Warning: I’m NOT going to sugarcoat anything.
#embracehumility in hopes it speaks volumes to help someone’s health journey.
I’m happy to say that almost every morning I wake up energized and full of life.
Rewind to mid-2013 where I didn’t want to wake up as I was still sleepy and full of food.
Here’s a story of a girl that let eating disorders, alcohol, drugs, society and other conditions get the best of her mind and body… that girl is me.
Hi, I’m Raquelle, and I have quite a history of abusing my body…
LET’S START FROM THE BEGINNING… SHALL WE?
Weight: 115 lbs (pre-overweight days and today)
Body Type: Ectomorph — thin build, “pencil” frame, fast metabolism, low body fat, narrow hips and clavicles, and the smallest wrists in the world.
May not be the ideal or “sexiest” body in today’s standards — with a lack of boobs and booty — but hey, whatever… it’s what I’ve got.
I would label my diet for most of my high school years the “cavalier diet.” Eating without a care in the world. Like many small teen girls, I ate anything and everything without gaining weight. I was a stick no matter what I stuffed my mouth with… even though rumors of anorexia spread around my school hall like wildfire. Some high school girls (and dudes) would joke that I’d eat a fry and be full — but no… just didn’t have a HUGE appetite… yet. I wasn’t too unhealthy and unintentionally had control over my hunger cues. I just listened to my body. If I wasn’t hungry then that would be the end of my bites. I ate small portions throughout the day and it was fairly healthy and nutritious… but I wasn’t watching my weight or my diet, just treating food as fuel.
But toward the end of high school, when I started getting stressed and depressed for many reasons, my diet and relationship with food started changing drastically. I took advantage of the idea that “I can eat whatever I want” — and used food as a weapon to distract me from my emotions.
I was consuming an unhealthy amount of highly processed food that was full of artificial ingredients and hormones. I pretty much lived at fast food joints and fattening restaurants around town. I started getting into the habit of binge eating every meal, plus snacking on chips and ice cream in between. In this period of time I developed my first eating disorder, the most common one in America — B.E.D (binge-eating disorder).
B.E.D, according to bingeeatingdisorder.com, is when one is “regularly eating far more food than most adults would in a similar time period and in similar circumstances, and feeling that one’s eating is out of control during a binge.”
So… I was basically treating my tummy as if it were a bottomless pit.
I realized my eating habits were far from normal. Though I was still super skinny, I feared I would eventually pack on the pounds. But instead of doing the wise thing and simply changing my diet and portion control, I came up with another solution…. puke it up.
Gross, I know.
So yes, I had a bulimic phase that lasted about a year… plus on and off again years after that. (Not to mention I didn’t mind abusing laxatives to get the food out of the other end).
I thought regurgitating my food would be the smartest, easiest and quickest fix to “stay skinny” — little did I know the effects that this would play on my hormones in the near future.
The NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association) defines bulimia nervosa as, “a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by a cycle of bingeing and compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting designed to undo or compensate for the effects of binge eating.”
(If this is TMI… then I suggest you don’t read any further).
LOVE, SEX AND DRUGS DAYS — (MINUS THE LOVE FOR MYSELF)
Along with binge eating I didn’t enjoy a weekend without binge drinking. Most weekends I would drown myself with hard liquor or beer. On top of that I would have my “occasional weekend drug of choice:” snort cocaine (even alone sometimes), light up a few joints or pop some pills. Oh… and I did dabble with ecstasy.
NO WONDER I WAS STRESSED AND DEPRESSED! I was not only screwing with my body’s chemical composition, but my brain’s too.
In 2007 I would look in the mirror and cry like a pansy. My weight gain was becoming apparent in my mind’s eye… (and my mind’s eye only). It was quite pathetic how my self-esteem was overly dependent on my body image.
Good side to this: I convinced myself to stop overeating and purging, because it clearly wasn’t doing my body justice… Bad side: instead of eating normally I thought it would be in my body’s best interest to, well… NOT indulge.
I took over-the-counter supplements that claimed to suppress the appetite. Then I’d go about my day usually not eating anything… which lead to my first case of Anorexia.
According to NEDA, Anorexia Nervosa, “is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss.”
