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The battle to be thin is a losing one

My heart is hurting for a local family who buried a beautiful young woman today.

I didn't know her, but I empathize with her and her family after learning about the long battle she fought suffering from an eating disorder. Unless you have suffered from an eating disorder yourself, it's hard to understand what a person goes through.

I know the struggles. I know how lonely it feels. I know how exhausting it is.

It consumes every aspect of your life. And, sometimes, it can take your life.

I pray for anyone suffering from an eating disorder. I pray they find the strength to fight, and that God shows them that they are fearfully and wonderfully made just the way they are.

I wrote a column about my battle with anorexia and bulimia years ago, and I wanted to share it again today.

"The battle to be thin is a losing one"
Published in The Lebanon Enterprise in June of 2004

Carrots, that's what I used to eat for lunch.
I packed them in a Ziploc bag in my purse and, every day during my psychology class in college, I would nibble on them for lunch.
Sometimes I would bring celery to mix it up a bit.
And while I nibbled on my carrots and celery, I would count every calorie and fat gram that I consumed that day. I would go over and over in my head how many calories I had eaten for breakfast and lunch. Sometimes I would even keep a log in my notebook.
I couldn't stop myself. It was an obsession.
I would go to the gym at least five days a week and stay there for hours and hours trying to burn off every last calorie.
I desperately wanted to be thin.
I wanted to look more like my twin sister who was naturally thin. I thought by losing weight I would become a better person.
But, instead, I was almost unbearable to be around. I was mean, irritable and incredibly unhappy.
And, no matter how many pounds I lost, it was never enough.
I was sick. I had a sickness. I had an eating disorder.
Like many young women, it was a scary time in my life. I was so obsessed with my body that nothing else seemed to matter. Food was my enemy. I was anorexic and, toward the end, I began to flirt with bulimia. I remember after the first time I made myself purge, I sat on the floor of my mother's bathroom, called my sister and cried hysterically. I couldn't believe I had stooped to such a low level.
I felt like I didn't have control over myself or my life. I hated who I had become.
Unfortunately, what happened to me happens to so many young women. And what is even more unfortunate is that many women who have an eating disorder don't get help.
Last week, teen star Mary-Kate Olsen, the brunette half of the Olsen twins, was all over the news because she had entered a treatment facility for an eating disorder, presumed to be anorexia. Her extremely thin figure had been the subject of tabloids, gossip columns and Web pages for weeks.
Fortunately, she is getting help for her eating disorder. It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there and admit that you have a problem. So many women deny that they ever have a problem.
I was in complete denial for months. My family and friends begged me to talk to a counselor but I refused. It wasn't because I was ashamed of talking to a counselor but it was because I was afraid of what he or she was going to tell me. You see, I didn't want to stop counting calories and obsessing over food and exercise because, if I did, I was convinced that I would gain weight. At that point and time, I would have rather been slumped over a toilet making myself purge than gain weight.
It sounds sick but that was my reality at the time. Being thin was the only thing that mattered. Thankfully, I did get help and, after many sessions with a counselor, I began to stop obsessing over food, calories, fat grams and my body.
It didn't happen overnight.
It took me a long time to accept myself, my body and eat an ice cream cone without freaking out. The fear of gaining weight was unbearable. But, finally, I overcame that fear.
I've learned to accept myself for who I am. I've learned to accept my thighs for what they are. And I've learned that there is a lot more to life than being thin.
The goal of my life is no longer to be thin. It's to be happy.
And, so far, I'm reaching that goal.