Struggling with Body Dysmorphia

Years ago, I watched a video about a girl struggling with anorexia. She looked in the mirror and saw that she was a chubby, overweight girl. When the camera panned out, it showed that she was actually just skin and bones.

I felt bad for her, but I didn’t connect to the video on a personal level. “The difference is that I’m actually fat,” I said to myself.

At a healthy 180 pounds (for my tall statue), I stopped eating because I was thought I was fat. I not only struggled with anorexia, binge-eating, and general restricting, I also struggled with body dysmorphia like the girl in the video and I didn’t even know it.

At 160 pounds, my skinniest, fitting into a size medium, I’d look in the mirror and think I was 100 pounds heavier than I was. My calorie intake was extremely small and I’d try on clothes at least one size too big and I’d buy the next size up from that because I felt so fat and when I looked in the mirror, the clothes literally looked tight on me.

Now that I’ve gained some weight back, I’m probably a size 14 and L/XL, but I pick out clothes that are 2x or 16/18. I know other people notice, like my husband and sister-in-law encourage me to wear clothes that aren’t so baggy, but I can’t. It’s so unbelievably difficult.

My struggle with body dysmorphia limits how much I can enjoy things. Some days, I feel great. Other days, I want to peel my skin off because I am so uncomfortable. I can’t wear tighter fitting clothes on those days or I feel I can’t breath and end up in a crying fit in the bathroom. On really bad days, I’ve even ripped the clothes off my body because they felt so tight, but they weren’t.

My husband doesn’t understand and is shocked when I point out a person or celebrity that I believe is the same size as me. “Samantha, she’s easily 50 pounds heavier than you,” he said one night when I said I was the same size as the mom on American Housewife. I’m looking at photos of her as I write this and I still think I’m the same size as her. I also think I am the same size as Ashley Graham, Adele, Ana Laura (model), Melissa McCarthy, etc. while I’m realistically related to the size of celebrities like Christina Hendricks…or honestly, it’s hard for me to even accurately judge some days.

I’m not the only one, it turns out it’s pretty common and most women suffer from some form of body dysmorphia. It can be something as small as picking a part of your body you dislike and focusing on it obsessively.

I do my best, but I try to not think about it or not focus on clothes or fashion or look in the mirror too long, or look at photos of myself because it’s easy to get triggered and fall into an unhealthy pattern.

My family is doing a healthy living weight-loss challenge and that’s been an emotional struggle all on its own.

I know it started in my past, my growing brain being trained by an abuser to think I was bigger than I was; obsessing over my size while I was in elementary school. Most days I don’t have hope that I’ll ever escape this. Other days, I have faith that God will help bring me out of this mindset and realize that I am his masterpiece, perfectly designed.

I have no words to wrap up my post today, no bible verses, or happy ending of me overcoming this, because it’s so constant. I imagine what I go through can be relatable to AA/NA. Once you have an eating disorder, you always have an eating disorder.

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I’m Running 200 Miles for Domestic Violence Awareness | Mile 11 Update | #Running4Her

Hi friends! If you didn’t know, I’m running 200 miles for domestic violence awareness & I’m sharing my first official update today.

I’ve been advocating against domestic violence since 2015, a cause close to my heart due to the struggles I endured through childhood. In 2017, when my mom needed help leaving my abusive father, the local shelter, Friends Inc, went above and beyond to help her heal.

I started this #Running4Her challenge to not only thank Friends Inc. for their services to the people within my community by raising money for them, but I also wanted to use this as an opportunity to bring awareness for this epidemic.

Domestic violence can take the form of physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse. 5 million children are exposed to domestic violence per year, 85% of domestic violence victims are female,  2,141 women were murdered last year by a current or former partner (for comparison, 2,996 people died in the WTC – 9/11 attack), (See more statistics here or here)

Click HERE to read the specifics of my challenge or learn how to participate/volunteer/donate.

Running Update

The bitter cold weather and our recent snow day has impacted my ability to do a few runs. Given winter won’t be over for several weeks, I’ll be getting a gym membership in the next few days so I can run some of these miles inside. Until then, if you have any brand recommendations to stay warm, I’d love to hear them.

As of today, I’ve logged 11 miles & look forward to seeing that number increase once I start running indoors on cold days.

The most exciting news I can share in my running update is that two local news channels contacted me about my run. I’m not in love with the idea of being in front of the camera (or running for all of Southeastern Wisconsin to see on the 5 o’clock news), but it’s great exposure, which is what my main goal is in this challenge.

Fundraising Update

Today, the biggest milestone I want to celebrate is the fact that I have several friends and family who have decided to support #Running4Her by running with me. In their own time, my mother, sister-in-law, and a few friends have decided to tally their own miles run. As they do this, they have started raising awareness on social media and collecting donations.

Running 200 Miles Challenge

If you’d like to donate running miles yourself, you’re more than welcome to join in…even if you live in another state.

As of today, we’ve gotten $630 in donation pledges & a combined team total of 23 miles.

Follow my running updates on Facebook.

Upcoming

During the month of February, I hope to get at least 20 miles in, but hopefully more. I’m also looking into sponsorships for posters for the local Hartford businesses to hang up. I was considering ordering t-shirts as well, but I’m starting to get a little overwhelmed with how large #Running4Her has gotten.

Ways to Support

  • Write a check payable to “Friends Inc.” (memo, #Running4Her) & mail to:
    FRIENDS, Inc. PO Box 117 West Bend, WI 53095
  • Donate via Paypal by clicking here or by visiting the Friends Inc. website. (add #running4her to the note before submitting)
  • Most shelters like Friends Inc rely on wish list fulfillment, like shampoo, clothes, diapers, and toilet paper. Click here see what there current need isWish List items may be dropped off at Salon Effervescence (55 E Sumner St, Hartford, WI 53027)
  • Raise awareness of domestic violence by sharing #Running4Her on social media.
  • Donate your time to Friends Inc. – Volunteer as a Sexual Assault Victim Advocate, babysitter, structured childcare, or grocery shopper. (if you are not in the area, click here to find a local women’s shelter closest to you)
  • Join me in running! Log and share the hours run on your regular running route or treadmill. Feel free to raise money for Friends Inc. or the domestic violence charity of your choice.

Sponsors

Thank you for all of your love & support. Read about the specifics of my challenge HERE and subscribe to receive updates.

Celebrating Hope Zvara

I’m continuing the Celebrating Phenomenal Women series with Hope Zvara! I am honored to introduce you all to this phenomenal woman!

Hope is creator of the HOPE Process (Helping Other Purposefully Excel). She does so by inspiring others with what she calls her “yoga tool box”. On and off the mat you will find her teaching, inspiring, and breaking down lifestyle changes and making them adaptable for everyone. Over the past 17 years, Hope has opened a yoga studio (Copper Tree Yoga & Wellness Studio), ran teacher training’s and now taken her yoga tool box, life experiences and inspiration off the mat to listeners world wide.

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I Have An Eating Disorder

Hi, I’m Samantha and I have an eating disorder.

I grew up with a father that used food as a tool for manipulation and control. I was never overweight, yet my own father called me names regarding my weight and looks. As a healthy teenager, I joined weight watchers because I believed what he said. I restricted my calories down to an unhealthy amount, I hid food and binged when he wasn’t around to tease me, and I tried wearing baggy clothes to hide my curves. I also deleted as many pics as possible.

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