What was my inspiration to start this website you might ask? Well, just a year ago sharing my story would have been unimaginable for me. I am so proud of myself for getting to this point in my life where I can finally accept my past and begin to be vulnerable and share struggles and battles I dealt with for the last 5 years or so.
When I was younger I was always the petite kid in the front who could eat anything and everything and never gain a pound. I was always super athletic and played many sports, such as soccer, cheerleading, lacrosse, or volleyball throughout my life. It wasn’t until I got into high school and I hit puberty when I saw my body changing that I began to see some weight gain. Now, I am also the youngest child in my family. I have an older brother and two older sisters, and as teenage girls in a public high school my sisters began to be pressured by society to have this perfect body. I remember my mom and my one sister would do insanity workouts everyday and I would do them for fun, still not understanding what body fat was or what a girls’ body “should look like” in society’s eyes. I just enjoyed working out and seeing what my body was capable of.
It wasn’t until the summer going into my sophomore year when I looked back at a picture of myself at the beach and I realized I was beginning to gain some weight. My stomach was a little bigger and my thighs now touched! Now every time I wore a bikini I was self-conscious about my stomach rolls and how my thighs touched while I walked. Eventually I went to my sister who was an exercise enthusiast and who was on a diet at the time, and asked her to help keep me accountable so I could lose weight. I started doing lots of research on what foods to eat in order to lose weight and would stay up in my room exercising until I couldn’t anymore. I also read online that green tea helped you lose stomach fat so I started drinking four cups a day.
Eventually I started shedding the pounds and people began to notice. Lots of people would tell me how I lost weight and they would asking me how I did it. I became obsessed with this new version of myself and I loved the attention this “all things healthy Maddie” was receiving. But throughout this whole period in my life I would restrict myself from eating anything I thought as unhealthy in fear of gaining weight over night. And if I did eat something potentially bad for me I would overexercise the next morning to make up for it. I began to lose sight of my original goal. I just wanted to be a few pounds lighter in the beginning but 10 pounds later I still wasn’t satisfied with my body. I would look in my mirror every night and still think I wasn’t “hot enough” or I still had a roll when I sat down. I would look at girls’ instagram posts or at the beach and compare my body to theirs to see if they were thinner. I lived in this constant mindset of dissatisfaction and it was exhausting.
Then I went to college. I went into college with no plans except thinking I wanted to become a vet, but within the first two weeks I was asked to join the cross-country team. If someone had asked me to join cross-country my senior year of high-school I would have told them heck no and laughed at such a silly idea, and that is potentially what I said in the beginning too. I couldn’t run more than four miles. I never thought of myself as a runner at the time, my sister was the runner. She did half marathons and ran 10 miles a day, and I always said she was crazy. But the coach encouraged me to try out anyway and see how I liked it. She said I looked like a runner (which is something my mom always said), so I decided to give it a shot not knowing what I was getting myself into. After the first practice, I decided to stick with the team and continue on training. I began to beat my personal records each practice and got stronger and faster as the days went on. I began to love running and started pushing myself harder to get faster and better. Just after two months of training, my family started to notice I was losing weight but we agreed it was just because of the constant running. Then I started to deal with a hip and back injury, but I couldn’t get myself to rest and recover. I became obsessed with exercising just like I was obsessed with eating healthy, which started to cause my body to break down. My parents began to become seriously worried for my health and accused me of having an eating disorder. The athletic director of my college contacted a therapist on campus without me knowing saying she thought I had a medical condition that I needed to talk about. My parents and coach also thought seeing a therapist would help. But I was in constant denial. I knew I was eating but what I didn’t understand is that I wasn’t eating ENOUGH. My body needed more calories, but since I was so reluctant to gaining weight I was afraid to increase my calorie intake. I was so angry at everyone for judging me and only seeing me as an anorexic or someone who lost a bunch of weight that I began to push everyone away from me. I spent most of my time in my dorm or with my boyfriend because I didn’t enjoy being around my friends. I felt like everyone would judge me or what I was eating so I would eat in my room instead of the cafeteria. Finally, I came across a few Health and Wellness bloggers on my instagram and I started seeing how these women emphasized body positivity and would be eating three wholesome meals a day including dessert and they weren’t fat at all. I started to follow a bunch of these ladies and began to learn about my self worth and that I should be listening to my body and accepting it for what it is. I shouldn’t be malnourishing it. I had this epiphany that I was eating SO healthy, that it was unhealthy. I realized I did have an eating disorder, known as orthorexia, and I decided it was time to make some changes in my life. As of these past two months, I have really started to listen to my body and do what is best for it. If it needs a rest day, I’m not going to go out and run. If my body is craving chocolate, I am not going to restrict myself. I still have A LOT to learn and am no where near fully recovered, but I made it past the first step which is acceptance.
Now, I have been inspired by the bloggers before me to share my own story and create my own blog where I can help others, like myself, who struggle with body acceptance and living a healthy lifestyle. We can continue to grow together and encourage each other, because everyone is beautiful and desires to live their life!
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”