The part of healthy living that can creep up on you.
You know that person who sings and dances while walking around in public with their headphones in? You’re happy for that person, sure, but you’re definitely also giving them the side eye.
Well, I’m that person.
And since I attend Boston University, I’m also this person:
My name is Alison, and I dance like nobody’s watching, even if people are watching.
Me: the Sparknotes version
I am Boston’s #1 peanut butter consumer (not proven, but likely)…
…I will do burpees over running any day…
…I love God a whole lot…
… and I’m a banana (yellow on the outside, white on the inside).
My love for dance and movement in general inspired the name of my blog, Daily Moves and Grooves. This blog (AKA my baby) has become such a significant part of my life — it’s my life diary (for the whole world to see), my food and workout journal, and my recovery story unfolding day by day.
Yep, recovery. When I was in high school, I struggled with disordered eating.
Let’s rewind a bit. Throughout my childhood, I was always active, whether it was with figure skating, dance, or just being a kid. I never had problems with food, and I was pretty healthy overall.
Come high school, I started to eat more and move less and, thus, I gained weight. People started making comments about my eating habits, and that made me feel like I had no self-control. I was still at a healthy weight, but in my self-conscious, self-criticizing eyes, I was huge compared to my friends. That freaking comparison trap, eh? (<– Fun fact: I have dual citizenship in US and Canada.)
The summer before my junior year, I decided I needed to lose weight. I’m an all or nothing kind of person, so in order to address my lack of self-control around food, I swung to the far end of what I considered self-control. Health became a matter of vanity for me, whether I admitted it or not.
Everything I did that summer paired with my predisposition for obsession and control created the perfect storm for disordered eating. I started dancing in a summer ballet intensive (involving 6+ hours of dance every day), I secretly started counting calories, and I found…the health and fitness community.
I looked to healthy living blogs for fitness and healthy eating inspiration, but for all the wrong reasons and with an unhealthy mindset. I saw image after image of so many women working out X times per week and eating 1200 calories per day (PSA: 1200 calories per day is insufficient for almost any woman, working out or not). In my contorted mindset, I started working out intensely and cutting my calories.
Naturally, I started losing weight. Fast. Seeing the number on the scale go down was addicting. Hearing people commenting on my thinness (whether they were just observant or actually concerned) was addicting.
I was cold all the time. I started losing my hair. According to my parents and dance teachers, I was also losing energy and becoming more irritable.
Very little carbs, almost no meat, fat free everything. Heavy guilt whenever I strayed from my “plan”. I went to bed and woke up thinking about food, because I was obsessive.
I tried to prove to others that I didn’t have a problem by saying, “I LOVE food! I’m always thinking about it, and I can never wait to eat!” The truth was that I loved being particular about my food, and I was always looking forward to my self-imposed eating times because I was starving.
I worked out as much as I could, and I would be upset and guilty if I ever missed a workout. I would work out even when my body was absolutely sore and exhausted. In my mind, I needed to burn those calories.
Did I become more fit? Yeah. Did I look fit? Sure. Did I learn about healthy foods? You bet. Was I happy with myself? Not at all. No amount of weight I lost was enough in my eyes.
Thank God for my parents, who were able to pull me out of my torment before my disordered eating turned into a full-blown eating disorder. I remember the day my dad looked at me with tearful eyes, telling me that I needed to end this.
That was the day my long recovery journey started. That day was 3.5 years ago. I am grateful to say that I am fully recovered, and with the proper professional help, rest from exercise, and nourishment, I have been able to restore a healthy relationship with food and exercise.
I can order a salad if I want, but I can also order a big burger with fries and a milkshake, and I don’t need to “compensate” with an ungodly amount of exercise.
My workout can be a sweaty HIIT session or a walk around the ‘hood (and I’ll still eat just as much).
It’s funny that I’m currently a blogger and that I use social media to encourage health and fitness, because blogs and social media fueled my disordered eating. However, I now know how to take care of myself and read everything with caution. I have found blogs and communities that view health and fitness from a balanced, encouraging, and holistic perspective. As the founder of Fit U says herself, “Fitness looks different for everyone.”
It sucks that anyone has to go through an eating disorder, but in retrospect I am thankful that it happened. Not only have I learned so much about true health and fitness, but I have learned so much about myself, and I’ve met incredible people through the recovery process.
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