Authenticity and transparency are something that I’ve always valued. It allows for open communication, true connection, + growth. I’m sharing this post with you today for all of those reasons, but mostly because I want to give you support and encouragement if you are dealing with binging + restriction. I’m here to tell you that you are NOT crazy, that there is healing ahead of you, and I am on your side.
Some of you might look at my current Instagram or Facebook posts and think, ” Well hot damn, Caitlin’s got it all together! Must be nice!” Truth is, I haven’t always felt so confident in my own skin, and my health hasn’t always been the greatest. To this day I still struggle with some nagging health challenges, but hey that’s life.
If you’ve read my story, you know I grew up as a tiny, crazy bundle of energy that didn’t give two shits about what I ate. I was a competitive gymnast + pole vaulter and one of those “lucky” young girls who was naturally ripped and petite, thanks to the nature of my sports. I grew up in a household where my value was placed on things far above image; things like being caring, grateful, hardworking, courageous, kind, and thoughtful. On the contrary, I was praised for my “ideal” body, my gymnastic abilities, and how petite I was from the outside world.
I was quickly picked up into the arms of society and began placing my Identity in my physical abilities and what I looked like. “You’re so tiny! You’re so athletic! If I could have any body, it would be yours! You’re so lucky! Look at those abs! I wish I looked as good as you in a swimsuit!” I never paid attention to those comments, and brushed them off because I truly didn’t care what I looked like- or so I thought at the time. I never paid any attention to my body + all of the things people said about it because I was simply grateful for what it could do, and I loved the shit out of my sports. My body was a by-product of the hard work I had spent in the gym + on the track.
Everything changed when I went to college. I ate + drank more than I ever have at any other point in my life, and sprained my ankle 2 months into Track + Field season while pole vaulting. No training + Overeating + Drinking = I gained weight for the first time EVER, and quickly at that. I thought the “freshman 15” was a joke until I surpassed it and gained 20 in the blink of an eye. I had NEVER gained weight in my life, never felt uncomfortable in my own skin, never thought twice about food, and never thought that I would need to worry about any of those things- until then.
My world came crashing down on me as I started to realize that my “identity”- my body, my athletic performance, my “cute + petite” image – were totally crushed. Who the hell was I? Why would anyone like me? I wasn’t attractive. I wasn’t worth anything anymore. I had lost myself. My self worth plummeted. How could I do this? How could I let myself go like this? I sucked.
My ankle healed up + I started training again. I used to be at the front of running workouts, but now I was 2-3 strides behind everyone. Every time I would get passed by a teammate, I would think to myself, “You freaking suck. What the hell are you doing? Look, everyone is passing you. You’re not even athletic anymore. You should quit”. This negative self talk began to take over my mind not only in practice but constantly throughout the day in all areas of my life. I was ready to do whatever I had to do to get my identity back, and thats exactly what I did.
I started skipping breakfast, drinking tons of coffee for energy + so I could shit all day (because somehow I thought shitting all day would help me lose weight + make me feel better about my body), I ate the smallest lunches known to man, trained my ass off + did extra workouts before and after 4 hours of running + lifting with the team, ate small dinners, and never ate dessert.
Thats how its done, right? Pinterest, Instagram, Magazines- that’s what they all told me to do, so thats exactly what I did. I lost 20 pounds in one month, got all of my energy back, and kicked ass pole vaulting the rest of my collegiate career!….. SIKE! I crashed fucking HARD.
I didn’t start losing weight for a while, but once I did I also lost my period, was an emotional WRECK, started getting bad acne, had NO energy, started hating everything that used to bring me happiness- like pole vaulting + hanging with my friends, and started having uncontrollable binging episodes at night, which were extremely personal + insanely embarrassing. I couldn’t figure it out.. I was doing all of the “right” things, wasn’t I? What was wrong with me??
After months of this, I finally had my body “back”. I weighed 113 pounds, less than I did in high school- which was my “goal”. Something major was missing though- I wasn’t happy. I still hated myself. I still had that horrible, miserable, destroying self-talk. I still binged + restricted. I felt like I couldn’t help it 100% of the time and I shamed myself for it to the point of tears + hopelessness almost every night for months.
So how the hell did I manage to get to the point to where I am today?
It’s been a long journey guys, but heres the top 5 things that finally helped me break this cycle and bring about real, true healing in my life:
- Eat breakfast every damn day within an hour of waking up. Thats right! Full, disgusting, bloated tummy and all, I ate breakfast no matter what. I ate protein + fat rich breakfasts to balance out my blood sugar levels so I wasn’t setting myself up to be on a blood sugar roller-coaster all day, then craving shitty foods late at night. (check out my blog post about WHY fats + proteins are essential at breakfast)
- Lower workout intensity and always eat something before + after workouts. This was a little tough in college because I was a full time D1 student-athlete, so lowering the intensity of all my workouts wasn’t exactly possible. BUT- I did stop working out aside from organized track practice. This allowed my body to actually rest + recover, which I never realized wasn’t happening. I also started eating a simple snack about 30 minutes before + after my workouts, which greatly increased my energy, recovery, and blood sugar balance- which all helped to avoid those nighttime binging episodes.
- Start appreciating your body for what it is capable of, not what it looks like. This was a hard one. This change in mindset wasn’t something that happened immediately, but it was something that was absolutely vital in changing my eating habits for good. I recognized what brought balance back to my life + decreased my chances of having the urge to binge (eating more food + working out less) but I still argued with myself in my own mind about whether or not I was doing the right thing at times. “Don’t eat breakfast, you ate so much last night! Don’t eat before a workout, you need to burn more calories, you cant eat right now! This isn’t how you lose weight!” I had to shut that out and focus on nourishing my body. Changing my mindset to supporting my body and not fighting it was extremely powerful + vital in my healing.
- Realize that you are not crazy, your hormones are just out of whack. Binging always made me feel like I was a weak minded person because I could not stop binging late at night. It wasn’t until I realized that my binging was a repercussion of extremely imbalanced hormones and deprivation that I started to appreciate it for what it was. I wasn’t crazy, I wasn’t weak-minded, I wasn’t insane. I was undernourishing my body and it was BEGGING me to give it what it needed in the only way it knew how- by craving a lot of food because I wasn’t eating enough through the day, by being tired + asking for relaxation, by being imbalanced so I could bring it back into balance. You’re not weak minded. You’re imbalanced.
- EAT REAL FOOD!!! I can’t stress this one enough. Eating properly prepared, nutrient-dense, whole-foods saved my freaking life. Real foods have all of the nutrients, vitamins + minerals we need to thrive + be balanced. Optimal function + balance is essentially impossible if you are eating processed, sugary, chemical, food products from packages. I urge you to continue down this path of educating yourself + reaching out to professionals + friends about nutrition and how to properly fuel your body.
Real talk- I’ve finally come to a place of balance, confidence, and love for my body in a way I never imagined. There is no doubt in my mind that you can reach this point as well!! You are absolutely beautiful and the only person in this world who can be YOU. Your struggle is beautiful, and there is always something to be learned- especially in the low times in life. There is no light without the dark.
If you have any questions about binging, hormone balance, adrenal fatigue, or anything of the sort- please reach out to me! I would love to support you through whatever you may be experiencing.