So, here it is - my truth.
I am going to share in a mini-blog series a little bit of my truth, finishing with the most recent scariest part of my body positive journey, so buckle up!
Let's start wayyy back, like I am talking 2001 ...
Okay so it's my final year of high-school and at this point in my life, I am insecure and lacked body confidence. But instead of hiding or being shy, I was bubbly and full of energy, I made friends with as many people as I could, but I didn't let anyone get to close to me. I was a dancer but did not have a dancer body and I was aware of that. I lived in a home where it was normal to critique and judge bodies, and makeup was mandatory (my mother was a former model and make-up artist). I was not anywhere close to popular, in fact I had no date for prom, which was about 8 weeks away.
It is May 2-4 weekend, and I went to the beach with some friends, fully aware that because I had a car - was how I got the invite, but I was craving for some fun and to experience Wasaga Beach on the long weekend, so I went. Well that party ended with my ankle bone getting shattered during some make-shift drunken wrestling at 5am!
Listen I was 17, don't judge.
I went to the hospital and was casted, someone else had to drive my car home, and I did what most teenagers would do, I ate ice cream and laid on the couch for weeks watching 90210.
Well, come prom time (still no date) I went to try on my dress and ... it did not fit. I remember the tears swelling in my eyes, and being overwhelmed because I knew I was not getting a new dress. I half accepted that I was just going to bail on prom. That was until I got a call from a friend who said they had a friend, who they wanted to come to our prom, and asked if I would be his date so he could get in. Honest moment, I was insecure and all I thought was, "well, at least I have a date!"
*Note: Truth be told, the friend that I went to prom with was a lot of fun, and it was a great night! So no complaints there*
But back up - I got away from a monumental moment in my life.
I did not fit into my dress, so what was I going to do?
Well, when I expressed my fear at home, my mom handed me what would be comparable to a bag of addictive drugs to any self-conscious female - a bag of celery and carrots.
She told me "if I wanted to fit into my dress I was going to have to diet."
Let me take a breath here, because this honestly was the moment that my life changed.
I ate those carrots and celery and I survived off that, protein bars and diet ice tea for the next few weeks. I lost just enough weight to fit into my dress.
I realized at that point I had power.
I had power to control my body, to change my body.. .and June 2001 was the beginning of my disordered eating and the onset of "diet culture" taking me over.
I came from a very broken home and relationship with my mother, I had very unhealthy thoughts around my body - I remember hating how my eyebrows looked when I sweating during dance, so I plucked them until there was barely anything left. Boys were never asking me out or even giving me attention, other than to talk about the girls they liked. I was the 'friend' - so I thought I was not pretty, I felt like I looked like a tomboy, and only looked girly with earrings in, so I put them on at all time. My mom got me into make-up and she was a former model so talking about our bodies 'not' being perfect was normal. Using words like fat, rolls, muffin tops and diet were not off limits.
And the moment that I saw I could lose weight QUICK and change my body, I had control over something, I got an instant high, my confidence increased and... well.... I was hooked.
It did not start off that bad. I obviously could not maintain the 'celery and carrot' diet so I went back to eating normal, but as soon as I started to eat again, I started to gain weight.
A friend of mine told me that I needed to workout, and I knew nothing about that - so I went out and I purchased my first Oxygen Magazine, and there in the very back was the 'Get Lean, Clean Eating Diet"...
I focused on eating foods from that chart, and I did the monthly workouts (paired with the Body Break Ab roller).
I became so dedicated to fitness, and I would say in the beginning, it was a positive relationship (or so I thought). Over the next few years, I truly did start to gain a love for working out, it made me feel strong, and powerful so I started diving in even deeper. In university I was in a dorm with a lot of athletes and I really got into sports and athletic training. I would go and workout with my girlfriends on the basketball team, it was a total high, as I felt myself get quicker and stronger. I took courses on strength training and became a trainer in the coming years.
But like any drug, the high only lasted so long. I started to notice I was judging my body against the perfect (in competition shape) women in Oxygen or Muscle & Fitness HERS. I started to restrict foods, develop food fears after reading interviews by these women saying that they only ate cucumbers, chicken, brown rice (after workouts only obviously 🙄) and no fruits because they were too high in sugar. And now looking back that was phase two.
The restrictive eating was not sustainable, I started looking at food as good and bad and if I fell off my 'diet' I would fall off hard.
I still remember a time I went out for dinner with my boss while I worked for Molson Canada, and I scarfed down pizza, wings, mozzarella sticks, a buffalo chicken wrap and beer. He had no clue I was in the middle of a binge (actually at that point I didn't even know what binging was) he just thought I could throw it down when it came to eating! My lack of control got so bad if there were 'bad foods' around at events or friends houses, I had to say it was a 'cheat day' because I knew I was not going to be able to maintain my strict diet with all the tempting foods around me - and also to justify how much I ate (everyone always noticed).
I would eat, eat, eat.. into a food drunk dazed and confused state.
I would be full, so full it would hurt.
I would be gassy, and bloated and uncomfortable.
But most importantly.. I would be SICK with guilt.
I started to think I was not as tough as I was convincing myself I was. I was not as good as those models in the magazine. And I did not know why I could not do it.... ( I can tell you now why, it's just 20 years too late).
So, I went back to those magazines looking for a fix. Looking for the why.
But all I saw was diets, workouts, and perfect bodies.
The diet industry has ruined our connection to our bodies through edited images, extreme diets, damaging belief systems around diet pills and supplements.
It took me years to realize, understand and heal, but not before I got lost in diet pills, the onset of disordered eating and years of hiding how I ate....
I am sure many of you who got to this point in the blog either understand because you have experienced something similar, or you have seen this happen to a friend of yours.
If you connect with this feel free to join the conversation in the blog.. this was how it started for me, and phase 3 only got worse, which I will get into more in the next blog.