Lifestyle

My Journey To Having A Healthy Relationship With Food

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Trigger warning

I have been wanting to write this blog post for so long, but honestly I wasn’t quite ready yet. Until I recently sat down with myself and my thoughts and tried to pinpoint what it was that was holding me back from opening up about it. One reason was the thoughts and fears of how it would be perceived, what will people think? Where do I fit in? Will my story be triggering to others, or will it be helpful?

That’s just the thing though, this is my story, we all have one. There’s no reason to be ashamed or scared, and quite honestly, I am a firm believer in talking things out. I think it’s so healing and you can learn a lot about yourself. My goal is to hopefully inspire anyone who may be on the same path as I once was.

the beginning

I guess I should back up at start from the beginning! I grew up in a household with my 3 other siblings, and I am the youngest 4. As I got older, I struggled big time on finding my purpose or where I fit in. I always would be searching for who I wanted to be. I was essentially a sponge, just absorbing everyone’s actions around me and seeing where I fit in best.

I would also consider myself a pretty awkward child. I was taller than my brothers, taller than my friends and one of the tallest girls at school. I was so unbelievably self conscious of it and it was something that I had no control over. Whenever I would meet someone new or see someone that I hadn’t seen in awhile, their first reaction would be to tell me how tall I was, and as a young impressionable girl, this was something that I grew to hate about myself.

Middle school was about that time that I started getting approached by modeling scouts telling me that I should look into modeling. The idea of being on covers as a young child was so attractive to me, especially since I idolized Victoria Secret models. However, it wasn’t possible for me to do. My mom was a single mom and the modeling world is very demanding. You need to be taken to castings on short notice in Los Angeles, which was something my mom was not able to do because she was working. It was very disappointing to me, but I told myself that when I turn 16 and got my license that I was going to make my dream a reality.

Like most kids, highschool was a really weird stage for me. I was still one of the tallest girls at school, and people would still make comments about my height every single day. But at this age is when people started making comments about my weight as well. They would tell me how skinny I was and that I could literally eat whatever I wanted and still be that skinny. I didn’t realize how much these comments would stick with me and affect my overall judgment on myself. I didn’t feel as skinny as everyone said I was, but I listened to them and that’s when my over-obsession with food really started.

This over-obsession led to my disordered eating. Because people would always tell me how tall and skinny I was and that I could literally eat ANYTHING, then that’s exactly what I did. I started excessively eating because, why not? My dream to be a model was still very real to me, and I was so determined to make it happen but now that I was eating more and more, I of course, started to gain weight.

I soon came to realize that I found comfort in food. Whenever I was stressed, sad or had anxiety, I would head straight to the kitchen and just munch on whatever I could find, this would help take my mind off of whatever was bothering me. I would spend 15-30 minutes in the kitchen just binging on whatever I could find, until I was overly full.

At this time I started taking myself to modeling castings, but they would always tell me that I needed to lose some weight before I could even think about booking jobs. I was 16/17 and I hated myself for not being able to stop eating. Since I was so upset, I would eat more. It was a vicious cycle that I couldn’t get a grasp on.

Then, came the most amazing opportunity. I was invited to walk in LA Fashion Week and I was so unbelievably excited, this was my first runway gig and I thought, it’s only going up from here. Little did I know that this night would be the first night I got pushback in front of a group of people for my weight. The dress I was supposed to wear barely fit. It hugged me so tight and it barely went over my hips. Everyone starred at me thinking the same thing, “It looks bad on her.” I wanted to crawl in a hole, but I kept pushing and walked down the runway, needless to say I did not feel confident and it definitely showed.

I was so uncomfortable walking down the runway, I didn’t feel beautiful. I felt awkward and out of place. I told myself that that would be the last time I felt that way because I was going to make it a purpose to lose weight. Mind you, I was at a very healthy weight for my height, but it wasn’t modeling industry standard.

I started looking at magazines, you know the ones that say on the cover “Lose 20 pounds in One Month”. Inside they would promote all these crazy diets and this is when I really started crash dieting. I started with the Special K diet and that’s when I discovered the serving size for a bowl of cereal. I was eating maybe 5x that. I was shocked at how much I was overeating, or so I thought. I looked at all the other cereal options we had in the house and saw that they were all the same size, 1/3 cup. Just to be clear, 1/3 cup of cereal is not big enough even for a small child! But I didn’t know that at the time.

