In the past three years, my body has changed a lot. During the winter and spring of my senior year in high school, I started working out a ton. This was the first time in my life I had ever chosen to exercise and stuck with it regularly. The results were extremely pleasing to me both mentally and physically. My brain was clearer and my body started to drop a lot of fat. After leaving for my first year in Connecticut, I started focusing more on diet than exercise. With new friends, a new course load, and new experiences to be had, I didn’t take the time to exercise. This started to become unhealthy when I began to significantly restrict caloric intake. What I’ve learned after going through this experience is that this is common with OCD. For me, restricting caloric intake was more about the obsession. I made a goal and achieved it. It wasn’t about the result of what my body looked like, although that was pleasing too.
Moving home the summer before Ireland, I started to prioritize working out once again. I slowly built up my endurance but I was dedicated to being where I once was. Then I got sick. I was in and out of the hospital multiple times. I wasn’t eating most of the time when I was in the hospital. I dropped weight but because of swelling and steroids, my body started to change. I automatically assumed I gained 10 pounds because of my appearance but in reality, I had lost weight. Mentally this was challenging. The standard I once held myself to no longer apply. My body needed more help, more nutrients, and more intuitive eating.
While I was in Ireland I had a swing effect that took me in the opposite direction. I figured if I couldn’t get to where I wanted to be because of medication, why restrict eating? My body wasn’t in a place to exercise so I put myself back to the position I was in before I started my exercise journey. After moving home and being put on heart medication I started to exercise again. Without steroids, my body once again adapted really fast. I lost weight. This time without calorie counting. I was focusing purely on exercise, excessive exercise. Running 6 times a week was too much for my body and yet it seemed like the “right” thing to do. When my labrum started tearing intensely and I had to stop almost all exercise I felt stuck. I knew that even with healthy eating I would be put back to where I was before exercise. Two surgeries later, months of exercise, and building strength I’m right back to where I started…So where do I go from here?
Let me amend my statement, I’m not right back to where I started. I have new muscles. I’m building endurance. Even so, for the first time in years, my body isn’t reacting to exercise the way I anticipated. It isn’t dropping weight. I am perfect the way I am and no one needs to look or be a certain weight to be happy. For me, I like to remain in a healthy BMI range. That requires maintenance of diet and exercise. My body naturally holds on to more than it needs to. All of this to say, I am getting a dietitian.
With my pattern in the past, I want this time to be different. I want to focus less on calories and more on fueling my body with proper nutrients. I have no desire to calorie count or restrict my eating. I have no desire to workout when my body is too fatigued. For the first time, I want to do this in a healthy way. That requires a lot of education for me. I love vegetables, fruit, and eating the same thing multiple times a week. I think a lot will change for my diet. I want to share my experience because body image and loving your body is important. It’s hard for me to acknowledge how damaging my patterns have been in the past. I never intended to harm my body, in fact, I was trying to help my body. I didn’t know how to do that correctly, so know we’re going to learn….and if you’d like you can come on that journey too.