Monday, May 4, 2009

Eating Disorders

Most important in life is to be healthy and happy. When you have an eating disorder, you are neither. It truly takes over your life. You will not be able to stop thinking about food, your self confidence will go down the drain, and you might lose weight but most likely will just become weak and ill.

A person might develop an eating disorder because of stress, societal expectations, influence by thethe media, kids teasing them, etc, really any number or combination of things. Television practically endorses them by glorifying super skinny people, though thankfully they are also slowly letting shapely, curvy bodies into the spotlight as well. On the internet there are websites that literally do endorse them. Anorexics go to get encouragement for their fast and a congratulations when they didn't eat for 5 days, but recieve a "bad you, do better next time" when they eat a sandwich for lunch. Seriously, watch what your 13 year old does on the internet, and if you visit this kind of thing, do not get sucked in! Just because some people abuse their bodies and want to be 95 pounds and think that being skinny is the be-all end-all in life, doesn't mean that you have to do the same. You are so much more than your body, because after all, no matter what you do it will grow old and you will leave it behind.

Constant weighing/dieting/focusing on your weight fluctuations enables the disorder. You can claim to be healthy by working out and eating well, but if you weigh yourself daily and feel bad when you gain .5 pounds, you still have symptoms of a disorder. If everyone thinks you're thin and in shape but still think you need to lose weight, that's a symptom of a disorder. Because you're making everything about one thing that you want to obsess about and control; weight, instead of how you feel in yoru body.

Anorexics/Bulimics freak out about every pound. They have strangely specific goal weights like 104 or 123 and feel happy when they lost 2 pounds of waterweight but might start crying if they gained 3. They will document that their weight on Monday was 108. 2, their weight on Tuesday was 107.5, but their weight on Wednesday was 111.5. It's really like that, every pound matters to them, even though you will naturally be heavier at night than in the morning and fluctuate throughout the day/week/month. A normal normal person might actually go up and down within a ten pound range within a given month. A sick person will fluctuate when they starve and then binge, or expect to lose 10 pounds in a week by not eating a thing. If you lose 10 pounds in a week then that is most likely due to water weight, or starvation, and in which case you will instantly gain it back becuase it was lost so fast.

When people compliment someone who has a disorder on their weight, that enables the disorder as well. They will think "But so and so said I looked good, but I gained 2 pounds, so I need to lose 5." They might ask the sick person why they are thin, and the answer is diet and exercise, but also an eating disorder. Stopping eating/restricting and then bingeing/throwing up/exercising for 10 hours a day is not glamorous, it is not healthy, it is not fun, it is not a quick way to get in shape and look good. It is a quick way to screw yourself up, become obsessed, and land yourself crying in therapy for 5 years. I'm not exagerating, I'm not making fun of it, I'm serious. I know.

I referred to the person with an eating disorder as sick because they are. If the physical aspects like weight loss, weight gain, weak hair, weak teeth, weak bones, a weak immune system, etc haven't taken their toll yet, it doesn't matter becuase being sick in the head is still being sick. Depression, anxiety, and even just chronic negative thinking and low self esteem are serious issues that if ignored will persist for possibly an entire life.

You can not be cured until you stop the focus on weight. You can't become fully healthy physically and mentally if you weigh yourself 3 times a day and have the mind set that you are only okay if you eat a certain amount of calories a day and work out for 14 hours a week and fit into a certain pair of jeans.

True happiness and confidence comes from loving yourself no matter what, but loving yourself enough to be healthy and take care of yourself. It is healthy to eat balanced, nutritious food and give yourself a treat sometimes. It is not healthy to restrict calories and make yourself weak, beat yourself up if you don't work out for 3 hours daily, and then throw up when you feel fat or sad etc.

When you recover from an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia, you will probably gain weight (because you're actually taking in calories that your body needs). Maybe 10 pounds. But you will be happy for once because you can focus on other things. You will be healthy because you stop being weak or dizzy from not eating and then depressed and sick when you binge. 10 pounds is huge to someone with an eating disorder, but to someone healthy who isn't overweight, it's maybe a size up and just means you're a little curvier. I'd rather have ten extra pounds and curves than only be able to think about food all the time and have a heart attack when there are cookies around. Plus, you should want your body to be strong. Muscle is you can want 6 pack abs but if feel bad when the number on the scale goes up a little because of muscle you gained that's just not logical.

You have to know that it's not about how many hours you exercise or how many calories you take in or even how much you weigh, or even how you look. Most important is how you feel about life and yourself. You will actually survivie if you don't exercise for a week or a month and eat some cookies. Cookies are good! Restricting them will make you want them more and turn them into a big poisonous entity that haunts you while you sleep, when it's just an inanimate object. If you get a little lazy, well, everyone does. Many anorexics can't even exercise because they're too weak. Eating disorders aren't about being too fat, they're about body image, negative feelings, depression, low self esteem, feeling helpless, wanting to have control over something, etc.

I just hope for everyone that they can be both healthy, confident, and happy. Life isn't about the way your body looks unless you make it that way. It's about having fun, learning, doing things that make you smile, feeling good, and taking care of yourself. For those with eating disorders I hope that one day you can be completely healed of it and be able to get to a point where you don't care about that number on the scale, where you can eat a piece of cake and be okay about it, and not make yourself physically and mentally sick.

If you have a problem, seek help immediately. It will be so hard to beat it on your own. You can't trust yourself because you probably have an unhealthy thought pattern by now. Plus, you got yourself into this mess in the first place, for whatever reason. You might not want to sit with a therapist and whine about your problems, but if you need help then you need help. It is brave to admit it. It is okay to go to therapy for 2 months or 2 years and then stop when you have the tools to help yourself , but you need a professional to at least show you how to change your negative thought process to a healthy one. You're only alone if you make it that way.

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