When I was ten years old, I became one of the only girls in my fifth grade class to begin puberty. I suddenly started to get curves, and none of the other girls had them. Those curves were emphasized by the fact that I was only four feet and ten inches tall. Boys began to notice, all of my friends began to notice, and pretty soon, everyone noticed.
When middle school came, the more I felt self-conscious about my changing body, the more I would eat to make myself feel better. When we are young, we tend to eat intuitively. But once my body became a topic of discussion, I lost the ability to simply eat to fuel my body. I began to see food as a source of comfort. I was regularly called “fat” or “chunky”, and my friends would often talk about my weight gain behind my back.
By the time the eighth grade rolled around, I would lock myself in my room when I was home from school, eat whatever sounded good (most of the time raw cookie dough or icing and graham crackers), and keep to myself. Rather than seeking friendship and socialization like most kids my age, I carried out a social life on my phone and only came out of my bedroom sanctuary if I had to. I felt extremely insecure and uncomfortable in my skin, and I didn’t know how to get control of it. At the age of thirteen, I became depressed and reclusive.
The summer before I went to high school, I made the varsity cheerleading squad. Despite all of the activities and clubs that I let fall by the wayside, I did put a lot of effort into my role on the cheerleading squad. When I made the Varsity cheerleading squad as a freshman and knew I was a prospective flyer (top girl), this inspired me to finally get control of my weight so I could thrive as a flyer and look physically fit in my uniform. I remember my mom telling me, “You would be a total knockout if you would just lose five pounds,” and that really stuck with me. So, that’s what I vowed to do, plus more. I would walk every day over the summer for hours and I would no longer let myself medicate with food. I lost a good amount of weight and felt much better in my skin. Still being four feet and ten inches tall, I didn’t have to lose much body fat to see major body composition changes. However, even though I lost weight and felt better in my skin, my deep-rooted problems were only beginning.
As high school went on, I found myself eating according to my emotions, and my workouts getting more intense with time, especially the more I moved up on the cheerleading hierarchy. When I would get dumped or my friends would say something cruel to me, I would exercise all the time and not eat until I felt better about myself. I felt like if I looked better, I would really “show” all the hateful girls.
When I felt happy and normal, I would eat like a normal teenager without putting much thought into my food. But every time I became emotional, I would choose not to eat to hold onto some control over the things I could control. If someone critiqued my body, I would starve a little weight off until I felt confident enough.
When I got into college, this is when things really took a turn for the worst. I found myself in a torturous cycle of restrict, deprive, starve, binge, punish, repeat. I was gaining weight despite the fact that my diet was extremely “strict” and really only included vegetables, chicken and diet soda, and I just couldn’t make any progress on the scale or in my fitness routine.
By age twenty, I was working multiple jobs, going to school, going to the gym and always on the go. Without really trying, I began to lose weight. It was hard to find pockets of time to eat, so I ran with that. I discovered that the more I just didn’t eat, the more weight I would lose. I continued this until I was 85 pounds as a 20 year old woman. I would eat two 5 ounce containers of nonfat Greek yogurt and two cups of cheerios every day, and that was it. I didn’t have a menstrual cycle, my hair was brittle and thin, my skin would peel away and flake off, my face was swollen, and I couldn’t get warm no matter how hard I tried.
I would frequently get sick, feel dizzy and foggy, and I would stand in front of the mirror every day to see how far my shoulder blades and rib cage would protrude. If they didn’t protrude as far in my eyes as they did the day before, I would panic and become ashamed, even though my whole family would subtly hint that it would be a good thing if I gained some weight. About every two weeks, I would have a full on binge day where starting at midnight, I would eat everything in sight. Yes, I would stay awake until midnight just so I could officially begin binging. The next day, I would feel extremely ill and punish myself with extra cardio and exercise. I was very sick, and I even had people approach close friends of mine, asking if I had cancer. Those around me noticed, but didn’t quite know what to say or do.
Fast forward to when I met my now husband in September 2015. We fell fast and hard, and I became a little less consumed with the scale and my body image. I got my period back for two months, and we became pregnant with our first born. While it was a rollercoaster of emotions, I went through pregnancy, coming out of it with an eighty pound weight gain.
After having my baby, I didn’t recognize myself. I felt repulsed and disgusted with myself when I looked in the mirror. I came home from the hospital with my husband and new baby boy and cried in the shower for the longest time. I didn’t know how I would ever feel even halfway like myself again. So, I began the cycle again—
deprive, restrict, starve, binge, punish, repeat. And that was my reality until I got pregnant with our second son, after undergoing medical intervention to get my menstrual cycle back. I went through pregnancy again, gained weight, and then began the vicious cycle again as soon as I was out of the hospital. I lost all of my baby weight and felt good about myself, even though I was starving every moment of every day. This time, though, I gained about twenty pounds back, even though I was still only eating about eight hundred calories a day. I would cry to my husband at night, telling him how I just couldn’t get my body back, even though I was putting in so much work. I was emotionally and physically depleted and exhausted. I would pray to God every single night to just set me free from my eating disorder, however it needed to be done.
