My Most Frequently Asked Questions: Part 1

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on November 15, 2009

Hey guys!

I hope you all had a lovely weekend. I am starting to compile my most frequently asked questions! These are the questions that I get every week. Today, I will start with one of my most popular questions.

I could honestly write a book on this topic, but I will try to keep it succinct.

1. How did you stop obsessing and beat your eating disorder?

I struggled with disordered eating since the age of 11. I was sick and tired of being unhappy, hungry, and dissatisfied when I looked in the mirror. Even though I was thin for much of this time, I hated my body. My weight went up and down due to teetering along the extremes of both starvation and over-eating. In my first year of university I gained over 25 pounds and my obsession with my weight only got worse. After my first semester in university, I hit rock bottom. I knew I had to change. I was sick of struggling day in and day out with calorie counting, weighing myself, restricting how much I could eat, etc. It was a battle I was never going to win and I knew if I didn’t do something about it, I would never be happy.

I began seeing a school counsellor. She was a huge factor in my recovery. I still remember the kind words she told me and I think of her words whenever I am feeling down. One thing she told me was that I had such a soothing voice and I had a very easy-going nature about me. She would always tell me how easy it was to talk with me. After hearing these kind words, I started to realize that I was so much more than my weight and how skinny I was. I got so caught up in the disorder that I really needed to hear it from an outsider to make everything click. She made such a huge impact on my life when I least expected it. I was very skeptical about seeing a counsellor (fear mostly), but it was the best thing I ever did. I only saw her about 6 times and to think that she helped me so much is really amazing.

In addition to this, I also took a few nutrition courses in university. These courses were pivotal in the change that started to occur in my mind. I finally learned how my body worked…and I was amazed. I poured myself into my nutrition books and I had marks at the top of my class. I enjoyed every minute of it. I wanted to major in nutrition and become a registered dietitian, but I didn’t have a couple of the science pre-reqs and I decided to pursue psychology because I didn’t want to be a year behind (oh how I wish I would have followed my heart!). As I learned more about nutrition, I started to appreciate my body for what it did for me everyday. I had been abusing it for so long and it was just doing the best it could to stay balanced. It never occurred to me why I had the urge to binge until I learned that bingeing is an evolutionary adaptation! It is natural for the body to respond with over-eating when it has been deprived and it feels that it is in danger of survival. I was blaming my body for everything, but it was doing nothing wrong!

I decided to stop weighing myself. For some, the scale is a useful tool but for me no number was ever good enough. If it was up, I would starve. If it was down, I would starve too. I had to put the scale away. I knew that I needed to stop focusing on numbers so much and start focusing on my overall health. It was extremely hard to not weigh myself, but I just went cold turkey.

Going cold turkey was also my approach to calorie counting, but it didn’t work. Because I had been counting calories for over 10 years it was ingrained in me. I couldn’t stop! It sort of freaked me out and I thought for a while that I may never be able to break the habit. I realized that I had to start small. I started with not counting one part of my meal. So if I had cereal and milk for breakfast, I would not measure my cereal portion and not add-up those calories.

Gradually, over time I was able to build up to a full meal…and then eventually a full day of not counting. This process took months and I had many relapses. I gained a bit of weight during this time (I could tell by how my clothes fit) and that scared me and made me want to go back to my old ways. Sometimes I would get to the end of the day and not know how many calories I had eaten and this would cause me to binge due to the anxiety. I wasn’t used to not having control over every morsel that went into my mouth. I tried to focus on my hunger cues instead of how many calories I was ‘allowed’ to have. I realized during this process, that I had absolutely no clue how to listen to my body! I hadn’t done it for so long that I could barely tell when I was full or hungry. It was scary to experience this. It only solidified the fact that I was doing the right thing by trying to beat it.

When I stopped starving myself, it all became clear to me. My binges stopped. It took a few months but they did. My body no longer felt at risk for survival or desperate for food. I started to feel more calm around food and I started to appreciate food instead of fear it. The whole process took about 2-3 years before I felt confident that I would not go back to the disordered eating.

One crucial factor in my recovery was learning how to channel the negative energy about myself into something positive. I decided to channel this energy into learning about nutrition. Instead of looking at food for how many calories it had, I started to look at food in terms of its’ overall nutrition and how it made me feel when I ate it. I started to eat for energy instead of lack of calories or fat. When I was restricting my intake, all I ate was processed diet foods (aka crap!)…popcorn, iceburg lettuce, sugar-free popsicles, Crystal Light, chewing gum, you name it. I decided to start eating unprocessed foods and I ate more whole grains, vegetables, and fruit. I also started cooking more instead of going out to eat. I started to eat FAT which was absolutely ground-breaking for me. I used to restrict my fat so much and everything was fat-free. It was no wonder that my skin and hair were dull as rocks. I learned that healthy fats were good- bring em on! I ate nuts and healthy oils. My hair, skin, and nails started to glow.

