At 20, I made a phone call with shaky hands and a racing heart.
That phone call changed my life. Completely did a 360 on the course I was on. That was the day I booked a Christian Counselling appointment.
I knew if nothing changed, nothing would change. I'd still be anorexic at 70 if I didn't do something different. If I didn't reach out for help for my eating mindsets and behaviors. I was so done with missing out on life's joy and relationships with others in the name of eating certain foods or keeping to my intense and ridged workout schedule. I realized I needed to get help or I'd come to the end of my life, only to look back and see a continued pattern of missing out on living a full and satisfying life.
It was a brave and strong, but oh so hard of a choice to make that phone call and book my first of many sessions. Getting vulnerable with my counselor was uncomfortable but definitely worth it. Worth the time, the money and the discomfort in being real and facing my food, exercise and body image struggles head on with her.
I think my issues with food began back in elementary school, in the third grade. When a crush I had called me fat. I vowed in my little eight year old heart that I would never have someone wrinkle their nose in disgust at my appearance again. I hated that feeling and was determined to do anything to avoid that terrible look and shameful experience again.
That boy didn't cause me to have an eating disorder, but it was one of many influencing factors that created prime conditions for an eating disorder to slowly creep in and control my life. By the time I hit high school, I had a full fledged eating disorder, having learned to starve myself to lose a vast amount of weight. My high school and young adult years were marked with too low of weight periods and also seasons of binging, regular negative emotionally eating and huge weight gain because of it,
The crazy part? I realized I'd believed a big fat lie. I had thought becoming as skinny as possible would solve all my problems. Or even that eating alllll the foods during out of control binges would make me feel better long term. But starring down at the scale that summer before grade nine at my aunt's house, in the middle of summer vacation, I had a rude awakening. The scale read a mere two digit number, the smallest I had ever been. Yet I was completely miserable and felt ill from keeping up with the habits that made me this small.
My problems were still there... and more. Less weight from self starvation, more food during binges... those clearly weren't the solutions for life problems and low self esteem.
Once I moved away from home to start university in another city, my eating disorder reared it's ugly head again, after a season of some normalized eating and exercise patterns. With no one to pay attention to my food intake or extreme workout lengths each day, I was free to do what I wanted. Free to do what my mental illness wanted me to do. Yes, an eating disorder is a form of a mental illness. It's why you can be dangerously skinny and still look in the mirror and see a distorted image of yourself, thinking you are still over weight and have a ton of weight to lose.
The transition from living at home to living with roommates in a new city, new form of transportation (the bus system), new way of learning from lectures and being marked on a curve at university, having to cook and clean for myself, being incredibly homesick... it makes sense now why I unintentionally leaned into my eating disorder for comfort. In a life season of newness, it was something familiar. I couldn't control all the changes but food was relatively easy to control.
It was in my second year of post secondary schooling that I made decision to see that counselor. I saw her once a week for a long time. I did social media detoxes to unfollow anyone who role modeled disordered health habits or promoted only one body size as being beautiful. I binge listened to body positive, eating disorder recovery and Intuitive Eating podcasts. In the final stages of recovery, I hired my own Intuitive Eating Coach, to help me finally let go of the last lingering mindsets and habits I was holding on to about food and workouts.
The first step toward recovery with food issues is REALIZING there is an issue.
The second step is DECIDING you don't want to live with that life limiting issue anymore.
And the third step? It's REACHING OUT for help, to have someone with a fresh prescriptive and tools to walk you through to the other side of that issue.
If you are unhappy with your body or the way your food and fitness habits make you feel in life, that's all the criteria you need to be "sick enough" to get help.
You don't have to have an eating disorder like I did to qualify for seeking out support. All you need is a dissatisfaction with how things are leaving you and a desire to discover a simpler, more enjoyable way of pursuing health and wellness. Reaching out for help was the best thing I did (aside from choosing to become a Christian) and I think it might be for you too.
Now I spend my days doing what others have done for me: helping others heal their relationships with food, body image and exercise. I coach so that all the "Nylas" out there still in the thick of Food Story struggles realize there is another way. That healing is possible and that the other side of things actually is so amazing, not scary at all like I feared it might be.
One of my all time favorite quotes can be so encouraging to those of you on the fence about seeking out help for any food struggles. I heard it in a movie a long time ago and don't know the original author but here it is: "I don't want to miss out on something amazing just because it might also be hard."
Friends? Changing the way you are with food and how you see your body won't often happen overnight. I have seen God do miracles! But overtime with determination and the right support? Definitely possible and common. Remember, not easy and impossible are two very different things. This "not easy thing" is so worth pursuing because of all you'll gain back in quality of life when you do.
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