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 with writing things out on paper (or on a blog). 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, I am the youngest 4. I would say that I had a happy childhood for the most part. I played outside with my siblings almost every day. I loved being outside, it was my happy place.

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.

I was also an awkward child because I had always been tall. I was taller than my brothers, taller than my friends and one of the tallest girls at school. I always tried to find ways to make myself shorter, whether that was slouching or standing with my legs spread a part so that I could be slightly shorter. Because I was tall, that would always be the first comment out of someone’s mouth when I first met them. They would tell me, “oh my god, you’re so tall”, but it was never in a positive tone, it always came out negative, like an insult. I was so unbelievably self conscious of it and it was something that I had no control over.

When I got to middle school, I joined the dance team where I made lifelong friendships. I finally felt like I belonged to something and that I fit in. I was, however, still taller than everyone else at school, especially the boys. I was always approached by friends, family and even modeling scouts telling me that I should be a model. “You’re so tall, you 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.

When I got to high school, I joined the dance team once again where I stayed for a few years. I was at a weird stage, and I was once again trying to figure out where I fit in. 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, “oh my gosh, you’re so tall and skinny, you can literally eat whatever you want and stay that skinny“. I didn’t realize how much these comments would stick with me and affect my overall judgment on myself.

This is when it really all started for me, the obsession with food and 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.

When I turned 16, I applied for a job at a restaurant where I would quickly learn that I would never have free time ever again. I’m not being dramatic either. I went to school in the morning, then went straight to work after. I worked nights and weekends and my schedule was like this for years until I graduated college.

Being surrounded by food all the time, I of course, ate whatever I wanted. People would still always tell me how skinny I was, even though I felt the complete opposite. But for whatever reason, 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 apply to modeling agencies and then drive to go see them in person. They would always tell me that I needed to lose some weight before I could even think about booking jobs. I was 16, 17. I hated myself for not being able to stop eating. Because I was so upset, I would eat more. It was a vicious cycle that I couldn’t get a grasp on.

I graduated high school in 2012 and thought to myself, “okay now, now is the time that I will put modeling as my priority”. Mind you, during all of this time I struggled with disordered eating. Eating little to nothing, binging because I was hungry and then punishing myself for binging by not eating. It was a vicious cycle.

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 didn’t fit. It did, but it was so so tight. There were no other dresses for me to wear, so I had to wear it.

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, ranging between eating just cabbage, special K, etc. 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, 1/4 cup. Just to be clear, 1/4 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 for diet pills on the internet, 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. 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. 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 routine of eating.. virtually nothing. 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. This was my routine for years but it was working for me. I was dropping weight like crazy and I was addicted to it.

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 quite. 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, and 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. I wanted out. So I thought if I gain weight then maybe I won’t have to be the fit model anymore.

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 depressed, so I ate more (remember in the past food is where I found comfort). Working out was not something that I wanted to do, I experimented with lifting weights, but I hated it and I would always pull something in my back or hurt myself. I hit a plateau and I had no idea how to pull myself out of it.

Not until I hit 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. That’s when things really started to change. 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 controlled it. If I had 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. It’s all part of the healing process.

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. There’s no reason to eat everything all the time. Another thing that helped me is getting rid of clothes that no longer fit me, instead of holding onto them with hopes that I could fit into them again. I got rid of them, and instead bought clothes that fit me and my body for where i’m at today. It’s was a huge confident boost.

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. Make a conscious CHOICE to love yourself for who you are. 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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