**I’ve decided to split this HUGE, emotionally draining post into TWO parts.  I plan to post Part II a week from today.  I also have intentionally NOT included pictures of my ED self, so as to be sensitive to those who are triggered by visuals.**

It’s Tuesday afternoon.  After a full morning (6 mile run, cleaning, laundry, and playing  countless games of “Light Saver” with Henry), I’m finally getting to sit down.  The kids are asleep.  The house is quiet.

Now seems as good a time as any to tell you about my past.

My Eating Disordered past.

someecards.com - It's Thanksgiving! Let the eating disorders begin!

Or rather, my eating disorder that is MOSTLY in the past.  Because try as you might, once you’ve had an eating disorder, you’ll always have an eating disorder.  I don’t mean that in a degrading or debilitating way to anyone who’s currently struggling or has struggled in the past.  It’s just the truth.

I’ll always have issues with food.  I’ll always be afraid that I’m going to lose control.  It’s just that I NOW know how to cope and deal with those issues, but it doesn’t mean they’re not there.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I’ve just taken my restrictions dealing with FOOD and replaced them with OVEREXERCISING!  This is an issue I’m well aware of and I try to work on daily.  I’m still a work in progress – I’m just thankful that God hasn’t given up on me yet.  Or Travis.

———–

The Beginning

I can’t really remember the exact moment in time when I decided to restrict my calories.  It roughly started when I was a Junior in high school.  As most ED’s go, I’m sure it started innocently enough when I wanted to go on a “diet” to lean out before cross country season.

someecards.com - Congratulations on your successful diet. I'll be keeping a list of eating disorder therapists just in case you go too far.

I am in NO way blaming my mother for my ED.  I did it to myself.  She would NEVER have told my sister and I that we were fat or that we needed to diet.  She also praised us for any accomplishments that we had and did an amazing job making me feel like I was worth something!!  So again, I think it bears repeating – My mother was NOT the cause of my eating disorder!  Hi, Mom.

BUT, growing up, I can’t remember a time when my mom wasn’t on a diet or complaining about her weight. The Grapefruit diet, Slim Fast, Atkins…you name it, she tried it.  And it was always cyclical – she’d start one, lose a few pounds, go back to regular Southern eating, and gain them back.  Only to find another diet the next time around, because maybe it would be a solution.

I thought that most women went on diets.  That most women were uncomfortable with their bodies.  I actually still believe that.  Societal pressures and the media put a HUGE burden on women and make it very hard to be anything but thin.  Worse than that, WE do it to ourselves!  Striving for perfection – whatever that might be – and seeking to have CONTROL over something that shouldn’t be overly controlled.

Control was just what I needed.  It actually fit my personality very well.  If I wanted good grades, I just controlled how often I studied, spending any spare time I had outside of sports to read and study.  If I wanted a better boyfriend, I controlled my actions – I found out about what HE wanted and the type of girl that HE liked and I just did those things and became that person.  If I wanted to run faster, I simply became more disciplined and trained harder.  Control came easy.

A little too easy.

The Rocky Middle – Part I

Like I said, my diet started out as a way to get fit before beginning cross country season my Junior year.  I was by no means fat or even a little overweight.  I was a normal weight.  (I’m not going into numbers in this post btw.)  My initial goal was to lose 5 pounds.

And then 10.

And then 20.

At first, I just started by eating smaller portions.  Instead of having my nightly fix of 8 or 9 Oreos and a big glass of milk, I’d just go to bed without it.  I stopped going back for seconds at dinner.  Where as I used to hide 4 Little Smokies under my Mac & Cheese at lunch (the limit was 4, to be placed ON TOP), I’d simply have a small dish of just the Mac & Cheese, thank you.

I dropped those 5 pounds easily.  With minimal effort.  I could DO THIS!  I was in control.  But no one really noticed.  No one said “Good job!” or “You look really thin!”

So I kept going….until they did.  I craved that attention.  Looking back, the two factors that fed this disorder were a) me needing to be in control and b) me needing to HEAR that my actions were producing results.  

After that initial 5 pounds came off, I REALLY started restricting my calories.

