Updated: Nov 24, 2020
Hello! Welcome back to my blog, my name is Kennedy. Today I would love to share with you my health and fitness journey so far. I will be sharing everything I have learned the good and the bad. I will also be speaking of my experience with an eating disorder which has had a great impact on my life and might be triggering to some of you. I hope you may learn from this post and help break the silence, stigmas, and myths around eating disorders. I am not shy about the fact I struggled with an ED for about 3 years of my life and I’ve not properly shared my story with you. I want to share mine in the hope that it may help even just one person who may not know they are affected by an ED or know someone who is, get help. It can be the loneliest journey in the world and I never want anyone else to ever feel that way. There is so much love, support, help, and community out there, I will include some links at the end. Here we go...
“Her beauty is laced in her strength and interwoven through her flaws.
She embodies perfection.” ― Kierra C.T. Banks
The Start: Childhood
Growing up I was the least picky eater and still am! Even though chocolate chip pancakes were my go-to, I didn't enjoy sweets in excess and always preferred veggies, lettuce, and "rabbit food" as some would call it. To this day I still have a sweet tooth but absolutely love vegetables especially kale, baby carrots, and sweet potatoes! My mom really taught me about sound nutrition by having everything in moderation, balanced meals, and variety. She is an amazing cook and would cook something healthy and warm almost every single day and I of course ate it! From Chicken Tikka Masala to Carrot Ginger Soup to her amazing Summer Pasta Salad, I aspire to be as talented as a cook as her.
Since a young age, I was a very active child playing soccer, rhythmic gymnastics, horseback riding, and then later dancing. Ballet became my life from age 12 on. I was dancing 6+ days a week and food was my fuel. I did manage to workout sometimes on top of this but my metabolism in high school was killer too, to say the least! While still eating healthy, I ate it all and had as much of it as I'd like (which is the way it should be if you're truly listening to your body). However, senior year after beginning birth control I began to gain some weight. I was still dancing and consuming a bit more than I truly needed food-wise but to this day I am not sure what exactly caused my eating disorder a little more than a year later. From dance to modeling, to moving to southern California to study at the beach school UCSB, none of these factors ever truly triggered it.
College: The Freshman 15 & The Beginning...
With freshman year came the freshman 15 along with it. It was a HUGE change of environments and habits including binge drinking, the dining halls, and not knowing proper nutrition or portions. At UCSB it was the trend to have dinner, binge drink then hit up Free Birds for Nachos to end the night. While I was still extremely active I was often eating out of boredom in the dorms, sometimes stuffing myself to being overly full because I didn't want to "waste food" at the dining hall. (I still an issue with that today, since I was raised not to let food go to waste). Winter break of freshman year was when I came home and was told to "cut back a little" and this comment was totally necessary. Having not listened to my body from the end of senior year on I had put on around 20 pounds or more.
I wanted a fresh start and to be overall healthier. The spring of my freshman year is when I began to become more body-conscious. I started to work out more intensely as I wanted to look my best. I also started to eat cleaner. I tried calorie tracking but that didn't last long and I began to monitor what I ate and often avoided the dining halls. I was also still dancing on top of going to Core Power almost every day but still binge drinking on weekends. I did begin to receive compliments as I was looking and feeling my best and really loving myself! I felt confident in who I was and at the time was a healthy weight.
For the next couple of months going into summer, I began to cut back and clean up my health and fitness habits even more, eventually cutting out all carbs, fats, and sweets the best I could. Once you begin a trend of restriction it can often consume you and be difficult to stop. I began to continue to cut back each day, and often I can't remember what I ate that summer after freshman year because it was so little. I did have a few episodes of bingeing when I was drunk since I had restricted myself so much during the day I would purge the following day. I became short-tempered irritable, not flexible, mean but confident as ever. Here I started receiving negative comments often like "eat something" and my parents got angry at my unhealthy habits. However, in my mind, I still looked at my best suffering from body dysmorphia. Most of all I had control. Eating disorders often offer a sense of control in one's life. I walked tons that summer and did some weights in the gym but most of the loss was largely from diet restriction.
I was hooked on constantly reading, researching, trying, and studying new diet trends. I was obsessing over being "healthy" but so busy with traveling that I didn't think much of what it could be or was. This is all too common amongst women today and many you can tell have a problem but don't properly acknowledge it. I looked lean on the outside, but for how long and at what cost on the inside? I was unknowingly sabotaging my metabolic rate and organs on the inside. Coming home from Europe and preparing to start my second year at UCSB my mom sat me down and told me I had a problem. I was so confused about what this could be. Am I in trouble? She began to explain to me what orthorexia was and that I was Orthorexic and needed to get help now. This is when I began to get help and go through therapy but only for a month before I left back for college. At this point, I still never quite understood why I should solve this issue and why I needed help, I didn't really want it. I was only driven to make weight and get "better" so I could return to school in the fall. Mind you it is not an issue that can be solved in a matter of weeks but rather months and years of physical and mental therapy.
