Welcome, friends! I’m happy you decided to take a moment to tag along on this journey with me. Let me begin with a little bit about myself. I guess I would say that I’m just your average 25 year old woman trying to make it in this crazy world trying to do as best as I can with what I have. I’m currently a student studying journalism at a college here in Toronto. Am I where I thought I would be at this stage in my life? The simple answer is no, but I sure am happy. For the first time in my life I am looking forward to what the future has to offer, and I am excited for the many opportunities ahead of me.
Up until recently, my relationship to food has always been a challenging one. I grew up in a family that wasn’t very health conscience, and I grew up never understanding what a macro/micro nutrient was, what calories were, and how all of that affected my body. I gained a lot of weight due large in part to a diet loaded with refined and processed foods. That, coupled with overeating and lack of exercise knowledge, led to me being an overweight kid. It wasn’t until I reached grades 7 and 8 that I began to take a really hard (and judgmental) look at myself in the mirror. I hated what I saw. I began to think terrible things about myself. I never thought I was good looking and therefore worthy of being loved by anybody. This began to manifest in extremely harmful eating and exercise habits the summer before high school. I kept telling myself that if I wasn’t “thin” or “pretty” that high school would be hell. I thought that no one would want to be my friend, and that there was no chance that any guy would find me attractive. That summer I began to restrict calories and exercise excessively. Throughout the fall of grade 9 I severely restricted any and all food, but primarily carbohydrates. All that I had read about dieting and food at only 13 became twisted in my immature mind. I kept thinking one macro was worse for you than the other purely based on what I had picked up from reading women’s magazines and online articles. Information, or misinformation, can be a very dangerous thing in the hands of a child who is not equipped with the tools to question and challenge. During that time period there were days, even weeks where nothing but black coffee and diet coke passed my lips. To this day I don’t remember much of what happened during those couple of months. The extreme restriction lasted until the end of the school year when it essentially became unsustainable. During this entire time period, and come to think of it many of the years before, I was extremely depressed. In the summer that followed grade 9 I became a recluse. I rarely left the house because I hated myself so much. I began binge eating in an attempt to lessen what I was feeling, gaining much of the weight I had lost back. When it came time to return to school in the fall I was afraid to go back. I thought that the friends I had made wouldn’t like me any more because of how I looked, and my depression worsened. Throughout 10th grade my feelings of attending the current school (an out of area school that required me to take public transit) became more and more unappealing. I had trouble getting out of bed to get ready and take the bus to school everyday. My diet was awful, resorting back to heavily refined and processed foods, and I stayed inside most of the time getting little to no exercise. I eventually made the decision to transfer to my home high school in hopes of that helping me with my depressive feelings. In the summer before grade 11 I started to try and eat healthy and exercise at a healthy rate. I joined a gym and began to work out 3-4 times a week. I was starting to feel better until I began attending school. Starting over at a new school with new people was emotionally stressing and very difficult for me. I tried to do what I could to fit in, but I never felt like I did. I became severely depressed in the spring of that year, and eventually dropped out. During this time I began to have thoughts of hurting myself, and I told my parents. My dad took me to the hospital and explained to the staff what was happening. When I sat down with a social worker I explained how I felt, but told them that I never planned on following through with what I had said. I lied. I thought a lot about it. I was never admitted, but my parents kept a close eye on me and checked in a lot. In order for me to get back on track, my mum proposed returning to school in an alternative program. I was very lucky to have an alternative high school less than 5 minutes from my house, and I finished up my high school degree there.
