressed, you don’t see the reality. And I have to admit, there were days I had suicidal thoughts. You just have to work with yourself and your mind, and remember, it’s okay to have bad days. It’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to cry, and it’s okay to be afraid. It will go away, I promise, and it’s all worth it!
Here We Go Again…
What helped me with setting the intake I needed was IIFYM-calorie counting. I knew I needed to be in caloric surplus in order to get healthy again. It’s a good helper, but there is a threat of restricting yourself again. At least that was for me. After my gymnasium studies, we left for Sweden for 8 months. I was at a healthy weight already, still counting calories, but as I wanted to lose some fat, I adjusted my intake into a calorie deficit and there we went again. Restricting sugar, sweets, and fast foods, feeling guilty after eating them, and over-exercising. Being nervous because something didn’t fit into my daily calorie intake, crying over the way my body looked again. After half a year, I said STOP. I realized I wanted to enjoy life, enjoy all the amazing Swedish foods! I deleted the app from my phone and started eating intuitively. That was the last time I actually counted any calories and I will never do that again since it became dangerous.
When we came back home, I think I was at my healthiest. Working out in the way it felt good, nourishing my body, but also treating myself without guilt, being active, enjoying life, and eating enough. Life was good and I almost forgot I had an eating disorder before. I thought I had already overcome it, and it was like this for three years, even during the pandemic. I was exercising at home, eating balanced foods, and I hadn’t had a single bad thought about my body. Well…
After they opened gyms again, I decided to go back. My training was difficult. I was doing weightlifting, Crossfit, heavy lifting, and circuits, and then it happened again. I started restricting my food. I cut out carbs from my lunches. I started to eat less because I hated my belly and wanted the fat to get lost. All of a sudden, I ended up eating like a child and my stomach shrank. I wasn’t even able to eat more. I was afraid of going out to restaurants. Every time I would see a bigger amount of food on my plate, I would get a slight panic attack. Every time I would see any junk food on my plate, I would get another panic attack. Getting sweets, chocolate, or donuts I was like, ‘Nah, you could rather bring me some vegetables.’ I would count every gram of sugar and fat I ate. I lost some weight, lost my period, lost energy, and lost my life.
And again, the one who saved me was me, myself, and the guy I met a few years ago, now my husband. The moment I realized I messed it up again because I wanted to be lean, I cried, and I cried a lot. It was my own fault I let it go this far. I started to see the reality. My workouts became harder to finish and I couldn’t do what I wished to do in the gym. I wasn’t able to lift the weights I used to lift. I didn’t even like the way I looked. I told myself, ‘This is too much honey, you should gain some weight.’ So basically what happened is I changed my mindset.
Changing Your Mindset
With the help of my husband, I let go of bad thoughts about eating more and eating what I actually wanted, not what I should eat. Instead of saying ‘no’ to restaurants, ice cream, drinks out, or cakes, I started to say YES. Yes to the life I want, yes to the food, yes to the healthy workout routine. I came back to carbs and have them in every meal of the day. If I gain more weight, I gain more weight. It doesn’t matter anymore to me. I feel motivated because I want to be happy and healthy again. Life is not about being your smallest, leanest, and most muscular. It’s also not about restricting, or feeling guilty about eating sugars or fats. It’s about finding balance in lifestyle. It’s about managing your workout routine the way it feels good for your body, not pushing yourself in the gym. Life is about enjoying all the good food in this world; it’s about spending time with your loved ones. It’s about saying yes when someone offers you a date in a restaurant or café.
You are not meant to be stuck because the community says you should lose fat, you shouldn’t have cellulite. When you’ll be old, what will you remember? Not eating that damn chocolate with your friend at midnight? Not having fun with your date because you had to follow some order? Or you’ll be remembering all those moments when you were happy, smiling, not thinking about your body or food, just embracing life and the advantages it gives you. Yes, I would say you will choose the second one.
The healing journey is not easy. You’ll cry, you’ll still have bad body image days, you’ll be bloated because you were restricting your body for too long-so it keeps the food you’re giving it now, because it is afraid it will be starved again. Sometimes you will just want to stay home under the blanket. And all of this is okay, it’s part of the recovery and it’s only temporary! I promise it will be worth it and you’ll have a normal life like a normal person. Don’t ever focus on the size of your body again. No matter if you have a bigger body, if you have tummy rolls (we all have them!), no matter if you don’t have a flat stomach. You deserve to take up space, to be a strong and healthy person!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Katarína Jakubík from Žiar nad Hronom, Slovakia. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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