Things started to get shaky once I hit high school, it was my first time eating in a cafeteria and having a meal be a social event. By sophomore year I forgot what was considered healthy – every day my best friend, Heather, and I would pig-out, lunch typically included a fried chicken sandwich, french fries with cheese, fro-yo with a warm chocolate chip cookie washed down with a diet soda. The point of the diet soda escapes me.
It didn’t take long for the pounds to pile on and for others to notice. The first comments came from my family, my brother John casually mentioned that I was out-eating him during family dinners. During this same time, my sister Jill was struggling with her own eating issues. While away at college Jill developed an eating disorder. On a visit home, I overheard Jill comment to my Mom that she “better watch what Angela was eating – she’s getting really chubby.” I knew Jill wasn’t healthy but at the same time it hurt that she thought I was chubby.
The final straw was a note from my so-called best friend calling me fat. That note put me over the edge. I decided then and there that I would lose the weight and be skinnier than Heather and all of my sisters. At first, I was focused on being healthy, I started to pack lunches, eat whole grains and incorporate more fruits and veggies. The Tae Bo craze had just become popular and I was quick to jump on that band wagon.
I maintained a healthy diet that year and quickly lost 13 lbs, I felt good and recieved tons of compliments. That’s when things started to get out of control. I realized than that I could continue to lose weight if I just cut more calories. It started with halving my portions sizes and soon escalated to skipping entire meals, while maintaining a fitness program that included cheerleading practice 3-4 hours a night, 3 nights a week and Tae Bo 4-5 times a week.
My mom took me to the doctor, but since she wasn’t with me at lunch or breakfast she couldn’t really deny my claims that I was still eating healthy. Despite this my weight held out at a healthy but low BMI throughout high school. Then came college and things took a turn for the worst. Without any adult supervision I was able to live on virtually nothing. I maxed out at 300 calories a day my first semester.
I wish I could say that things calmed down as soon as I started my career (I was in the health industry after all), but that just wasn’t the case. It took years for me to finally get to where I am now. I started by incorporating regular meals, exercising at a more relaxed pace and learning as much as I could about nutrition. With the help of my family, friends and Jeff, I am finally able to eat without feeling the shame that I once dealt with. There are days I still struggle, but knowing how much better I feel mentally and physically, and seeing others across the internet who have dealt with eating issues, allows me to shut down those feelings. I’ve never been happier.