In my 20s I had bulimia. There I said it. I always denied it at the
time but thinking back to those times it is crystal clear now.
Getting out of it did not happen from one moment to another. It was
like slowly crawling out of a ditch where you are less and less
deep but you are still in there. And eventually you surface. That’s
when you look back and realise how deep the ditch was. This is the
story of what helped me getting out.
I have always been a ‘smart gal’ but never really a geek. I had top marks at school / uni but I had a good social life too. What I always lacked is self confidence. I was never sure of what I’m saying. I was always happy to make a clown of myself as knew I never had that feminine elegance anyway. I have never been overweight but I was not outstandingly pretty.
Deep inside though I wanted to be pretty / beautiful / sexy. Hungarian guys often have this weird thing of criticising girls. And I took every word too seriously. ‘You are the top of the second line.’ ‘Wow girl, you put on some thighs over the holidays!’
First time I moved away from home I realised that I was in full control of what I eat. So I started eating what I thought was ‘healthy’. I ate salad, eggs, all the fat-free stuff I could get my hands on. And I ate very little. I would never touch chips. Ever. And I lost weight. Not to an alarming level, just about down to 55kg.
When I was doing a particularly difficult uni course and had a distance relationship I turned into a food-control-freak – and one that no working knowledge about nutrition. I went almost completely fat-free. I ate cereals for breakfast. Had salad for lunch. Very light stuff for dinner. My indulgence was a cereal bar in the evening eaten tiny bite by bite. (If you are like I was at the time
– this is the WORST eating you can do! High carb, low fat, no clue about protein is just insanely damaging. More on this later.)
I went down to 48kg. I did crazy amount of crunches at home in the evenings (silly-silly girl!!!) hoping for that sixpack. Yet I would grab my belly and feel miserable that there is still a layer of fat there. I felt tired all the time. Sometimes I would get tempted to eat something I really craved – a dessert, some non-zero-fat stuff. Then I made myself throw up.
I remember, in Euro Disney we went to this American style diner place. I was hungry – but not a single salad on the menu! So I asked for a milkshake – it was like melted chocolate ice cream. Thick and sweet. I drank it and went to the toilet to expel it straight away. That was the lowest point.
What was wrong?
I had no real knowledge on food and nutrition. Neither on exercise. I believed everything they would tell you on TV and in the fitness magazines. I did not have anyone knowledgeable who could correct me. I was completely mislead.
With the diet I followed together with the exercises I did I was doomed to be skinny fat forever. That is when you are very light, yet your fat-to-muscle ratio is very high as you have virtually no muscle on you (starvation makes you burn it). So you feel fat. Your hormonal balance is completely messed up so the ‘stubborn fat’ e.g. on your lower belly will stick to you like if it was superglued there.
With the lack of fat in my food I was constantly low on energy, depressed, worried, crying a lot and unhappy overall. I lived in beautiful rural France for a couple of months in the summer – and I was always crying and unhappy! There must be something really wrong with you if you are unhappy there!!!
How did I come out of the ditch?
I needed a full paradigm shift. A system that would give me a completely new foundation. That is based on principles. That can help me tell what really works and what is smoke and mirrors in eating, exercise, health and life in general. I was completely mislead so I needed a drastic change. (But this doesn’t mean
everything changed from one minute to another.)
For me this paradigm shift was Pavel Tsatsouline’s RKC (now called StrongFirst). It’s basically THE kettlebell school. But it is much more. It is the School of Strength. It is a supportive community of knowledgeable fitness / health and nutrition professionals dedicated to the ‘desissyfication of society. I started learning kettlebells from a RKC instructor – which led me into this community. I started following the leaders of the school online and started learning much more from them than how to lift kettlebells.
I learned how to take control of my body, my muscles, my movements (me, the always-clumsy girl!). I started enjoying training. I learned the principle of progression. And I always had something to work for. I stopped punishing myself with training, stopped working for the goal of ‘I need a flatter belly’ and started to work for ‘I want to be able to do a 16kg military press’.
My body reshaped itself in the background. I did not care about ‘becoming toned’ anymore – yet it happened. Sneakily I got some muscle definition on my stickman-like arms and my wobbly legs. I stopped weighing myself morning and evening.
My thoughts about food also changed. If you start training with StrongFirst, you will eventually run into the other systems these excellent health and fitness professionals follow and recommend. And believe me, that’s never been low fat! These guys do love their steak and bacon! I started eating great, real, home-cooked food. I lowered my carb intake and upped my protein. I stopped worrying
about fat in food. I started to become conscious of processed foods, added sugar, preservatives, flavourings, veg oil and things that are really affect my health negatively (and that is not butter or fat from steak!).
As I said it was not a straight jump from having an eating disorder to being fine again. The journey started there. I went strict primal (paleo + dairy), I went Warrior (intermittent fasting). I had a time when I weighed my food. I learned what ‘cheat days’ are. And I could eat cake. In fact I was FORCED to eat cake once a week. All these were still feeding my food-control-freakish nature but I
was getting better.
More energy, less worry about my looks, while my looks were certainly getting better. I was concentrating on my performance instead. How much can I lift? How heavy can I swing? How many swings / snatches can I do? There was always a goal to achieve. And a next one after that. My focus was there. Not on the scale, not on the mirror.
Eating healthy and NICE food became a way of life. It came naturally as did regular training which I enjoyed. I slowly forgot again cheat meals – it is not a cheat if I eat a cake! It is like a celebration that you fully enjoy when the time comes. I felt that my turning point was when I bought a slice of raspberry croissant cake at a cake stall on the market, and I ate it all, fully without
any type of feeling of guilt.
Where I got to from 48kg, punishing myself with ‘workouts’ and restraining myself from eating and being depressed all the time at the age of 25 is being somewhere around 60kg, looking much sexier with firm muscles and a proud posture at the age of 34. Feeling confident, pursuing strength and enjoying both my food and my training fully. I am fine.
I know that many women out there suffer from the same problems I did: lack of self-esteem, hidden eating disorders they might even be in denial about, distorted self-image and an even more distorted image of the person they want to become. These are the people I would like to take on a journey: one that will lead to a strong, confident, energetic and happy version of themselves.
Who’s coming with me?