I had followed the Stay Fit Mom program on Instagram for a couple of years, and I could feel God speaking to my heart, telling me that I needed to leave behind my comfort zone and give macro coaching a chance. I knew that a life of obsessing over every little bite that I could or couldn’t have, or every little line of cellulite underneath my booty, wasn’t what the Lord had in store for me or for my husband and kids. What I was doing wasn’t working and I was losing my sanity, so I decided that even though I desperately didn’t want to mess up my routine and try something new, I needed to do just that.
Immediately upon receiving my initial macro prescription, I signed up for the six week one-on-one coaching program. From the very first week of beginning with coach Taeya, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. Sure, I had to learn how to hit my macro prescription and how to weigh food. I had to learn foods that were high in fiber and foods that gave me quality nutrition. I had to learn to trust another person to help me get healthy again, because I couldn’t do it on my own. But through it all, breaking free from the chains of disordered eating truly gave me life again.
The further I got into the program, the better I felt. I was finally feeling energized during my workouts and throughout the day again. My mood stabilized. My hormones began to level out. Life felt colorful again. I felt joy that I didn’t know before. I felt a renewed closeness with my husband. I finally felt free to go on dates with him again and actually eat something yummy when we would go out. I felt excited for family gatherings, rather than nervous for the comments to come about how I wouldn’t eat anything while everyone else was gathered together to enjoy a delicious family meal that was made with love. I hadn’t realized how much my eating disorder controlled every waking moment of my life. At first it only affected me, but when it began to affect my husband and kids too, that’s when I knew I needed to do whatever it took to get myself better. And I’m so thankful I did.
There are several reasons why I believe macro coaching with Stay Fit Mom was the one thing that finally healed me, mentally and physically. First, macro coaching allowed me to treat weight loss and making body progress as a simple math equation. If I simply followed the equation that my coach assigned to me, I would make weekly progress and improve my health more and more as I went along. I thrived on rules I set for myself when I had anorexia. Following my macros with my coach gave me a new, HEALTHY set of rules to follow, and I thrived on those rules.
Second, it allowed me to stay in control. Many people who suffer from anorexia, or any other eating disorder, thrive on the fact that their eating disorder allows them to be in ultimate control, even when life feels out of control, and to thrive as a perfectionist. Many of us who suffer from eating disorders are perfectionists, and that’s why the eating disorder manifests in the first place. For me personally, many of my relationships felt messy, I felt I lacked purpose in college, and overall I didn’t know the direction my life was going in. I also felt in control knowing I could wear size 00 jeans, and knowing the scale read eighty five pounds. When I began to count macros, my adherence was MINE to control. I loved seeing all of that green in my tracker and that 7/7 when I checked in with Coach Taeya at the end of my week. I felt accomplished and satisfied knowing that I put in the hard work and I would reap the benefits of that.
Next, and ironically following the reason of control, macro counting forced me to put my health in the hands of a professional who knew what I needed when I truly didn’t know. I wasn’t equipped to make decisions for my own diet anymore. My body and brain were sick and I needed healing. I was already very used to reading nutrition labels, and I had a lot of prior knowledge about food already. I had a support group to talk about my eating disorder whenever I needed to. I needed to repair my metabolism, and for someone to take my hand and walk me through a Reverse Diet. For years, the deep rooted fear of someone suddenly forcing me to eat more, and gaining a ton of weight because my metabolism didn’t know how to break down more food, kept me from seeking help. Working with a macro nutrition coach ensured that I wasn’t going to all of the sudden gain weight due to giving my body more food, which allowed me to feel safe and comfortable. My numbers were carefully calculated and carefully increased when necessary so that my body didn’t get put in a state of shock. Not only did I not gain weight while I was going through a diet reverse and metabolic repair—I actually managed to make major progress with overall body composition. I was healthy and confident again, and I finally felt good in my clothes, while eating 2300 calories (eventually) instead of 800.
Ultimately, I became so inspired that I set out to become a macro nutrition coach myself, and decided to study holistic health coaching as well. Nutrition coaching is my passion, and there is nothing I would love more than to help women like me find life again after being crippled by the hold of disordered eating.
We often get the question, can I do macros if I struggle with disordered eating? The answer is, every individual is different and every journey toward healing is different. You may thrive with macro coaching or you may thrive with a therapist or a doctor. OR with all of the above. In my case, a macro nutrition coach was the professional that I needed, along with advice and recommendations from my doctor. No matter where you are in your journey, please know that here at Stay Fit Mom, there will always be a place for you, and we are rooting for your recovery.