From Eating Disorders to Body Positive – This Is How I Finally Learned to Love My Body

Julia Parzyck
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I had an amazing childhood growing up. I wasn’t preoccupied with my body or how it looked. I was genuinely happy and felt loved. I never noticed that I was bigger than some of my friends and it wasn’t a concern. I guess you could say I was body positive!
 
I spent my summers outside playing with neighborhood friends, riding my bike to get ice cream, swimming all day in the pool, and just enjoying life. I was active, ate nourishing foods, and was healthy!
 
But as I got older and began puberty, my thoughts about my body changed, and the way people talked about my body did too. The kids at school began to bully me for being chubbier and in turn my anxiety grew.
 
 

This Is My Story

I began to think about how my body looked and noticed that the women represented in our media that were portrayed as beautiful did not look like me. I started to hide behind my humor and pegged myself as the funny girl. On the outside I seemed happy, but on the inside I began to hate the way I looked.
 
When I entered High School I felt more insecure than ever and the pressure to look a certain way was stronger than ever. I became obsessed with how I looked and I felt I wasn’t measuring up to everyone else.
 
The bullying still continued and I felt that if I wanted it to stop, I needed to change the way I looked. I began to starve myself and was consuming around 500 calories a day.
 

On the outside I seemed happy, but on the inside I began to hate the way I looked.

 
I was living off Special K bars and was still very active in sports. I had no energy and began to binge and purge. I felt guilty anytime I “binged” and it became a cycle of either purging or burning off the calories by running.
 
I started to see the weight drop and the compliments came flooding in. I was being praised for losing weight and was getting more attention. I kept losing, but I never felt satisfied. I still hated the reflection in the mirror. I spent hours on the computer on Pro-ANA/MIA (pro-eating disorder) sites looking for inspiration on how to lose more weight.
 
I fantasized about being thin and imagined that everything would just be better if I was given a thinner body. I spent the rest of high school and college yo-yo dieting, over-exercising, and trying to lose weight.
 

I started to see the weight drop and the compliments came flooding in. I was being praised for losing weight and was getting more attention.

 
Being active used to bring me joy, but working out had now become a chore. I forced myself to run 4-6 miles a day and I loathed it. I was never satisfied with my weight and wanted to always lose more and developed a very unhealthy relationship with food and exercise. I lost enjoyment in both and couldn’t enjoy the simple things, like going to the beach in a bikini.
 
I felt that I was going to spend the rest of my life hating my reflection and dieting. I was tired and stuck. Something needed to shift. Something needed to change. This time, it wasn’t my body. I needed to change the way I thought about my body and how I viewed it.
 
My body was never the issue. I knew that if I wanted to change the way I thought about myself, I needed to dig deep and work through all of my struggles and traumas that surrounded my body. I sought out a therapist that specialized in eating disorder recovery and anxiety and also worked with a dietitian.
 

When I stopped focusing so much on the things I thought my body lacked and focusing instead on the things it was capable of, I saw the beauty in it.

 
I threw away my scale (the hardest thing for me to do!) and I stopped tracking my calories. I began to listen to my body and it’s hunger cues and worked through my emotions instead of masking them.
 
I started to realize that even though I wasn’t active in my bulimia, my eating disorder was still very alive. I realized that my years of dieting, obsessing, and over-exercising were just a mask for my eating disorder (ED).
 
 

 
 

The Shift From Eating Disorder to Body Positive

My biggest fear of letting my ED go? Gaining weight. And guess what happened . . . I gained weight. But guess what else I gained . . . confidence.
 
When I stopped focusing so much on the things I thought my body lacked and focusing instead on the things it was capable of, I saw the beauty in it. I was able to see and appreciate all that it could do. I began to enjoy things like the beach again and being able to enjoy pizza nights with my friends.
 
I was able to finally eat the things I loved without binging. I stopped depriving myself and adopted intuitive eating instead. I was also able to find joy in working out again.
 
Curious about intuitive eating? Check out this Intuitive Eating Guide – How to Eat Based On What Your Body Wants
 
I now workout because I love my body, not because I want to change it. I don’t force myself to run a certain amount of miles every day.
 

Once I stopped focusing on my body, I was able build better relationships with my family and friends, I eliminated negative people in my life, and I found my passion.

 
Some days my workouts consist of cycling classes and HIIT, other days it’s Buti Yoga or Pilates, and some days it’s just a casual walk in my neighborhood. I move my body because it makes me feel good and energetic, not because my goal is to lose weight.
 
I realized that I don’t always need to have a goal of losing more weight. I finally saw that being a certain weight or fitting into a certain size does not bring you happiness. None of those things mattered.
 
 

The Takeaway on Living Body Positive

Once I stopped focusing on my body, I was able build better relationships with my family and friends, I eliminated negative people in my life, and I found my passion. I can now say that I am fully recovered from my eating disorder and live a life free from dieting and counting calories!
 
I still have “bad body” days just like everyone else, but I am able to do some extra self-care, rationalize my thoughts and feelings, and understand that it is just a feeling and it’s not permanent.
 
The biggest thing I’ve realized in my recovery is that our bodies will always be changing. Transitions, becoming a mother, growing older – our bodies are going to change! The constant needs to be the love we have for it.
 
Our body is our home. It holds a safe space for our soul and we need to treat it with respect and take care of it. And this all begins with body positivity and loving ourselves enough to accept who are, practice self-care, and enjoy life!
 
Main image by Desiree Johnson Photography

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Julia Parzyck

I’m Julia, a body-positive ally, a self-love advocate, and eating-disorder warrior. I help young girls and women find self-love, body-appreciation, and empowerment in being their true selves. I believe that happiness means having a healthy mind, body, and soul and living life to the fullest!

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