I am on a mission to live my life in a healthy way. I have struggled with finding a good balance and relationship with food and exercise. I was overweight (classified as technically obese for my weight and height) for almost all of my young adulthood. After I graduated high school, I really decided to make a conscious change to get healthy. I was miserable being the weight I was and all my unhealthy eating habits…so enough was enough. I finally made the choice to really push myself to get healthy; to diet and exercise. I had tried in the past, would lose a little weight, and then gain it all back. But this time, it was going to be different. I was going to keep determined and work as hard as I could to lose weight and make all of the changes I needed in order to be healthier. It was a complete change in lifestyle. I went from eating crappy, fatty, unhealthy foods to choosing healthier food alternatives. I loved fruits and veggies, which was fortunate. I just never wanted to grab those healthy foods, when something salty and fatty was easy to choose. So, I made the conscious effort to grab something healthy instead of something unhealthy. Paired with eating healthier, I also started working out regularly. I fell in love with Tae Bo work-outs because they made working out fun for me and not just a chore or something I had to do. It became something I actually enjoyed and wanted to do. And I stuck to it.
I lost a lot of weight and got very healthy. But then, I didn’t know when to stop. I felt like I could always lose more weight, or work on this part of my body or that part of my body. There was always something that could be improved! I became extremely obsessed with food and healthy eating. I avoided foods that had fat and attributed it to just being healthy. I was at a healthy weight, but I didn’t want to stop. I knew I could lose more. I was never happy at the weight I was at, it was always a push to lose more. I’m not sure when being healthy transitioned to being unhealthy. I became obsessed with calories, fat content, numbers.
My family started noticing that some of my thoughts and decisions were a little out of control. Yet, I couldn’t see it. I saw Elise trying to be fit and healthy. Why would anyone discourage me from that path?! I eventually did start to worry my whole family and also eventually saw that some of my habits were in reality not healthy. I had lost too much weight and started trying to eat more and not watch so closely what I ate. That helped, for a while. But then things just spiraled down again, and this time, things got much worse.
I was struggling for a while while I was engaged to Scott, but I think things really started to worsen shortly after we were married. I got really out of control. I was full-blown restricting at this point…and exercising compulsively. It went from making healthy food choices to not wanting to even eat healthy foods. Anything that had calories was viewed as unnecessary, regardless of what it was. I counted calories obsessively. I was really losing control at this time, although at the time I actually felt really in control. I realized what I was doing to myself and how it was ruining my life. My relationships all suffered. I was miserable all of the time. I was cold all of the time. Food was something that turned into a fear for me. I didn’t want to be in social situations with others because I didn’t want to eat the food that was there or because I just wanted to be isolated. I had no energy. I was just a walking zombie. I pushed myself to work out with little to no food in my body. It started taking it’s toll. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t work out. I had no energy keeping me going. I remember how I just wanted to be alone, always by myself. Imagine that in a new marriage! I had no desire to be with my husband or to do anything with him. All I could do was think about food, calories, my weight, when I’d eat next, what I’d allow myself to eat, when I’d be able to work out, how many calories I wanted to burn, etc. etc. I couldn’t focus on anything else or be present. Even when I was with other people, my mind wasn’t. Work began to be really difficult for me. I couldn’t focus like I should. I was so hungry, trying to fight off the hunger with tea, water, sugar-free mints and candies. Getting through the day was a battle. But each day I ate minimally and got through it was like a success to me. I knew I was really in a bad place. And though it wasn’t diagnosed at this point, I realized that I had an eating disorder.
One evening I was home alone, so hungry; starving. Yet as much as I knew I needed to eat and how badly I wanted to let myself eat, I just couldn’t. I couldn’t do it. This was such a scary feeling. The fear of eating and calories controlled me to the point where I couldn’t give in. If I gave in, I was weak and a failure. I knew I couldn’t go on this way. I was so miserable and unhealthy and really out of control. I finally decided that I needed to reach out and get help. I didn’t want to go to an inpatient treatment for this, but felt that if things didn’t change fast, that might be my only option. I did some research on different place in my area that were for treatment for eating disorders specifically. I came across two options and called the one place that next day, The REDI Clinic. (REDI standing for Recovery for Eating Disordered Individuals). I did a screening call and then had an assessment/intake appointment with one of the psychotherapists there for that week. I felt like a failure…for not being able to handle this problem on my own and for needing to reach out for help. But, this was out of my hands at this point. I couldn’t do anything on my own to get this under control, so this was the only choice.
