A while back I told you of my story, my journey of food, wellness, and getting myself healthy. The response was incredible and I thank you for allowing me the space to be open and vulnerable with my experience.
However, I’ve done you wrong, I haven’t told you the whole story.
Now, I’m ready. I’ve been sitting on this since I was 15 and even if 1 person is inspired to think differently about their body and health, it will be worth it.
It began at 15, the brewing of quiet desperation, the feelings came on like a wave taking over my body. This was the age I began to really become conscious of myself.
I have felt like I’ve always been “tuned in” or perhaps a highly sensitive person, and around this time I started to see just how raw and vulnerable we all are – I saw all the dreams and aspirations I had for my life and felt overwhelmed with the mission to make them happen, I had fire in my eyes.
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I began to see my parents as human, not as the all knowing, almighty entities I had made them out to be, (I felt sad), I knew my older brother would be leaving for college that year and my leader and mentor wouldn’t be there for me every day, (I felt lonely), I watched in terror as the twin towers crumbled to the ground on September 11th, (I felt scared), and for the first time, the beautiful dream world I can constructed began to drift away.
Life got real, real fast. And I didn’t know how to cope.
I would lash out, I would cry, I would be a bitchy, moody teenager (we know one or were one!) because I didn’t know how else to deal with the swelling of emotions. And from this place, I turned to food.
Food; it didn’t talk back, it didn’t leave or abandon. It wasn’t rude, cruel, opinionated or judgmental – it was just there, as my faithful old companion.
Food would soothe me on a late winter night as it would wrap it’s arms around me and whisper sweet nothings, it told me everything would be alright if I stayed right here in this place, just me and food, forever and always.
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It showed it’s love through anything that was highly processed, refined and packed full of sugar. And dammit, it was an abusive relationship. I became addicted, I wanted more. I would think about it all day, aching for the moment when we could be alone in the dark together and no one knew what was going on except for me.
The more addicted I became, the more I carried shame and guilt around my hidden love affair with sugar.
I felt stuck & lost – who could I talk to, share this with, how could I stop the late night binges and actually deal with my emotions?
Feeling sad, donut, feeling mad, chocolate chip cookies, feeling confused, vanilla cake – and this list goes on.
And I couldn’t have just one. It was one, then 3, then the whole damn box. After a box of cookies, I promise you will feel like shit. I hurt, all over, my head, my body, my heart and I wanted it out.
Laxatives weren’t my thing – it was binging and purging. It was literally using food to swallow my emotions, pushing myself to the point of sickness, and then forcing myself to release it and get the poison out of my system. After I would force myself to throw up, I’d almost feel victorious as I washed it all away, down the drain in would go, never to be seen again – out of sight, out of mind, “this never happened,” I would think to myself.
But it did happen, and couldn’t be ignored.
For years, this wrecked havoc on my digestion, weight, skin, self-esteem and overall quality of life. I felt like a failure for not being able to curb my cravings and hypocrite for being labeled as one of the “healthiest” people my friends knew while in fact I was secretly dealing with my own demons around food and self-love.
One day I woke up and decided that I deserved more, I deserved better, and there was no way in hell I was going to continue to abuse myself anymore. I just wasn’t. The answer did not lie anywhere other than inside myself, inside my heart, and inside the choice to live a different reality.
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Getting healthy was never about the number on the scale,
it was about healing the part of me that didn’t think I was worthy or enough.
Now at this point, what I know to be true is that while it started as an innocent coping mechanism, it did become an addiction. I learned that sugar has addictive qualities in it similar to that of heroine and cocaine and that I absolutely had to cut it out of my diet to break the addiction while I took on the task of healing myself from the inside out.
Sugar qualifies as an addictive substance for two reasons:
1. Eating even a small amount creates a desire for more.
2. Suddenly quitting causes withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, cravings and fatigue.
I began to see the correlation between my in take of wheat and processed sugar, and the affect it had on my blood sugar levels and end result of nightly binges.
I filled the space in my heart that didn’t believe I was perfect just the way I am with things I love: adventures and traveling, supportive friendships, love for myself, running, sunshine, learning and personal growth, love for others, animals, laughter, being close to the water, love for the world, self-expression, creative projects, gratitude, green juices, and morning and nightly rituals that keep me focused and grounded.
It was about connecting with my inner voice and strength so that I could shine the light that was buried deep inside, so that my outer beauty would reflect the always present inner beauty.
It was about stopping the act of self-harm and soley giving myself self-love and care.
It feels as if I’m writing about someone else because now, I look into the mirror and I see beauty, I see light, I pure love and truth.
I touch my skin and marvel that this is the body I get to house my soul inside. The soft skin that allows me to touch and connect with another human being. The same skin that used to feel foriegn and strange to me.
I look into my own 2 eyes and see respect, respect for my spirit to fully live in all its glory. The same two eyes that used to look in the mirror and pray to be different; prettier, thiner, more perfect.
I see my wild, brown curls and I embrace them. The very same curls I spent 10 years straightening so I could be like everyone else.
Today, when I look at myself and truly drink up all I am and all I see, I know I am not perfect. Perfection does not exist. Yes, even the Victoria Secret models you may admire from afar, I can guarantee even they look at themselves and see imperfections.
You see, it’s all relative and your thighs that touch, your little belly pouch, the pimple right on your nose, is YOU and you are beautiful.
There are still times when I feel less than stellar, confused, stuck, and uninspired but I know that is not who I am.
Who I AM is love.
Who I AM is beauty.
Who I AM is an all-encompassing being put here to grow, learn, and discover.
And from this place of being, how could I possibly ever inflict harm on myself?
I choose how the game gets played; and I can choose to play the victim, choose to be stuck, choose to self destruct, choose to compare and envy, or I can choose love.
You see, my life changed when I simply had the courage to CHOOSE differently. I chose strength. I chose life.
Not only did I heal my spirit through love and respect for myself, but I healed my body through my diet.
When I removed the sugar, processed foods, and wheat I filled it in with heal supportive goodness that allows me to fuel my body, mind and spirit from the inside out. Read more in What I Eat and Why.
Experiencing an eating disorder is not a curse, it is not shameful, it doesn’t make you bad or weak – it’s an opportunity to see where you can bring more light, love, truth and healing into your life.
It is forcing you to take a good, hard look at the road blocks in your life, and choose to leap over them.
My experience, my past, has been a gift. It broke me down to the point where I had no clue but to stare life directly in the face and choose what direction I wanted this adventure to go in.
I tell you this about to me to share my truth, all that I am, because I cannot and will not ask you to step into your truth without first revealing mine.
Today, I am a stronger, happier, healthier individual and on a mission to use my experience to help others reach their goals. What does all this have to do with you and your health?! Well, all I can say is that I’ve been there.
I’ve been through it, I’ve learned, grown and am better for it. Don’t get me wrong, my journey of learning is never, ever going to be over but now that I’ve made it through to the light end of the tunnel I’d like to take some time to give it all back to you; to tell my story, and hopefully in some way inspire you to step fully into your strength.
Now, I ask you:
- Where are you starving in your life?
- What emotions are you eating away?
- Where do you need to pull back the veil and look life straight on and deal with it?
- What are you hiding from?
This life is a gift, it’s yours to create – what are you going to choose?
Make it beautiful, just like you.
Carly Shankman is a certified Holistic Health Coach on a mission to create a happier, healthier world through whole food nutrition. She believes that mental, spiritual and physical health are not exclusive of one another. Connect with Carly on her website (www.carlyshankman.com) ,Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/peacelovekale/) , Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/carlyshankmanpeaceloveandkale?ref=hl) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/CarlyShankman).
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