A sample day:

  • Breakfast:  Nothing
  • Lunch:  1 1/3 cup Honey Comb cereal (sad that I still know that this contains 110 calories and .5 grams of fat)
  • Snack: 1/2 stick sugar-free gum
  • Cross Country Practice:  600-800 calories expended
  • Dinner:  1/2 Baked Potato and 1/2 cup steamed vegetables
  • Bed.

You do the math.  That’s maybe 300 calories for the entire day.  And I lived this way for nearly 2 years!  Just typing this out, I get teary eyed thinking of all the time I wasted being consumed by my ED.

I dropped weight FAST.  Within a 3-4 month period of time, my body grew hair, technically called lanugo, all over it.  My arms were covered in downy “chick fuzz”.  I lost my period.  My nails were brittle.  My once thick hair started to thin.

I was able to hide my anorexia from my parents, yet another “fun” part of this whole messed up disorder.  I could drive myself to school, so I was always the last to leave the house.  For two years, my mom thought I was eating breakfast and packing my lunch, when really all I did was measure out a measly bag of Honey Combs.  She would even buy me sandwich meat and bread, which I would throw out to make it seem as though I was eating sandwiches for lunch.

I wore semi-baggy clothing to hide myself from scrutiny.  Which seems odd, because at first, that’s all I wanted – for someone to notice that I was thin.  As my anorexia grew worse, my thought process shifted.  I didn’t want to be stopped.  I didn’t want anyone to know and take back over.  I only wanted to get smaller.  And smaller.  And smaller.

It wasn’t until the fall of my Senior year, that someone noticed and said something.  Only it wasn’t the person who I needed to hear concern from.  And I certainly wasn’t ready for help.

**Come back next Wednesday for Part II of my journey.  As always, thank you for reading and for being a sensitive, supportive community!**

QUESTION:  Have you ever dealt with an eating disorder or disordered eating?  This is a safe place  to share.

splendid…lindsay

    • calee says:

      Lindsay … Your daily meals were mine in hs. But I didn’t do xc. I should have. Also should have been eating.

      I didn’t get bad until college. Reading more!

  1. Cait @ Beyond Bananas says:

    Just coming back to read this now. I can so understand your saying that if you’ve had an eating disorder once, you have it forever. It is so sad.. and I really wish thoughts would just go away. Yes, they can be controlled and dealt with.. but they are so annoying. Don’t you ever wonder exactly what it is like to live without having to control and cope with issues with foods.. feeling of insecurties.. and more. It can be tiring, for sure. What a wonderful post, Lindsay… I am hopping over to read part two right now.

  2. Kris says:

    oh, friend. sorry I am only seeing this just now (finally catching up and have a little time to read, I came HERE first to catch up!) :) and I am so happy I did.

    while I feel like the only person with a blog that does not have a disordered past (which I am incredibly thankful for!), I know this cannot be easy to share. and I am proud of you for doing so. it is very interesting to read about – how your motivations changed over time and how incredibly powerful it is! I am so happy you are in a good place now, and hope that this helps someone who may need it!

    love you Lindsay!

  3. janetha says:

    read this from my phone last night and had to come comment! glad you are blogging about it because i don’t doubt it will help many women. i know there are lots out there who have struggled or are still struggling with EDs and if they see you overcame it and became the ripped, strong, confident woman you are today.. hopefully they will see they can do it, too.

    i think i am the only one in all of blogland that never had an eating disorder. not that i am complaining, at all, but that’s just the truth. i can never relate to these sort of posts, but i definitely come away proud of you.

  4. Paige @ Running Around Normal says:

    I don’t talk about it on my blog much (ever) – I’m not sure why, but I have a disordered eating past, too. The depths of it only lasted for 6 months, but I was 5’9 and 109 (I’m 145-150 now) and it was bad. My story is VERY similar to yours. I started out just wanted to lose weight, but then it became less and less about the weight and more and more about the control.

  5. Tessa @ Amazing Asset says:

    I just found your blog from Lindsay’s and wow, thank you for sharing this! I am recovering from disordered eating which I talk openly about on my blog… it can be hard at times, but it feels great to get it all out sometimes. It’s so hard to shake these thoughts all together but I think you are doing wonderfully
    Can’t wait to read more :)

  6. Ameena says:

    Love your honesty here Lindsay. It’s amazing that you’ve been through so much and I had no idea!

