Food for thought

Riley Cornelius

New Years has come and gone and people have made their resolutions. The gyms are full and most people are trying their best to better themselves. However, some of us will still grapple with thoughts of overeating and the idea “good” (acceptable, healthy foods) vs. “bad” (high calorie, causes weight gain) foods. 

I have written multiple articles about my changing weight and efforts to become healthy. This one, however, is not about how I or we can strive to be our best or how it’s okay you’re not giving your 100% all the time. There are downsides to the health industry, and when taken to an extreme, being healthy becomes just as unhealthy as eating fast food 24/7.

My downfall started when I began counting calories to “track nutrition”. I was trying to eat as few calories as possible. Then it became a challenge to see how few calories I could eat, or how many calories I could burn and not eat from a workout. 

Restricting myself to 1000-1200 calories per day I lost weight quickly. While it might have been considered safe for a five foot girl who doesn’t work out, it was not safe for me, with being 5’5” and working out religiously. I told myself there’s no way I can have an eating disorder while eating a “bad” food like pizza. 

I was doing this while trying to gain muscle through lifting, not realizing that even though I was eating enough for some other person, I wasn’t eating enough for my lifestyle. 

Now, two years after I started working out, I’m having to start over. I have not been diagnosed with an eating disorder but I know I’m not eating enough. I’m working my way up to 1,400-1,700 calories a day, it’s still not enough but it’s a step in the right direction. 

  It is terrifying, the weight is mostly going to my stomach because my body is trying to heal itself from what I’ve done to it. All the work I’d put in to look smaller and now I have to undo some of it. Without eating more, I will never look fit, toned or athletic because my body just doesn’t have enough energy to build the muscle.

       Mental health surrounding food and weight doesn’t always look like traditional anorexia or bulimia. It can also be eating a healthy amount but overworking or obsessive thinking about food or weight.

  Being healthy is okay. Overworking and under-eating yourself in the name of looking “fit,” is not okay. You cannot compare yourself or your health journey to others’. If every single person was to eat the same food and do the same workouts, we’d still look vastly different. 

I understand how easy it can be for someone to fall into an eating disorder and recovering from one is incredibly difficult. Your stomach has shrunk and cannot handle enough food, eating enough makes you feel sick. 

Seeing weight gain brings the feeling of sadness, but take progress photos. It will be horrible at first but to help focus on something you love about yourself like your eyes, hair, nose or literally anything that makes you feel confident. As time goes on you’ll see how the weight has re-distributed and you will look and feel more confident. Just give it time.