I am allowing myself to be completely vulnerable here.
This post is about my struggles.
I had started to lose weight in January of 2013. Going to the gym, watching what I eat, but not counting my calories. I went to Japan and when I came back I was in full swing once again. Hitting the gym 5 days a week. Exactly one year ago tomorrow, I joined MyFitnessPal. I was counting my calories and measuring my food. Making sure that every ounce was counted and logged.
Back then it was easy. MyFitnessPal told me to eat X amount of calories, well, I’d eat X amount of calories. If I had an extra 300 calories left, you’d be damn sure I’d be eating some of that cookie dough ice cream in the freezer. Those calories were just far too good to give up.
The pounds were falling off. 30 pounds 40 pounds. 50 pounds. 60 pounds. I could feel the fat just dripping off of me.
I was approached by my gym to be in a photo shoot back in July of 2013. I was told that the photos may or may not be used in pamphlets that would be handed out at events. I would just be a face in the whole scheme of the pamphlet. I took these photos not thinking about the consequences. I took these photos because, at the time, it was something fun. I took these photos because it was great to look at my weight loss from an outsiders perspective. In retrospect, I wish I never took those photos.
Before I knew it, I was being featured in magazines, newspapers, advertisements, mail flyers, and, of course, billboards.
Imagine your face in lights.
I’ll admit that it was fun to be praised for your accomplishments. To be commended for the insane amount of time, effort, and energy. I was some sort of inspiration for people to lose weight. “If Erin can do it, so can you!”
My progress pictures were plastered at the gym. When someone was about to cancel their membership, a sales counselor would run over with my progress picture in hand and say, “This is Erin! She’s lost 80 pounds here! You can be her!” When someone was about to join the gym, a sales counselor would run over with my progress picture in hand and say, “This is Erin! She lost 80 pounds here! You can be her!”
It also didn’t help that my trainer was pushing me to lose 100 pounds before his other clients. “I want you to be the first one to get that spot, Erin! Don’t let someone else take it!”
Imagine the pressure.
I began to spiral out of control. I was restricting calories so heavily. I’d look at food like it was the devil. Food and I were never really friends, but now food was taking away from my goal to lose 100 pounds.
MyFitnessPal used to tell me to eat 1600 calories. Those 1600 calories then went down to 1400. Then 1200. Then 1000. And finally I was only trying to eat a whole 900 calories a day. Anything above 1000 was leaving me disjointed, anxious, and upset with myself.
But not only would I restrict heavily, but then I would “surrender” to my food and I would eat. I’d just binge all day long. All the restriction that I did was pointless after a day of bingeing.
As you would imagine, the weight loss plateaued. I dubbed my “Sprint to 100” as a “Crawl to 100”. I was working out one day and my trainer introduced me to someone as, “This is Erin! She was sprinting to 100, but now she’s just crawling to 100.”
Imagine the pain.
Here I am struggling with my body. Struggling with food. Struggling with my own mental image of myself.
I knew I had a full blown eating disorder on my hands and I didn’t know how to cope. I still don’t know how to cope. My world revolved around numbers. The calories, the time to eat, how many minutes I worked out, how many calories I burned working out. Nothing made sense except for the numbers.
I’d kill myself at the gym but then come home and cry. I’d call my boyfriend and beg him to come over because I needed help eating. I didn’t trust myself enough to even eat. I needed someone else to help me eat. Making it to 1100 calories consumed for the day was a victory.
If you want me to be frank, I’m still fucked. I am trying to find a very delicate balance between eating, losing weight, and being happy with myself. It is a very fine line that I struggle with daily. If I wake up in the morning and I can feel my hip bones, well, it’s a good day. If I wake up in the morning and I feel like my face is a little bit rounder than it was before, well, it’s not a good day.
I don’t count my calories as obsessively as I used to. Vegetable calories are worthless to me. I don’t bother counting them. And now I really try to listen to my body, be mindful of what I’m eating, and just enjoy what I’m eating.
Why Share This?
Because I know I’m not the only one. I know that people have great intentions when they start to lose weight, but then somewhere along the line your goals and dreams get skewed. Your brain plays intense tricks on you. That little voice inside your head is telling you to keep restricting to lose weight faster, but another voice says, “You’re fucking killing yourself.”
I know your pain. I feel you. I hear you. I wish I could help you.
Most importantly: You’re not alone.