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(Photo Copyright 2009 By Witt Publishing)

"Weeping may go on all night,
But in the morning there is JOY!"
-Psalm 30:5b





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OVERCOMING ANOREXIA:
A PERSONAL ACCOUNT

By Alana Gable
Copyright 1989, Revised 2000


If thin is good, thinner is better. Or so I thought.

It has been many years now since I exhibited anorexic traits, and I feel that I have nearly if not completely overcome this condition that affects many people in today's society. And although my anorexic compulsions did not advance to the extent that many others with this same condition do, I am hopeful that some who read this article will feel encouraged that they, too, can overcome anorexia. Believe me, it is a freeing feeling to no longer feel trapped by the compulsive behavior associated with this condition.

The basis for my anorexia began with some misconceptions I had while I was growing up. At the beginning of each new school year my mother would weigh each of her children so we could record our weight (along with height, etc.) in our "School Days" books. I don't know why, but I hated watching the numbers increase each year. Maybe it was because I was afraid of getting fat. And by all means, I didn't want to weigh 100 pounds. But as I grew, the number of pounds increased until ultimately I reached the dreaded 100 pound weight. It was then that the problems began.

But other factors were also involved. I recall my father saying to me as I was growing up such things as "pull your belly in" and "do you want a belly like your mother's?". Such statements led me to believe that I was fat, when in fact I was not. I also came to fear becoming overweight like my mother.

At the same time, I felt the effects of having a domineering father. Studies show that one characteristic of anorexics is the need to have control over some aspect of their lives. If one or both parents are domineering, the child (primarily teenage girls) may resort to the one area of his/her life that he/she can control--his/her weight. Perhaps this was one of the contributing factors that led to my becoming anorexic.

In addition, I wanted to look like the models in advertisements--thin! I realize that thin sells the product, but perceiving such a stress on being thin in our society places real pressure on everyone--especially females--to be thin. Heaven forbid I should become fat and no longer fit into the thin image.

These, then, were some of the factors that I believe contributed to my becoming anorexic.

At the beginning of my freshman year in high school, I weighed around 113 pounds with a height of 5'3". It was then that I began keeping track of every calorie that went into my mouth. I became obsessed with weighing under 100 pounds (my goal was 90 pounds) and having NO belly whatsoever. It was also then that I began to exercise compulsively and excessively--even if it cut into my sleep time.

I ate only minute helpings of food at mealtimes. The largest quantity of foods I ate were dessert foods (I've always had a sweet tooth). I knew what my basil metabolism rate was and only consumed ample calories to meet it. Sometimes I would binge on dessert foods and then exercise even more than my usual amount to try and burn off every extra calorie that I had consumed. Most of the time I was VERY hungry.

I did a minimum of 1,000 calisthenic repetitions daily. These included 500 sit-ups, 300 toe-touches, and 200 upside-down bicycles. I remember getting home one night around 11:30 after musical practice and feeling like I HAD to do my nightly routine of exercises. And although I resented it, I did EVERY ONE.

Shortly after beginning my rigorous exercise routine, I developed scabs on my lower back from the rug burns I acquired from doing so many sit-ups. I wore a lot of large bandaids during that time on my tailbone. Ultimately I developed a thickness of skin in that area--my back calloused itself to combat the abuse I was putting it through.

It was like I was caught up in some kind of whirlwind. And although the motivation for anorexia has been said to be partly related to the need for control, I did not feel in control. I felt like someone else was controlling me. My behavior was both obsessive and compulsive and had to be stopped before it destroyed me.

I began my sophomore year in high school weighing 98 pounds, which is the lowest I remember weighing during my high school years. When it came time for physical fitness tests in Physical Education class, I set a new record for the number of sit-ups per minute--I did 72.

It was during that time that my mother handed me an article depicting the characteristics of anorexics, which was published in the now defunct St. Louis Globe Democrat. I recognized that I exhibited many of the characteristics described in the article and came to identify myself as an anorexic.

I didn't like the thought of something being wrong with me. For that reason, I immediately stopped my rigorous daily calisthenics, stopped counting calories and gradually returned to eating healthier portions of food. I had to come to face the reality that it is okay to weigh over 100 pounds--that it is, in fact, healthier for someone of my height to weigh over 100 pounds. But although I was able to overcome these anorexic traits based on my recognition of the problem and the willpower to overcome it, in most cases it would be advisable to seek professional assistance.