My anorexic symptoms included: inadequate food intake, intense fear of weight gain, self-esteem dependent on body image, refusal to eat certain foods, thinks they’re “fatter” than they are, inability to appreciate the severity of the situation and make excuses to avoid mealtimes.
I believe the starvation portion of this phase only lasted 4 months. Unfortunately, instead of going back to eating a normal healthy diet, I fell back to my old over-indulgent ways.
Especially to keep my social life active. I would “follow the crowd” to fattening restaurants for the pre-party, then go to someone’s house to drink our calories. Then later at night when all the alcohol is gone, we’d feed our drunken munchies at a 24-hour drive-thru. Pretty standard weekend routine.
So there I was… looking back in that mirror… absolutely devastated with my weight gain as if it was the worst thing in the world.
Post-high school, in 2008, I laid off the hard drugs, except a couple of cocaine slip ups, but I picked up anaddiction to cigarettes. I had phases where I’d smoke a pack and a half a day or wake up to light my Marlboro red.
Side note: I smoked for over 5 years! YUCK. I should do a special blog on how I quit. — Remind me if I don’t post one soon! I have A LOT to share on that topic.
I felt out of control; a rebel to my own mind and body.
I continued these unhealthy habits for years, which severely threw my hormones off balance. And gradually the weight was piling on.
RING… RING… RAQUELLE NEEDS A WAKE UP CALL, PRONTO!
This “small-framed” girl’s figure was fully covered by layers of chub.
Weight: 175 lbs
I was at my heaviest and unhappiest. My small breast size got up to a DD and I was hugging tight and spilling over in my size 10 pants. (I know… being well-endowed may be wondrous to some, but not when you get it in a grossyyyyy way… it’s not so ‘voluptuous’).
My friends would be kind and gentle with my weight-gain insecurity, telling me my body type was voluptuous, curvaceous or (my favorite) busty! Ha! And that I was. To be honest, my full-figured body was beautiful — I was lucky to “fill out” quite nicely. But for many reasons I didn’t embrace the curves. It’s because I knew how I got them…. (eh hem, by stuffing my face like I was eating for 3 people!)
My curves were NOT from muscle, a thick rib cage, or beautiful wide bone endomorph structure, etc. My curves were the result of too much junk food, alcohol and drugs.
And THAT is NOT something to embrace… simply, because it was not at all healthy.
Sure, if I was a curvy girl with a meso- or endomorph body structure who enjoyed her donuts and pizza here and there, and still worked out a few days a week, wasn’t too unhealthy or abusing my body — then YES — I would be a girl embracing the curves. But that’s not how I got them… that was not my case.
My case was that I was an ectomorph eating like a morbidly obese person. I didn’t feel well on the inside. And like they say, “you are what you eat” — and I was a large meat-lovers pizza with extra cheese, a side of breadsticks, buttermilk ranch and marinara.
I didn’t feel good in my body or my mind. And in order to be healthy, being able to have control over your mind and body goes hand in hand. I felt totally off-balance and clueless as to how I could hop off this hopeless train.
So I felt like getting an expert opinion.
In 2009 a doctor told me that I was approaching a BMI of 30, which is considered obese. He did a full body scan analysis and said most of my fat was attributed to my diet and alcohol.
YIKES! That was a BIG wake up call for me… but I felt powerless.
He put me on this ridiculously expensive artificial chocolate liquid shake diet where I consumed about 800 calories and injected some weird stuff in my body. I did drop weight rapidly, plus got rid of my junk food and cigarette cravings — for a week. But when I started to eat a regular diet, (not even binge or unhealthy-eating), I gained the weight back.
I didn’t get it! I thought my diet was under control. I was finally eating lots of salads with “lite” dressings, and foods that claimed to be healthy. I bought labels that promised to be low in calories and carbs, have reduced- or no-fat, and no sugar. I also had decent control over my portions… but I was still gaining weight. My frustration overpowered my control and I caved. Allowing myself to wallow in self-pity and pick up my old eating habits… as well as lighting up another cigarette.
There are two big things that went wrong with this doctor’s approach:
My body went into “starvation mode” on an 800-calorie diet. So my metabolic rate declined significantly during this caloric restriction. When I went back to eating normally, my body wanted to hold onto every bit of food I was consuming in fear that I would starve it again.
