Put the food down. ALL OF IT!

If you had told me 17 years ago that I one day would be contributing to a blog about food I’d probably have laughed at you, farted and then asked “What the heck is a blog?” If you’d told me what a blog was I would have thought you were some distant relative of Marty McFly and wondered where your hover board was as well.

But, here I am. Here we are. Food…

I wish I could say that I’ve always loved food. The fact of the matter is, I’ve been terrified of it since I was 12. The early part of my life I just remember being poor and not eating much other than Top Ramen and Oatmeal. I remember once; when I was very little; the power being out, the house being very cold. I was sitting on the couch with my dad while my mother sat on the other side and I was hungry. My mom was crying and my dad was silent. I remember watching my mom get up and walk into the kitchen to the cupboard where she opened it up and pulled out a bag of beans. As a child I didn’t understand the gravity of the situation. I had no idea that there wasn’t anything else to eat or that my parents silence and emotions were fear and anger. I don’t remember if we ate those beans or not.

When my mom remarried when I was 9 there was plenty of food. She would cook home style meals every night. Pack amazing lunches and on the weekends make me waffles, pancakes, french toast and crepes. I would come home from school and eat Doritos, Fruit Roll Ups, Oreos and drink soda. Then we’d sit around the table and eat meatloaf, fried chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy and I’d dip my butter smothered white bread in it and stuff my mouth leaving just enough room for some milk. I’d go to sleep with heavy eyes and a full stomach and wake up in the morning ravenous! I could never eat enough.
When I would go to my dads on the weekends it was 180 degrees. We ate pasta and red sauce ; grilled chicken (if we were lucky) or top ramen with some green beans or peas in it. For breakfast it was one egg and one piece of toast or paper thin pancakes with 1% milk. This was the beginning of my terrible eating habits. The beginning of my binge eating.

When I was 13 I went out for the wrestling team. My dad was adamant that if I was going to be wrestling I had to start lifting weights and exercising. My dad had always been very fit. As a little girl we would do sit ups and push ups during commercials. I got my first black eye in his home made gym; inspired by Joe Weider and Arnold; by picking up a barbell and cracking myself in the face with it.
Along with this new routine also came diet. I was suddenly eating chicken and broccoli; rice and rigatoni noodles. Egg whites and bagels for breakfast and protein shakes after practice. Then I would go to my moms and all concern for nutrition went out the window. Partly because I wanted it and partly because if I mentioned anything about my dads plan to turn me into a fierce wrestler , my mom would get upset..so I kept my mouth shut and I ate the meatloaf (which was always my favorite).

Wrestling required that I wear a singlet. Which required that I suck it in. Which didn’t matter when I had to weigh in.

I was suddenly worried about cellulite and the fact that I couldn’t put a ruler on my hip bones when I laid down. I was reading my dads Muscle magazines and my moms Cosmo wondering why I didn’t look like the women in the pictures and believing that EVERYONE I knew expected me to look that way even though they didn’t.
I became incredibly self conscious. My two best friends at the time were both rail thin. The main writer of this blog, Andrea, was tall and lanky and Laurilee who also had eating issues was model thin. I would watch them both and wish desperately for skinny, knobby legs. I wanted ribs that stuck out and arms you could wrap your fingers around. I started to eat saltines and diet coke and fruit medleys from the grocery store. Then a few days later I would find myself gorging on cafeteria pizza and Otis Spunkmeyer cookies..

When I got into high school it only got worse. I was now going to the gym every morning, getting up @ 4:30 am and doing 60 minutes of cardio plus all the ridiculous movements any gym member does: leg extensions, bicep curls, tri-cep kickbacks, cable rows and flys; I’d do a hundred sit ups then jump on the ab/dip station and lift my knees to my chest until the only thing that hurt was my hip flexors. For most of high school my first class of the day was PE so I would lift or do an hour of Fonda legs or abs with Mrs. Ayers and if I was lucky she would tell me how fat I was and then take my flab and pinch it with her calipers and prove it to me.

When I got out of high school I made some pretty terrible life choices. I would say that I “Failed” at life but I realize that would be a little harsh. I started using drugs and living a pretty risky day to day existence. When all was said and done I was emotionally wrecked, severely chemically imbalanced and I was finally skinny. 104lbs skinny to be exact. Now mind you, growing up I wasn’t ever fat but I was generally bigger than most every other girl I knew. I was in a size 9 in 8th grade and most of high school. I had what everyone called a “ghetto booty” and I was a 34D. Now, I was in a size 1 and I couldn’t find bras that fit anymore. My step mom told me years later that she thought I had AIDS I was so skinny.

For years, and I mean YEARS I was terrified of gaining weight. Which I absolutely did the minute I started eating again. I would pump myself full of coffee and nicotine trying to curb my appetite. I’d politely decline food saying I was full. I would make rude comments to people who were eating, judging them for the fact that what they were eating would make ME fat if I ate it..

About 5 years after, I discovered Mt. Baker Crossfit. I made it through the warm up and I left. I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was going to die.

Then it hit me.
I thought all this time, all those years, that I was fit and that I knew everything there was to know about fitness. After all, my room in high school was covered with posters from Muscle&Fitness. I ate egg whites and weighed myself multiple times a day.
I went back the next day and to my surprise, no one ignored me. I didn’t just walk in and swipe a card through a reader and hit the elliptical. I was met with a high five and a smile. Needless to say, I was in. I started to look good and feel good. I was getting compliments on my body and guys at work were always making fun of how big my biceps were like I was some kind of freak. Except now, I knew it was because I WAS fit! I had muscles and I looked healthy and I felt good and suddenly I didn’t care how much I weighed.

I hated my body growing up. I still struggle with it. But I suppose the whole purpose of sharing this information and scattering my fears like seed upon fresh ground is to discover that from those insecurities I’ve been able to find peace for the most part with the fact that I can’t change my body type. I can’t change my structure. I can change the way that I eat and the way that I train.
I’m not perfect. I remind myself of that every time I pick something up to eat it that I shouldn’t and I have an internal conversation with myself.

You are better than this.
You’ve overcome bigger obstacles than this.
This will make you feel worse.
Put the food down.

And sometimes it works. Sometimes, it doesn’t. But I’m learning to be ok with that. I’m sure that Julie Foucher and Lindsey Valenzuela didn’t start their journeys without making mistakes. I know that the athletes I look up to aren’t immune to a really big slice of pizza or a plate full of mashed potatoes and gravy. I wouldn’t want them to be either. I want them to be honest and human and I want them to be able to share with me their triumphs and tribulations so that I can be inspired and in turn, inspire someone else.

Here’s to my first ever blog entry ( I feel so grownsup); to sharing and being ok with it and to the knowledge that if we don’t teach we can’t learn and we only learn from others who weren’t afraid to share.

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