It’s 2015 and I am 30 years old. I am 5’ 8’’ wearing shoes and I weigh 131 lbs. I am a size 2 at Banana Republic and a size 6 at Lululemon. In 2004, I was 18 going on 19 years old. My height was the same as today. I weighed as little as 110 lbs and tested at 9.9% body fat. I was a size 0 or extra small—a size 6 would have been extremely baggy. I was entering my first season as a Division I collegiate soccer player and I had an eating disorder.
It began with a speech from a high school track coach discussing leaning up for endurance sports. I internalized this talk as “time to cut out the fat from my diet.” Skipping my favorite ice cream in the world, Greaters, turned into eliminating oils, fatty meats, peanut butter and cheese from my diet. At that point,I thought dietary fat would literally make me fat and anything containing what I considered too much fat would give me anxiety. Not too many people knew what was going on until I started dropping the weight.
My parents saw me at my first pre-season soccer game and took me home, ASAP. My heart rate lying down was 47 and 60 seconds later I stood up and my heart rate jumped to 88. According to my doctor, my heart had atrophied (my heart had to work too hard just standing) and I was officially told to stop playing soccer until I could get up to 120 lbs. I was frail, weak and completely unhealthy. I was losing my hair and I was always freezing. My energy levels went up and down. I started seeing two different Dietitians and I had weekly weigh-ins with a doctor on campus. I would drink 2 bottles of water before weigh-ins because I knew I hadn’t done what I was told to do. I knew I didn’t look good, but I wasn’t mentally strong enough to comply with what was necessary for my health. Of course I was seeing a counselor on a regular basis, but something wasn’t clicking. I felt completely out of control, yet I still controlled everything.
My teammates were amazing. They kept me strong and full of hope. They invited me to church and I went. They invited me to Athletes in Action, a campus ministry targeting collegiate athletes, and I joined them. At this point in my life, any genuine support felt amazing. Later on in the school year, I signed up for a summer camp conducted by Athletes in Action that would change my life forever. One of the seminars was a female-only seminar. I walked into the room and everyone received a red rose with the same bible verse, “Let the King be enthralled by your beauty; Honor Him for He is your Lord.” Psalm 45:11.
Boom. This struck a chord with me. It felt like a stack of bricks being lifted off my chest and I finally had a taste of what recovery could feel like—a feeling of freedom with the loss of shame and guilt. I learned a lot in the seminar and since then I have slowly grown to better understand and appreciate that verse. I had to give it all to God and lay down my struggles. I was able to replace my eating disorder with a passion for nutrition and helping those that battle with their weight.
Guess what I continue to learn….no one… I mean NO ONE should define themselves by their weight.
No one is defined by their sport. No one is defined by being a regionals contender or being the best athlete in the gym. No one is defined by an idealistic family of two kids, a perfect house and perfect job. It goes much deeper than that and it comes from a place much higher yet 100% by your side when you don’t even realize it. The rose was more than a rose. It was a symbol that I was enough. It was a symbol of God’s perfect love.
During the holidays, it’s easy to get wrapped up into what the next year will bring. New Year’s resolutions are made and we often strive for something that is either unrealistic or we hope for something within an unrealistic time frame. Instead of figuring out how much weight you want to lose in January or how much you want to squat by March, ask yourself what defines you and how will you let that flow through your life. I realize this is a very open and honest blog post, but I felt it was necessary during this time of the year. Tis the season for lots of roses.