MyFitnessPal is that toxic ex you keep crawling back to….
Not because it gives you that false sense of security, but because you feel as though you have no other viable option. It’s the on again, off again relationship that traps you, grabs you, positively incentivizes you, all while still judging you every minute of every day. Rewarding you for hitting or staying below a totally conspicuous and irrational number. A number is a constant, its meaning and value doesn’t change based on day-to-day life. Numbers are controllable. For a person with anxiety and depression, numbers present you with a sense of authority over fear and worry. Days filled with malnutrition, restriction, guilt, irritability and fear of weight gain quickly turned into months of hell.
When my anxiety and need to control crash-landed, they become an eating disorder. In times of uncertainty, control is the one thing in life that gives me a feeling of comfort and belonging. My eating disorder gave me a sense of control, until it started controlling me. Eating disorders and mental illness thrive in isolation –that’s what makes quarantine hard for so many. When you are isolated from the outside world, you are hypersensitive to the thoughts in your own head. Not all thoughts are the truth. Our minds do this funny thing –they like to be our worse enemy, bully, and judge of our soul and our body.
“you are not enough”
“you aren’t worthy”
“your body isn’t perfect”
“you can’t eat that”
“carbs are bad for you”
“ice cream has too much sugar”
“you can’t eat that even though it was your favorite as a kid”
“you just need water, you’re not hungry”
“you must work out every day”
These are just some of the phrases that my brain told me all the time. You try to close your ears or shut your eyes but they only intensify.
But I found a way to turn every single one around.
“YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH”
“YOU ARE MORE THAN WORTHY”
“NO BODY IS PERFECT, WHY SHOULD YOURS BE?”
“DOES YOUR BODY WANT IT? THEN EAT IT”
“CARBS ARE YUMMY AND MAKE ME HAPPY, ESPECIALLY EVERYTHING BAGELS”
“ICE CREAM DATES WITH FRIENDS ARE THE BEST AND MAKE GREAT MEMORIES”
“OMG, THIS TASTE LIKE CHILDHOOD AND MAKES ME HAPPIER”
“MY BODY IS HUNGRY, LET’S FEED IT”
“MOVE YOUR BODY WHEN YOU WANT TO AND ENJOY THE MOVEMENT”
The last one is hard, and one I still struggle with every day. While it does get easier, sometimes just getting your body to eat can be a struggle.
When I first discovered Victoria on Tik Tok, I honestly thought she was crazy –like who in their right mind stares at a wide open fridge, smells food, and brings their own salad dressing to restaurants? And yet, I have turned into that girl. Intuitive eating has been life-changing for me. I am so in touch with my body. If the food isn’t hot enough, I’ll microwave it. If my body says I’m full, I have no problem leaving something on my plate. As a kid, I was a VERY picky eater but my eating disorder recovery has taught me that there are so many foods that I actually love: DONUTS, sushi, perogies, shrimp, brussel sprouts, stuffing, kolaches, and especially those scones we used to get as kids, the ones that just taste like pure happiness.
The most important thing I’ve learned is that I only have one life to live, so why live it with restrictions? Eat what you want to eat and be who you want to be. Don’t let anyone change you, how you feel, or how you treat your body.
I started writing this piece two months ago and deleted it all because I didn’t want to face the truth. But then, a good friend told me that you have to live in the uncomfortable to become comfortable. Diamonds are created in a fire, and sometimes, life can feel like you are in the middle of an inferno. But in the end, you are beautiful and strong because you have gone through it all.
In my recovery, I started blogging. Soon, “More Than Just Balls” was founded. It mainly focuses on women’s sports, but I hope to one day bring light to all of the topics and stigmas surrounding women’s sports, eating disorders, and mental health.
I don’t regret my eating disorder. But, I regret how it made me treat my family and friends. I let it take over my life like a blaze of a wildfire. The only way out was asking for help, so that my family and friends could help me extinguish the fire. That doesn’t mean I’m perfect, I still struggle every day, but I am strong and tend to break less.
I am so grateful to The Hidden Opponent family, especially the interns, for always being there for me with a funny gif, Tik Tok, or just a friendly face or a “virtual shoulder to cry on.”
To my family that supported me, (especially the intuitive eating I know it’s weird at first lol), remember that time I ate cereal with a fork and no milk? All jokes aside, you saw me at my worst and didn’t let me hide it. You were there for me when I needed it most. You helped me to achieve multiple goals, like running a half marathon, starting two of my own businesses, and continuing my recovery from my eating disorder. My friends, to the few of you that I told, thank you for helping me. And to my friends who are just finding out, feel free to ask questions. I want to help destigmatize eating disorders and it all starts with having these hard conversations.
My recovery is not linear. I will be in recovery for my entire life, but it’s starting to get easier with each new day.
Lastly to anyone who’s struggling, reach out to someone. You can’t do it alone, it takes a team. No firefighter fights a fire alone and neither should you.
Kaylen Buschhorn is a current student athlete at McDaniel College and an Intern with The Hidden Opponent