Though I was watching what I was eating — I wasn’t paying attention to the ingredients. I was completely naive as to what I was putting in my body. I didn’t even think to read the ingredient label or nutrition facts. I was sold on what the foods claimed at the front of the box.
“Reduced-fat, 100-calorie cookies?” SOLD!
I was absolutely clueless to the fact companies would substitute refined sugars and artificial ingredients to compensate the taste of the food. And I was eating a lot of “no-sugar” foods that substituted their sweetness with sucralose and other artificial sweeteners.
The doctor’s detox ended up making me feel deprived and ravenous. I only got hungrier and fell back into my old ways.
However, there is one big benefit to that experience — when I found out my fat was mainly attributed to abusing substances, I decided to only drink on occasion AND I stopped drugs all together.
But still — the binge eating and cigarette habit was back… ugh.
I WOULD GO THROUGH SHORT-LIVED “HEALTH-KICKS.”
As far as trendy Hollywood fad diets are concerned… you name it, I probably tried it.
Sometime’s I’d be inspired to get fit and go through phases where I’d be a lover of hiking on the mountain for a few weeks, then back to being a lover of eating on the couch for a few months.
I tried to stay inspired to lose weight, but I kept approaching new diets with desperation and a lack of patience. I was hoping to conquer some “quick fix” and just get skinny in a month or so. I tried many unhealthy approaches to lose weight, such as: weight loss injections, lasers, fasting, calorie counting, packaged food diets, liquid diets, soup diet, some sort of yucky “cookie” diet and more drastic measures. You name it, I probably tried it. Yes… I would “lose weight” temporarily, but I couldn’t commit to the lifestyles lead by these diet fads and would wind up gaining the weight back… plus a little more. Let me know if you can relate… the worst, right?! Ugh.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF BEING OVERWEIGHT
I’d wake up, light a cigarette, and usually reach for a half an apple, “non-fat” yogurt (loaded with refined-sugars and artificial shit), “reduced-calorie” granola bar (also loaded), or not eat. I rationalized eating a small breakfast when my appetite was low, so that I could eat more throughout the day. Great logic, right?
I actually had healthier lunches… usually salad, but loaded with extra meat and drowning in creamy dressing. Or I’d crave something fried. But the portions were supersized — so I could do what I enjoyed most, binging.
I’d go about my day, try to binge in discretion and drink lots of venti sugary lattes to keep my energy up. I was too self-conscious to eat large portions in front of people, so I’d eat about half of my lunch around others… then scarf the rest down the second I was alone.
At the end of the day I was ready to come home just to stuff my face on my bed planted in front of a large screen TV — the ideal set-up for any person with B.E.D.
I had a few binge dinner favorites — a large meat lovers pizza to myself, with a side of breadsticks, extra ranch and marinara sauce. Or a footlong sub loaded with ranch and a side of another six-inch of a different kind and chips. Or three of the $1 chicken patties at a fast food joint, a large fry and a vanilla or chocolate shake to use as my dipping sauce.
I’d scarf the meal down like it was my first meal in years. Then it would only be an hour or two until my stomach was crying for dessert. I had no problem fitting in a pint of fro-yo loaded with sugary toppings, three chocolate chip cookies or a slice of grocery-store cake. You know, the single serving — (I was watching it, ha!)
Tick. Tock. It’d only be about an hour later after my last bite when I’d fall into a food coma… telling myself that I’ll eat better tomorrow.
But tomorrow was never today.
A DAY IN THE LIFE TO GET OVER THE WEIGHT
At USC I was surrounded by beautiful bodies and even more beautiful minds. Smart, ambitious and confident minds.
I was just as smart and ambitious as these beautiful students, I just lacked CONFIDENCE. I did NOT believe in myself — and I blamed my weight for holding me back.
I felt so out-of-place and discontent that I allowed myself to wallow in self-pity. I was an A (sometimes B) studious student, but I believed I could have been even better if I believed in myself.
But that’s a little hard to do when your brain is influenced by what you eat.
B.E.D and my weight insecurity was the one thing that made me think I could achieve what I saw everyone else living up to.
