Sunday, March 30, 2014

You are a victim of the rules you live by.

One day I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The next, I skipped lunch. The next, I skipped dinner.  Until all I was focused on was how little I could consume, how much I could burn off. Every night spent thinking about what I would eat for breakfast, the only meal I would allow myself to eat properly. Every waking moment spent thinking about when I would next workout, the eighty minutes a day I spent walking not being satisfactory. Hours, spent alone in my room- pushups, planks, squats, burpees, the more calories I burnt, the more accomplished I felt. I found my life revolving around numbers, more and more food becoming feared. Bread, bad. Pasta, also bad. Half a ryvita for lunch, acceptable. Better just to skip it altogether.
Every moment that should have been spontaneous and carefree became more and more painful, days spent under eating just so I could have one night with an alcoholic drink and not feel guilty. The day after boxing day I ran for six miles, returned home to do two hours of cardio on my own, then forty five minutes of Pilates with my Mum. I ate one bowl of cereal with 0% fat yoghurt, 180 calories in, 1700 out.

I don't know at what point in my life I thought being thin would automatically make me happier. I don't think I every really thought it would be a magic fix, but the more weight I lost the nicer people acted towards me. It didn't matter that I felt faint when I stood up, or that my chest felt close to explosion from walking up the stairs, because the comments of "you look so skinny now" kept me going. Those comments, every single word that praised my weight loss, filled me up and took the place of food that I could no longer bring myself to eat. Every time someone said I was looking "too skinny" I felt pride rush over me, finally I was the best at something, I had something I could achieve at, something people couldn't ignore. The more ill I got, the more compliments I got, the prouder I felt.

Of course this was wrong, starvation didn't make me any happier, I can function fine on a bowl of muesli a day, but I shouldn't have to. Exercising might have filled up my time, but it didn't increase my fitness, didn't make me any happier with myself. I walk up the stairs, and not being able to see wasn't a achievement. Feeling my bones against every chair, no matter how soft. Wearing fleecy tights underneath my thickest jeans, even now in March. Watching people consume their lunches, each bite of sandwich, eat chip creating a kind of joy that consuming calories could never give me. Lessons in college, spent painfully hungry, each moment devoted to when I would next allow myself to eat. Of course it doesn't make me happy, but the gnawing hunger gave me a kind of pure energy that I had never felt before.

Don't get me wrong I would give anything to spontaneously take a bite of some pizza, snaffle a couple of chocolates before dinner, eat a McDonalds with friends. But I have lost all spontaneity, along with the appearance of my hip bones came my loathing of meal times, eating around others and the feeling of food in my stomach. Even as I try to eat more, I still feel unbearable guilt at everything that enters my mouth, whether it be a piece of cucumber, or a mug of tea. I can only hope that one day I will enjoy food again. That my weight will just be another number in my life, not the only number that really matters. That exercise will be something to enjoy, not a punishment.

I write this not as a post to receive pity but to bring awareness of the struggles that can be in anyone's life, regardless of their size, regardless of how they appear to others.

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