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eating disorder

Italy Ended My Food Obsession

This past June, I had the distinct pleasure to sing with the Columbus International Children’s Choir for a 10-day tour of Italy. Milan, Venice, Rome, Lucca, Pisa, Florence . . . we’ve traveled everywhere! It was an experience of a lifetime – especially singing a Mass in the gorgeous St. Peter’s Basilica.

Now, here’s the catch. Prior to flying across the Atlantic, I was nervous. No, not about the flight..about the FOOD. Ha! Sure, I was more than excited about the new cuisine my palate would discover. BUT, word on the street is that a person gains a couple pounds on vacation and even more weight when eating in a foreign country – ahhhh!!! I literally have no research to back up these insights, but I was still hesitant and believed this information as dangerously true.

If you know me, I have practiced calorie counting religiously for years to quantify and justify everything I intake. I knew there would be NO way to track the exact calories of everything I consumed while staying in Italy since most of the eateries are at local, authentic Italian restaurants that don’t provide online nutritional information. Because of this, I took one of the biggest risks my stomach has ever experienced . . . I would have to practice intuitive eating and just ENJOY the food I tried -“SCARY”. How could I trust myself to eat until I was satisfied?

Well, I am proud and happy to tell you that I conquered my calorie-counting food obsession – maybe not for life but definitely for the rest of the summer. I surrendered any attempt at quantifying what I ate and didn’t prevent myself from eating anything I thought of as”forbidden” from my diet.

This was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I don’t ever remember feeling this liberated from my prison of disordered eating. I ATE pasta and gelato to my little heart’s content EVERY day! Everything was full of flavor and tasted so REAL. I listened to my body’s hunger cues and stopped when I was full. Sure, sometimes I would overeat, but I didn’t feel guilty because I never had the number of calories screaming in my head! All I knew was that I was filling my stomach with deliciousness and satisfaction.

But, here is the incredible thing. Because I never deprived myself of certain foods and never counted calories in Italy, I experienced LESS cravings since my diet didn’t exclude certain foods. I never felt like I needed to pork out on forbidden foods because “it would be the last time I ever ate the food” and “tomorrow would be a clean day”. Pssh. Who am I kidding? That has never worked in the past for me! If anything, I’ve binged on MORE food from “restricting”. The irony.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t calorie count altogether. It is important to analyze the portions you are putting into your body and whether the balance of food is healthy for you. I’m also not saying to go eat 50 cookies and call it a day. Intuitive eating is about making nutritious choices in healthy portions when your hunger cues kick in. AND, you can eat the ice cream and cookies moderately without feeling miserable. 😉

Not only did I get to ride a gondola, sing in St. Peter’s Basilica, and visit Michelangelo’s David , I made incredible steps towards a healthier, ED-free me!

Eat that spaghetti al ragu and enjoy the flavor of life.

Julia

 

Book Review: “Life Without Ed” by Jenni Schaefer

Earlier this April, I asked my school counselor if there were any books on overcoming eating disorders that she personally recommended. It only took her a couple seconds to share the title that I religiously scribbled out in the back of my planner.

When it comes to all recommendations or inspirational nuggets of wisdom, I write everything down someplace where I can see it and vow to read the text or complete the action as soon as possible. 90% of the time, I follow through with my promise. Book reading tends to be my only exception.

Fast-forward to two months later, I finally remembered that I didn’t pick up the book yet. Since maintaining a healthy well-being is extremely important to me, this was the motivating factor for me to stop by the library and actually start reading the text. Boy, I’m so glad my counselor recommended this title!

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Schaefer struggled with disordered eating beginning as young as elementary school. Each chapter is maybe a couple pages long and covers a different story she had with her eating disorder. Personal struggles like ordering food at a restaurant, seeing refreshments at the office, and reacting to the demanding requests from “Ed” don’t even scratch the surface of all the experiences and lessons within this book.  This book totally puts eating disorders in perspective by analyzing “Ed” as an outsider (or in this case, an “ex” boyfriend/spouse) that constanly taunts you–the victim and slave to Ed–into harming your body by restricting, binging, and purging food–a never ending cycle that ruins you physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I also couldn’t believe how incredibly similar her experiences, thoughts, and feelings were to my relationship with “Ed”. It made me realize that I’m not going through unknown waters and that there are people just like me dealing with the very same issues. It actually felt fantastic hearing my exact thoughts and feelings about “Ed” being told by another person. Even with Jenni’s serious stories, she maintains witty sense of humor that lightens up the mood several times throughout passages! Not only does Schaefer describe her stories and what she has learned from them, but she actually provides action steps and resources to offically break up with “Ed”. After reading the text cover to cover, I felt empowered and hopeful about my circumstances and determined to overcome my abusive relationship with “Ed”.

If you or a loved one are struggling with disordered eating, Jenni is your girl to read!

Julia

 

Eating Disorder Update: Finding Inner Happiness

This past Saturday, I volunteered at my local food pantry. Interacting with the people who shop for food for their families is truly heartwarming.