I had many relapses along the way, but now, several years later, it was hands down the best (and hardest) thing I ever did. Nothing worthwhile in life comes easy…

For anyone who is struggling, I strongly suggest seeking out professional help. I am not sure I would have been able to do it without my counsellor’s professional guidance.

~~~~

Have you ever had an aha moment about yourself or how you viewed food?

Angela_Signature 

"Throw back the shoulders, let the heart sing, let the eyes flash, let the mind be lifted up, look upward and say to yourself… Nothing is impossible!"

~ Norman Vincent Peale

Let's get social! Follow Angela on Instagram @ohsheglows, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Google+

Previous Posts

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Page 2 of 2«12
diana November 16, 2009 at 11:47 am

what a great post! love your honesty!

Reply

Ally November 16, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Hi! I am a new reader and I love your blog. I found this post especially inspiring as someone who is in recovery for an eating disorder. Way to go! You are an inspiration!

Reply

Kris | iheartwellness.com November 16, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Oh Sugar (I mean that in the most natural form of course;)

I think this is a beautiful post! I love that you are as open as your are with your life the way it was before as it helps all of your readers so much :)

Like I have documented in my blog I have been seeing a life coach and I as well highly recommend seeing a professional. You learn to see yourself in a whole new light!

And of course you know I am with you on the unprocessed foods ;) even my gum is natural…..spry gum baby!

You are a warm heart Angela!

Have a happy Monday!!
XXOO

Reply

Alex November 16, 2009 at 1:28 pm

love you and your willingness to be so true and open.
you are a gorgeous girl, inside and out!

Reply

Andrea November 16, 2009 at 1:53 pm

I think I was nodding the entire time I was reading this post. I am a long-time reader but a pretty infrequent commenter. I love reading your blog because so often I feel like I am in the same place you were when you were in college. I’m a college senior right now and sometimes I just feel like my life is totally out of control. It’s a huge transition time for me right now and there are times when I feel like the only things I can control are my calories and the amount of exercise I do. (Both of which often are done in extremes just so I can feel that sense of balance). I think the worst thing about it is that I am so aware of what I’m doing yet it’s difficult for me to stop. I loved reading this post because it gave me the courage to tell myself to relax and just let things work out. I think I need to embrace the fact that things right now aren’t laid out for me. I have totally written a novel here–but in short–thank you so much for insight and help! So appreciated :)

Reply

Jackie @ TriToLose November 16, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Thanks for sharing your story. I think – sometimes – eating disorders are hidden behind strange stereotypes. It is nice to see a human face put to them – and show that we can overcome them. I’ve suffered from a binge-eating disorder for awhile. I’ve started to get things in control, but it is a lot of hard work. Thanks for the inspiration. :)

Reply

Nicole November 16, 2009 at 5:29 pm

Hi Angela! Like you and so many others, I have struggled with disordered eating in the past. I also found that throwing away the scale was a huge factor in my recovery. I was wondering if you have weighed yourself since recovery and if you know what your weight is. I haven’t been on a scale since and I am terrified that going on one will start the viscous cycle again!

Reply

A November 16, 2009 at 8:28 pm

Where the heck is your book deal? I just love you and your blog. Your voice is breathtaking. You make recovery seem reachable.

Reply

Heather November 16, 2009 at 10:42 pm

wow. thank you so much Angela. I could have honestly written that myself, but it’s only been a year and a half since I’ve really been getting better. I’m getting there though! This was so inspiring, and even though I experience setbacks you really makes me believe that I will be completely recovered some day. I also channeled everything into learning about nutrition and nourishing my body. It really has been an amazing learning experience.

Reply

Sweet Cheeks November 16, 2009 at 10:50 pm

amazingly inspiring post, Angela! I’m sure a lot of girls will find it very helpful!

Reply

Kara November 17, 2009 at 11:05 am

You are such an inspiration to me, Angela.

If I may ask – how long did it take you before you were able to listen to your body cues again? I’m currently in the recovery process, and I’m still struggling to figure out when I’m full and when I’m hungry. Sometimes I’ll take a few bites of something and then instantly get that “too full” feeling. I was wondering, did this happen to you too?

Sorry if these are personal questions, I don’t know anyone who has went through an eating disorder, so I’m interested in knowing if some of the things I’ve experienced are common.

Reply

Natalie November 17, 2009 at 12:27 pm

You are such an amazing woman! Thank you for your honest, inspirational posts.

Reply

Meghan November 17, 2009 at 11:27 pm

Hi angela!

