(This is a long read but I promise this is only a summary.)
My name is Justine and I was never “taught” how to have a healthy relationship with food. I am someone who doesn’t like to make mistakes, so wherein my adult life I would research something fully before attempting, as a child – I needed to learn everything.
I was a sad, anxious little girl who grew up hearing the words “low fat diet.” I was an emotional eater who one time scarfed down a sandwich so fast I didn’t realize until the last bite that I didn’t even like bologna. I remember not wanting to tell my mom about the mistake I made – I remember that I felt guilty about that sandwich. I was probably around 8 or 9 years old.
Shoveling food into my mouth helped keep me silent. I had many thoughts and emotions running through my mind constantly but I rarely voiced anything. Anxiety kept me second guessing myself and instead of speaking about my problems, I chose to eat another slice of pizza instead. This was all well before middle school.
I severely hated myself in 6th grade but 7th grade saw a new bought of confidence. As I steadily grew closer to 200lbs, I was not happy with myself but that hatred was no longer there. Instead, I became less anxious but the sadness inside me grew. And I found that once where anxious me would stress eat, sad me wouldn’t even be hungry. Depression ruled Freshman year and I gradually ate less and less.
The rest of high school found me with a “fake it till you make it” mentality, in which, as an act of self-preservation, I faked confidence and happiness until I mostly felt confident and “happy.” But I needed to be able to control these things – these emotions and feelings. I needed to control everything about my life and the easiest way was through dieting.
I learned that I could control my eating. Enter diet culture. I learned Lean Cuisine and I learned 0-calorie. I learned exercise. I learned “over and over and never stop moving.”
The lines and disorders blur and interchange throughout the rest of high school, college, and adulthood. One year I ate mostly canned peas and secretly did hundreds of jumping jacks in my room. The next year, my best friend got a license and a car before I did and I had one meal a day – probably a McChicken off the dollar menu. At 17, I started working at a pizzeria and did “balloon” back up quite a bit – I have a pretty good knack for taste-testing.
I was, for many years after my freshman year, consistently harsh on myself. Diet diet diet. Food journals. Snack on celery sticks. Eat only the same few things every day. Hundreds of jumping jacks. Over-exercise.
I was my most confident at 22 (also when I was my skinniest) as I felt I was in the most control over every little thing in my life. Control helps me feel calm, and calm helps me feel happy. I remember thinking I was truly happy at the time but I can’t say for sure that I was.
I thought this confidence and control was a sure bet. I thought that I was free from my mind and free from food. I wanted to try something new. Instead of “I want to look as fragile as I feel,” my mindset changed to “I want to be strong and look strong as well.” I was sucked into “Fitblr” (Tumblr’s “Fitness” community) and the whole world of body building, weight training, and eating for performance and to achieve your goals. This was the perfect “control” environment for me – I could plan my meals, hit my macros, exercise for at the very least an hour every day and it would be GREAT because I was achieving my goals.
Before I knew it, I had developed full blown Orthorexia but as this is the probably the most socially accepted of all eating disorders, I saw nothing but encouragement across the board. As to be expected, I was applauded throughout the years for going from an unhealthy 200 lbs down to (eventually) an unhealthy 120. But the compliments from that were nothing compared to the compliments you get from being “Fit.” Now I was not only applauded for my looks but for my strength as well. I could do nothing but applaud myself for the progress I was making with weight lifting (which is, disorder aside, a really remarkable feat).
But then something interesting happened – I started to binge on “healthy” food. I was eating 100% “clean” but who knew you could overeat that way, too? Changes were happening in my life and I reverted to emotional and stress eating. I started gaining weight again and then I realized that for as strong as I felt, I still had all the same problems down at the core.
I gradually weaned myself off of exercise and it took nearly 3 more years afterward for me to make peace with food and my body. By this point, I had lost over 15 years of my life to struggles involving food, body image, and self esteem. NO MORE. I know I am not alone in this. Plenty of women (and men) have had their lives stolen from them due to disordered eating and unloving thoughts. NO MORE. I call for an end to this. I call for the beginning of a new revolution – No diets. No masters. Eat free. Be free. Love your body. Love yourself. Take pride in yourself. Care for yourself. Be kind to yourself. Let our future generations fully believe in themselves, and their self-worth. Let our future generations see what self-love is like.
(On the right, Halloween 2010. 21 years old. Left, Halloween 2016. 27. I have a thing for being a sailor.)
No Diets, No Masters is a calling that I have always felt at my very core but wasn’t ever sure how to go about it until very recently. I want to protect our future from feeling like I had felt at 10 years old. I want to save everyone else from feeling like I had felt for almost 2 decades. We all deserve self-love and sometimes we need a little help realizing that. I want No Diets, No Masters to be that help; to be that spark of inspiration or motivation to truly give a shit about yourself and start loving your body and your spirit.
I am no professional by any means and can only offer advice and things that have worked for me. Everyone is different, with different vices, backgrounds, and needs but we can all learn from each other. I want this to feel like a community and I want to be an ear to talk to, a shoulder to cry on.
– Justine =)