It’s been a few weeks since my last eating disorder update, but I have nothing but good things to say. Great news: I haven’t binged at all! Yay! This is really a step forward in my health and wellness. I’ve been eating nutritious foods and craving the not-so-healthy ones less.

I’d also like to add that I’ve been incorporating little treats here and there so I don’t deprive myself of the sugary and salty goodness that I like to eat occasionally. When my family and I went shopping at the mall, I allowed myself a cup of frozen yogurt. Before dropping my younger sister off at camp, we ate hand-scooped Velvet ice cream at the local factory in Utica, Ohio. For several of my post-work out meals, I’ll have a serving of wheat crackers (a tempting food for me) with my eggs and fresh fruit.

My first time eating a Larabar! Yum!

Most recently, I picked up a “Cashew Cookie” Larabar from the grocery store on my way home from the food pantry. It was a little piece of Heaven in my mouth and definitely hit the spot! Larabars are my new obsession.

I saw my counselor Katie last Thursday and the session was great. She weighed me at 123.2 pounds. My heaviest this past summer was 129.2 pounds. So, even though my patience is constantly tested with this natural weight loss process, it’s an unbelievable feeling that I’ve hardly done anything to become 6 pounds lighter. I am eating more (1800 calories vs. 1200 calories), exercising less (45 minutes/day vs. 1.5 hours/day), and intuitively listening to my body’s hunger cues.

I am also happier as a person. I tell you, it’s draining to constantly look at yourself in the mirror and think that you aren’t good enough. No, I’m not where I’d like to be physically, but I’m getting there! There’s so much more to my life than weight. As Katie has been telling me, numbers on the scale should not label who I am. I haven’t fully accepted this fact, but I’m beginning to tolerate and respect it.

With that being said, I have stopped weighing myself on the scale – not by my own will, though. I know, however, it’s best that I don’t weigh myself frequently in the event that my self esteem plummets. I get to see Katie one last time before starting my junior year of college, which is slightly terrifying me. I feel like I’m the baby bird leaving the nest but haven’t fully learned how to fly on my own. I may never know how to fly safely all the time. But, that won’t stop me from trying.

I don’t have to burn 1000 calories on the treadmill, eat rabbit food, or weigh myself constantly anymore…I don’t feel that anorexic desire I had a year ago. It’s incredibly freeing. On the other end of the spectrum, I don’t feel the need to eat 2 bowls of chips or 8 cookies.

I no longer feel trapped in my own addiction and affliction. I’m proud of how far I’ve come so far!

Keep pushing forward,

Julia

What I Ate Today (1800 Calories)

Today had to have been the most “balanced” I’ve eaten in a long time. One of the problems I’m trying to stop is my sorting out “good” vs. “forbidden” foods. Yes, some are more nutritiously-dense than others and are less-risky to eat, in my opinion. However, keeping myself from treats will only set me up to binge in the future. I thought I would share what I ate today to hold myself accountable for future meals.

Breakfast – 1/2 cup rolled oats; 1 1/4 cup purple seedless grapes

Lunch – Cracker Barrel: Sweet whole baby carrots, cheesy grits, green beans, and 1 biscuit

Snack – 1 large banana

Dinner –  Subway: 9-Grain Honey Oat 6 in. w/ turkey, provolone, lettuce, spinach, tomato, and sweet onion dressing; 1 individual bag of Lays Baked Original Chips

Snack – 8 oz. frozen yogurt (peanut butter and cake batter flavors)

I only ate when I was hungry and drank water in between meals. This all calculated to just shy of 1800 calories. I also incorporated 15 minutes on the treadmill and 30 minutes aerobic DVD.  I’m proud of how far I have come. I still have a long way to go, but I’ll just keep pushing forward!

Julia

Eating Disorder: Road to Recovery

I’ve been to counseling for about a month for my anorexia/binge eating tendencies. It has not been an easy path for me, to say the least. However, I am starting to notice significant changes mentally and emotionally towards my relationship with food.

As general rules, I’ve been “prescribed” by my counselor to eat more (1800 calories/day), exercise less (45 minutes or less), and not weigh myself on the scale until I head back to college in the fall. This is all suppose to help me regulate my metabolism and keep me from depriving my body of nutrients.

During my anorexic stage, I never consumed more than 1200-1400 calories per day…sometimes as low as 1000. So, eating the extra calories has not been exciting. Sometimes, I can’t help but picture myself gaining pounds by the bite. Over the past couple weeks, though, I’ve felt like I can eat a wider assortment of food without deep shame. So far, this summer has brought a number of special occasions where food was present (Who could have guessed?). However, intend of telling myself “NO” to these once-forbidden foods,  I’ve learned to treat myself to small portions. By putting this concept into practice, I don’t feel the urge to eat the whole bowl of chips or the entire plate of cookies. This is definitely progress! 🙂

I was also told to exercise for no more than 45 minutes per day. Before that, I thought I could trick the “1800-calorie ” plan by burning off 800-1000 calories per day via the treadmill and workout DVDs. However, my counselor told me that this is counterproductive since overexercising is like another method of “purging” for a bulimic.

