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Tiffany Lee Gaston

Recently, a 19-year-old girl reached out to me regarding her experience with being hospitalized for four months for the treatment of her anorexia. I was so touched because she told me she aspired to look like me.  I had tears rolling down my face at the thought of her feeling that way. It pains me to think of another young girl going through the same struggles I had in my early years. Having had a battle with anorexia myself, I understand the delusional mindset of such a person firsthand. Those dark days are far behind me now, but my 13 year old self didn’t understand what  I was doing to my body.  I later learned that feeling helpless and knowing full well that the one thing you do have control over, your food, can lead to a recipe for disaster. Denying oneself the proper calories and nutrients is a terrible thing.   As a well-informed adult, I make better choices and have a much better understanding for the way in which food affects our bodies.  I know that by eating right, which for me is a Paleo lifestyle, and exercising, I am very content within myself.  It did take years to get to this place and I hope this girl recovers and learns how to take care of her body instead of harming it.

Once I embraced my body and the way my genetics deemed I would look, I was able to recover and put it behind me.  Women often hold themselves to such high standards.  Magazines, movies and all the plentiful images of women, many times having been photoshopped to high heaven, leaves us feeling inadequate and low.  If we allow those standards to creep in, they can reap havoc with our minds.  I am guilty of this and that is likely when my own eating issues reared their ugly head.

Being able to feel that my current standards are my own, is such an empowering feeling.  While I am definitely inspired by other healthy and fit women, I am also very happy in my own skin, a feeling that took some time to arrive at.  It amazes me now to look back and recall what a warped time of my life that was.  If only we could see ourselves from the outside in, many times these types of eating disorders could be averted.  If you’ve ever experienced an eating disorder yourself, I hope you have overcome and learned to appreciate the beauty that you have to offer. The best gift you can give yourself is to feel secure and confident in yourself and the way you were created.  This can often be a very difficult place to discover.

While I was once in her shoes, I see can see now that anorexia has no role in my current physique or any place in my life.  To sculpt and mold your body, add muscle, become lean and toned, you must eat and eat very well.  Depriving your body of valuable nutrients cannot contribute to this. Truth be told, I do not ever withhold calories.  I can tell when I should back it down or have been overdoing it and I make a conscious effort to clean it up.  I rarely weigh myself now and I don’t count my calories.  I do have general ideas about where my macros are, but my personal feeling is that when eating the proper fuel, you will not over eat.  How many times have you binged on broccoli?  See, that’s my point.

As a mom now, the direction is still the same, the message a bit different perhaps.  I want my children to grow up in a healthy household with healthy role models.  I realize this also paves the way for the possibility of creating too high of a standard, as far as others may be concerned.  My children see their mom in magazines or images, mainly centered around body image.  I do explain, that at no point in time are they expected to hold the same interest or appearance.   As long as they take care of themselves, the rest will fall into place.  In time, I will have to leave them to their own choices and I can only hope I’ve offered the best foundation for which they will build their own health.