Long time, no post friends!
My last post was September 22, 2020 to be exact… And wow has a lot happened between then & now.
To say it’s been the hardest 1.5 years of my life in my almost 30 years is an UNDERSTATEMENT. 😦 Between living generally in a pandemic, finishing my unpaid dietetic internship (DI) in a pandemic (the last step needed & now I’m eligible to take my boards exam to FINALLY become a RD), suffering a foot stress fracture, learning I have low bone density at age 28, not being able to run most of the last 1.5 years, & various random health issues like low iron levels & mysterious abdominal pain, I thought things were as tough as they could get. BOY was I wrong. In May 2021 my life changed forever when I learned I have a hereditary cancer syndrome called Lynch Syndrome. Learn more about what that means for me from this post on my Instagram in May since I don’t want to retype it all now. It’s not even the main focus of this update. I’m sure I will write more about Lynch Syndrome here in the near future. I will say despite all the hardships there were two big pros the last 1.5 years: graduating from my DI & becoming a homeowner (my husband & I bought a condo in July)! But everything else has been a challenge. 😦
And the real reason for this update is to share a story I haven’t shared before. At least until I shared it last week on my Instagram. But I wanted to share that here too, as it’s easier to read here. And it’s a doozy. It’s my eating disorder (ED) story. It relates to everything that has happened the last 1.5 years because all of it, especially my Lynch Syndrome diagnosis, led me to relapse into an illness I thought I was over with… I shared on Instagram because last week was NEDA (National Eating Disorders Awareness) week & I felt inspired to finally share my story, but we should be raising awareness on EDs 365 days/year as they affect people of all sizes, genders, socio economic statuses, sexual orientations, ages, etc.
This is my first time publicly sharing my eating disorder story. The reason I haven’t shared yet has been due to fear, shame because of the profession I’m entering, & because my story is still being written. But I was inspired by runner Allie Ostrander’s instagram post on Feb. 23, 2022 where she challenged her followers to share a story to change a story. If my story helps one person feel less alone or seek treatment than it will be worth it. 💜 So here goes nothing!⠀
It started at the end of 7th grade. I had just gone through puberty & started my period a few months prior. I had gained some weight. Someone commented on my weight & encouraged me to lose a few lbs. I did not think much about my body prior to this. In fact, I’ve been a petite individual my entire life & was at the time of the comment. I lost those few pounds quickly by the start of summer by swapping out my snacks & sometimes skipping meals. I was also very active & on a travel soccer team. I didn’t stop there, though. I’d play dance dance revolution between soccer practices. My struggles mostly flew under the radar. Although one of my travel soccer coaches that summer noticed something was amiss at a practice where I got lightheaded. He offered me Gatorade & asked if I eat enough overall. I lied & said I do.
By the start of 8th grade I lost my period & by my freshmen year of high school I had lost 10+ lbs. I also joined the cross country team to train for soccer. I ended up being naturally good at running, even more so than soccer. I realized I did not look like some of the other runners (I now know runners don’t have a “look”, but did not at 14). I started counting calories. I was SO hungry. But I was also doing really well in school & sports, so few knew I was suffering. I told my doctors about my period loss & they brushed it off as a normal part of training. I was never formally diagnosed with an ED back then, but as an almost RD I realized I met most criteria for anorexia & probably should have received treatment. 😔
By my sophomore year of high school I became curious about nutrition & decided I wanted to run competitively in college. I realized if I wanted a chance at it I’d probably need to gain my period back & maybe even gain some weight. By my junior year I gained ~10-15 lbs & my period returned! I thought I was cured of my ED….But what I see now is it just moved more toward general disordered eating, & bad body image. This was a spot I stayed at for YEARS. I was able to go out with friends or my boyfriend (my now husband!) & eat, but I tended to pick “healthier” options & stress about what I was eating under the guise of caring about food/my training.
I had horrible body image, especially once I went to college to run for a D1 school. I felt like I did not look like the other girls I ran against. I under-fueled for my activity levels & remember trying to stay at or under 1500 calories when I’d log my food. I wasn’t always logging my food, though. I was still going out to eat, having fun, etc. but definitely thoughts about food & body image occupied a fair amount of my time. By my junior year of college I lost a little weight again & some people noticed. They’d say I looked “fit” & I LOVED the compliments. I also had my best season so far. I stayed around this weight for years & in this weird spot of being aware of what I ate & sometimes tracking, but not always. Bad body image thoughts occupied less space in my mind, but they were still whispering. Then, by the time I graduated from college. I was so burnt out from competitive running (and likely years of under-fueling) that I did not run much for a few years.
It wasn’t until after I turned 25, got married, went vegan, & decided that I would train for marathon that I felt healthy & at peace with food compared to the last 12+ years. I also decided to go back to school to study to become a RD, as I was not enjoying the teaching profession. I still had some struggles but nothing like it had been. But then the pandemic hit & in June 2020 I was diagnosed with my 1st ever stress fracture. And I learned I also have low bone density at age 28. I’m shocked I made it that long without a stress fracture considering everything. I was so angry at past me for not taking better care of my body. 😡 Of course I know it wasn’t really my fault, but it was & still is hard. I vowed I’d do better moving forward, so I wouldn’t suffer another fracture, improve my bone density, & reach all my running goals. Unfortunately life didn’t quite work out that way. ☹️
In May 2021, toward the end of my dietetic internship, after experiencing some weird health issues, I found out I have a hereditary cancer syndrome called. Lynch Syndrome The news DEVASTATED me. 😭I withdrew from most people & fell into a deep depression. I have a history of anxiety & depression since age 12, but this was the worst it had ever been. I was struggling to eat & I became afraid of most foods I used to love, even black beans. I lost weight & people noticed. I felt so lost, embarrassed, & ashamed. I blamed it on my depression. What I did not realize at the time was that I was relapsing into my ED. It was just in a new form. The lynch syndrome diagnosis + pandemic stress were the triggers.
I sought extra help when I realized my issues might be more than depression. In December 2021 I was diagnosed with ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder). My food fears were/are mainly due to fear of cancer & sickness rather than a desire to change the shape of my body. Although with my past history of a restrictive eating disorder & some body image issues, I technically have ARFID “Plus” (a combination of ARFID & a restrictive eating disorder).
I am currently in outpatient treatment (this includes a therapist & RD) & I am chasing recovery. I am still going to reach all my running goals & then some + I’m going to be a sports & plant-based RD very soon! Expect some changes to this website when that happens. And If you want to be a future client of mine you can hop on my waitlist. Furthermore, I’m going to go through my Lynch Syndrome screenings each year as bravely as I can & hopefully I don’t develop cancer. Being the healthiest version of myself will only help in all areas of my life!
Thank you for reading if you made it to the end! 🤗 And if any of you are suffering NEDA is a great place to find resources. You deserve recovery too. 💕