Friday, March 25, 2011

Pro-ana, anti-you

I am a firm believer that confessing something can help you move beyond it. Therefore, I feel that this post is necessary, despite the fact that it's probably way TMI.

This morning I stumbled upon a pro-ana (aka pro-anorexia) website while doing a little (mostly innocent) web searching. Ok, no, I didn't learn from my previous post and yes, I did Google "How did Jolene Blalock get so skinny?" (apparently she'd been a model and thus on a chronic diet since she was 17). I found myself horrified, however, not by what was on that site, but by the frequency with which I used to visit such sites. And that I used to think they were filled with really 'good advice.' *shudder*

When I was 19, through a semester of being overworked, overtired, overstressed and various other things, I lost 16 lbs. This dropped me from 116 lbs to 100 lbs. Which is a reasonable weight for someone who's 5'2." But along with the weight loss came control issues and an addiction to being thin. I'd felt chubby and ugly all my life and somehow fitting into a size 2 made me feel 'normal' - seeing all my ribs and hip bones made me feel pretty. And while my semester was rapidly getting away from me, one thing I could control was what I ate. Believe me, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't label it an eating disorder until I was out of college - at least, I didn't admit that's what it was. I just thought that I wanted to be thin 'like all the popular girls.' Even when I hit 95 lbs, I didn't think I was thin enough. I've always been pear shaped and somehow that made me feel fat, even though looking back at pictures of us all I was much bonier than any of the girls I wanted to be just like. But such is the nature of the beast.

At my lowest point I was eating 500 calories a day - though not all at once, so no one would notice how little I ate. Even after I was married and officially an 'adult' I was still only eating 900 calories on a good day and spending plenty of time on pro-ana sites. Sites with such 'good advice' as "drink lots of ice water so you'll burn calories warming up" and "if you're about to pass out, eat a peppermint, it'll give you a hit of sugar and quell your cravings." Advice that I followed frequently. As anyone who's ever skipped a meal (or 3) will tell you, hunger is miserable. I thought that being thin would make me happy, but constantly starving like that made me insanely cranky and depressed. I'm really surprised my roomates didn't kick me out in college.

Finally, I became pregnant with my first child. The childbirth class we took put us on a strict (healthy) diet and I began to remember what it felt like to be healthy and full. And I loved it. No more dizzy spells, no more crankiness, no more abject depression. I needed energy to keep up with my kids. These days I definitely eat. I'm even struggling to lose weight. But it's a hard hard process because, though I'm healthier now, there's a part of me that knows how to do it the 'easy way' - the way that will get me exactly what I want and make me miserable in the process. So I generally try to stay away from the old websites and, as much as possible, not surround myself with images of super skinny models. Because I'm well now and there's no going back.

Well, that's my warning - to myself and to anyone else who might be tempted to lose weight 'the easy way.' In short, just don't do it. It's not worth it. Of course supermodels never smile - being too thin made me cranky, too :p

1 comment:

  1. Well said! I spent 7 years being cranky and to be completely honest, I don't remember much about my 1st two children being babies. I've lost that special time. Even when I look back through pictures, it makes me sad not to remember. I see my old skeletal images and I'll tell you what...that aged me, being thin. I looked 40 years old, when in reality I was in my early 20's. I feel great now. I'm energetic, fit, & healthy. The tightness of my face has some softness once again and being 35 never felt so good:)