With EATING DISORDER AWARENESS WEEKin full swing, I felt obligated to write something personal. I had zero intention of doing a post like this but some recent conversations with people inspired me to point something out in an industry where physical appearance is worth its weight in gold.
PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION.
Perfect doesn't exist. Photoshop, unhealthy diets, dangerous drug use, and unhealthy tactics do though.
Ten years ago I was 90 pounds in an ER and then intensive care unit scrambling to be saved by doctors. I have an incredibly complex medical history with anorexia and body dysmorphic disorder. At age 18 I nearly died after losing 100 pounds via incredibly dangerous and unhealthy methods including food restriction, supplement abuse, and purging calories via intense exercise.
Without going in to too much detail (as i have actually written a manuscript surrounding the topic) here is a brief recap of my battle with anorexia:
At the age of 16 my parents got divorced. My whole life until that point I had always been the 'fat kid'. I was the kid who played video games and ate microwave pizzas all summer. I was the kid who had to be threatened with grounding just to go for a walk outside with my parents. I was the kid who never took his shirt off in public and was always the girls best friend, but never the boyfriend.
I played soccer until I got to high school, when family and friends would tell me I should try football because of my size. I was always a huge fan of the sport, but my temperament wasn't exactly the overly aggressive type. I figured I would give it a shot. I began my freshman year as a lineman both ways. I lost some baby fat and gained some speed my sophomore year and played linebacker and wide receiver. As a junior I played varsity wide receiver and linebacker, weighing in at a fairly solid 190 pounds at 5'9". Then everything changed.
Once I found out my parents were getting divorced, I lost it...subconsciously. I didn't know it at the time, but I was completely losing my shit. Instead of saying anything, I turned my feelings about the matter inward. I decided to undertake a weight loss journey at age 16. It started slowly and healthily, and by the summer entering my senior year of high school, I had lost 35 pounds, was 155lbs and about 9% body fat. I was getting recruited for wide receiver by several D2 and D3 schools after attending a camp at Yale University. Unfortunately, a month after receiving those letters and attending that camp, I was too sick and frail to play football in my senior year of high school.
Somewhere on my weight loss journey, I lost myself.
My perception of health and wellness and happiness completely disappeared. I had become a slave to counting calories, strict exercise routines, rampant supplement abuse, and critically flawed thought patterns.
By November of my senior year, I was 130lbs and diagnosed with anorexia. I had several health issues beginning to show and could barely make it through a full school day. Without getting into the how or why, I ended up losing more weight over the course of the following year, with the story peaking with me at a mere 90lbs on my death bed in the ER and ICU of a hospital while in my freshman year of college.
I was hours from death and light years from the 190lbs football player I was 18 months earlier. Then it clicked. If I didn't change my ways, I would die.
I thought of the things I loved most. Ironically, food... My friends and family, and football. Something about the family and brotherhood of being on a team and battling together every day in practice and on the playing field and in the weight room. I wanted that again, I needed it, and it would be the thing that ultimately brought me back from the brink of death.
I gained ten pounds in 4 days in ICU. I left the hospital in November 2006 and swore that I was ready to get better. It wasn't easy mentally or physically relearning EVERYTHING. But my goal was to play football again.
In the spring of 2010 I participated in a walk-on try out and spring practice for a D3 football team as a wide receiver. I was 21 years old, 180 pounds, and stronger physically and mentally than I had ever been in my entire life. I made the team and proceeded to play the 2010-2011 season. I had completed my goal and marked that point as my full recovery from the horrible eating disorder Anorexia.
My love for health and fitness stems from my recovery. I had to relearn everything. I had to use science to convince myself that eating would not make me fat like I was years ago as a kid.
I had to use the science to convince myself to stay alive.
The things I learned and continue to learn on a daily basis help me stay physically and mentally healthy everyday. After going through anorexia, and beating it, I know we are truly all capable of doing WHATEVER we put our minds to.
Ten years later, I thank God everyday for granting me a second chance at life which I will never take for granted. I will NEVER see myself the way others do. I will always be the fat kid who was relentlessly teased and tortured from elementary school through high school. But I THANK everyone who did that to me. Why? Because I love who I am today and who I've become because of this disorder. Without it, who knows what I'd be or who I'd be.
I can almost certainly guarantee that I would have never started Modern Athletic Health. I would have never been put on this amazing path to Health, Happiness, and Success. A path that has led me to some incredibly enriching and fulfilling relationships professionally and personally. And a path that will ultimately be my livelihood for myself and future family.
I am Blessed. We are all Blessed. The key is to find that silver lining. TURN YOUR DEMONS INTO ANGELS.
ANYTHING is possible, even coming back from deaths door. I did it. And I hope this story inspires even ONE individual to see the light that is your life and understand that it is never too late to make your dreams come true, no matter what they are. I also hope that this serves as a reminder that your compromising your HEALTH to achieve a certain physique goal is never okay. Healthy looks different on everybody, and as long as you are healthy ad happy on the inside, what the outside looks like is ultimately irrelevant in the grand scheme of life!