Part 1: My Unhealthy Relationship with Food and All the Ugly Truths I’ve Never Shared

In so many ways, it is liberating to write this post. I’ve been wanting to write it for about a year, but every time I would start, things would get bad again, and I would start to feel like I wasn’t ready to write it. I told a close friend this morning that it’s time. I’m finally here. I’m finally at a place where I can transparently share this part of my story. It’s freeing, and also a little scary. It’s scary to expose a previous truth that I lived for so many years, but it’s something I feel ready to do. I have this need to be honest with you. I also have this need to be real and transparent and bare it all here in my little corner of the internet. It’s both liberating and terrifying, but mainly, it’s freeing.

For the longest time, I have had a horribly unhealthy relationship with food. 

It was to the point where I could look at a bowl of grapes and pretty well know how many calories were in them. I memorized the nutrition facts on my favorite safe foods, and I would often preview a restaurant dinner menu beforehand if I knew I would be eating out with others. For years, I had a journal where I tracked each and every calorie I took in and all of the calories burned in the gym or in my fitness apps. To me, it was a simple math equation. Calories in – Calories out. I would survive on 500 or fewer calories a day for weeks at a time. All the while, looking pretty healthy, not super thin, but absolutely dying on the inside.

I don’t remember when it started really…

I think back to the summer before college when I lost 15 pounds by restricting because I’d heard of the horrors of freshman 15… so I planned ahead. Then, I think even further back to my sophomore year of high school when my friends told my mom that I would throw up after lunch, and I was mortified (and also a liar because I said it wasn’t true.) And then I stop because I remember being the kid who literally ate everything in sight while remaining an average weight in grade-school… not a care in the world that I had just eaten an entire pizza or a whole bag of Lay’s Salt and Vinegar chips (like the big one) in just one sitting.

I don’t know exactly when things changed for me, or when I became so afraid of food.  

I never realized how bad it was until after I got married. Soon after we were married, my husband started noticing just how many meals a week I would skip and how quickly I could “bounce back” after gaining 2 or 3 pounds. That’s the thing about living and working with someone. They notice things like that. We ate lunches and dinners together, so there was no easy way to skip those anymore. This was a really tricky thing for us because he tried to be respectful, and I tried to let him in… but I still was living my truth that the numbers were all that mattered. I was also in complete denial that I had a problem. I thought everything I was doing was normal.

I lived for the “you look so thin” and “have you lost weight?“. It pains me to admit it, but I  was obsessed with hearing those words. I was also a fraud because I would tell girls and young women that those words didn’t matter and that we were all created in His image. Meanwhile, I’m over here starving because I liked a size 2 more than a size 6, not caring how I got there just hellbent on making it happen. How could those beautiful words I would tell other women not apply to me too? I wonder how many other girls do this.

For me, food was a way to have control.

Whenever things would become chaotic in my life, I would start controlling my food. Whenever someone was really unkind to me or made me feel bad about myself, I would control my food. In some super weird and twisted way, I even used restricting as a way to punish myself. Like when I failed College Statics 3 times, I would pick some crazy number of calories and only allow myself to eat that many for a few days. I know to some people this sounds so ridiculous and irrational, and it should. Because it is. I also know to some of you reading this, you are learning that you are not alone and that there are other women out there who seem to have it all together while hiding this little secret just like you have been doing for far too long.

I see you. I have been you. and I want better for you. 

Soon enough, each season became like clockwork.  Anytime I knew there would be holiday pictures, I’d start planning and restricting like crazy to get the numbers and measurements I knew I would want for that one single picture. Same with summers and spring break. I would try on all my swimwear a month ahead of time to know how much work I had to do… and of course, some of that work was done in the gym, but a lot of it was done by staying out of the kitchen.

Through all of these stages of bingeing and purging, restricting, and over-exercising, I honestly thought what I was doing was normal. I mean, I was in control, so it was up to me when I would stop. (Because that’s healthy, Lindsay… smh)

About 4 years ago, I was on a missions trip, and we all were bonding with the new team and sharing different things, and honest to God out of nowhere, my mouth started moving and words starting popping out. Words that I had never said before or really even thought… and they just ran out of my mouth like they had someplace to go. I started telling the group about this obsession with monitoring my food and how I could manipulate my caloric intake to produce the numbers I wanted to see on the scale and a measuring tape. I shared how guilty I felt and how ashamed I was for allowing this to be my truth for so long. There were tears, a lot of tears, and not all mine.

The team laid hands on me and prayed over me that night. And honestly, something changed in me again. 