Presently I still sometimes look in the mirror and criticize my waistline or feel like it looks like I've gained weight. But I am no longer obsessed with losing weight. When I do weigh, it is in an effort to maintain my weight within a weight range I have set (110-114) that falls within the weight chart established by the USDA for a woman of my height (5'3"). I refuse to count calories. I eat when I am hungry, eat slowly, eat until I am full, then stop. I snack when I want to. I exercise only WHEN I FEEL LIKE IT--not because I feel like I HAVE to.

Anorexia can be overcome. That's not to say it is easy or that it isn't more difficult for some than for others, but anorexia need not destroy all its victims the way it did Karen Carpenter. Advanced cases of anorexia may result in irreparable damage to the body. Early detection is important, as well as an effort to identify why the person has chosen this self-destructive path. But the most important factor is for the anorectic to have the willpower to overcome his/her condition.

It is possible. There is hope.



ADDENDUM - 02/27/01: In recent weeks I have been contacted by two people who have lost close family members to anorexia/bulimia. If you or someone you care about even possibly has anorexia/bulimia PLEASE seek professional help--before it's too late.





The Anorexia On-Line Support Group Network was recently established to create the opportunity for persons with anorexia to offer support and understanding to each other. Check it out at:

CLICK HERE


Together we can make a difference. Together we can support and uplift each other. Together we can make it through this. Are you ready?




Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center
International Eating Disorder Referral Organization

"The Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of eating disorders. We provide information and treatment resources for all forms of eating disorders. The Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center was created to fill an important community need, that of providing prompt information to individuals needing assistance in finding eating disorder treatment in their area. We provide referrals to eating disorder practitioners, treatment facilities, and support groups. Referrals to eating disorder specialists are offered at no charge as a community service. In addition, we offer general information to the public about the treatment and prevention of eating disorders and we hope to promote social attitudes that enhance a healthy body image and self-esteem. Those who would like eating disorder information or need a referral can contact The Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center by telephone, 'snail' mail or by e-mail. The Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center is able to link those needing treatment resources with eating disorder professionals who provide individual, family, and group treatment. If an agency or treatment center can fit a client's needs better than a private practitioner, then the service will refer to that organization."

Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center
International Eating Disorder Referral Organization
2923 Sandy Pointe, Suite 6
Del Mar, CA 92014-2052
(858) 792-7463
Fax: 858-481-5143
www.edreferral.com
Email: membership@edreferral.com





RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:



Hurt
Grief
Depression
"Visualize to Revitalize"

VisualizeToRevitalize.com




Pritikin Wellness Resources
Information site regarding eating disorders.
For more information, click below:

Pritikin Wellness Resources



Eating Disorders at Home, by Kathryn Herbert

The parent's guide to fight your daughter's eating disorder at home - the essential steps to avoid lethal mistakes. The help every parent needs to understand eating disorders and to develop an at-home action plan toward restoring your daughter's health and reclaiming her future.
For information about this book, click on its title below:

Eating Disorders at Home


Your Erroneous Zones, by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

This book helped to change my way of thinking about so many things--it can change your life for the better as well.
For information about this book, click on its title below:

Your Erroneous Zones


My Mother/My Self, by Nancy Friday

Examines patterns of the mother/daughter bond that develop in childhood and shows how to positively change them in relation to all passages of life.
For information about this book, click on its title below:

My Mother/My Self : The Daughter's...


Love, by Leo Buscaglia

A wonderful, "feel good" kind of book.
For information about this book, click on its title below:

Love


Power For Living

A life-changing book, helpful in meeting life's challenges.
For more information about this book, click on its title below:

Power For Living


Our Daily Bread

Daily devotional guide--available to read on-line, or order free booklets sent to your home by filling out a form within their web site.
For more information, click on its title below:

Our Daily Bread



Why? Trusting God When You Don't Understand, by Anne Graham Lotz

Relates the story of Lazarus in relation to how Mary and Martha would have felt about their seemingly unanswered prayers for his healing, which is related to how we feel when we go through trying times in life.
For information about this book, click on its title below:

Why? Trusting God When You Don't Understand


The Grace To Keep Going

Last night (11/15/03) I turned to the TBN channel, and Charles Stanley was giving a message. He was talking something about tough times in our lives and whether we'd choose to just give up or not. I could relate to what I heard, so I kept listening. After all this time of questioning why a loving God could let so much hurt come into my life the past few years, at last - someone who explained it in a way that brought peace to my soul. I invite you to listen and watch this message on-line--perhaps it will speak to your soul as well. Just click on the link below, and then click on the DIAL-UP/56K button to download the video to your computer where you can view it using RealPlayer:

The Grace To Keep Going


Acquire The Fire

Focus on Teens and Youth.
For more information, click on link below:

Acquire The Fire











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