I just wanted to say that I loved this post and I could relate to it all too often. It sounds like we had so many of the same old bad habits. I went to treatment (twice – luckily here in MN there is nationally known ED treatment centers that my insurance covered) and can now say that after 15 years, I am living my life so much healthier. I am not getting my Masters in Public Health/Nutrition, with the goal of working toward eating disorder/obesity prevention. Cheers to us! I love your blog and your honest approach to everything. I read it almost every day!

Thanks!
Meghan

Reply

amy December 2, 2009 at 6:03 pm

Angela, I’ve struggled w anorexia for years and still struggle with body image issues. I’ve just recently decided to go vegeterian and then transition to vegan. I’m just scared that all the carbs from the beans and lentils and stuff will make me gain weight. I just read Alicia Silverstones book The Kind diet and love it and I’m trying to cut out meat. Dairys the hard part cause i’ve noticed all the soy milks are either higher fat or have evaporated cane juice. Any suggestions on a good one I can use. I still like my cereal with milk in the morning. Glad to be here and ur such an inspiration to me.

Reply

Elis December 17, 2009 at 11:22 pm

Hey Angela! Wow, you are awesome! I’m 16 years old and a recovering anorexic. I’ve been in recovery for 9 days now! I’m OBSESSED with your blog. Seriously, I struggled with disordered eating practically my whole life (being overweight most of my life), and then two years ago is when the weight loss occured. During this 2 year gap, my weight went up and down in large amounts but during the last couple of months is when my weight and health hit rock bottom. I was in grave danger and I felt like I was going to die. I decided I wanted out. So, for the past 9 days I’ve been eating super healthy and lots of food! I work out everyday and your website/recipes inspire me so much. This blog really helps! I can’t say I’m recovered yet (I still obssesively count calories and workout like a maniac), but I just wanted to let you know that I don’t even remember how I happened to stumble across your site (actually I think I looked up Vegan Pumpkin Pie on Google and found you, haha!), but I’m so glad I did! I’m super dedicated to being super healthy and possibly becoming a Vegan one day (of course cheat days then and now :D), and I love to bake/cook, so the recipes here are awesome (already made the larbar!). Keep up the great work! Thanks again!

Reply

lucie March 12, 2010 at 9:07 pm

angela this post is so inspiring. My goal is get rid of unnecessary crap like sugar free gum ( which i tend to binge on ) and sugar free drinks and sugar free anything for that matter.
I’m on the road to recovery from a binge eating disorder. I’m not totally cured and I still binge maybe one or twice a month ( PMS? )
I tend to binge on protein bars or oatmeal. Why is that? Do you have any advice to take one step further into my recovery?

Reply

nut April 26, 2010 at 10:59 pm

This really really strikes me. I can relate a lot and I wish I could sit and have a chat with you ! Seriously. Everything. As a side note, I also wish I had pursued my dietetics. I did a nutrition degree…another 1 year + internship would have did it for me…silly me…went the wrong way and ended up in a current mess…such is life I suppose!
Its hard though…really tough. I don’t know anything about my body anymore . And ridiculous calorie counting cause I am either under, stable or over and driving myself nuts.
Unfortunately, my physical abilities have escaped me
YOu are so lucky and smart to have caught it…this is my 3rd time trhough it and i fear my body has given up on me in more ways than one.
But I continue to do the best I can in any given moment. That is all that any of us can ever expect to do!

Reply

Laura January 13, 2013 at 10:31 pm

Angela, I wanted to let you know that you and your website have helped me so so so much in my body image and food journey. I have problems with restricting and then binging, and I am really trying to eat more healthily and not focusing on portions so much as on eating healthy and less processed foods. It’s really hard though! I think your point about not weighing yourself is such an important one too. I can be having a great “weight day” like with how I feel about myself/my body, then weigh myself and feel like crap. Thank you so much for your website, it has been so helpful!

Reply

Klara May 27, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Hi Angela,

I am currently dealing with recovery from an eating disorder. While I am now eating regularly and loving it, I am worried about how I will feel if/when I put on some weight. I want to and need to gain some weight, but I am so worried about it.

Also, how did you deal with exercise during your recovery? I find I have a compulsive urge to exercise and it is hard for me to ignore it, but at the same time, it makes it hard to gain weight. Any recommendations?

Finally, do you have any tips about how to break habits? I find that I get very much stuck in schedules where I eat at the same time, the same food groups (ex: some type of fruit or dairy etc.), the same way… I love variety in my food, but I get stuck in these habits where I always follow the same schedule. Any suggestions?

Thanks for your inspiration.
I hope to be where you are some day soon!

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: