If you’re like me, when you see someone competing in an Ironman, you immediately think:
…now that person is in good shape. I mean, they’re in an IRONMAN.
Swimming: 3.8 km, then biking 180 km, then running a full marathon!
Anyone crazy enough, and motivated enough to participate in something that grueling, must be in great shape.
You certainly wouldn’t expect someone who was about to perform that kind of physical contest to be suffering from bulimia.
Unless you were me, during my Ironman in 2012.
My desire to compete in an Ironman was born 2 years before that…
It was October 2010, and I had recovered from bulimia. But I was feeling restless.
At the time, I felt something inside of me needed a new challenge. Something new and exciting.
I realize now, I wanted a distraction.
A distraction from pain that was lingering deep inside of me. A pain I didn’t want to accept or acknowledge. But I didn’t know this then…
So, Ironman Arizona 2011 it was!
I had completed several triathlons by this point in my life, but knew I couldn’t train for an Ironman with conventional triathlon protocols. So…I hired a CrossFit Endurance trainer.
At the time I was an avid Crossfitter. So Crossfit seemed obvious! Short intense training, shorter run, bike, swim training.
So, my coach explained to me a great diet that would enhance my performance: the “Paleo/Zone” diet.
12 Zone blocks of eating! OMG, that sounds like a ton…
pssst…it’s less than 1600 calories…
I was training like a madwoman, and eating less than 1600 calories!
The first month of training went great. I lost weight, rapidly, and successfully stuck to my diet.
It gave me a lean body, that I always wanted. But it came at a cost.
By December 2010 (about 2 months into training) I ran a half marathon in Vegas. I was skinny. I was hungry. But I ran anyway…
Spoiler: halfway through the race, I completely bonked. My body shut down.
I had nowhere near enough calories. Not enough energy.
Obviously, my time was terrible. A complete disappointment for me.
That’s when the binging returned.
The constant starving left me feeling empty, depleted, my body was screaming for food…my soul screamed for ice cream and cookies!
A downward spiral of negative self-talk (I’m worthless, I can’t stick to this diet, I can’t be an Ironman, etc.), disappointment and exhaustion were all triggers for my binging.
So despite the tons of exercise, I was gaining back my lost pounds.
That too left me feeling disappointed, I liked my body skinny. (I still do☺️)
I re-doubled my efforts, committed to stick to the original diet. And in April of 2011, about 6 months after I began training, I injured myself during a half marathon in Calgary.
An injury, that because of my depleted caloric state, would not heal in time for my Ironman.
But that wasn’t going to stop me. I was iron. And in November, I competed in the 2011 Arizona Ironman. And, didn’t do half-bad (13 hours & 45 minutes) if I don’t say so myself.
Nevermind that I was injured, depleted, starving, and hadn’t really trained long-distance running since April!
So there I was, about a year after starting (and eventually completing) my goal of competing in an Ironman. I had done it.
But I also yo-yo dieted & binged my way through over 365 days, to say nothing of the injuries, the exhaustion, the sadness.
So, dear reader, can you guess what I did next?
I signed up for Ironman Barcelona, 2012, of course!
I wanted to be faster. This time I, I told myself, I could totally stick to the diet.
But in April 2012, something switched. My binging led me back to bulimia.
The weight gain drove me to start purging.
It wasn’t that often, but it was often enough to harm my body (and soul).
I was so incredible disappointed in myself. More shame. More guilt.
I had beaten this baby for 2 years! But the pressure of competing, performing well, and looking good brought bulimia back.
The pressure of following that particular diet. The foods made me feel sad.
How was it even possible to go out for lunch? Or just enjoy a simple meal and glass of wine without feeling guilty.
It wasn’t possible.
Vacations were just a recipe for disaster (and depression). The opposite of what a vacation is supposed to be.
Falling off the wagon, gaining weight, feeling guilty, then depressed.
It was a hopeless cycle.
Mid September 2012, I finally hit rock bottom.
2 weeks out from the race, I went out for a 6 hour bike ride. After 2 hours, I came home exhausted!!!!!
I was so worn out and so disappointed in myself, I started to binge. Then purge. Then binge and purge again.
That was it. I reached my limit. It was the last time ever. I was done.
I broke down and confided in my coach. He of course was shocked. We decided to ramp my training way back so I could deal with my symptoms.
P.S.- I still raced decently well (1 minute under 13 hours!) and beat my previous time.
But from that time on until 2015, my weight grew. I was still struggling with binge eating, but had made a pact with myself to never go on a restrictive diet again.
Then, finally, in 2015, I found a lifestyle that made total sense to me. And it worked. A lifestyle…
- That 100% healed me…
- Ended the binge/diet/binge cycle for good…
- Gave me back all the foods I loved…
- With no more body hunger. No more soul hunger.
I’m not ashamed anymore of my dirty little secret. I think my story needs to be told.
I want other women to feel empowered to come out with their secret.
And if you are still struggling, always remember: that bulimia (and other eating disorders) have served you a purpose. A way of surviving.And has led you to become either the person you are now, or the person you are meant to be.
The person that no longer needs that shield to survive, and instead that will go out in the world and thrive.
P.S. – If you are still struggling with bulimia, your diet, or just trying to take that next step, please connect with me. I would love to point you in the right direction.