I would see AD’s on the internet for diet pills, and I even went as far to purchase some. Before checking out it asked for your age as you needed to be an adult, so I lied and said I was 18 when I was really only 16. Lucky for me, my mom opened the package before I was able to get to it and threw a fit that I was purchasing those so soon.

That didn’t stop me though, I was on a mission to drop the weight and as fast as I could. During this time I struggled hard, but I struggled in silence. No one knew, not my family, not even my closest friends. Tumblr was really popular during this time, I remember following girls stories who were anorexic and just wishing that I could have the strength to starve myself. I even once went three days without eating food, I instead chewed flavored gum and drank a ton of water, and I felt so proud of myself for doing that.

Fast forward to college, I had the same struggles that I did throughout high school except now I was parting every single weekend and gaining even more weight. But during my last year of college is when I had a big reality check. I said, it’s now or never. I would be graduating next year, and I wanted to give myself a fair chance at modeling.

I started working with a trainer, who specifically trained top models. He was insanely over priced, and he was located in Hollywood (which was like 1.5 hour commute for me one way). Mind you, I was working and going to school full time, I still don’t even know how I managed to do that. This trainer put me on a specific diet and exercise routine. A few weeks later, I started dropping weight. A few months later, I dropped 35-40 pounds.

I stopped seeing the trainer ultimately because I couldn’t afford it. But I kept up my workout and eating routine. I soon started eating less and less. I worked nights at a restaurant and wouldn’t get home until 2-3am most mornings. But it was perfect for me because I would plan my schedule out so that I could sleep most of the day (my thinking was the more I slept the less I would eat), then go to the gym for a few hours each day, and then finish my day at work which meant being on my feet for 9-12 hours a day. At work on my breaks, I would eat a small salad and a soup or I would bring my dinner. I remember whenever it was someone’s birthday they would bring cake, cookies or make something insane in the kitchen and I would always say no to eating any of it, even though I wanted it so bad. I was on a major restriction and never let myself slide. I was afraid if I ate just one thing then it would be game over and I would gain all the weight back.

The sad part is, once I dropped the weight is when I started booking jobs left and right. I had more runway shows, more photoshoots, more castings. I felt so liberated, but looking back now I can see that I was anything BUT liberated. Things started to take a turn for the worse after that. Now that I finally had the body that I always wanted, my skin started to break out like crazy. I had no idea what was going on. I would wash my face day and night, go to sleep and wake up with horrible horrible acne. I would cry because I had no idea how to control it or what was causing it.

Now thinking back, i’m sure my hormones were all out of wack because of how little I was eating and how hard I was pushing myself. Now I started to get comments from agencies about my skin and how it wasn’t clear. It was a never ending cycle of constantly trying to prove myself to people. Prove that they should pick me, prove that I was worthy.

I was 21 at this time, and I kept up with this lifestyle for a few years after that. I made the decision at 23 that I would put my dream of being a model to bed. I can’t tell you what it was that made that decision, but looking back I know that it was a little bit of everything, and I was just tired. I was tired of proving myself, I was hungry, and I just knew that I wanted more out of life. So I quit. But things didn’t instantly get better after that.

After I quit modeling, I found a corporate job where I started working 9-6. I thought that this was what I wanted, “Yeah I just want to go in, clock-in and clock-out”. It sounded like a dream until I was doing it full time. I shortly left that job and started working for a fashion company where I had previously modeled for. When I was interviewing for the job, we all agreed that I would help them out around the office, but I would also be their fit model. For those that don’t know, a fit model is someone that has to stay the exact same size because their job is to try on sample size clothes and help the production team on deciding what needs to be fixed before the sample goes into full blown production. I thought to myself, “yeah, this is perfect, I can keep myself accountable with my weight by doing this.”

