I grew up the “heavy girl.” Most of the kids my age called me “fat” behind my back. As a kid, that just isn’t fair. I remember wanting to be “skinny,” like my friends were, but a kid doesn’t know how to really go about that. I have this memory from elementary school- I don’t remember how old I was. All I remember is being young and going for a physical/check-up at the doctor’s office with my dad. When they weighed me, I weighed 100lbs. My dad told me that I weighed “as much as a sack of potatoes.” It was in that moment that I knew I was “fat,” although he did not mean it that way. I was embarrassed to eat in front of people, so I would binge when no one was around. If I had five minutes alone, I would stuff my face. Food comforted my sadness and loneliness.
It was in elementary school that I knew I was destined to be on the Broadway. I dabbled in musicals and loved being to center of attention. It made me happy. I was cast in small roles, but I wanted, needed, to be the lead.
By the time I got to high school, I wore my weight like armor. I had a very negative outlook on life and was mean to people before they could say anything about my weight. I actually assumed everyone only noticed how heavy I was. I wasn’t cast in shows at my high school my first three years, so I did shows at community theaters in the area. I remember being in six shows in one year. It was intense, but I loved it that much. I just wanted to be able to sing and share that with everyone. I never wanted to be in the chorus because I wasn’t a “dancer.”
Musical programs require auditions and being accepted into the program, and most programs are hard to get into. I did not get into any of the colleges that I wanted to go to, so I went off to Western Michigan University to get my foot in the door there and re-audition. I basically was running from who I was because I didn’t like the person that I had become at this point. I also felt like musical theatre was a great escape, a place where I could be someone else for just an hour or two and not be me.
Not only did others not like who I was, but I really did not, either. I got into some bad habits while I was at WMU that I am not necessarily proud of, but they have shaped me into the woman I am today. At the end of my freshman year of college, I made the decision to try to lose weight. I made healthier choices, eliminated “bad foods,” and started elliptical running 3-6 days a week for about 15-30 minutes, depending on how I felt. By the end of my sophomore year, I had lost about 80 or so pounds. My goal was in sight.
I left WMU after two years because I did not get into the program again and felt my time was up there. I needed to get my life together. I felt Columbia College Chicago was that place. It’s a non-audition school, so I decided to go last minute. There is an option to audition to receive a BFA in musical theatre, so my first semester at CCC, I auditioned and was accepted into that program path. I was ecstatic.
There was one problem. I still saw myself as this heavier girl. I was 110lbs at this point, but I saw myself as 150+ lbs. I had developed severe body dysmorphia. Although I was at a healthy weight, I didn’t understand that I had to make a transition to eat for maintaining my weight. I also was still weighing myself everyday, at this point, and I yearned, I ached, I waited for that scale to read 100lbs. Why? I don’t know. Maybe I wanted to be able to say that I weighed 100lbs? Who knows. What I do know is that I slowly but surely ate less. And less. …and less. And running more. I “graduated” from elliptical running, bought some killer running shoes, and began running on the treadmill. I wanted to be “skinny” because I wanted people to accept me, to look at me a different way. I wanted to land lead roles. I wanted all of these things that I had learned were for “skinny people.” ANd I didn’t think that I was skinny. Not at all. Not skinny enough.
In December of 2012, I started to do hardcore treadmill running. I’m talking 15km/day with dance classes on top of that. I had a polar watch, and if I didn’t burn 1000 calories, I wouldn’t leave the gym. I also only ate those 3 small meals a day, and I had people on instagram convinced that I was eating huge meals because of the angles. I had those angles down- it’s really sad. I remember being so hungry that I didn’t even know I was hungry anymore. People, my peers, friends, and even teachers, asked if I was okay. I would immediately be on the defense and assumed they were just jealous of my progress and success. It was wrong. They were only trying to help. I had an eating disorder. I don’t like to classify what it was, but I think it was a combination of orthorexia and anorexia. It was a terrible, terrible time in my life. I don’t want to go into extreme detail. Just know that it was bad…I didn’t get “diagnosed” because you don’t need someone to tell you that you had an eating disorder.
I’m lucky because I met some really amazing people that helped change my life– they helped me get out of the darkness that I was engulfed in. I met these people through instagram, and I am so thankful for their bright lights every single day, even if some of us don’t talk as much. I slowly started to eat more and more, but I still was doing a decent amount of cardio. I ended up stopping the cardio, pretty much cold turkey, and only lifted so that I could try to start gaining. It was hard, sure it was.
I cranked out a half marathon July 21, 2013, without training because I had stopped doing cardio. 2 hours, 2 minutes. It was a lot of fun. But then I decided to keep up the “no cardio” business. And THEN I found IIFYM (cue Hallelujah chorus). IIFYM is glorious. I slowly faced “fear foods,” or foods that I had deemed “dirty” during the deepest part of my ED. I bulked for about 300 days. It was fun. I reverse dieted to eat even MORE carbs. My strength was through the roof. I experimented with carb backloading and various other eating habits. I loved it!
The time came to start cutting– it’s been slow. I slowly have cut down carbs, but just a bit- not too much. I’m in no rush. I also do one day of HIIT. Just 15 minutes of sprints on the treadmill, usually. I’m enjoying the littler amount of carbs paired with this heat of the summer!
I love weight lifting. I do this for nobody else but myself. I shoot out of bed in the morning, saying, “I get to lift today!!” It’s the reason I wake up every day. It saved my life. In the hardest of times, I have worked through my problems with a solid lift, ending the session in tears. Those are the best darn days ever. I can’t wait to get certified and help share this passion with others, and I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me next.
Note: Writing an “about me” is probably the hardest thing. I realized about a year or so ago that I don’t really know who I am, but I am enjoying figuring that out.