I was so excited to start college, and determined not to gain the freshman 15. I wish someone had warned me not to worry about that, and focus on my academics and getting involved with groups and friends. I wish someone had warned me I was at risk, because from the moment I woke up till the time I went to bed the only time I paid attention to my body was to ask ED, if I was good enough, and as you can image I received the same answer repeatedly,
“No your body is awful and disgusting and you need to make only clean healthy choices and we need to set a goal of an extra 30 min at the gym, remember healthy people are happy people you are strong and you can do this!,”
ED the Voice in my head that sounded a lot like me set my agenda for the day. Well they say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. This is how my life went every morning, and to those without an eating disorder brain (ED Brain) this may sound crazy! Well let me tell you, this is not a choice or a joke it is a mental illness, whenever thoughts around food or body image become obsessive is when you should start to ask yourself could you possible have an eating disorder, HERE are 8 questions to find out. So why on earth would I stay on this cycle, one reason was out of fear from gaining that freshman 15.
What started out as in innocent dieting to feel better about my body resulted in a whole lot of biological and chemical brain changes going on in my 18 year old brain that I did not know about.
There is a major genetic component and I did not know (and neither did they) that many people in my family struggled with eating disorders and negative body image, which made me 7-12x more likely to develop this deadly mental illness. When I began to “eat healthier” in order to avoid the awful “freshmen 15” that I was repeatedly and literally “warned about.” I didn’t know that ED the voice would to consume my thoughts. When I was a freshmen at Converse College and homesickness, the increased academic pressure, and negative body image and self esteem (interestingly enough also highly genetic) were dropping, anxiety & depression began to set in, and all of the sudden I noticed I was feeling better every time I exercised or saw the number on the scale decrease. Being the people pleaser I was, you set a bar I will jump over it! So when I met a fitness goal or lost weight, trainers suggested I drop 3 pounds and a requirement of scholarship depended on me dropping these few pounds.
This may sound shocking but well intentioned coaches and trainers are having these conversation about weight expectations in high school. This request is very common amongst athletic teams, or in my case, JROTC, I had an US Air Force scholarships. Also little know fact eating disorder are rampant in the military, here is an article about one women story. If any of this sounds familiar, know that you are not alone according the latest research from the American Academy of Pediatrics that talks about the increasing pressure to excel in athletics combined with fear of the “war of childhood obesity” and miseducation on nutrition. Here is a quick video to learn more and see if you may be at risk, for the female athlete triad, which is an eating disorder that puts people at high risk for osteoporosis. I would like to encourage you to share with Coaches and Athletic Directors by downloading a Coaches Toolkit provided by the National Association of Eating Disorders.
Make no mistakes, I am not blaming eating disorders on any one thing. My goal is to increase awareness for early intervention, and for people to know they are at risk. If we are aware of who is at risk then can we build a society that is promoting positive self esteem in order to foster resiliency and protective factors. I look forward to sharing more of my story with you and give some insight into how, biology loads the gun and society pulls trigger. Stay tuned for how the spiral continued from my perspective, and how I lost control. In other words, how the front part of my brain, the executive functioning & decision making part, shut down, and the pre-historic part of my brain, the freeze, fight, or flight parts, took over because my survival was at stake….so I blame my brain in part, but it was only trying to protect me you see. So how do you loose yourself down the rabbit hole stay tuned to find out, to be continued…