That was before I took into account how different my schedule was compared to how it was when I was modeling. I now was commuting to work 2 hours a day, going to the gym late at night or not even going at all because of how tired I was. also I went from being on my feet 24/7 to now sitting in an office chair or my car for 12-14 hours a day. I was living a completely different lifestyle, but I still was telling myself that I needed to be a certain size. This put so much stress on both my mental and physical health.

It got old, fast. So what did I start doing? I started eating. I ate everything all the time, whenever I wanted it. Part of it was because I restricted for so long and now I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted, the other part is because now that I was the “fit model” at work, people were still looking at my body and picking things apart. When I started to gain weight, I would see the look on my co-workers faces when the clothes didn’t fit as they once used too. I would go home crying because I just felt so unworthy. I wanted out.

I ended up gaining just about 40 pounds in about a year/year and a half. I just stopped caring about myself and my body completely. I hated myself for it. My jeans stopped fitting, my clothes stopped looking cute on me. I would throw a fit whenever my boyfriend and I would go out because nothing fit me anymore and I just didn’t feel confident, I didn’t feel beautiful, I didn’t feel like me.

I gained all the weight back and then some. I hated who I was in the mirror, I hated going out, I just wanted to stay home all the time and now that I had gained so much weight I was feeling depressed, so I ate more because it was all that I had and it was comforting to me.

Then, I finally hit “rock bottom”. I was at a point in my life where I decided that I wanted to make a change. Not for anyone else, not to please agents, not to compete with women that have different, smaller bodies than me, but for me. I didn’t feel healthy, I didn’t feel beautiful and I knew that it was up to me to change that. I stopped living my life to please others, and started living my life for me.

In the past, I would always excessively eat because I could and honestly, it was the one thing that I felt I had control over. No one forced me to eat but myself. I also had a horrible mindset, I thought that if I ate one “bad” thing, then I would just throw the entire day away and eat horribly. I don’t do that anymore. It’s crazy to look back and see how much I’ve grown. There are times when I still have my moments and I just want to eat everything, and I honor those cravings. But the difference is, now I don’t make myself feel guilty for doing so. I wake up the next day and start fresh. Or if it’s the same day then I just make sure to eat something healthy to balance it out. It’s all part of the healing process, but one thing that I always tell myself that has helped me so much is that, “It’s not about what you take out of your diet, but what you put in.”

If I eat “bad” one day, I wake up the next day and just continue as if nothing happened. I don’t starve myself the next day because I ate horribly the previous day. It took me a long time to get to this point, but the one take-away that has always stood out to me through my healing journey is that in order to get past the point of feeling like I needed food, I allowed myself to enjoy whatever I wanted until I got to the point that I didn’t feel like I needed it anymore.

If I wanted it, it would be there, but there was longer any anxiety surrounding the feeling like if I didn’t eat it right now then I could never have it again. Food will always be there, if I want more I can have more.

It’s a beautiful feeling, being free from those emotions. My advice to anyone who may be going through the same thing is that you are not alone. Not until I started Lovely Delites did I realize that there are so many women that have or are going through the same thing. Finding a community that I could relate to was something that helped me, and ultimately saved me from myself.

I also stopped comparing my body to other bodies. I used to wish my hips were smaller, wish that I was shorter, wish that I had a smaller waist and smaller thighs. Now, I embrace my curves, I love how tall I am, I love that I am a full figure curvy women. Yes, i’m not perfect, I have my days where I see something and maybe a thought or two crosses my mind. But those thoughts don’t stay with me anymore, they pass as quickly as they come and I move on.

When I started Lovely Delites, it was a creative outlet for me. Something that was mine and something that I had full control over. It has grown into so much more since then. The connections that I’ve made, and the people that I’ve met have truly inspired me every single day. My hope is that through my recipes and through my words I can hopefully inspire you.

Wake up each day and make a conscious choice to love yourself for who you are, stop obsessing over food, stop obsessing over your body. You can love yourself and still want to make changes. That’s okay, but there’s a healthy way of doing it.

Finding balance is what set me free, and I know it will allow you to do the same.

Feel free to DM me on Instagram, send me an email or comment below. I love connecting with you. Thank you for being here and reading my story. I hope it inspires you, and just know you aren’t alone. I’m always here for you!

Much love, always!

Hannah

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