The Beginning of Recovery...
The fall of my sophomore year at college was one of the hardest times in my life. While I was living with all of my best friends at my dream school I was unknowingly depressed and decaying on the inside. Having only recovered for 1 month before leaving for school the more time I spent away the more it worsened and I continued to restrict and exercise more. This lifestyle of restriction and rules sent my body into a tailspin manifesting as uncontrollable food cravings (especially carbs when I was drunk), loss of menstruation, brain fog, high stress, inability to focus, obsession with food, poor sleep, unpredictable mood swings, and intense panic attacks. During this time I also struggled with binging and restricting. I was addicted to the scale and I was obsessed with people telling me how thin I was and obsessed with other people's diets.
After a quarter of anxiety, panic attacks, and chronic depression, I decided to get help for real this time and took 3 months off of school to recover. At this time I had a heartbeat slow enough to be hospitalized and was at my lowest of 112 lbs for a 5'10" woman. The time I spent away from school was truly one of the most eye-opening times of my life and with the help of an incredible therapist and nutritionist, I was able to start recovery. While it truly can be a lifelong issue, two years later I can say I have truly recovered, learned to accept and love myself, and heal.
My Life Now...
I was SO exhausted from obsessing over it all, so much time was lost focusing on calories, food, exercise, etc, and taken away from enjoying the real foods of life like friendships. Finally, I look in the mirror and feel at peace. The bottom line is, I want to be fit, happy, and healthy, but I also want to LIVE. I want to get dessert out, have a mimosa or two, and enjoy brunch with my friends because that is living your life. So that’s where I am now. After experiencing, orthorexia, anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder, I have been finally focusing on learning to love my body and all the unique things about it.
I have also focused on everything in moderation and truly listening to my inner intuition on when, how much, and what to eat or do! It’s all about balance and giving your body the nutrients it needs to keep you going. From everything I have been through I have learned so much and grown in more ways than just physically and mentally. I am so incredibly grateful for my friends, family, and recovery team for everything they've done for me and supported me through. I could never repay them for how much they have positively influenced my life.
Now I am on a mission to help others find a balanced, free, intuitive, and sustainable path to their own personal, physical, and mental health! As well as help break the stigma around eating disorders and what women "should" be eating and what's considered healthy or not. Women are running themselves into the ground, especially with all the diet and exercise "advice" that plagiarizes the news. Such as only eat paleo only, eat 1200 calories, must do HIIT to lose fat, eat 6 small meals a day, don't eat for 12 hours, and whatever new crap comes out each week. Our media can be very overwhelming and I just want to help others find a balance to look and feel their best.
I am not perfect and I still have my moments where I participate in ED thoughts or behaviors (negativity, bingeing, restricting), and I still have a way to go, but approaching nutrition more holistically has helped more than I can imagine. Now I try to eat mostly whole foods that make me feel good like lots of veggies, fruits, lean proteins like fish, eggs, whole grains, potatoes, and who could forget hummus (my favorite food creation). However, I have the worst sweet tooth! In times of craving, I reach for dark chocolate or ice cream of course! I also try to work out 4-6 times a week (really depends on how my body is feeling). Ever since the pandemic, I have been loving the 15-30-minute at-home workouts plus 10-minute abs each day from either Sami Clark, Pamela Reif, or any fun new workout I find on youtube! I usually aim for 2 glute focused days, 2 full-body, and 1-2 upper body days. Even though I have never liked cardio, walking has also had a huge impact on my life I aim for 15,000 steps a day.
My goal for this post is to share with you my experience and all I have learned. Really just wanted to tell my story and to help and serve others by either helping them get help or getting someone they know help. While things may look perfect on the outside to you, you never truly know what someone may be dealing with or going through on the inside. I know I’m not the only one struggling and know that you aren’t alone. I hope that women can band together and support each other by breaking these stigmas and norms around eating disorders, food, and what's "healthy". We are only given one life and one body, so we've got to take care of it the best way we can but enjoy living in it! Let us embrace the new diet trend of "the no diet"!
“To say "I love you" one must know first how to say the "I".” ― Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
For anyone interested in learning more, healing, or bettering themselves as a holistic, self-loving person, the book Embody: Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and quiet that critical voice!) by Elizabeth Scott is incredible and I would truly recommend it. Elizabeth was my amazing therapist which I thank my recovery to and who wrote the book in partnership with Connie Sobczak. This book’s message is rooted in the belief that people inherently possess the wisdom necessary to make healthy choices and live in balance. It emphasizes that self-love, acceptance of genetic diversity in body size, the celebration of the unique beauty of every individual, and intuitive self-care are fundamental to achieving good physical and emotional health. The book is also a part of a larger organization and movement, The Body Positive. You can learn more at thebodypositive.org today.
Thank you for tuning in today and I can't wait to see you in my next post. Don't forget to hit the subscribe button to get notified when I write my next story. Stay you, and stay gorgeous!