To be thin was all I wanted. I was thin before, and I found myself gaining weight. My size 5 jeans were tight; my flat, tone stomach was gone; and I was going to do something about it.
I made a New Year’s resolution that I would drop down to my "normal" weight, and I was more than determined to reach my goal. I knew what I had to do: eat healthier and work out more. As the weeks passed, my weight dropped, and my clothes fit comfortably again. I was happy. I had accomplished my goal, but it did not stop there. I knew that if I stopped, the weight would come back. So I continued eating "healthy" and continued to increase my workouts.
My definition of eating "healthy" was what most professionals would call disordered eating. I cut out all unnecessary fats, such as mayonnaise and butter; the only foods I ate were fat free or light foods, and I drastically reduced my caloric intake. I limited myself to about 1200 calories a day and kept a log of everything I ate. My daily food consumption consisted of one small bagel and half a glass of non-fat milk for breakfast; fat-free yogurt, a granola bar and a piece of fruit for lunch; salad, a piece of bread and half a cup of frozen yogurt for dinner; and one serving (16 chips) of fat-free Pringles for a snack.
My eating habits were not the only thing I took control of. I worked out everyday. I did an hour of cardio seven days a week, weight-trained three days a week and did 20 minutes of sit-ups every night. My exercise routine became an obsession. I thought if I skipped a day of exercising I would get into the habit of skipping days and put the weight I had lost back on.
As the months passed, my weight continued to drop. By the end of my first year at UCSB, I had gone from 120 pounds to 130 pounds and then down to 106 pounds. I was scared. As I looked in the mirror I could see my hipbones protrude, the outline of my ribs and the ripples of my esophagus through my neck. I had to buy new clothes over the summer because all my pants were ridiculously big. I was now down to a size 1, and even those gave me extra room.
People continually told me there was something wrong with me – that I didn’t eat enough, that I worked out too much – but I didn’t listen. Inside I knew something wasn’t right, but I didn’t need people who hardly knew me to remind me. I just wanted them to leave me alone. No one could get through to me. I wouldn’t let them.
When I went home for the summer, I couldn’t help but notice the look on people’s faces when they saw me. I knew they were wondering what happened to me, why I was so skinny. I was mad at everyone. I just wanted them to leave me alone. I was even pissed off at my boyfriend. The way he looked at me made me angry. I would shudder if he tried to touch me. He said he was scared to touch me because he thought he was going to break me. Inside I almost felt like saying, "Good, don’t touch me then."
Eventually, I started to break down. Being surrounded by my family, friends and my boyfriend made me realize that I needed to do something. My emotions and feelings were all jumbled up. I decided that I needed to put on some pounds, but at the same time I felt like all my hard work was going down the drain. I felt I had worked so hard for nothing. I had mood swings all the time. I questioned if I should eat more, if I was eating too much. I didn’t know anymore. My metabolism was so screwed up that my body couldn’t tell me if I had enough to eat or not.
With time, I got better. When my new clothes started to get tight, I kept telling myself that it was ok. People told me I looked a lot better, which made me feel good. I started to feel comfortable with my size again.
Since then, I have joined the Nutrition and Eating Disorder Peers through Student Health. The group reinforces my commitment to myself to eat and exercise like a "normal" person and gives me an opportunity to help others not make the same mistakes I did.