    I often fear that my daughter will take after me with my bizarre eating habits: I can’t eat soy, I don’t eat meat, etc….I hope that it doesn’t end up being a problem for her too.

    PS: Glad you don’t blame your mom!

  7. Allie Finch says:

    Lindsay, you are so beautiful & sincere. Thank you for an honest, touching post. I’ve struggled with body image, self esteem, control, etc. (like most of us have at impressionable ages), but my issues didn’t surface as an eating disorder. However, I’ve done very unkind things to myself & my body, so on some level this still resonates. I get the “control” thing, even if I handled it in a different (unhealthy) way. (I guess I did restrict food a few times, but not to “get skinny” as much as to “feel” hungry. Crazy how unkind we can be to ourselves when we are lost & confused.) I’m anxious to hear what helped you.
    Thank you again. Maybe this will give me courage to share my own experiences. I would also love to start/be part of a conversation about “overexercising” issues.
    This post is really well written too — I mean with the sub-headers & how you organized it — ha, I am such a dork, but I just wanted you to know you have mad writing skills. Not that you didn’t already know that. ;)

  8. Kristin @ eat healthy. be happy. live well. says:

    Wow, thanks for sharing this, Lindsay! I have never dealt with an eating disorder of any kind, but a foreign exchange student we had live with us had severe bulimia. She took lots of laxatives and would binge and purge on Oreo cookies. I distinctly remember talking to my mom about it. She said Suvi wanted to be my size. I was in 9th grade and was rather small, but she was shaped differently than me and had wider hips. My mom told me that no matter how much weight she lost, she would never be my size because we had different bodies. It was a huge lesson for me to learn at that age because I realized that I shouldn’t compare my body to other girls since we were all different. I’ve taken that lesson with me throughout my life and it has served me well!!

  9. Kerryne says:

    Lindsay, you are amazing! I also have had (err…always will have to deal with) an eating disorder. It amazes me how many women I know who have or had one as well. I think you are so right in saying that society plays such a huge role in the body image issues we women have… It is so scary. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is a beautiful thing to have overcome such a hard time and to be able to share it with us. I am looking forward to part 2 next week. Big hugs!!!!

  10. Kristin @ STUFT Mama says:

    Oh yes, and it started in junior high as well. The exact same. Just wanted to lose a couple of pounds for gymnastics………. then wanting to lose more…..
    Thanks for sharing Lindsay. It’s nice to know others struggle with the same past issues. I feel like it’s still an ongoing battle with certain things. It’s the desire to CONTROL right? :)

  11. Katie @ Peace Love and Oats says:

    I definitely didn’t deal with the same anorexia issues that you did, I managed to catch myself before it got to that point and lost weight the healthy way (well sorta, I also did the over-exercising to replace the calories I was eating). However, I definitely identify with your control issues. That’s exactly how I am, I have to control what I’m eating, my grades, and every aspect of my life. I’m trying to learn to let go a bit, but it’s so hard! Day by day is what I like to say.

  12. Kirsten says:

    Lindsay,

    Thank you so much for sharing. I know how difficult it is to discuss disordered eating. And you are right, it never really goes away. Instead, you retain a level of consciousness regarding what you eat, when you eat, why you eat, how much you exercise, etc. I struggled with bulimia in college and restricted eating last year. Discovering my passion for exercise literally saved my life. I still have my moments. However, I am finally comfortable with my body and have learned to give myself a little slack! Nobody is perfect, we just do our best. Happiness is created, not discovered. Again, thank you.

  13. Katie says:

    such an important subject for women to be able to talk about and be open about. kudos to you for putting it out there, and for overcoming such a huge obstacle! can’t wait to see how you turned things around, because im sure there are lots of lessons learned there!

  14. Missy says:

    It’s odd – even though you never said, I already thought you had an ED or at least aspects of one with the exercise. ED’s can spot another most of the time ;).
    I have one (or combo) and I agree, it’s exhausting and mental and physical torture. Spiritual as well. I am relapsed right now but working on getting out of it. But it’s so very hard. I could go on for days, but I won’t. I am just glad you wrote about it and can’t wait to read more about what helped you.
    Thanks again!

