Last week, I shot 2 new videos for Cyberobics. These videos will be played in over 150 gyms across Europe and available to millions over Sky TV.
The idea of so many people watching and learning from and judging me used to scare me. I used to think I needed to prove that I was worthy of being the person who taught that many people.
After 6 videos over the span of almost 3 years, this is the very first time I haven’t felt the desire to diet.
I had determined not to diet since shoot number 2, but I still wanted to. It was just more important to me that I model a real, healthy body type than one I had to hurt myself to create.
This time, the idea of dieting crossed my mind, but I was able to see the thought and easily dismiss it. Dieting isn’t even an option for me anymore. I’ve been eating normally: bread, chocolate, pizza and all. Without guilt or shame.
This is HUGE.
I didn’t even realize it at first! I was talking to my friend about the shoot the other day and this element came up. “You’re going to write about that, right?!” she asked. It didn’t even occur to me – it just came naturally from all the work I’ve been doing.
This shoot feels like night and day from my first one. I feel powerful, more confident and at peace with myself. And it’s not just because of my experience. It’s because of the work I’ve done since the first time I shot with them.
I haven’t told you the full story yet. I think it’s finally time.
The Opportunity of a Lifetime
When I first got cast in Cyberobics, I felt the need to prove I was enough by making my body look a certain way, even though no one ever told me I needed to. When I was hired, they were happy with the healthy body I had. “But, this is my chance,” I told myself. “Don’t waste this opportunity – be the person you always wanted to be.” For me, that meant skinny.
I’d always thought that if I could just be skinnier, so much would be easier in my life; I’d be more confident, love myself more and be more worthy of success and Love. I figured this was the time to do it.
On the day of that first shoot, I had restricted myself down to about 13% body fat by working out 2 1/2 hours a day, 6 days a week and eating 1,000-1,200 calories per day (less than sedentary people should eat each day). I was always hungry – I obsessed over foods I couldn’t have, spending hours scrolling through recipes for cookies and banana bread on Pinterest. My period had stopped. The only way I felt accomplished was if My Fitness Pal showed negative calories for the day (it always did… sometimes into the negative thousands).
I could see the concern in my director’s and friends’ eyes when they saw me, but I ignored it because I felt powerful. I was in control.
I told myself it was healthy, that I was being safe. I told myself I felt great, so I had to be eating enough. Now I can see that I’d fallen back into my eating disorder. Now I know that I was pushing myself into adrenal fatigue and damaging my metabolism.
My body was shutting down.
Every Action Has An Equal & Opposite Reaction
After the shoot was over, my goal had been reached. I had no more reason to keep up this body shape because I wasn’t going to be in front of the camera in my near future. As I’ve since been taught, all periods of control and restriction are followed by a loss of control for people like me.
I started eating everything. I couldn’t stop. As hard as I tried, I just couldn’t stop. I felt so ashamed. “How could I throw everything I worked so hard for away?!” I thought. Now, I can see that this was my body trying to heal itself.
In one week, I’d binged 10 pounds back on. I still couldn’t stop. All the control I’d felt before had vanished. I was terrified.
It was at this point that I realized I needed to go back into recovery for my eating disorder.
Going back into recovery
The first year was grueling. Every week, I attended a group therapy session and at least one group support session (usually more). Every other week I saw my individual therapist. I surrounded myself with healing tools and people. None of it was easy. Everything felt like I was ripping myself apart… I kind of was.
My recovery required facing my deepest fears by sticking to a food plan that made sure I was eating enough and not exercising too much. I was looking beliefs about my self worth straight in the face and breaking them apart. This work challenged everything I thought I knew about self-love, confidence and worth. Much to my surprise, it started working.
The second year felt a little easier, but it still felt like I was training for a marathon after finishing my first 5k. Every month I felt like I was digging deeper into what I’d explored before. I was brushing aside the loose soil I’d broken up in that first year, and starting to dig holes for the roots of self-worth and Love.
This last year hasn’t been easy per say, but it’s been fluid. I’m in acceptance that growth takes pain sometimes, and that’s ok. I don’t fight it anymore; instead I lean into it and ask it what it’s here to teach me. I accept its invitation to know myself better.
Now, I’m here.
I don’t have the desire to restrict myself anymore. The way my body looks never makes or breaks my day anymore. Like my recovery from depression, these results are ones I never thought were possible – I thought they were a myth!
Everything I thought I’d get from being skinnier I now have because of this work, not because my body is a certain size.
Confidence, peace, a sense of power, trust and more; they’re not the unicorns of the self development world anymore. They’re simply facts of my life now.
I write this not to brag, but to give you hope. I’ve been back in recovery now since May, 2015. Almost three years of intense, focused work, and I’m just now feeling like it’s coming easy.
If you’re in the throes of struggle – whether it be for an eating disorder, depression, anxiety, PTSD, high stress, being a new parent, or anything else – please hang in there. With this kind of work, it most often has to be hard before it is easy. But what’s on the other side is worth it. It’s so worth it.
I hope this heart-on-a-platter piece inspired you to have faith in your work today.
All my Love,