Not being able to weigh myself felt horrific for the first couple days. All I dreamed about doing over this summer was to lose weight and get back into shape. Now, my progress must be judged by how my clothes fit, which is far less satisfying when I could be seeing immediate changes from the scale. My counselor will weigh me weekly, so maybe I can convince her to let me sneak a peek. We’ll see how this goes.

Not having full control of the choices I make for my body is one of the most frustrating feelings. Breaking my binge requires intervention from another person since my original efforts to end it were useless. But, I know that good must come from this eventually…even if I’m in denial now.

The main problem I’m dealing with now is body image. I can’t stop replaying the progression from being fit to too thin to overweight. Now, I’m afraid I’ll never be a healthy, HAPPY, and confident weight again. I am extremely uncomfortable having full-length pictures taken, trying on clothes, or being around people I know. Even looking at myself in the mirror has made me feel miserable. This will be my next topic of conversation with my counselor when I meet with her next.

This is the only picture that has made me feel “pretty” in a long time. I’ve learned that good health isn’t just physical. It’s  mental and emotional. Once I’m in a solid state of mind and spirit, I can channel that positivity to a greater appreciation of my body and treat it wholesomely. I will continue to update!

June 21, 2015: Me and my lovely dad on Father’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julia

My Eating Disorder Roller Coaster

Family and friends who are reading this are probably confused. Wait, seriously? Julia has an eating disorder? Nooooo. Yes, it’s very real and the problem I’m dealing with constantly reminds me that I am far from perfection. It is a personal and relatively new situation of mine, but I feel compelled to share my story with anyone who might need to hear it. I’m in no way trying to gain attention or empathy out of this. I feel that by keeping this reality away from the people I love, I’m living a lie. So, here is my story.

I have tendencies of anorexia nervosa. Before last year, I never gave a second thought about my weight. I was perfectly content with my appearance and figure. Last June, I saw recently-captured family pictures of myself and realized that I had gained some excess weight during my freshman year of college – nothing abnormal. But, those photos made me feel icky and desire a change in my body. Thus, my main summer goal was to get back into shape and lose about 10 pounds. Nothing out of the ordinary. I am petite in stature and have a small frame, so I wasn’t planning on losing a lot.

Me during family photos, June 2014 – 123 pounds

My healthy weight range for my height should have been between roughly 105-110 pounds – not the 123.4 pounds I carried around. The summer I was home from school, I made it a habit to eat nutritious meals and implement daily aerobics into my life . By the end of August, I dropped down to 107 pounds! I was ecstatic! Finally, I was at my fittest and most confident that I had ever felt.

However, calorie counting and number-crunching on the scale became daily obsessions and stressed me out constantly. If I ever went over my calorific goal of 1200 calories per day, my anxiety levels would skyrocket. I just had this overbearing feeling that if I had “junk” food or ate too much of anything that I would instantly gain back the pounds.

Early October - 100 pounds
Early October – 100 pounds

Things got worse. Social outings were no longer fun because “bad” food would be there and tempt the living cravings out of me. I quickly got thinner, dizzier, and more out of breath. I became very sad and depressed. My skin became tighter and my smile was never sincere in pictures. I wanted so desperately to eat freely and enjoy life without all my internal restraints screaming at me. I felt so helpless and alone. I isolated myself from friends. Constantly, my mind was fixated on what I would eat each day and how I could lose more weight.

The blue shirt is actually a skirt that became too loose around my waist.

One day in late October of my sophomore year, I took off my clothes, inhaled deeply, and looked at myself in the mirror. There was my new thigh gap, rib cage, and collar bone – all very much defined….and I was miserable. I weighed 98.5 pounds and felt like crying. I was scared of myself. I knew that if I sunk any lower, I would end up in critical condition.

So, I starting eating hearty again. My dining hall served desserts galore on Halloween night. I consumed so much food (7,000 calories worth to be exact) that evening ….and, initially, it felt fantastic! I felt like I had meat on my bones again. At the same time, however,  the sugar cravings kicked in. Since then, sugary food has given me an incredulous high. I’ll eat exorbitant amount of food in a period of 1-2 hours until I feel sick. I feel numb and out of control when I eat. I sneak and eat food in secret because I don’t want to be judged by others. I gained back 20 pounds in a 2-month period. For the past 6 months, I’ve been struggling with binge eating.

It’s no surprise that my eating habits have landed me back to square one with my weight. But, I am going through counseling to help me get back on track. Food is a part of life but it shouldn’t be controlling one’s mind and body.

I’ve learned that be skinny doesn’t lead to happiness. In fact, I feel more energetic and happy on the heavier side than being too thin. I just want to feel fit and confident without food controlling my life again. It’s a long journey, but I’m willing to eventually conquer this trouble.

Julia

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