That Time I Had an Unhealthy Relationship with Food (part 1)

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As I typed the title to this post, I can hear my college friends snickering, “I told you so.” They don’t know the half of it. They weren’t there for the beginning.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you probably know a thing or two about my depressing childhood (if you’re in the mood for something depressing, be my guest to read up on my average day in middle school: part 1, part 2). I mention this only to say that I clearly had self-esteem issues. For much of my youth, I watched my mom yo-yo diet, but thought little of it. In general, I thought very little about what I ate. My usual breakfast during this period of my life was a Ramen soup (i’m not kidding).

I don’t remember when I first stepped on a scale. I only know that my weight was around 130 and that I read in a diet book the max healthy weight for my height was 125. To lose those 5 pounds, I started paying more attention to what I ate and even experimented with running. I started playing a lot of DDR. That was my (extremely nerdy) way of working out. Nothing worked, until I got the flu. You’d be amazed how fast you lose weight when you don’t eat for a week.

That was probably not the greatest way for me to learn about weight management.

By some act of God, my weight stayed around 125 for the rest of high school. It was a struggle, but I managed to succeed. Eventually, I graduated and made my way to college.

Nothing was greater for my self-esteem and confidence than college. Finally, I could choose who I wanted to be friends with. I could find people just like me to hang out with. I didn’t have to be an outcast anymore.

I didn’t like to take the crowded campus buses, so I always walked to my classes. One of my main dreams of college was to learn fencing, and I happily joined the university fencing team. Combined with what felt like constant propaganda on how to avoid the dreaded ‘freshman 15,’ it should come to no surprise that I lost weight. I became obsessed with counting calories and dropped a pant size each semester. It was more than I expected and annoying. I did not have the money to be buying new jeans every semester. My weight went down to 115. I found a happy place between 110 and 115. With all the physical activity I was engaging in, this wasn’t a hard weight to maintain.

Still, I was very nervous about ever gaining weight back. By this point, I had started dating D. I wanted to stay beautiful for him and I worried that weight gain would make me ugly. There was nothing anyone said that made me think this way. I’d come a long way in building my confidence, but I was far from perfect. My body image was one of the hardest insecurities to overcome.

I wasn’t really counting calories at this point. Instead, I just avoiding eating stuff I knew was high in calories. I read somewhere that you should eat 500 calories for each meal. Mistakenly, I assumed I was healthy so long as each meal was 500 calories or less. When I wasn’t eating in the college mess hall, the majority of my meals were canned soups with hardly 200 calories in them.

This came to a head in the summer of 2010. I had a wonderful internship with a newspaper and was always on the move. My daily diet consisted of a packet of oatmeal (less than 200 calories), a canned soup (between 120 and 200 calories) and a microwave meal (never more than 300 calories). It’s not a stretch to say I regularly ate less than 1000 calories every day. The weight fell off.

Come back tomorrow for part two!

Update: Part two is now up!


10 thoughts on “That Time I Had an Unhealthy Relationship with Food (part 1)”

    1. The guy who was president at the time I joined the club used to say that fencing made you instantly cool. No matter what anyone boasted, all you had to say was “I play with swords,” and you win.

      Which I think is true. They also say a bout of saber fencing burns as many calories as running a mile. I don’t know if that is true or not. All I know is, I went from almost no physical activity to fencing at least 6 hours a week. How I miss that sport.

  1. I have spent so many damn years counting calories and worrying about my weight. I still try to have a mostly healthy diet, but I don’t care about counting calories anymore.

    And I would love to learn to fence.

    Actually, I just want to poke something with a sharp stick. Same thing, right?

    1. hahaha, very much the same thing. You let out so much stress stabbing people! Even if you’re not great at the sport, it’s still a rush. I love it.

      It’s only been recently I’ve abandoned counting calories. I started up again when I got a new job. They buy us lunch for a fast food place almost every day and I was gaining weight. I used myfitnesspal to help me stay where I wanted to stay.

      After reading The China Study, I’ve cut out almost all meat products from my diet, even when ordering out. The only time I look up calories is if I’m eating something unhealthy.

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