When I was finally able to recognize that, I knew that getting rid of this barrier would lead me to live the successful and happy life I’ve always wanted. But that just meant SOMETHING had to change… first, my mindset.
I had a burning desire to feel and look good again. I started visualizing myself in my old healthy and happy body.
In my freetime, I would skip the Netflix (one of my binge triggers)… and geek out over health books and blogs to keep my motivation alive.
I got inspired by the rituals other’s picked up to get healthy.
I noticed the 3 key similar habits successful people picked up on their weight loss journey.
They were ingredient detectives. Always reading the ingredient label to make sure that they were consuming mostly WHOLE foods from mother nature.
They would make exercise a priority… and they eased into it at their own pace. Most tried a variety of workouts to find out what they enjoyed and stuck with it.
They were patient. They weren’t setting their main goal to be achieved a month from the start line. Instead, they visualized themselves crossing the finish line 6 months to a year from it.
So that’s what I did… and this is what happened that helped me make this a lifestyle.
I BECAME AN UNABASHED INGREDIENT DETECTIVE
I went to the pantry to look at the labels of the foods I stocked up on… and sheesh… I couldn’t believe how many artificial ingredients I had been consuming daily! Instead of saving the meals (with all the preservatives) for a rainy day, I decided to just TOSS IT.
Goodbye processed food!
And that simple move of throwing everything out was a HUGE kicker to get me going. I felt refreshed. I felt ready to start over.
I MADE SURE EXERCISE WAS A DAILY PRIORITY
I decided to start my exercise journey at a slow pace and work my way up to intense workouts. In the beginning I was predominately focused on cardio 3–4 times a week. I enjoyed hiking the mountain… which lead to jogging the mountain.. and eventually I fell in love with long-distance running and trying more holistic approaches to fitness. I didn’t even mean for that to happen — it just did. Mornings were the best time for me to workout. Waking up and sweating before I had to get to work became a pleasant ritual… that I still treasure to this day.
I DEVELOPED PATIENCE
Remember how I always wanted “quick fixes?” Welp, I thought that a more realistic approach would be to implement what the pros were doing… mark a goal a year from the start line, instead of a month.
And to NOT give up.
I anticipated plateaus or knowing I’d have days where I wanted to eat the cake my peers were sharing or I wouldn’t want to work out. BUT I didn’t STOP. And eventually, eating healthy and exercising daily just became a part of my lifestyle. It was almost effortless.
It was important that I had to accept that THIS LIFESTYLE CHANGE WOULD TAKE TIME… AND to remember to make “tomorrow” today. (Hope you caught onto that)
I allowed myself to take baby steps. To be honest, I didn’t even start making my way into a gym or to the front of my mat until I felt ready.
MY NEW REFLECTION
And a few months later I looked in the mirror and noticed the weight melting off as confidence started to manifest.
And finally… after years of abusing food, alcohol, drugs and being influenced by society — this back-to-skinny girl started to wake up feeling energized and full of life!
Hi, I’m Raquelle, and I have quite a history of abusing my body with many eating disorders… but I’m thankful for these experiences so I can help others with their health journey.
Now at a healthy weight… I’m actually thankful for the adversity I faced. Because it taught me to fall in love with my body and helped me develop strength not only physically, but mentally too.
SIDE NOTE: These challenges I faced and circumstances I got myself into… suck (for lack of a better word). But obviously I went through them for a reason. And I figured that if there is one good thing that can come from this adversity it would be to hopefully inspire someone to change their life in a healthy and holistic way.
There are 7 key lessons I learned from this experience that I’m sharing in an upcoming blog. And I know that if ANYONE applied them into their life at their own pace, then a year later they’ll be very pleased with their body and health… stay tuned
I’m sure some of you are curious about my diet when I was losing the weight… I’ll share more on that soon, PLUS a healthy, holistic meal plan for you.
Oh… and before I forget… I must admit… that obsession with getting healthy did turn into an unhealthy obsession where I found myself well underweight. And that stirred up more problems for my mind and body that I’m still trying to recover from today. This leads to the next segment…”When I Was Underweight…”
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IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, RELATIONS OR ANYTHING YOU WANT ME TO ELABORATE ON, LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS.
xo & namaste