Roni's Diet "Success" Story
TRDS co-founder / Cognitive Eating Academy Founder
**TRIGGER WARNING: Eating disorder behaviors are discussed below**
Follow along as I take you through a typical day in my bulimic life followed by how I got there and how I found freedom.
Click play below to listen or continue reading below that.
I want to start with one day in probably 2008 when I walked out of the therapist's office, my eyes red and swollen from sobbing the entire hour I was in there.
My gaze was fixed on the floor, my head was down as I pulled my hair forward, purposely hiding behind it, hoping that nobody would notice the tears I was desperately trying to hold back. Or the red swollen eyes.
On the way out of the building I stopped at the pharmacy on the bottom floor and I headed straight for the candy aisle. Ten or so dollars later, I headed to the car.
My thoughts were abusive and hopeless.
Things like, what the hell is wrong with me? Why am I so screwed up? Why can't I just get my shit together? I can't keep living like this. This is killing me, were raging through my head.
There I was, sitting in my car in the parking lot of my eating disorder therapist's office trying to break into a bag of candy and trembling like a detoxing drug addict.
I desperately fought to open one of the bags and was shaking so hard I literally couldn't get it opened.
My chest ached. My heart pounded. My head pounded. My whole body, one raw nerve of pain and self-hatred so uncomfortable I would have done pretty much anything to have been able to step outside of myself and somehow run away…. from me.
Fuck sakes, I cursed angrily out loud as I tossed the candy on the car seat and reached for a different bag hoping that the next bag wouldn't be as hard to open.
When I got the bag opened, I jammed a large handful of candy into my mouth as fast as I could get it in there.
Before I was even done, I was jamming more in.
After one more handful, I started the car and started pulling away, finishing the rest of the bag.
As I drove to a nearby department store to buy more, I noticed myself think, “oh well, I already screwed up today. I'll start over tomorrow” as I began planning what else I was going to get at the next store.
Another probably forty or so dollars later I’m back in the car and shoving more food in my face on the way to a drive-thru window for lunch.
I stuffed the lunch down while driving home and then topped it off by going back into the bags of candy beside me.
About halfway home I start noticing that I was feeling sick, and the manic-ness of the binge began to slow a little bit.
But I keep eating.
When I get home, I settle on the couch with more candy and I'm so sick that I cannot do anything but try to fall asleep.
A while later I'm awake and eating again.
I spend the whole rest of the day furiously trying to eat everything I can get my hands on and being forced to stop for a little bit every so often because I'm so sick.
And I'm repeatedly throwing up in my mouth because there's so much food in my stomach.
There's literally no room left for more food, but I'm still eating it.
I consider trying to throw up but I remember that despite throwing up in my mouth, I'm never able to make myself actually puke and I hate myself even more for not being a better bulimic.
“A good bulimic would just puke and then be able to keep eating” I would think. “Why am I such a failure at everything? I can't even do bulimia right!" I thought.
I heard myself think that and immediately recognized how screwed up that thought was - but that just made me feel even more broken and hopeless.
By the time I go to bed, I'm stuffed up to my throat, have excruciating heartburn, am throwing up in my mouth almost nonstop, I can barely breathe, my stomach feels like it's full of bricks and is distended out a solid four to five inches.
It is physically painful how full I am.
My heart is beating out of my chest so hard that it's scaring me and my fingers are numb and tingly.
I lay awake seriously afraid this is the time that I've eaten so much I'll die in my sleep and legitimately wondering if I should be going to the ER so that my daughter doesn't wake up in the morning and find me dead in my bed.
And at that point, I was a diet success.
That was in my early 30s. I had finally just lost the weight that I'd been obsessed over losing since I was in my teens.
I had the impressive before and after weight loss pictures, I was living the "healthy lifestyle" and everything. I even went so far as to become a champion figure athlete.
Ohh yess, I was a "diet success" alright.
Everywhere I went people celebrated how amazing I looked and congratulated me for “changing my lifestyle” and “getting healthy”.
Because they didn't know, how could they know?
I was so deeply ashamed and busy blaming myself for being a screw-up, that I would never share my dirty secret - that I was actually a raging bulimic who was still, despite having lost the weight, hating her body, obsessed with changing it and at war with food.
