The very word “diet” has the echo of oppression. Believe me, I know.
Diets are terrible.
Here’s my story:
I grew up in a household that preached eating your basic daily dose of vegetables, fruits, pasta often and meat occasionally, but NO junk food. You would never find cookies, chips, or candy in my house, and I was always amazed at my friend’s pantries compared to mine! Wait, you have Doritos?! WHOA. Also, I was never (and never will be) a meal-skipper, but it took me years to realize that the so-called “healthy” cereals I ate every morning were actually processed junk. Yes Honey Bunches of Oats and Frosted Mini Wheats, I’m talking to you!
Now that I think of it, I was usually hungry an hour after I ate breakfast and my energy levels were so low after a certain point in the day. Now as kids we learn to ignore this, eat a cookie, and move on, because everything is so much easier when you’re a kid! As I grew up, I realized what my goals were and decided I needed to get serious about my health if I wanted to become a stronger dancer, both physically and mentally. Oh I forgot to mention that, I’ve been dancing for 17 years and plan on doing it professionally!
Read my “Dance” page for more about this.
Anyway, my journey to better nutrition really started the year before I got to college. Knowing that I would be in for some rigorous days, it was so important to be fueling my dancing body properly. It’s not that I was out of shape or anything, I was just tired of not seeing results from all the hard work of dance. I wasn’t happy with my eating habits. While I still ate pretty healthy foods of course, I wasn’t really thinking about portion controls, snacking, or processed foods/sugars. I felt sluggish and I knew I had to whip myself into shape. I used to run sparingly, but then I started running almost every day along with dancing and I immediately saw a change in my mood and health. I started by making smarter food choices, eating about 5 smaller portioned meals a day, (rather than 3 huge ones), and I also stopped eating meat, except for seafood. (You know how I feel about salmon!)
All in all, I ended up losing about 12 pounds freshman year at school.
But, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses…I started to develop a problem…a really big one.
During my weight loss period, I cut my calorie intake drastically and started counting them like crazy. High numbers really scared me! Thinking this was normal, I noticed that my clothes were really loose and I could see my bones more than I ever have. I was always tired and irritable, but I thought this was just from dancing all day long. I didn’t understand, I was eating just like everyone else!
The problem was that I wasn’t eating enough calorie-dense foods to match my activity level. My food obsession took over my life and I became its slave. I lost my period and even started losing hair.
When I almost got kicked out of school because I was so underweight, I FINALLY woke up. I remember I stepped on the scale that same day at the gym, like I always did, but the number read 1-0-0.
That was it. I was done.
Enter the road to recovery.
After the help and guidance of a nutritionist and therapist, I now strive to eat intuitively, exercise because I WANT to, and listen to my body, although my recovery process has been slow and gradual. I was on an “unconscious diet” for awhile, particularly with using at-home workout programs and following their “nutrition plans.”
I’ll admit it, I went the wrong way with my ED recovery. I finally realized that I couldn’t follow a portion-controlled meal plan forever, and I didn’t want to have secret anxiety or be ashamed for eating foods that weren’t on the meal plan. Besides, I’m the only one who lives in my body, so only I knew what was best for it. I couldn’t keep following workout programs forever and didn’t want to keep worrying about what I would do next when the program was over, especially if life happened or I took some time to travel. I already enjoy eating healthy and exercising myself, but I slowly lost that love when I had to follow controlled plans and eat a certain range of calories according to my weight, height, and activity level (which still wasn’t enough food).
Bottom line: our society is OBSESSED with dieting and willing to try the latest diets appearing in magazines, promoted on TV, or displayed at the local bookstore. It’s time to eliminate that. Time to remove the notion that we need to CHANGE our bodies to look good; why not just TAKE CARE of them instead?!
My mission as a dancer and as an ED survivor is to:
- Help you love your body for what it is, not what society says it should be.
- Help you LIVE your life without fear or restriction, especially when it comes to food.
- Most of all, I’m here to help you BE HAPPY! I’ve spent WAY too long being cranky, hangry, depressed, or upset.
Forget that…listen to your body, develop a healthy, lifelong relationship with it, and you’re golden.
I’ve finally found my purpose in life again, and you can bet I’m going to LIVE IT!!!
RECOVERY IS SO WORTH IT. <3