Graduating was a relief. I thought I was moving on to bigger and better things. I accepted an offer to attend university and left in the fall to stay in residence. I thought I would do okay. I was wrong. Entering university I wasn’t particularly heavy, but I wasn’t as thin as I wanted to be. I once again began restricting my calories, losing a little bit of weight in a short time. However, I was unable to maintain this restrictive diet. My failure to refuse food began to manifest as failure in every other aspect of my life. I thought that because I failed at this one “simple” task, that I was a failure as a student, daughter, and friend. During one winter night in my second semester I stepped outside for a smoke (I know, I know. Terrible, but when you have suffered from the severity of anxiety that I have you will do ANYTHING to try and make it stop. I just wanted it all to stop!). While outside standing on the sidewalk I was assaulted. A man, who I did not know or even get a good look at, began to punch and kick me to the ground. I screamed for help for what seemed like minutes, until finally 3 student in the nearby vicinity heard me. As the approached us the man fled and they helped me get inside. I was dazed and confused, and began to be surrounded by a group of people I did not no. They attempted to comfort me as we waited for paramedics, but everything just became a blur. When paramedics arrived they recommended I be hospitalized, because they feared I may have had a concussion. I spent the night in the hospital with a roommate of mine who didn’t want me to be alone. I am forever thankful to her for that kind act, as it was a comfort in a time where I felt anything but that. In the days following, my family checked in on me and things continued on. However, things could not continue on in the way that they had. I had to deal with campus police on multiple occasions, which became increasingly upsetting. They police I dealt with believed I knew the perpetrator and that I was protecting his identity because I knew him. They thought he was a boyfriend or ex-boyfriend and that this was a domestic incident. It was not. They belittled me, pressured me into confessing a lie, and forced me to relive the incident over and over again every time I dealt with them. All of this occurred right around mid-terms, and as I expected I didn’t do so well. My grades dropped drastically as I fell into a deeper depression. All I wanted to do was go home. By this point I began binging and purging, as well as self harming. I’d lie about the marks (as I have done up until today) saying they were from everything from cat scratches to falling in a thorn bush (a stretch, I know).
I didn’t return to school the following fall. I attempted to return for the winter semester, but did not succeed. It was all too much. I worked on and off for a while, still struggling with the eating disorders and depression. The summer after my Grandma passed away I began running again, but I also began binging and purging again. I would binge and purge up to 10 times a day. Eating everything and anything, and then voiding it all from my body. I would run for hours a day in fear that any food that remained from my binge would make me gain weight. At this time I had a summer job which I later quit in hopes of getting better. I still remember being at work one hot and humid day and calling my mum. I broke down. She urged me to get help, which I did. I visited my doctor and explained what was happening. She recommended a few programs to me as well as a change in my medication. I have been on a variety of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications over the years, but nothing really worked. I began seeing a councilor that helped for a while, but I plateaued. I began to feel a little better, but then it stopped. I thought to myself, is this as happy as I’ll ever be? Fast forward to a couple months later when I entered a new relationship. I was happy, or so I thought. The initial joy of a new relationship is always exciting, but those feelings don’t always last. Throughout the course of that relationship, and over the next few years, binging and purging reentered my life. My depression worsened. This recipe does not contribute to a healthy relationship. When it ended last February the months that followed were incredibly difficult. I had lost a crutch that helped me up when I was at my worst. Realizing this made me realize I need to be able to help myself. I needed to be able to rely on my own strength and not the strength of others. That April I began to exercise not to lose weight, but to be healthy. I began running, doing yoga, and involving myself in group sports. The healthy eating followed. I found that by eating better I felt better. I had more energy to do the things I loved, and it helped with my mood. Sure, I’ve had a few hiccups along the way, but instead of the entire train derailing, all it takes is a little tinkering to get me back up and running.
Do I have a perfect relationship with food now? Absolutely not, but It’s better now than it has ever been. It’s a relationship that will always be a work in progress. I still have the scars from when I didn’t think I was worth anything and deserved to feel pain. They are a constant reminder of how far I’ve come, and how far I have left to go. I no longer see myself as a failure. I am in a relationship with a man that makes me so incredibly happy. He is kind, patient, understanding, and so very giving. I feel incredibly lucky to have him in my life. He doesn’t make me whole, I do that myself. He compliments me in all the best ways possible. He provides me with an amazing support system. I will be forever grateful for his forgiveness of my so-called flaws and the love he expresses to me. At this point in my life I am proud of myself. So, why am I telling you this? It has taken me a long time to get to this point. Where I no longer see food as the enemy, but as a friend, and I want it to be a mutual relationship. I want my food choices to be one of kindness, compassion, and one that champions progress. I don’t want those years of sadness and hate to be reflected in my food choices. I want to contribute as little as possible to a food climate that promotes the unnecessary suffering of animals, environmental degradation, and human rights violations. To love myself I need to feel good in the choices I make. I’m in no way attempting to sound preachy, and am I in no way going to be able to make the right choice 100% of the time. I’m going to try my hardest to make the best effort to better myself and the planet. I hope by documenting some the choices I make, and things I do and experience, I can inspire others to make the changes in their lives they’ve always wanted. Whether that be learning new skills, travelling more, or simply trying to get out of bed an extra 10 minutes early every morning. Take some time to think about the things that make you happy, calm, or relaxed and strive to do a little more of it each day. You’ll be glad you did!