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National Eating Disorders Awareness Week – February 22, 2010 – February 27, 2010

I wanted to write a little about National Eating Disorders Awareness Week because I have suffered from an eating disorder. I struggled with anorexia as a teen and then again a few years back, though not nearly bad the 2nd time. After recovering from my battle as a teen, I never knew that this was a battle that I would have to fight my entire life. I will win this war.

My struggle started innocently enough. I was a gymnast & I always believed, the littler, the better in the sport of gymnastics. What I didn’t realize at the time is that I was trying to defy my genes. I was 13 and starting to develop & grow & I was doing everything in my power to thwart that. I cut my calories way back. I was eating approximately 500 calories/day. After a year or so, I ended up under 100 lbs (at 5′ 7″). I was dangerously thin. I really don’t know how I let it get so bad. I just wanted to lose one more pound. I would lose that pound & then lose just one more. It spiraled out of control.

My Mom took me to a doctor & with threats of being put into the hospital, I slowly began to eat. It wasn’t nearly as easy as one who hasn’t suffered from an eating disorder would think. My stomach was not acclimated to having much food in it at one time. I had to really concentrate on eating calorie dense foods. I was also scared of getting fat. My body image was very, very distorted. I eventually gained the weight back over time – about a year or so. In my later teenage years I looked back on that time & wondered how I ever starved myself, as I love food way too much.

Fast forward to my early 30′s. Hannah was 2 or 3 and I was still carrying around an extra 10 or so pounds (those pounds were in my eyes – I was a healthy weight). I started the South Beach Diet to lose a few pounds before going to the beach & that was enough of a trigger to get me in trouble. I did not cut calories as severely, but I had “rules” about what foods I would eat. I manipulated my diet to where I would lose weight – slowly. It didn’t help that this was pre-Celiac and food just made me feel sick in general. Before I got down to a scary weight, my doctor intervened. I sought counseling & learned to watch for certain “red flags” so that I could identify unhealthy behaviors. I have since gained back what I lost and maintain a healthy weight. One way I help keep my focus on being a healthy weight is knowing that I have to fuel myself properly to have the energy that I need to run.

I am now aware that anorexia doesn’t go away. It isn’t like an illness that is cured. It is something I will need to be aware of & on top of for the rest of my life. I know that I have these tendencies and I know what red flags I need to watch out for. I used restricting food as a method of control. Controlling my food intake gave me a strange sense of calm when everything else around me was chaotic. Now that I know that, I take steps to avoid it.

Here is some great information from the National Eating Disorders website:

The mission of NEDAwareness Week

Our aim of NEDAwareness Week is to ultimately prevent eating disorders and body image issues while reducing the stigma surrounding eating disorders and improving access to treatment. Eating disorders are serious, life-threatening illnesses — not choices — and it’s important to recognize the pressures, attitudes and behaviors that shape the disorder.

How NEDAwareness Week Works

This year, NEDA is calling for everyone to do just one thing to help raise awareness and provide accurate information about eating disorders. NEDAwareness Week participants can choose from a huge range of ways to contribute: Distribute info pamphlets and put up posters, write one letter for Media Watchdogs, register as a Volunteer Speaker or host a Volunteer Speaker, coordinate a NEDA Walk, or arrange interactive and educational activities such as panel discussions, fashion shows, body fairs, movie screenings, art exhibits and more. As an official NEDAwareness Week participant you can be involved in any way that works with your schedule, resources, community, and interests. These events and activities attract public media attention – on local, national and international levels.

I saw a post last week on Oh She Glows by Angela regarding sizes in clothing. Writing “Size Healthy” over all the number sizes in our clothing is a fantastic idea! While it is too late to enter Angela’s contest, it isn’t too late to tag your clothing tags with “Size Healthy”. I may have to get my sharpie out this evening & visit my closet.