So how did I get there?
Like most people, I was conditioned with external weight stigma from the time I was little, as I got older and watched how those who gained weight were spoken of and treated, I began internalizing it.
I learned that fat was bad, and I did not ever want to be it.
In my teens, an adult in my life gave me one of Atkins books.
You know, because it was supposedly the healthiest way to eat. That's why she gave it to me.
But I zeroed in on how he claimed carbs make you fat.
I wasn't even overweight at the time, nor did I have what I would consider food issues.
My jeans were probably starting to get a little tight as they normally do when you're a growing teenager.
But I didn't see any of that all I saw was fat so I decided I needed to lose five pounds or so.
There was my life before I read that book and there was life after.
It caused decades of shame and self-loathing and took many years to repair the damage that that initial introduction to dieting did to my life and my mental and physical health.
About two hours into my first diet attempt I remember starting to obsess over the things I couldn't eat, and being desperate to be skinny as soon as possible so that I would be allowed to eat them again.
By midday, I had failed. I caved and ate carbs.
And something weird happened.
Instantly, I felt like I was bad.
It's not just that I thought I had made a bad choice.
I thought, “you idiot you can't do anything right? Look at you one meal in and you screwed up already. May as well just eat whatever you want now and the rest of the day and start again tomorrow.”
That was the beginning of decades of self-punishing, right there.
And, it started the fear.
I was scared of eating the "wrong" thing and scared of gaining more weight because I couldn't stop eating the things that Atkins blamed for causing weight gain.
That was also the beginning of complete disconnection and disassociation from my body.
There was no more eating when I was hungry, and stopping when I was full.
That perfectly normal human behavior was replaced with an obsessive need to prove that I had the willpower to control every morsel that went in.
Which, of course, I didn't.
I think I gained about five pounds from that first attempt.
And through that cycle, I slowly continued to gain more and more weight, year after year.
And feeling more and more guilty every time I ate something bad.
Atkins low carb miracle cure had not only failed me, but it began a decades-long battle with food and by weight.
I didn't realize until many years later that that pattern I got stuck in was caused, in large by the dieting! Nor did I have any idea that it was also being repeated in millions of people every day around the world. Because it's just the way our species has evolved to respond to food restriction and self-rejection.
At any rate, somehow in my early 30s, I got desperate enough to make myself "stick to" a severe caloric deficit long enough to drop many pounds. Desperation is a powerful force when it's strong enough.
And indeed, I had gotten to my goal weight pretty quickly. But again, or rather still, I was obsessed with food, obsessed with my scale and still hated my body.
So I enlisted an IFBB figure pro to help me really start transforming its shape.
That will make me love it, I thought.
So she gave me a meal plan with the caveat that - it's not a diet. It is a “clean eating, healthy lifestyle”, which again, had a profound effect on my life and my health.
Within four days of what had been just some Atkins-induced food issues - within four days of clean eating, I was now a raging bulimic.
Within eight months I was sitting In a therapist's office at a "healthy" weight, living that story I described in the beginning.
You know, because it's not a diet, it's just a whole food, good, nutritious, healthy eating lifestyle.
By 2010 I became a personal trainer and nutrition and wellness coach myself, because hook, line and sinker, I bought the lie, that weight loss, healthy eating, and busting my ass with torturous exercise programs every day, were the "right way", "healthy way" to live.
I fully believed that those things were making my life better.
And the ways in which I was completely imploding? Well, obviously, they were my fault because I was just a screw-up who couldn't get my shit together, I thought.
Because of that, I wanted to share what I had learned about fat loss versus weight loss, fad diets versus this, you know, “healthy eating”, “toxins and chemicals” and, you know, insert all of the stupid nutrition and wellness industry buzzwords here...
I wanted to help other people find peace and body confidence through body transformation but it was completely lost on me at the time, that those things hadn't actually brought me any peace or body confidence or any of the things that I wanted.
Because again, I was blaming myself.
“I'm just still struggling because I'm stupid and weak and broken,” I thought.
