If you had met me about 4 years ago, I’m willing to bet you never would’ve guessed that the girl standing in front of you, who took painstaking care of herself on the outside, was dying on the inside. I also bet it wouldn’t have even crossed your mind that those toned thighs and tight abs this girl was so proud of, came at the expense of her vital organs. If you had met me 4 years ago, you probably would’ve assumed I was healthy and in tip-top shape. You would have been wrong.
There are people, who view fitness and nutrition as essential components for a balanced lifestyle. Then, there are people, who become addicted to the rush of burning calories, shedding pounds, fad dieting, and ultimately altering the aesthetics of their appearance. I fell into the latter category.
I’ll just say it plainly: I suffered from anorexia nervosa. For most of my life, in fact. That shameful secret I hid from the world – and tried to hide from myself – nearly killed me during my first semester away at college. My body may have appeared to be everything I’d always wanted it to be, but the truth was it could barely function. At the height of my sickness, I’d struggle to stay conscious after a grueling several hours at the gym without any food or water to fuel the workout. This was no way to live. None whatsoever.
Finally – when the situation could no longer be ignored - my family intervened by pulling me out of school and signing me into a rehab facility. I felt like my life was over, but in reality, it had only just begun. Those ensuing months were simultaneously the most difficult and most fulfilling of my entire life. For the first time, I got healthy. Legitimately healthy. As in, I learned what “healthy” truly means.
After a period of intensive physical rejuvenation, emotional recovery, and mental retraining – much of which is still an ongoing process – I can say with utmost confidence that I’ve ultimately achieved the balance of fitness and nutrition that had been missing throughout those lost years dominated by my eating disorder. Today I enjoy a full and active lifestyle, free from the all-consuming obsessions that once plagued every waking moment.
I discovered yoga. I realized that running is not, in fact, an instrument of torture. I became educated on “clean eating” habits. I got strong…not skinny. And, above all, I embraced myself. Every quirk, flaw, and guilty pleasure. I learned to love my own individuality.
It’s not the number on a scale that makes a person worthwhile. It’s the risks they take, adventures they embark on, passions they pursue, obstacles they conquer, and mountains they climb. In the few years following my initial freedom from anorexia, I’ve accomplished goals that had once seemed impossible. I interned at an Off-Broadway theater in NYC. I graduated from college summa cum laude. I was cast as a performer at Walt Disney World. And now I’m following my dream of becoming a writer.
All because I finally figured out what it REALLY means to take care of myself. Health and fitness isn’t just nourishment for the body. It’s nourishment for the soul.