I had my intake assessment that week and my therapist diagnosed me with anorexia nervosa, which I expected. She told me what she recommended for me, which was what they called IOP, or their intensive-outpatient program. It met three nights a week, for three hours each night. I’d have to go right after work and miss out on other evening things. I wasn’t happy about this. There went all my free time. But, I realized I needed to do this. It was just so much to take in and think about. I got back to work after my appointment and my head was spinning in circles, literally. I was pretty much useless the rest of the afternoon at work, because this was all I could think about. Scott encouraged me to go through with the IOP. He was very supportive of it, even though he didn’t understand any of my issues at all. So, after much thought, I decided to sign up for IOP. It was near the end of December 2011, so I decided to wait until January 2012 for insurance/cost purposes. Otherwise I would pay all out of pocket at the end 2011 to meet my deductible and then need to pay all out of pocket to meet my deductible for 2012. So, instead, I started IOP the first week of 2012.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into and was really nervous about it all, but I carried on and did not back out. I was going to do this. I had no other choice.
I was in IOP from the first week of January until April 9th, when I “graduated”. I had got within a couple pounds of my goal weight and had been doing really well in therapy. It changed me in so many ways and was progressing really well…so the therapists and my dietitian agreed that it was a good time for me to leave, plus there was a waiting list to get in IOP, too. It was contingent on me still meeting for individual sessions with my therapist and also meeting with my dietitian if and when I needed to.
I was doing really well for a while after leaving IOP and was enjoying my new found “freedom” and having my evenings free again. I still met with my therapist every month. I was gradually losing weight again, however, and was struggling a bit. So she recommended I come for the Wednesday night meal group. It was dinner and an hour of therapy after. So I did that for a while. Well I steadily declined and started IOP again on July 23rd. This second go around in IOP, I tackled the real reasons why I became eating disordered and why I was holding onto it. My first time in IOP I just learned how to gain the weight and eat normally again, not facing the main, underlying reasons why I was relying on my eating disorder. This time, though, I dug down deep into who I was and why I was holding onto my behaviors. I started dealing with these main issues and discovering who I really am. On October 4th, I finished my second stay in IOP, with a much clearer understanding of all the issues contributing to my eating disorder and a better sense of who I am as a person and what I needed to do for myself going forward in order to stay healthy. I needed to deal with some real life issues that I was avoiding. But this time, I think I really was ready to do so. No more messing around.
On October 24th, I went back to check in with my therapist and told her all of the self-discoveries I had made and my progress. We both felt good about where I was at. We left it as me coming back on a need-to basis, if I was struggling or just wanted to talk or meet with her, I could do so. But I haven’t returned since that day. I had some rough stretches and periods since then, but never felt the need to go back. I’ve been able to deal with those moments and let them pass.
I continue to work to try and come to a healthy balance in my life regarding weight, food, and nutrition. This is something that I really want for myself. To be completely healthy and view food as sustenance and as fuel for me to live life. I just know I cannot return to where I was. Life now is full. I can actually experience life and not sit out of everything because my eating disorder is all that I focus on and care about. There are so many things I want to experience and live and be a part of. I love being able to be with friends and family and actually enjoy life, not focusing on my body, weight, calories, etc. every minute of every day. My eating disordered contributed to a suffering marriage and now we are working to rebuild and enjoy our marriage. I have so much to live for and so much to experience! My quest is to continue to view food as fuel and as the means to which I can continue on living life. I want to have a healthy, balanced view of life and food and exercise. I realize that healthy eating and exercise is essential to living life. So this is my journey to balance and health!