STORIES OF STRENGTH AND RECOVERY

Blank Label Active is my third business, and this time around I intended to check all the boxes I envisioned in owning a business.  Social responsibility is one of those boxes; and my intention is to use this company as a platform to support the community of people suffering from Eating Disorders, or disordered eating as I prefer to say.  Thirty million Americans will be affected by an eating disorder at some point in their lives; that's an astounding number.  And what’s more frightening, is that it often starts in early childhood and most never get help.

My personal struggle with self love and food began at an early age.  I remember a family member commenting that my friend looked like a bean pole standing next to me,  I didn’t really know what that meant but it was the first time I turned my attention to my physical size and compared my body to another person’s.  It was truly a pivotal moment and from that point on, my body became something I grew to hate. I was 10 years old. In middle school I went to modeling school and learned to “diet”.  A complicated relationship with food ensued from that point forward which ranged from extreme calorie restriction in high school and college, abuse of pills and laxatives, to finally binge/bulimia which lasted over 15 years. 

Anyone who has suffered with disordered eating knows these things are tricky; they transform and shape shift.  Eating disorders are masters at re-invention which is why they are so challenging to “treat”; I never sought help, I suffered in silence and shame as so many do.  It was motherhood that truly inspired me to focus on healing; my greatest fear was transferring my disordered habits onto my daughter. Once I began to work on myself, I was able to find my way through the storm.  By mending a broken relationship with myself, LOTS of forgiveness work and finding consistency with movement and exercise, I was able to step outside of my triggers and rituals and gain some separation from my ED.  I think I will always struggle in certain moments, but I am so grateful for my journey as crazy as that sounds, and if my struggle can help one person, then it’s all worth it.  

People suffering need to know they are not alone, and their experience is valid.  I am honored to share some very special (snippets of) stories below...please be sure to check out their pages and show them some love.  

Kim @kim.bee.fit

We talk so much in our culture about body positivity and loving yourself regardless of the way we look. But if we’re being honest, self-love doesn't come easily does it?...Especially if you’re a type-A person like me!  My story is about the slippery spots along the journey of gaining weight and losing it. There's so much more than the weight to think about. It's your mindset, your relationships, your habits, your attitude about yourself and the things you can't control. Personally, I didn't just dislike how I looked before I began, I developed a dangerous attitude toward my outward appearance.

Prior to becoming a nutrition professional, For 3 years, I suffered from Orthorexia, a clinical term used to describe an eating disorder for overtraining and under-eating. As a result, I dropped to an all-time low weight of 106 lb -- as a 21-year-old standing 5'7" tall. I desperately wanted to be “model thin” and get back to the lean physique I had before college.  During my struggle with Orthorexia, I lost my period for three years, developed thyroid issues, lethargy, severe anxiety, depression, heart palpitations, problems regulating my body temperature and still suffer from food intolerances to this day. Most of these symptoms I never told anyone about.

My health had hit rock bottom, all in an effort to "look healthy". And it was the wake-up call I needed. Back then, I was married, and I wanted to have children. Although I had many health symptoms, I didn't realize my eating would affect my fertility until my doctor told me I needed to eat more in order to conceive. So I did...and I couldn’t stop. From ages 23 to 26, I suffered from Binge Eating Disorder and never sought help. I went through many mental battles on my own, which I do not recommend.

Eventually, it took leaving a marriage that was emotionally empty and moving 500 miles away from where I had lived my whole life to finally hit the reset button. More so, it took getting curious, learning more about myself. Creating space for healing. Not believing every thought that entered my head. Going to school to make nutrition my profession and eventually making my way to the body composition I’ve always wanted – it took deep inner work!

(read Kim’s entire story on www.neversettlelife.com/blog)

Michele @afitandfabulousmichele

All of my life, I’ve focused on being healthy and happy, and yet, everything I had learned was contrary to how I wanted to be.  My brother was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when I was only five years old. This diagnosis, even though it was not my own, catapulted my life into a new realm.  Instead of learning how to listen to my body and my hunger cues, I grew up learning a different kind of healthy.I learned that measured out food was better than unmeasured.  And I learned that being strict with meal times and exercise were only necessary. And I learned after countless grocery trips with my mom that low-fat and sugar-free foods were “healthy.”And while I can go on and on about this, society and the media only made matters worse as at the time, they were marketing low-fat and low-calorie foods all the time. It was the FAD of the time, but it ended up impacting MY LIFE for years.For me it wasn’t just a FAD, but an introduction into restriction which later led me to a ten year battle with anorexia and anxiety.

Since that time, I’ve had to re-train my brain using my education and degree. And while I could go at length of the new foods I’ve tried and how much healthier my hair, nails, and skin are, I have to say that the most important thing that I have learned along the way is this health isn’t just about fitness and food...It’s about balance. The reason that I’m sharing this now is to raise awareness to as many who are reading this and are looking to do the same as I…To be healthy and happy. 

(read the Michele's entire story https://www.michelechristineweinstein.com/michele-weinstein/)

Elizabeth @elizabethaylorfitness

My fitness journey started as an obsession and grew into something I never thought possible! I struggled with anorexia, binge eating, depression, adrenal burnout and severe digestive issues.  I weighed 108 pounds, would eat maybe 500 calories a day and then binge on 6K a day on the weekend. I loved fitness only because I could burn more calories and if I didn’t run at least 6 miles a day I wouldn’t want to eat.  After burning out on my last marathon I literally was in such a bad place that I decided to make a change and this where my JOURNEY began with bodybuilding. I had always wanted to build my body and made myself a vision board with female bodybuilders.  Overnight I went from competitive marathon running to no cardio and training 6x week bodybuilding and I fell in love. I hired a macro coach who helped me with accountability and taught me how to eat to build muscle; we embarked on a 5 year plan to bulk my body.  

You may ask if I am afraid that I am going to fall back into my ED during this prep (for my competitions) and the answer is NO!  It took getting up to 180 pounds with my weight and learning that it’s NOT about the NUMBER ON THE SCALE! I felt confident at 180 and it because I learned to shift my mindset and fall in love with being strong and lifting heavy shit not about chasing that size zero.  We all have a reason we started our fitness journey and if I could give you one word of advice it is that nothing is impossible! Believe in yourself, believe in the process and give it time!

While everyone’s story is unique, they carry a common thread of healing through self love.  Please comment or share with anyone you think might need to hear these stories.

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