A reoccurring theme throughout this blog will be this: we’re all fucked up.
What I have realized is that shame and fear of judgement or criticism is pointless, because your story of struggle and triumph is worth more than your weight in gold.
So here it is: “I’m Samantha, and I struggle with eating disorders and body dysmorphia. My drug of choice is food” (please, fam, don’t be offended by my poor sense of humor).
Let’s dive in. I grew up in a cloud of depression, anxiety and verbal abuse. I hated my appearance, constantly avoided mirrors and pictures, and didn’t attempt to participate in anything because I always anticipated my failure in whatever it was: group events, clubs, sports, you name it. I never fit in, and I blamed it on my obvious differences in background, social standing and family. Now, looking back, it had nothing to do with any of those things and all to do with my skewed perception of reality.
My freshman year of high school, I met two friends that I will forever be grateful for. These two friends helped me open up & bloom in several ways; they loved me for me and they welcomed me into their families. You’d be surprised at how much that changed my life. I still don’t know how I got so lucky. (Lyss, Savy). I joined the cheerleading team, got involved in school events and made more friends in one year than I had in my entire life. In many ways, and on the outside, I healed; but on the inside, I was still a damaged child that feared rejection, wanted to please everyone and longed to fit in.
Throughout my freshman and sophomore year, I dealt with anorexia. I remember eating one piece of fruit in the morning, a bag of chips for lunch, and a tortilla for dinner. My goal calorie range was 500-600. One night, I recall having starved myself for an entire day and coming home after cheer practice and eating Top Ramen, like a whole package (woah I kind of miss Top Ramen now, anyone else?). Afterwards, I went in my room as I usually did and began analyzing every inch of my stomach. I squeezed my “fat” and would measure my waist by whether or not it fit into my hand when I made a “C” shape with my thumb and index finger. I judged my thinness based on how prominent my hips and ribs were. What did I do if I didn’t meet my own insane standards, which I never did? I went to the nearby track and would run between 4-6 miles. This happened almost every. single. night.
By my junior year, I transitioned from anorexia, to binge eating. I was smoking and drinking with friends, and would go home late at night. I starved myself throughout the day, then snuck into the kitchen when everyone was asleep, and ate as much of everything as I could in 5-15 minutes. When I felt disgustingly full, I stopped, cried, and went to sleep.
Senior year, I had more control of food than ever before, but still struggled more often than not. I continued to hate my body and regularly punish myself with hours of cardio.
Fast forward to my single semester of college (before joining the Army) AND the best time of my life! Hiiii, Joci. ❤ I cared less and less about my body and focused on partying with my friends. We ate, we drank, we went to parties, drank some more and sometimes went to a class or two. It was good times, though not very productive.
Alright, now heres when things changed.
I decided to join the Army. Throughout training, you don’t really have time or energy to focus on things like body image, cravings, “the cool crowd,” etc. Eat, train, shit, sleep x repeat. I joined as a physically unfit and insecure girl, but I graduated as a confident and capable female soldier who excelled in her physical events.
I realized how much I loved challenging myself physically. I loved the rush, the competition, the feeling of success afterwards. I loved how much it took my mind off of my problems.
Since 2013, I’ve continued to explore that passion and through the very high ups and the lowest lows, I have made significant improvements in ALL aspects of my life: career, physical fitness, relationships, and more. I committed to educating myself and expanding my knowledge and understanding of proper nutrition. I earned my personal training certificate and have devoted a portion of my energy to helping others reach their goals. I’ve competed in a bikini competition, dabbled in power lifting, and am now working on performance based goals along with finding that #balance.
Where am I at now, you ask? Food still controls my life, a lot more than I’d like to admit. I still fear the scale, going out with friends, eating without a food scale, and minimal coverage bathing suits. But… I don’t binge. And I don’t starve myself. And I don’t hate my body.
I realized that all of the preconceived notions in my head from ages 13-23 are completely wrong. I am worthy of love, affection, support and all things good. I don’t need approval from anyone to be myself. I don’t seek validation as to what I am capable of or who I am. I place great value on the parts of me that are different and unique. I am beautiful, strong and capable. And while I don’t always love my reflection, I am working every day on loving myself. I focus on my accomplishments, my strength and my abilities. I admire many things about myself, like my intuition, empathy and will. I have a dope soul & a pure heart. I won’t tell you that I accept my flaws, my imperfections and my weaknesses. I’ll tell you that I want to, and someday I know I will. I’ve made leaps and bounds of progress and will continue to do so, while dedicating my efforts to lifting others up with me.
I am worthy. & you are, too. We will get there.