The trigger point
The first Summer holiday in my first year of university, I went back home to Jakarta. I met my Mom (don’t get me wrong here, I love her, but she can be quite upfront with her comments) greeted me with a hug and a smile and said, ‘What happened?? You gained weight? You’re so much rounder and LOOK at your THIGHS?!’
At this point, I was so happy to be back home and to see my family, that I just shrugged off the comments and laughed about it, saying that I probably had too much good food.
The next morning, I weighed myself and I was shocked. The scale read 62kg / 137 pounds. So, in my first year away from home, at university I gained around 10 kg / 22 pounds.
I’m 5ft 4 inches (160cm) and my natural weight was usually 52-55 kg (114 – 121 pounds).
How in in the world did this happen??
I had a flashback to all the oily Chinese takeaways, pizza, late night snacks, munching on Doritos into the wee hours of the night while watching The Voice. I remember running away to food and finding comfort in sugary and chocolaty snacks. I wasn’t watching what I ate, and I didn’t exercise. I was under constant stress, trying to keep up with the demands of law school, and wasn’t sleeping enough. Coffee had become my best friend and I was pushing myself harder than ever.
Inevitably, overtime the weight had sneaked in and piled on.
I had felt uncomfortable for months before I had stepped onto the scale. My body felt depleted, lethargic, heavy, moody and my body felt out of balance in general. However, I never paid attention to my body’s signals and it never really hit me until I went onto the scale, how much I had been living so much in my mind, that my body had to pay the price.
How I met Ana.
I wasn’t aware that I had met Ana until she was inextricably a part of me. It’s scary how much I lost of myself and how much Ana took over my life.
I was determined to lose the weight I gained. I wanted to return back to when I was 52kg. So that Summer, I went on my first ‘diet.’ I tend to be a black and white person, so when I set a goal I will go all in and do whatever it takes to achieve it.
Now I’m learning to live in the middle, that there does not need to be absolutes, that life does not need to be all or nothing, and that’s okay.
So, I immediately cut out all processed snacks, and only ate 3 balanced meals a day. I began exercising again – I put on my shoes which had gathered up dust in the closet, strapped them on, and began routinely jogging in the afternoon for around 30 – 45 minutes.
The weight naturally came off and by the end of the Summer I was back to 54kg. I had regained my energy, I felt healthier, my clothes fit again, I could focus better, and my body felt good.
However, my perfectionism got the better of me.
You can read more about the roots of my perfectionism in this post where I eventually learned that my perfectionism was a mental defense from a troubled childhood in growing up not feeling ever good enough.
At this point, I was unaware that I had tied my self-worth to the number on the scale. 54kg wasn’t good enough for me, even though that was within my body’s natural weight set point where it felt good and could function optimally.
The fact that my perfectionism had no ceiling of when something was ‘perfect’ became incredibly dangerous at this point.
So, I thought, let’s see how much more I can lose.
Ana started nudging. Could I do 52kg?
So I rose up to my own silly challenge, and increased my jogging to an hour each day and still ate the same 3 meals a day. Within 2 weeks my weight had gone down to 52kg.
Ana started whispering. C’mon, you made it to 52kg, can you do 50kg?
I don’t know. I had never been 50kg all throughout my high school years. But I can try.
So, since I thought weight loss was the more energy you burn, than you consume, the more you’ll lose. I decided to skip my breakfast meal.
** After my recovery and learning about food, and health, this is VERY WRONG and dangerous information. Losing weight is not only about how much calories you burn.
I continued jogging, even increasing it to 1 hour and 15 minutes. But the weight wouldn’t budge.
I cut my portions in half. The weight still wouldn’t budge.
Ana whispered again. C’mon you can do better than this.
I was unaware that I was starving myself. I was consuming very little, 2 small meals was not enough energy to support my daily activities and jogging. 52kg was my lowest natural set point, and my body was holding on to the weight it was comfortable at.
If I had learned to listen to my body at this point, I would have stopped. But instead, I felt like I failed.
Isn’t weird that I felt like a failure? I had set my own goals, achieved to getting back at the normal weight I was at. However, since I had been operating in the thinking pattern believing that I wasn’t good enough, I continued to unconsciously believe it and it affected every single area of my life.
However, it was only later on in my recovery that I understood that this feeling of failure was rooted in my from my childhood. By not having closure to some traumatizing childhood events, I had subconsciously believed and had made a mental and heart defense mechanism that if I did everything I could do to make it seem ‘perfect’ in the external sense, nothing could ever hurt me anymore.
I felt like I had to continue
to do more,
to always reach for the highest standard,
to compensate for the feeling that being myself was not good enough.
It was this harmful thinking pattern that drove me into the arms of Ana.
When the truth is, being me and true to who I am is enough, and it was what I needed to embrace.
But first, I had to do the inner work, I needed to heal my heart from the inside out in order to break free from Ana’s elusive and harmful prison and freely be me!
Healing is your heart coming back home. Click To Tweet
Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of my recover story: How Ana Took Over.
In sharing about my experience in meeting Ana, I hope that some of you will be able to relate to what I went through. I understand the difficulty and struggles in living with and recovering from an eating disorder. This Be Fre(ed) series is dedicated to helping those of you who may be struggling with food, or body image, or feel trapped in their minds with negative / harmful thoughts that may be weighing you down.
I want to get to know YOU more, what are some of the struggles that you have with food or body image? If you are recovering from an ED, what are some of the difficulties that you have been encountering?
Feel free to comment below, or send me an email at email@example.com. You can also connect with me via Instagram @wellnesstogo, Facebook, or Twitter @thewellnesstogo. I read every single email, or comment that comes through and will answer to your questions! I am here to serve you so that you can find food, body, and mind freedom, and be the healthiest, happiest and most loving version of yourself!