    • Missy says:

      And I meant in your past as far as having issues with ED’s. I didn’t think you were currently having eating issues. Just wanted to clarify!

  15. Danica @ It's Progression Not Perfection says:

    Thanks so much for sharing, Lindsay…I’ve never personally had an eating disorder, but my younger sister dealt with anorexia a few years ago. So though I can’t speak from her perspective, I can speak from a loved one who viewed her on the outside…It’s incredibly interesting for me to hear how you felt during that time because I think it can help people see ‘the signs’, if that’s possible…I’m looking forward to hearing about how the Lord lifted you out of that time and about what it was specifically that helped you view your thoughts and actions differently. I can only imagine how difficult this was for you to write and relive, in a sense, but I know that by doing it you’re helping readers overcome something they may personally be facing.

  16. Christin says:

    Lindsay thanks so much for this post. Your honesty and openness about your ED and your past are very comforting and welcoming to read. You have such a good grasp (at least it seems to me) on the details as to how and why and what put you in the situation you were in…it’s so relate-able as a reader whether or not the reader actually had (has) an ED, because you really pinpointed the specific behaviors.

    I know when I was a ballet dancer in high school I was under a lot of pressure to be thin…imagine spending every day after school in front of full length mirrors, surrounded by thin girls in leotards and tights…all of which is so unforgiving to any minor lump or bump or curve. I would eat nothing and then get so starved that I would gobble down candy bars and ramen from the liquor store next door to my studio…I would get excited when I got sick and lost my appetite because it meant I would be under 100 pounds for a little while. I would feel bad when I ate candy to tide over my hunger, yet I wouldn’t allow myself to eat because I had already eaten candy…it took time and perspective and a separation from ballet after high school to get myself to eat normal, healthy meals and not eat junk food. I never got super thin, but the idea of eating healthy foods until I was full in lieu of junk food was something I had to re-train myself to do in college.

    Thanks for having the courage to post about your ED…lots of hugs and prayers!
    Christin

  17. Stephanie says:

    I always hesitate to comment on posts like this. Having never experienced an eating disorder myself, I’m afraid that anything that I have to say will come off as trite. “You’re strong” and “thank you for your honesty” and “sharing will help other girls”…I don’t know how to put those words together in a way that doesn’t seem cliche. So I guess I’ll just say it: you’re strong and sharing this will surely help other girls who feel utterly alone in the world right now. Thank you for your honesty. I don’t undertand what you’ve gone through – how can anyone understand who hasn’t experienced it herself – but I empathize and I’m inspired by you, my friend.

  18. She Rocks Fitness says:

    Well written Lindsay and thanks for sharing! I think all of us women have gone through stages of ED and it’s sad and unfortunate that we are so consumed by the # on the scale, the calories we consume, and the way we look ALL THE TIME. It is exhausting and takes a toll on you mentally and physically. Again, thanks for sharing and being so honest!

  19. Katie says:

    Lindsay, I’m so proud of you for typing this out! I still haven’t really come to terms with my ED…but there are A LOT of similarities to your story. I can’t wait to see how the Lord helped you out of that dark time!

  20. Heather @ Better With Veggies says:

    Wow – thanks for sharing such a tough, but powerful story with the world. I haven’t personally struggled with an ED, but I know it’s more common than people realize. Having honest stories who have been there and how they overcame it is so important. I’m so glad that you felt led to share this today.

  21. LaRae says:

    Awesome post lindsay! I’m still recovering from the mentality of my anorexia I had for two years also. It’s only been about two
    Months that I’ve been living a healthy and fit lifestyle, yet the body dismorphia still brings me down a lot and my self confidence isn’t anywhere where it should be. I 1000000% agree that once you have an eating disorder you can’t fully recover. It’s something that medication can’t treat. You literally have to fight past it knowing that you never will fully BE past it. No one knows what it’s like unless you’ve had one yourself. Thank God that we’re no longer living the habits out anymore! As long as we can control our mindsets and resist those old habits, then we’re gonna be okay. Thank you for posting! Can’t wait to read the second half.

