Now that I’ve publicly shared the “before” version of me, I’d like to discuss some of the WRONG steps I took to becoming the “present” me. Yo-yo dieting and hardcore workouts aside, I made some very unhealthy choices regarding weight loss early on. I could probably dedicate multiple blog posts to the variety of diet pills I popped, hoping for a miracle cure for laziness and over eating. As dangerous as those can be, I wish I could say that diet pills were the most damaging thing I did to my body, but that’s just the beginning.
Sometime around 19, I delved into bulimia.
I discovered ipecac syrup. And laxatives. And diuretics. And, on some days, how to combine all three.
For those of you who do not know, ipecac syrup is a vomit inducer. It’s used primarily as emergency first aid for children who potentially consume something poisonous and need to regurgitate the contents of their stomach as quickly as possible. To get them to willingly consume said medicine, it’s flavored like maple syrup.
For a period of nearly a year, I would consume ipecac syrup after particularly fattening/unhealthy meals, which would result in nearly uncontrollable vomiting for a solid twenty minutes. It was horrible. I remember crying as I heaved over the toilet, praying for it to stop. Making deals with God to never touch it again if he would only make it stop. I remember staring into the reflection in the mirror as I washed my face, my eyes bloodshot from the exertion. I hated myself. I hated the face that stared back at me. I was ashamed that I couldn’t control myself – both at the dinner table and then afterwards.
To this day, the thought of maple syrup makes me nauseous. I have an immediate gag reflex if I try to have maple syrup. The Pavlovian effect hasn’t worn off, even though it has easily been eight years since I committed this horrible offense against my body.
I wish I could say that I stopped using ipecac syrup because I had an epiphany that caused me to suddenly love my body and quit the practice, but that’s not the case. I quit because I had read up about the negative effects it would have on my teeth. Superficiality caused me to drop one terrible habit for another: popping laxatives and diuretics.
I won’t become too graphic here, but you know the impact laxatives have on the GI tract. Off and on, I used laxatives for several years. I fear the damage I may have done to my intestines as a result.
And, the worst part?
I continued to do it even though I knew that the laxatives and diuretics didn’t actually cause weight loss. They just dehydrated me and pushed excess waste from my body, leaving me with painful cramps and weak with fatigue.
There was just something about the fake results – the low number on the scale, my ribs showing when I stretched – that made me keep doing it. For years.
I’ve only recently [within the last two years], fully given up the habit. My husband, once he learned of the behavior, had encouraged me steadily to stop harming my body.
And I would try to quit. For weeks at a time, I wouldn’t touch them. But I’d always slip.
I’d eat a REALLY big meal.
Or wake up feeling fat.
Then I’d slip back into the pattern, stopping by CVS or Walgreens on my way home and buying them in secret. Seeking out the necessary purge for my binge.
There were times where I took upwards of 15 pills at a time.
The discomfort, the pain – all for a lower number on the scale.
It wasn’t worth it. It never lasted.
It finally took me realizing that my health is more important than the number on the scale. Living a long life is more important than squeezing into a pair of jeans. Being able to see my future children have a healthy body image – as a result of my setting a good example – is worth more to me than the short-term satisfaction of achieving a weight loss goal.
Why am I telling you this tonight?
Because, tonight, I kept driving when I passed CVS.
I kept driving.
That, my friends, is a success for the evening.
Those are my confessions,
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