Do you remember the person you were five years ago?
Twenty years ago I was six years old. I don’t remember much about that time, but I know I was happy. I had a loving family, a safe home, and plenty of space to be a child.
But I wasn’t a happy person fifteen years ago, or ten, or five. Maybe not even two years ago.
There were definitely moments of triumph, achievements I’m proud of, and relationships I’m eternally thankful for, but no manner of professional or personal success can make up for a lack of emotional well-being. No manner of outside validation can make up for a lack of self-worth.
Hi, my name is Emma and I struggle with disordered eating.
Or I used to. For years now I thought I’d moved past it, but it’s January 1st, 2019 and after eleven years of diet and exercise regime experimentation, after eleven years of bouncing from Weight Watchers to calorie counting to dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, paleo, vegetarian, juice cleanses, diet teas, and back again I still haven’t managed to reach and maintain the body of my dreams.
And I’m tired.
So this year, instead of kicking off my year with the traditional hard core diet and exercise regimen, I’ve decided I’m just going to...not diet.
Instead of dieting I’m going to try and tackle what should be the easiest thing in the world but in our society today seems apparently impossible for the vast majority:
I’m going to figure out how to eat like a normal person.
A healthy normal person, yes, but one who enjoys treats in moderation, without feeling like she’s “breaking rules.” A normal person who can enjoy eating out with friends, instead of seeing it as a “cheat meal” or something to “make up for later.”
A healthy normal person who happens to eat all the food groups. No shade intended towards vegetarians, vegans or anyone with a food allergy. I just happen to enjoy meat and dairy as well as fruits, vegetables and grains, and they don’t make me sick, so I’m going to choose them for myself.
Some of you might be saying to yourself, “whoop-dee-freakin’-doo, Emma.” And that’s ok. Others might be offended by what I’m saying, or feel like I’m attacking their choice to engage in restrictive dieting, and I apologize if it comes off that way. Above all, I respect every human’s right to do whatever they want with their body. You know your body better than anyone, and you know what’s right for you.
But I’m guessing if you’ve gotten this far, a number of you might be feeling the same way I’ve been feeling. Maybe you have a similar relationship to food regardless of your food preferences. And if you do, I invite you to join me this year as I explore the intersection between wanting to feel good and look good (by my own standards), without sacrificing my mental health in the process.
I have a lot of territory I want to explore and questions to ask.
“Is it possible for those recovering from an eating disorder or disordered eating to lose weight in a “healthy way” without falling back into unhealthy behaviors and cycles?”
“How can we say, ‘All bodies are beautiful,’ and love our friends and family no matter their size but then turn around and judge our own bodies?”
“How do I even cook food that isn’t “diet” food?”
If you’re game to participate in the conversation, thank you. If not, that’s cool too. I wish everyone the best in your journey to “making peace” with food and your body in our body-image warping society.
My next post will include a little background on my own struggles with food, body image, and perfectionism. If you care to hear where I’m coming from, click this link, and if not stay tuned for future posts in which I’ll share videos and articles, and pose and try to answer questions about food, body-image, exercise, and the pressures of society that keep us in a constant state of feeling like we’re not enough.
Until then, I’ll leave you with this #truthbomb by Danielle LaPorte.