Entering college the year prior, I came in as a confident size four. Maybe a six. A little soft. But balanced. And unconcerned.
It is amazing what a year in college can do to a girl.
My college boyfriend was fit and older. His ex girlfriend was gorgeous. Fit. A little older. And teeny-tiny.
I was nineteen. A size four. A little soft. Maybe I should’ve been concerned.
Everywhere I looked were gym bags and water bottles. StairMaster had hit the scene hard. As did kickboxing. Step. Hi-Lo. And Billy Blanks.
The fitness train had taken off and all of the pretty girls were on it. My best friend a marathon runner. My boyfriend, fit and older. His ex-girlfriend, gorgeous. Fit. Teeny-tiny.
And she appeared very healthy.
Did I say she was gorgeous? And teeny-tiny?
Oddly enough, she was around a lot. Quite needy and dependent. Lurking and looking for affirmation. Confirmation that she was gorgeous and fit.
I’m sure I was her biggest fan. I studied her. Her clothes. Her hair. Her diet. Her workout regimen.
She drank coffee for breakfast. Canned tuna and sugar free gelatin for lunch. And maybe a cracker – if she was splurging.
I could do that.
For dinner, another can of tuna with unseasoned green beans.
I could do that, too. I liked tuna. And beans. And sugar-free Jello.
And loved coffee – ahem.
anorexia nervosa (def):a serious disorder in eating behavior primarily of young women in their teens and early twenties that is characterized especially by a pathological fear of weight gain leading to faulty eating patterns, malnutrition, and usually excessive weight loss
So I ran hard trying to catch that train. Trying to make up for the couple of college years that I had been too comfortable in my soft, size fours. Needing drastic results to look the part.
I served the scale. Obeying its demands. On a bad day, it would shame me. It’s disappointment sending me back to work. “No, Becky. That is not good enough. Faster. Harder.”
On a really good day it would commend me with a smaller number. Congratulating me on my faithfulness to fat-free foods and hours at the gym.
It was all very subtle. And social. College girls going to the gym. Making eyes at the frat brothers. Feeling hot in my purple spandex (oh yes). Chasing skinny on the treadmill.
No one knew I had become a prisoner. Bound by my new size zero.
I wish someone would have helped me.
It was exhausting trying to maintain my new size and weight. I started to miss food. And flavor.
What was a skinny girl to do?
Workout more I guess. That seemed to be my answer for everything.
I remember going to a Christmas party and being completely helpless against that table of chocolate covered Oreos and buckeyes. The cheese ball beckoned me come. And I did. All night. Discreetly going back to the table again and again. Trying to appear normal.
But I had no idea what normal looked like anymore.
The next day, I woke. Hungover from chocolate and chips. The scale furious with my behavior.
My head hung low, I went to the gym. Skipping every one of my classes. I worked out. And worked out. And worked out. All. Day. Long. I punished myself on that fitness floor for eight grueling hours. Honestly thinking I deserved the beating. Deeply needing to feel thin again. Working hard to make the scale happy.
Exercise Bulimia: (def) compulsive exercising in order to purge the body of excessive calories taken in from a feeding binge. Over-exercising in order to maintain weight loss and extreme caloric burn.I may have been a zero. Fit. Now teeny-tiny. But exercise had not only burned calories. It also burned up all of my confidence. I was twenty. Skinny. Unsure. And extremely unhappy.
What had happened to me? What happened to that nineteen-year-old, joyful girl who was balanced and pleased with herself?
Wasn’t exercise a good thing? Wasn’t healthy eating important?
I needed help…