  22. holly says:

    thank you lindsay! i think sharing our experiences is not only good for personal growth but no doubt, you are going to help many people in the process. keep on fighting the good fight my fabulous friend!

  23. Tina says:

    Control.is.such a driving force. Much of my disorders stemmed from it as well. And I know how painful these posts can be to write but also how therapeutic in sharing and the hope it helps another. Which I have no doubt yours will.

  24. Bonnie says:

    Morning, Lindsay. Thank you so much for your honest post…I had no idea this was a part of your past and I’m thankful you shared it to get to know you better and understand you more (even from afar!). What a journey we’re all on…and like you said, I know it’s not over, but I’m glad you’re in more of a place of healing now. Praise god for…well, HIM and good men like Travis! :)

    I personally have never struggled with an eating disorder, but during Mikey’s chemo/radiation treatments, I don’t think I ate much. Not consciously, but that coupled with trying to grow my client base by being at the gym all day and therefore working out to pass the time when clients cancelled meant I was moving lots and eating little. I didn’t realize it until earlier this year when I noticed there was NO way my body could be that thin again (which I just thought was fit and muscular) – I think it was the stress. If you’d have asked me, I wasn’t stressed…I was doing well considering! Interesting…it’s how my body dealt with it, I guess. So I’ve had unhealthy relationships with the scale but I’m in a good place now and see how God has spared me, in many ways, from going too far and has protected me as I’m in this fitness world a lot. And I am so thankful for that. I know I will not be able to understand what others have gone through but I always appreciate hearing them share it. :)

    Love you Lindsay!

  25. Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries says:

    Thank you for sharing this Lindsay. I can relate and say that it’s not an easy thing to do! I’ve also had my fair share of disordered eating issues in my past, and although I feel like I’ve “mostly” recovered, like you said, it never FULLY goes away. There’s days where it definitely still “haunts” me so to speak. Although in no way would I wish an E.D. on anyone, it’s comforting to know that you’ve still been able to have two healthy children afterward, as it’s something I get paranoid about at times. After all, one of my biggest dreams in life is to have a few kiddos of my own. ;)

    P.S. I’m loving your blog more and more. So glad I found it. I decided I want to aspire to be a mom like you someday. ;)

  26. TC says:

    Hi Lindsay,
    I’ve just started reading your blog recently. Glad I found you. :) Thank you for writing this very important post. In a world were women are bombarded daily with images of “thin” women, we get lost on what is actually beautiful. I’m really looking forward to hearing the rest next week!

  27. Abby @ Abz 'n' Oats says:

    This is such a beautiful post. I too have struggled with disordered eating. At the end of my sophomore year in high school is when I can remember things starting. I was wanting to lose weight before cheerleading. I would eat dinner and then just throw up afterwards. My high school boyfriend really probably saved me from things going too far because his family made great home cooked meals (calorie packed lol think mashed potatoes and homemade gravy on a daily basis). I maintained a healthy weight through the rest of high school. Then freshman year of college came along and I gained that freshman 15. I was SO excited when I had to get my tonsils out over spring break that year because I lost a ton of weight without any work. Then came being in a long distance relationship and eating 3 course meals every weekend when we would visit each other then a pint of Ben and Jerry’s when he would leave again because I was sad. Around Christmas time my sophomore year of college is when my restrictive patterns began. I ate about 1,000 calories per day and exercised for 1-2 hours daily. I weighed myself every morning at the exact same time. I would let the number on the scale dictate exactly how my day was going to go. I did this for two years. I ended up losing about 30 pounds when I got to my lowest point. My family started commenting on it, I was extremely grouchy all the time, and my boyfriend even gave me an ultimatum. He couldn’t handle my crankiness anymore. I found the blogging community at about the same time. It has been one of the most helpful things I’ve ever come across and I will never be more grateful. I am looking to just find a balance. :)

  28. Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health says:

    Wow, thank you so much for sharing Lindsay! I have experienced some disordered eating in the past but I never let it get that bad physically which I am so thankful for! It’s easy to still get those nagging thoughts though and it’s something that I always work hard to overcome!

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