17 comments to National Eating Disorders Awareness Week – February 22, 2010 – February 27, 2010

  • Thanks so much for sharing your story. I understand what you mean about it being a life-long battle. My first struggle with anorexia was when I was twelve- I developed early and was, by far, the curviest dancer in my ballet class. I was 5'3 and got down to 68 pounds. I did end up hospitalized. I got healthy for a good long time but, when I was 20, I started working at a restaurant and it was just so easy to skip meals. I got very thin- 5'7 and 102 lbs. I finally sought therapy and was able to put on some healthy weight. I didn't look at a scale again until I was 27 and pregnant with my first child. Of course, they weighed me every visit! I remember one month I put on 8 lbs. I had actually lost weight up until then because of severe morning sickness, so it was totally reasonable. The nurse remarked, "Wow, that's a huge gain! Been indulging a bit?" and I burst into tears and started shaking. I knew I had to tell my OB about my previous struggles so I didn't let this, well, sickness affect my unborn baby. She was very supportive and helped guide me through a (healthy) 29 pound gain. Sorry to ramble so long… But you're absolutely right. It is something you always have to be aware of. And it's not as simple as, "Well, just eat already!" as all my college friends liked to say. It's a very real battle.

    LOVE the idea of "Size Healthy"!

  • i appreciate your openness and honesty kim.

    you've got my support :)

    btw, i've completed my meatless experiment and i'll email you as soon as i'm able

  • Thank you so much for posting this Kim. As athletes, we are even more body-aware than some, may and walk the fine line between awareness and obsession. I speak for myself-as a physique athlete, I have been very fortunate to not have an "eating disorder" although I have certainly struggled with disordered thought in regards to eating. Food is fuel, and can be a wonderful sensory experience-but it does not control our actions or thoughts.

  • Kim, thank you so much for sharing your story. It takes an amazing amount of strength and courage to show one's private side, struggles and all. We all have them though (in one form or another), and by you sharing your story, you will undoubtedly give hope to someone else struggling with the same thing. I know you inspire me every day! :-)

    Heidi

  • JessieLeigh – Thank you for sharing your story. I know it is not easy, though I sometimes find comfort in sharing because I know that I can help others. I have come out on the other side, just as you have.

    Erin – Thank you. I look forward to reading your experience with the meatless experiment.

    Erin E. – Very true.

    Heidi – I am glad I am able to share & possibly help others. I know that for a long time I couldn't share. I was embarrassed. I am glad I can inspire others.

    Kim

  • MJ

    Hat tip of admiration to you for sharing something incredibly personal to help others.

  • Renee

    Kim –

    Thanks for sharing your personal demons; we all have them but it is scary to share them with yourself, let alone other people! Thinking of you…

    Renee

  • Hey Kim, I'm late to comment on this post, but first, thanks for posting it. It's always brave to be so frank and put one's self out to the world. Major kudos! Second, I'm not sure if you are aware and I want to make others aware that there is a connection between eating disorders and celiac/gluten intolerance. Ron Hoggan, author of Dangerous Grains, and editor of The Journal of Gluten Sensitivity (and more) shared that connection in his presentation at my support group's open house. There is not a lot of data online that I can find, but here are a few links. I always list eating disorders on my symptoms/conditions that can be related to gluten issues.

    http://autoimmunedisease.suite101.com/article.cfm

    http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/medicalguidelin

    I also mention this connection because it's more than a body perception, etc. It's a physical cause for these disorders. If your eating disorder was related to celiac, it's very likely that your gluten-free status and continuing improved health will keep this disorder at bay. Like most gluten-related illnesses, it's likely that the it's caused by malabsorption issues and when you are absorbing the proper vitamins/nutrients, your body and mind doesn't behave atypically. I'm not a doctor or a medical professional .. just sharing what I've learned and injecting some speculations there. Anyway, it's another reason for folks to investigate whether or not they have gluten issues and to stay compliant with the gluten-free diet if they already are gluten free.

    Shirley

  • Kim

    Shirley -

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I did read Dangerous Grains a while back, but I need to read it again. You make a very good point in your last paragraph about body/mind behaving atypically.

    Kim

  • my girlfriend gas an eating disorder called bulimia, she always throws up what she eats.-'.

  • i have a friend who has eating disorder, she was rehabilitated when she almost died.-.”

  • eating disorders can be very deadly, take a lot at Karen Carpenter`"'

  • eating disorders when not properly treated can actually cause the death of a person:"-

  • eating disorders are of course sometimes deadly because it can cause the degeneration of one's health `',

  • People need to stop whining about Bieber losing at Grammys. Maybe if you took the time to listen to Esperanza's album, you'd find out why…

  • Wonderful website. Plenty of helpful info here. I’m sending it to a few pals ans additionally sharing in delicious. And obviously, thanks on your effort!

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