The problem is, it's not exactly true. Wait, scratch that. It is true. Mostly. Through 2007 and 2008, I did lose 75 pounds, and it was done by ditching soda, walking everywhere, and listening to my body. What's missing, however, is the rest of that story. By late 2008, I had begun to go a bit overboard. My meals were small and lacking in nutrients. I moved around constantly, feeling the need to burn calories every moment of every day. I started panicking over the smallest things - lord help any barista who accidentally put 2% milk, rather than skim, in my latte. My then-boyfriend eventually had to, very awkwardly, inform me that I had halitosis, and my once smooth and bouncy hair was now a brittle nest.
Later, things only got worse. My daily menu, for 2 solid years, consisted of a handful of options, all nutritionally deficient, and eaten in dangerously small quantities. Items included a single, cucumber sushi roll, half of an english muffin, dry, with a hardboiled egg, a protein bar, or a small salad wrap. I became obsessed with calories and fat content. If a co-worker bought me a coffee, I would take a sip and then sneak off to the bathroom to pour it down the sink - having those 40 calories and 3 grams of fat the sugar and milk contained meant I'd have to ditch part of my already meagre dinner. Staff and birthday parties were obstacles I'd go to great lengths to overcome; from pretending I was just getting over a flu (and therefore, couldn't eat) to paying the bartender to fill my glass with soda water but present me with "another gin and tonic", I had it covered. On the odd occasion that I did allow myself some fun, I'd skip breakfast and dinner in favour of alcohol, because a few shots of whisky had less calories than my protein bar/sushi plan, so I saw it as calorie-wise. You know you're in trouble when whisky is suddenly "healthier" than sushi.
By 2011, the year I posted the article, I had not-eating and hyper-motion down to an art form. I wrote standing up, doing ab crunches. I walked up to 15km a day. On a strict, 800 calorie diet. Holidays were a nightmare - it takes an awful lot of effort to stay under 1000 calories when your Texan father is cooking a feast. At my lowest point, I weighed 104 pounds, and still felt fat. And still, I had no idea I had a problem. That sounds silly to me now; I'm not a stupid person, and the neuro/psych sciences are kinda my thing. The idea that I was starving myself, compulsively fidgeting, and obsessively calculating caloric totals, but wasn't aware I had any sort of problem seems ridiculous now. But at the time, I truly believed I was well. I believed I had overcome my weight issues, had overcome my reliance on food as an emotional outlet, and was finally the fit and healthy person I wanted to be. I was proud of myself. So, when I posted that article, it didn't feel dishonest. I sincerely believed I was succeeding in my journey. I felt good. I felt accomplished.
And then, slowly, it all began to fall apart. People around me started to pick up on my disorder (full disclosure: I still struggle to call it that), and would gently push me to try a little taste of this, a little sip of that. It was a slow process, but I eventually began eating actual meals again. I re-added cream to my coffee. I had cake on my birthday. I ate Christmas dinner. And then, slowly, the weight began to pile back on. I didn't notice at first - I had finally admitted that I had a problem, so figured eating a bit more liberally and sitting down once in awhile was a good thing - and it was, for awhile. By 2013, however, I was inching up towards the same weight I was when this whole ugly cycle began, and I was scared. Scared that I wouldn't lose the weight again, and equally scared that I would. I didn't want to be fat again, but I also didn't want to be the anxiety-ridden skeleton I'd been. I panicked. And I got fat.
Today, January 23, 2015, I'm near the same weight I was at the beginning of this journey. But the underlying issues are quite different. In 2006, the year prior to these major changes, I was an emotional eater with a voracious sweet-tooth. I behaved very much like a closet drug addict, hiding in my room, jacking myself up on chocolate and soda. These days, my relationship with sugar is much more casual and reasonable. I still don't drink pop, and dessert is a rare treat. I still eat fairly healthy meals, and walk several kms a day. The obstacle staring me in the face is not food or exercise, it's balance and discipline. It's self-love. It's learning how to have just one drink, not 6. Learning to eat breakfast, rather than my entire caloric intake being ingested in a single meal at 9pm. Learning how to find a balance between succeeding at work (which involves sitting at my computer 8+ hours a day) and exercising my whole body. Convincing myself that food is not my enemy, but my ally. Figuring out how to become healthy without becoming obsessed. Treating my body as a temple, rather than a dungeon. Thankfully, my past experiences with weightloss, weight-gain, addictions, and bad behaviours, have armed and prepared me. I have a lot more knowledge and information guiding me this time around. I have different, healthier goals. I'm not focused on numbers, but on my own well-being. Yes, my desire to look good still plays a large role in my life, but I now want to look good because I am fit and healthy, rather than looking good because of my deprivation and self-loathing. No longer can I separate mind and body, fitness and appearances. I now know the only way to succeed is through listening, labour, and love.