The numbers didn’t work the way they used too. I couldn’t control food the way I had before, and yeah, this was really great for a while because I felt free. I had finally been set free of my irrational fear of food. It felt amazing at first. I didn’t feel the need to restrict or count. I felt like I was finally living my life. I stopped looking at myself in the mirror and got rid of my scale and all the measuring tapes. Things were good until they weren’t.

Its true, food no longer trapped me, but now it was me that trapped me. 

My numbers wouldn’t work anymore, and my restricting seemed impossible. The thought of throwing up was just horrible and I couldn’t… so I started a new cycle… no longer maintaining the same technique, but yo-yo dieting my way through life now.

I would work really hard to get back to my goal weight, and then a few days later binge and feel like a cow. It was a constant up and down battle on the scale, and looking back, I just shake my head… because honestly, I looked the same through most of these phases. 5 pounds is not a big deal, but I would stress and cry and go into a full on panic attack when the numbers seemed broken.

I know some of you must be thinking “this is what pageants and modeling will do to a young girl” and I don’t blame you for thinking that… but know this: my problems with food started years after I did the little girl pageants and years before I stepped into Miss pageants. It was actually during the gap of not competing when this whole obsession with food and numbers began. So for some, yeah, maybe pageants lead them here, but for me, I think it was just always about having control, and this was the only way I knew how.

Anyways, I’ve spent years trying to figure out where this all comes from. More importantly, though, I needed to know how to make it stop. How to stop me from needing so much control that I could hide almost an entire meal by cutting it up into tiny pieces and strategically placing my napkin and bread over the main course… I needed to get it under control. I needed to learn how to not be in control. 

So, on my own accord, I tried a new way. I bought some new clothes and downloaded some new apps. If I couldn’t make myself look the way I wanted. Well, I sure as heck could make myself look that way online. Instead of yo-yo dieting and restricting and all of the ugly things I’ve already described, I walked myself right into a new trap: fake it ’til you make it. I know I sound quite pathetic and ridiculous by now, definitely not like a Bible-believing, God-fearing grown woman… but I am that too. Just one that struggles a little.

I don’t feel like I really need to describe that last trap to you in much detail. I mean, ya’ll saw it, and some of you have even lived it. Heck, a few of you even called me out on it. Praise the Lord for those few! I became so obsessed with photo editing apps, that I believed a really stupid lie that I was actually making myself look more like me by shaving down my waistline and firming up my legs and arms in my photos online. WHAT A JOKE! Honestly, how can I accept any compliments on pictures that are a complete lie? Not only that, but how could I accept comments from women telling me how I’m a role model and an inspiration when again, I knew my real truth, and it wasn’t anything to be proud of.

So, now I’m here.

It took me quite a long time to get here. From the too thin days to the off and on days to the faking it days, and now I’m just here. I have some idea of my weight and measurements, but it’s actually been months since I checked for concrete numbers. And honestly, there are so many things that have gotten me to where I am with all of this – the food, the numbers, the weight loss, all of it. But I think I’ll leave that for another post. (here’s a little sneak peek – I asked myself, how can a food blogger have an unhealthy relationship with food?)

Today, I just wanted to tell you the beginning of the story – the ugly parts.

In upcoming posts, I’ll share some of the ways I’ve learned to have more than a good relationship with food, but how I’ve also learned how to have a healthy relationship with my body and myself. I realized just the other day that this will be the first Thanksgiving in a really long time where my collar bones and hip bones haven’t “popped”, and it made me happy because it meant that I wasn’t trapped in that old way of thinking that made me believe stuff like this actually mattered.

I’ve said this a few times already, and I don’t know how or when this all started. I know it comes from a fear of not being in control of myself, so I react by controlling things like food and my what my body looks like. Something I’ve learned in the last year is that control isn’t everything. I still struggle to believe this, but I’m working on it.

All I know is that now I control what I can, and I don’t worry about what I can’t. Fear is something that I can control – Fear of failure, fear of food, fear of lacking control. I know that fear is not from God. He would never put a fear in me that pushed me to the lengths I’ve gone to over the years to maintain a certain weight or measurement. No way is this from Him. So if it’s not from Him, who’s it from?? Obviously, we know who. And maybe I can’t control Satan on my own, but I know that God can. I know I said I wouldn’t share how I got to my now in this post, but I will share this part: When you believe that God reigns fiercely over all of your fears and the things you can’t control, you realize that you have access to the control panel of your life. Sure, you can call all of the shots, and wreak havoc on your joy and your life. Or you can give God the control and allow Heavenly Father call the shots for you.

 Being in control sucks when you don’t know the outcome. Let the only One who does be in control.

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