“When I help other people learn the right way to eat and train, they'll live happily ever after”, I thought.
I was programmed so completely that I couldn't see it.
Everything I had been taught about weight loss and healthy living and eating were the very things that caused the decades of struggle.
I finally did start seeing that though, when I was a trainer and client, after client, after client were telling me things like “I've been dieting my whole life, but I'm so stupid, I always gain it back.”
They’d all list the million different diets they try.
They’d give the diets credit for being so awesome and helping them lose so much weight so fast, but then blame and shame themselves when they gained it back.
And the horrific ways that they talked about their bodies, broke my heart.
Over and over and over again. For over 10 years, I've been listening to the stories of women in their 60s, 70s and even 80s talk about their lifetime of weight, food, scale, and diet obsessions and the one thing was always the same.
They gave the diet credit and blamed themselves when they failed - and they had usually started dieting in their teens, or early 20s or 30s.
And I started noticing that the “it's not a diet, it's a healthy eating plan” thing was really just turning out exactly the same way that diet attempts would.
I was seeing varying degrees and versions of my own history in hundreds of women and then I started noticing, it's really everyone.
Literally, everywhere you look people are always joking about weight gain, joking about how they can't stick to anything joking about how they can't stop eating certain foods joking about emotional eating.
It's so widespread because diet culture (which has also seeped into the healthy eating and living movements) is so widespread.
And the sickest thing is it is all so unbelievably toxic and unhealthy.
The Shift To Freedom
So for me, the shift to freedom started for two reasons.
First, because I actually thought I was gonna die.
Like I truly thought, “I have to change this or I'm not going to make it.”
And second, because through my personal training clients, I started recognizing just how widespread these issues are.
That prompted me to start trying to understand why.
I've always been naturally curious and wanting to understand why things are the way they are so I was researching and learning, which brought me to the anti-diet world.
Prior to that moment in my life, I'd always somewhat looked down upon the anti-diet world.
I thought that they were promoting weight gain and unhealthy eating and living but the more I learned, the more I realized how untrue that is and my entire belief system began shifting monumentally.
If three people in a class fail a test, you might blame the people.
If 95% of the people in the class fail a test, you probably start blaming the test, right? Right.
Except that's not what happens with weight loss obsessions.
The 95%, who keep “failing” (and I use that term loosely because you're not failing diets, they're failing you) but anyway, the 95% who keep failing, are busy blaming themselves and so ashamed by it all, that they'll never admit it.
But the current societal belief is that if you're overweight, you just need to be motivated enough to take control of your health and “fix it”.
That is a lie.
The truth is that most people are spending their entire lives, they are spending from 10 or 12 years old until they are 80, trying to “fix it” in a system that's failing them by being more likely to set them up for long term weight gain and food obsessions than it is to help them find health, happiness and weight loss.
As soon as I learned that, I realized I needed to quit the fitness industry, and start sharing not only my story of suffering but my story of healing because I knew I wasn't alone
The healing started in part when I learned why I was struggling so much.
When I recognized that the thing I thought was supposed to bring me health and happiness was actually destroying me.
When I realized I wasn't alone, and it wasn't my fault.
When I walked away from it all and I started working on healing the damage done to my relationships with myself, my body, and food from all that dieting from that world.
And I relearned to connect with and trust my body.
I learned how to manage and ultimately change the negative internal dialogue and body-image beliefs that were such a huge part of why I struggled with feeling good about myself in the first place.
I learned how to love and value myself as a human outside of what I ate, or what I looked like or weighed.
I learned how to manage pain and negative emotions without always relying on food.
And in doing those things, everything began to shift in the most glorious ways, including the way that I ate.
No more bingeing.
I stopped eating self-destructively entirely.
Not because “healthy eating” or “being on track” but because I genuinely stopped wanting to eat in ways that made me feel like garbage.
My relationship with food and my body is glorious now and peaceful.
I never worry about what I should or shouldn't eat, I just eat.
I never berate myself or my body in the mirror anymore.
I am finally at peace and living self and body acceptance.
Those are things that I never ever, ever got from decades of dieting or even "healthy eating".
I got them when I walked away from those things and I started reconnecting with me.
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