woman stands on mountain over field under cloudy sky at sunrise

Starting Over Yet Again

Diana Paez Ortiz

Diana Paez Ortiz

Here I am, starting over yet again. I’ve done this post before.

Most of my teenage life and adult life I have been on a diet. Desperately trying to achieve the weight loss I always dreamed of.

It always started the same way. I would look in the mirror and hate what I see. My stomach was too big and my arms too flabby and all I could think was “how disgusting”. 

And this little thought would always trigger the same line of action. “That’s it I’m starting a diet tomorrow.”

And with that I would eat as little as possible and amp up the exercise. 

It would always be the same, skip breakfast as no one at home would notice, skip lunch because some of my friends at school also had fucked up eating habits so no big deal that I didn’t eat lunch and then allow myself dinner at home, so I didn’t have to deal with the parents. 

And I would always lose the weight. In high school it would take a week to lose 5 kg. But what would always happen was that after a while I would get too hungry and would always succumb to eating and that was when the crazy eating would start. 

I would ravage the cupboards at home to eat all the bread with Nutella, or the biscuits or cakes. When the pantry was sparse, I would then eat the taco shells or cooking chocolate. It was always desperate, and it would always end with me feeling sick and guilty and well a failure. 

My parents had no idea that I had an eating disorder… well they knew something was off but couldn’t figure it out because all they saw was me heading to the fridge ten times a night and well, I was always a little chubby. They thought I had an eating problem… that I ate too much… so they would lock the pantry so I couldn’t eat the biscuits and kit kits and they stopped buying cooking chocolate so I wouldn’t eat it and they would shame me each time I went to the kitchen to eat something. 

When the crazy eating started to get bad, well that was when I started to regurgitate my food. I would have a shower and so then I would start the process. 

It was awful and I hated it, but I hated being fat more and I was willing to do anything to lose the weight. 

I don’t exactly remember when all the fucked up disordered eating behavior started, maybe around the age of twelve, but I distinctly remember feeling too fat since I was 8 years old. The saddest thing of all was that I continued this type of behavior until I was 36 years old and that I thought it was normal. That this is the way life just is for some people.

It didn’t help that each time I did lose the weight, there would be so much praise for what I achieved. That they were proud of me for losing the weight. This would come from friends, family, and my parents. With my mum always saying to me each time I lost the weight “don’t go back to where I was, stay this way”. But because not eating is not sustainable I would always gain the weight back and then some and with the weight gain, then all the praise and comments would stop, and no mention of my appearance would be made and as always, I would be left feeling a failure. 

So, this continued, and this is hard to write because it was almost 30 years of causing myself so much pain. I think each time I went on a diet I got better at the eating disorder, I could restrict myself for longer, eat less food and exercise more and so each time, I would lose more weight.

But it was done at the expense of me, my health and my quality of life. I started to get chronically ill with tonsillitis, to the point that I had to reduce the amount that I worked, or I would end up getting sick and having to take time off work anyway, I developed fatty liver disease and I injured my hips where it was painful to just walk. I look back at photos and yes, I look skinny, but I also see the dark rings around my eyes, and I just look weathered and tired. There were times in my life that my depression would get so bad and coupled with anxiety that I would want to end my life. I had no idea that this was all linked with the eating disorder and that the lack for food would contribute to the dysregulation of my mood. 

Now all of this is super sad, well at least for me anyway. But I know that others also experience something similar and maybe just think this is normal. But I want to say NO, this is not normal, and it can be different. 

At the age of 36 years of age, I realized I couldn’t go on another diet even though I was desperate to lose weight. I just knew that I had to try something different because I couldn’t go on like this. I was at point where each I would start my day by not eating anything and would find myself by the time, I got home from work just wanting to eat a tub of ice cream, a whole loaf of bread and a packet of biscuits and I knew that something was wrong and there must be a better way to do this. 

I was so upset with myself that I just didn’t know how to eat anymore. I was either eating nothing, or completely clean (tuna and boiled broccoli no fat or flavoring) or I would end up at the other extreme of eating all the junk food in copious quantities as quickly as possible. I felt so crazy with food, and I felt out of control. 

My days would be spent obsessed with food. I would be thinking about the food that I had planned to eat or thinking about the food that I would forbid myself to eat. While scrolling on Facebook I would be drawn to the videos showing how desserts would be made and I would spend hours watching those videos. I just felt so crazy with food and all I wanted was to not be.

So, I went to my doctor and told her I think I have a problem with food, and I need help and you could say that was my first step in my recovery. 

It turned out I had an eating disorder, atypical anorexia to be precise. But because it was atypical and my weight never got dangerously low, it was never picked up. The issue of being overweight was more of an issue for me, my parents and some of my doctors. But it turned out the real issue was that I had an eating disorder.

I want to write this so that anyone else that might be going through a similar experience can know that they are not alone and that they can reach out for help at any time. 

This now happened 3 years ago, but because it has been too painful, I haven’t been wanting to write anything about it. But now I do. I am still working through this, but I am in a much better place and the biggest win is that I am not crazy with food any longer. I can say that I now have a healthy relationship with food, but where my work now lies is my body image and self-worth. 

Each day I still want to go on a diet, each day I still want to revert to old eating disorder behaviors, because I still want to lose the weight. I am yet to heal that part of my mind that won’t allow myself to accept my body as it is. This is the real crux of the eating disorder, well at least for me anyway. And so, this is the part of the story that I want to journal and capture in the hopes that I can also help you if you are going through something similar. 

So here I am starting over yet again. You could say I am on a health journey, but the biggest difference is that this health journey is no longer about losing weight but instead about developing a healthy relationship with food (all foods) and a healthy relationship with exercise (yes, I even managed to make this toxic too). But most of all it’s about figuring out how I can carve out a healthy relationship between my mind and my body.

I am a life coach and I help women to stop binge eating. If this is something you also want help with then click HERE for more information on how we can work together.