I was diagnosed with anorexia when I was twelve but my true recovery didn’t really start until I was nineteen. Sure I was “in recovery” between those ages but I wasn’t really “recovering”, I was in more like a “dull recovery”. Just floating along, managing, but not thriving and not really happy.
I had nights where I longed to sleep and never wake up and days where I just cried until my eyes were red and swollen. I was eating but not really enough and I was stable but dying on the inside. I was surviving but not thriving.
When I relapsed after my first semester in college, I gave up completely and fell back into Ed’s arms.
I was so tired of trying to be happy; so tired of being someone who pretended to be okay. I wasn’t okay, and I knew that going back to Ed was bad but I couldn’t help it. He was the only one telling me I was special so I slashed my calories, started walking over two hours a day, and began pushing the people I loved away…
Before I knew it I had dropped to my lowest weight once again and I was pale, drawn, and irritable.
The people around me started to fill with worry and warned me that I was harming myself and would die. I didn’t want to listen but I was miserable and desperate so I started reading blogs online. Recovery blogs, healthy living blogs, fitness blogs and I began to notice a pattern. Everyone was eating so much!
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Most of the blogs I read were about other people who had gone through eating disorders or some kind of eating problems and yet were recovered or recovering. They were eating healthy foods and lots of it. They were also lifting weights and cutting their cardio. I thought this was crazy talk! But I kept reading.
At this point I pulled myself out of college and was back at home. I made some goals after reading these blogs that I was going to eat more, I was going to start lifting weights and I was going to love myself.
And that is what I did.
It was scary going from little food to a little more to a lot more, but I knew I was now nourishing my body so it could repair itself after my strength workouts and also from the stress I had put on it.
I loved lifting heavy weights and it became my biggest motivation in recovery.*
I switched my focus from being weak to being strong and things began to take off.
I gained weight slowly but I was happy again. I was gaining awesome muscle and I loved what was happening. For the first time in my life, I was glad when the number on the scale went up.
And after a while, the scale became just that, a scale. Not something to measure success by, nor something that told me if I was good enough or not. My weight no longer mattered to me because I was confident in my body for once.
I loved being strong and thrived in my workouts.
I’m still not really sure what recovery actually means and I’m assuming it can mean different things for everyone, but I think I’ve found it, or at least most of it.
Today, I eat lots of healthy food and enjoy it. I cook and I bake and I workout hard and I am happy. Strength training has made all the difference for me and has allowed me to be strong in both body and mind. It has allowed me to heal, grow, and love myself for who I am. Knowing that my body is capable of lifting almost double my bodyweight off the floor gives me power. A new kind of power, unlike Ed’s promises of power, the weight room gives me a sense of confidence. It’s a place where I know I am proud of myself and where I am just me, nobody else.
I still have days where I fall back and things that I need to address but who doesn’t? Life is a journey and we never stop learning, so it’s a good thing I love to learn.
I am proud of my story and how far I have come and I can now confidently say that I love who I am and where I’ve been.
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Originally published March 8, 2013 on our old Tumblr blog.
*Note: Please consult your physician and your recovery team (therapist, nutritionist etc..) before beginning any exercise programs if you are in eating disorder recovery.
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