By: Farida Ashraf
After a long journey and attempts to reach where I am today – passing through phases like being obesity and anorexia – I can finally say I’m content and proud of myself. Proud to have picked myself up from the mentality I was in and most importantly proud to have reached my goals. This is my story.
Mental illness isn’t a joke. I know some of you might see this as a reverse transformation. I was suffering from an eating disorder, anorexia as most of you know it.
Anorexia is not an extreme diet gone wrong. I didn’t choose to diet and then just couldn’t stop – that’s all not true. I was controlled by a voice inside my head telling me that I’m fat, ugly, don’t deserve to be happy and that I should be perfect for everyone. It is a deadly illness, just as cancer is, and it can affect your whole life and those of your loved ones.
I remember canceling outings because all I wanted to do was to burn the calories I ate. I remember having an apple for lunch and thinking it’s too much .I had an obsession with the gym although I wasn’t enjoying it. I was forced. I would cry if I skipped a class. I was afraid of rest days. I was tiny and weak.
I was underweight.
I cut carbs/sugar and everything except fruits and veggies.
I used to weigh myself everyday.
I used to count every single calorie.
I used to starve until it was time to eat.
I used to do things that didn’t make me happy but made the voice inside my head completely content.
The worst part was the body dysmorphia – I still have downs but I’m fighting and learning to accept my body and how I look- I wasn’t sure if I was “skinny” enough. There is a known myth about thinking you’re fat when you are critically underweight.
I don’t think I realised how thin I was, but when small clothes sizes were too big, I thought being thin gave me a skewed idea of being strong and powerful, when actually I was ill. It took me a lot of time to realize who I am and what I’ve done.
Let me tell something: if you are suffering from an eating disorder whether it is anorexia, bulimia or whatever else, you have to take risks. Stop working out for a week, eat a pizza, my first challenge – for example – was to stop weighing myself after each meal because technically I won’t gain weight overnight it’s just water retention.
However right now I am supper proud of the powerful and strong girl I’ve become, I workout 4-5 days a week because I fell in love with the gym and it makes me feel good about myself (not forced anymore). I no longer count my calories, I eat a variety of delicious food (balanced and 80% of the time healthy), I don’t miss out on life for the sake of being “skinnier”, it just feels good now.
After a lot of doubt and uncertainty, I decided to share my experience with all of you. I went through three phases in my life which led me to where I am today, however they weren’t easy, not even close.
As you can see, I was chubby and people used to tell me that I needed to lose weight but it didn’t get to me much, even though I knew I had to minimise my meal portions and lose weight, I just didn’t have the will to do it yet. I lived a really normal life back then and I was happy with it just like anyone would be.
I’m a person that strives for perfection by nature so I started to diet and do simple exercises; such as running, until I somehow reached my goal, but that wasn’t enough for me, I wanted to be even more perfect, so I kept losing weight until I reached phase two, that’s when I got too skinny and still thought I was “fat”. I suffered from anorexia nervosa – an eating disorder – in simple terms, it’s a fear of gaining weight and feeling that I’m overweight even though I’m in fact underweight. I was literally suffering physically, mentally, and emotionally. My life got even harder and my social life was ruined.
I remember eating three apples a day, sleeping all day and cancelling all outings with my friends just because I didn’t feel like it, I was so fixated on my goal, I could see or do nothing else.
Miracles happened during this phase, here I decided I had to change for the better and get myself out of this wreck no matter what. It wasn’t not easy for me to change. I cried so much trying to help myself eat normal portions and healthy foods. It took some time till I got used to it a little. The gym helped me a lot by diverting my attention to something else rather than food and it felt great. I was ecstatic about the fact that I could eat everything I want even in moderation.
I wasn’t afraid of rest days anymore and I got back my normal happy life but the difference is that I was – am – the best version of myself. I was finally content with just being me.
Here I am in phase three loving how I live and owning a healthy eating page @_fitbit . These burdens on my back have become my wings. So, to anyone dealing with something similar, I encourage you to take a look at yourself and start to find ways in which you could get better. Wether it’s going to the gym or joining your school/uni sports team or even following people who encourage you to take care of yourself, cause that’s everything you need. Love yourself enough to start taking care of your body and mind.
It’ll all be worth it in the end.
Trust me, I’ve literally been there.