Overcoming Eating Disorder: Defined by a number
I was never big, obese or even close to overweight. But, growing up I always hated my body. It was about eight years ago when my body image disorder really affected me and thus what caused the past few years of my life to become living hell.
In Grade 7, I joined the gym and began to think about loosing weight. In Grade 8 I began to workout a bit more, mostly in my basement but still ate whatever and whenever I wanted. My mom made a comment to me one day, that really stuck with me over the next few years. She told me I should try and change the way I was eating, as it would “catch up to me”. This is probably when I began to start questioning how my body would change in the future.
I was excited for my first year of high school! I was excited to meet new people and start a new chapter of my life. Unfortunately, it was not what I expected. My anxiety of how I looked started to kick in. I convinced myself that I needed to maintain this ‘image’ others had of me, in order to be accepted and liked throughout high school – and later in life.
This is when I became involved with Instagram – which soon became my worst nightmare. I began to dance and join teams at school where I had to perform in front of an audience. I also became extremely involved with going to the gym. Instagram had endless pictures of girls with unrealistic measurements. I followed too many fitness accounts and researched many diets. Day to night I would look at photos and compare myself to them. Thus, the start of me defining myself by a number on a scale.
By summer, I had lost quite a bit of weight. I went from 125 pounds to about 110. As the number on the scale dropped, my motivation to continue this dangerous lifestyle rose.
After summer going into Grade 10, I was told to see the doctor. I was told I could not work out until I had gained back a few pounds. During this time, I was sent to the ER because my heart rate was extremely slow. I wore a heart monitor for a few days after this. But, soon my weight increased, my period came back and my relationship with food was pretty much back to normal. Though, the thoughts of being thinner still floated around in my head. My workouts remained intense and long all throughout high school.
Prom, grad trip and parties – the simplest definition of Grade 12. As the year went on, my anxiety to my body image began to rise – and once again I started to watch the number on the scale drop. My body was shutting down, but I refused to stop. By the end of Grade 12 I was weighing in at 105 pounds and everything went downhill from there.
I went to see the doctor again in early October of my first year of University – since my menstrual cycle had stopped for the second time and my parents were really concerned with how I looked. I was referred to an eating disorder clinic and was warned that if I did not improve, I would be hospitalized. By this time, I was weighing close to my lowest weight. I did not know who I was anymore – there is no way to explain what it feels like to have an eating disorder. I was so sick, always cold and I slept so much. But to me, that was a good thing. I never saw a frail, sick girl with bones protruding out under her skin. Looking back now though, I can see how scary I looked. My collarbones stuck out, my elbows were wider than my upper arm, I had dark, purple circles under my eyes, my face was gaunt and my ribs were visible. My hair also became dry and a lot of it fell out. I no longer had a radiating, healthy glow.
When I finally went to the Eating Disorder clinic I had to pass a couple of “tests”. These involved checking my body fat percentage, speaking about my daily food intake and answering short multiple choice questions. I also spoke to a few nutritionists, therapists and a main doctor. As assumed, I failed the tests, but, was given a chance to gain any weight possible in the matter of 1-2 weeks since my dad would be at home to supervise my eating habits.
During this time, I was treated like a child and I hated it. I would scream, throw things and cry endlessly. My family would prepare every single meal I ate. It was hard. But I was lucky enough to not be hospitalized. Instead I had to go in weekly to see a therapist with my parents. I felt like I was in an assembly line, being treated like I was the same as all the other individuals at this clinic.
It was a long rough road, though I slowly began to love my body. There were many ups and downs, lies and fights along the way. Mentally? The only person who could change this was me. Physically? I was being forced. I learned a lot more about nutrition and fitness and developed a deep passion for it. I began to have a healthy relationship with my body and soon I was allowed to introduce the gym again.
I can honestly say I am not happy, but, grateful that I had an eating disorder. It made me into a stronger, confident and happier individual. I have become someone who appreciates the smaller things in life, and through this I was able to grow. My skin, hair and personality now glows so much more than ever before.
I still have triggers time to time that I need to battle, but, I do know that I never want to be in such a sick, unhealthy, scary lifestyle again. I’m envious of people who don’t experience this, I would give anything to know what it feels like to not be scared of food, or be able to go out without getting overwhelmed with how they may look. Somedays are better than others, some days are worse. But what I can take away from all this is that you have to keep fighting. You can’t let a bad day or the number on a scale control what you eat, how you act or how you feel.
I hope that my recovery can help others. Though it may not seem like there is a light at the end of the tunnel, I want those experiencing eating disorders and anorexia to know that it will get better.
Balance is the key to living. Balance is what allows you to progress for the long run. Balance could not get any simpler.
I'm Adriana Luciani. After several years of having an unhealthy relationship with food and struggling with anorexia for two, I have become a confident individual. My intention is to help guide those who struggle, towards finding a healthy balance of wellness and lifestyle. I am excited to share my own nutrition and fitness tips, recipes and travel adventures with you. Keep glowing.