My Struggle with Binging and Purging

I have gone back and forth on whether to publish this blog post because it is an honest account of my weight and previous encounters with disordered eating. But obviously, I decided to go ahead with it. So here goes nothing…In a previous post, I discussed my newfound love of running – not only am I finally experiencing the fabled runner’s high and feeling great, I’ve been enjoying seeing my body change for the better.

photoMay 2003

In this picture, I was at the heaviest I’ve been in my life. It was between my sophomore and junior year of college and evidently, I was having trouble finding clothes that fit. Clay had come for a visit that summer before leaving for some Army training so I showed him the sights of Philadelphia over a couple of days. I don’t have many pictures of me during this period because I was uncomfortable in my body, especially when compared to the picture-perfect girls that seem to flock to Clemson University. I wasn’t fat per se but I was overweight. During my freshman and sophomore years of college, I fluctuated between 170-175 pounds, which was a lot for my 5’7” frame. I was relatively active but just ate way too much food and didn’t pay much attention to my calorie intake.

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July 2003

The Liberty Bell picture was the catalyst I needed to make changes. When Clay returned home, I flew out to visit him in Ohio about 10-15 pounds lighter than the last time he had seen me. The picture above was taken at Cedar Point and represents the height of my disordered-eating phase. That summer, I was binging and purging on a regular basis and truly believed that the only reasonable way for me to lose weight was to throw-up after eating ‘bad’ food. I was exercising but not in a really meaningful way (e.g. elliptical machine, running inconsistantly, etc..). I wasn’t healthy and I obviously wasn’t treating my body with respect.

Thankfully, I had a minor medical event that scared me enough to realize that I couldn’t go on binging and purging. After a purging session, a blood vessel in my right eye burst, causing blood to pool and turn my eye blood-red for about 10 days. I told people it was because of excessive caffeine consumption (I worked in a coffee shop) but it was really from throwing up too much and too often. I was able to stop binging and purging on a regular basis and only engaged in the practice on the extremely rare occasion.

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April 2004

I spent junior and senior year of college around 155 pounds. While I wasn’t binging and purging anymore, I wasn’t what I would consider a healthy eater. I drank Slim Fast shakes for breakfast, I ate a lot of Lean Cuisine-type meals for lunch, and I didn’t pay any attention to portion-size when it came to dinner.

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 December 2004

Surprisingly, I didn’t actively try to lose weight for our wedding. Around the time Clay proposed, I accepted the fact that I was never going to be thin and my focus shifted from wanting to lose weight to just being healthy. If shedding a couple of pounds was a by-product of a healthier lifestyle, great, but it wasn’t my goal. I focused on eating more whole foods in their natural state and not restricting myself, which always seemed to result in me binging. After our wedding, we settled into married life as Clay prepped for his first deployment to Afghanistan.

DSC_0067July 2007

It turns out that deployments can be great for weight-loss. Clay was gone for 16 months and during that time I continued to eat healthy, I ran regularly, and I incorporated weights into my workout routine for the first time ever. By the time Clay came home, I was 135 pounds – the lowest I’ve been in my adult life. Because life is crazy fun when your husband returns from war, I settled comfortably around 140 pounds and was happy with the number. I felt great and thought I looked good and healthy and I maintained that weight for the next couple of years.

IMG_1972July 2012

Through diet and exercise, I was able to get back down to 140 pounds after having Weston (b.2009). Clay was deployed for a year soon after the little guy was born so yet again, a deployment proved to be an effect weight-loss tool. I maintained at that weight for three years until I became pregnant with Violet (b. 2013). After Violet, I found losing the baby weight more difficult the second time around and with my regular eating and exercise habits, I plateaued at around 150 pounds. And I totally joked with Clay that he needed to deploy again so I could lose those last 10 pounds.

IMG_8056August 2014 – 150 pounds

I am a large-framed girl. I’ve never been described as dainty, petite, or delicate. I am never going to be 120 pounds nor do I have any desire to be. I like the fact that I am strong and I’m built with some meat on my bones. But I know that I can be in better shape, which is why I am running more and being more mindful about my food choices – don’t worry, I still eat the occasional cupcake and you will have to pry cheese from my cold, dead hands.

FullSizeRender-2No work-out blog post is complete without a post-run selfie. 

I’ve lost about five pounds since I started my running regime but I’m not expecting to lose much more, if any. But my body is changing for the better and becoming more lean, and I have endurance. Weight, after all, is just a number. Most importantly, I haven’t binged/purged since my college days and I haven’t eaten fake chemically diet-food in years. I try to eat as naturally as possible and don’t practice restrictive eating. I love food and I respect food. And I respect my body, which is why I am doing whatever it takes to carve out time to exercise. My 32nd birthday is around the corner so I can’t think of a better gift to myself than getting into the best shape I’ve ever been in my life. The right way. The healthy way.

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3 thoughts on “My Struggle with Binging and Purging

  1. Tyraenna February 20, 2015 / 8:31 am

    I’m sure it was tough to post this. But I want you to know I have always thought you were beautiful since I met you – which was apparently right around the start time of your struggles. Props to you for overcoming, and being healthy!

    • Karen February 20, 2015 / 9:22 am

      Thank you, Jen! 🙂

  2. Alexandra February 21, 2015 / 2:52 pm

    Karen I am so glad that your goal is to be healthy instead of fixating on the number on the scale. My sister has had a similar journey and she really enjoys the books of nutritionist Debra Waterhouse so I wanted to pass along the recommendation in case that’s something that interests you,

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