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  • Writer's picturemichellepugle

I Didn’t Want to Be the Girl With the Eating Disorder

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

I didn't want to be the girl with the eating disorder.

I wanted to be healthy, fit, and thin.

I wanted to be at my peak personal physique.

I wanted to lose ten pounds to please my boyfriend.

We would do it together.

That's what he said.

But dieting drove us apart.

And I ended up the girl with the eating disorder.

While he went onto somebody else.

Leaving a skeleton in his wake.

Behind the scenes, inside my mind, I was obsessed.

Adding and subtracting, adding and subtracting, adding and subtracting.

If you spoke to me when I was sixteen years old, I mostly likely spent the occasion compulsively counting and recounting and recounting and recounting calories, pounds, grams, you name it.

Stepping on the scale, off, on, off, on, off, someone else better come and double check. I couldn't sleep at night because numbers and food were going through my mind. Hunger grumbled in my stomach, but the calories were already eaten for the day.

Wait until tomorrow. You're "retraining" your mind after being in indulgence mode. If it was easy, everyone would be thin.

Maybe I can burn some calories so I can have a swig of milk. Picture me, a growing female, doing sit ups in the middle of the night on the bedroom floor because I'm so hungry but have no calories left so I need to earn the right to take some milk to stop the hunger so I can sleep. So I can get up at 5:30 and go to the gym before school.

Diets are dangerous

Low calorie diets and low fat diets were all the rage in my heyday. They would feed us lies about 1200 calorie days and the promised land.

1200 calories is the bare minimum to keep your organs functioning.
1500 is still starvation mode.
Diets don't work. They lead to disordered eating that goes against your body's needs.

I didn't want to be the girl with the eating disorder.

All I did was follow the rules of dieting to perfection. This many calories in, this many out, work out and move your body and exercise and drink water and stop having treats and sweats and cheats. I followed the rules of dieting to the point it nearly killed me.

I didn't want that. I didn't want to get sick. I didn't know trauma + dieting + environment can lead to eating disorders. I didn't know how addictive losing weight can be, especially when dealing with certain personalities (type As, perfectionists, competitive persons, etc.)... I didn't know there is a point at which the ultimate control you feel over food and weight, is lost in an abyss of panic and worry. I spent the later years of my teens in recovery mode from anorexia and my twenties knocking it back every time it tried to take me down again...during finals, during my wedding engagement, during my divorce...

I have been in an out of healthy weight ranges but for the most part I have been healthy enough looking that I didn't need to talk about anorexia. After all, who wants to talk about self-starvation and voices in your head doing math all. the. time. Who wants to open up about exercising and dieting until you have no menstrual cycle and your hair is falling out?

Not me, and not any other survivor I've ever spoken with! I often think, why couldn't it be something else...something more palatable? Something less...sick.

But anorexia isn't a choice - it's a deadly disease that can relapse into symptoms during major life changes or trauma. We need to continue the convo in order to fight back.

I didn't want to be the girl with the eating disorder, but that's who is here today reminding you recovery is a process and you are worthy of re/commitment.

That's why I wrote Ana, Mia & Me: An Eating Disorder Recovery Memoir, Second Edition, because eating disorders are still taboo topics that are widely misunderstood and underrepresented. No one wants to be the girl with the eating disorder. They are not choices, but recovery is. Part of my recovery includes bringing voice to the things I could not say as a teenager and helping others understand recovery is possible (because I remember thinking there's no way I could live a binge-free life or a calorie-counting-free life).

And I do! And you can, too.

If you like this article, please consider leaving a comment, like, or share. Every bit of engagement helps to get this content in front of people who need it! Thank you for your support!

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