A big welcome to Fibro Energy’s first guest blogger, myPaleoPal marketing manager Alexandra Barone. Alex is recovering from disorder eating, here she gives us a very intimate and revealing look into her recovery with her very own ‘beat anorexia paleo diet’ and how she has learnt to channel positive energy, into her food eating and exercise routine. Alex also writes about her life on her blog ‘A Body Of One’s Own’ where she writes about her day-to-day experiences.
Where do I begin? Back in October of 2014, I decided to make a change. Here’s the thing: I’m always making a change, usually in the way of diet and exercise. I’ve developed this preconceived notion that I can address any problem with lifestyle. I won’t lie, most of it has to do with wanting to change the way I look. I don’t have an autoimmune condition, and I’m not overweight. The problem is, I’ve long-suffered from an eating disorder. It began when I was twelve years old, and I discovered the sense of control that came with “dieting.” A decade later, I learned the truth: I was no longer in control.
In December of 2013, I entered treatment for anorexia. Despite having dealt with disordered eating for so much time prior to that, namely bulimia, I had finally made a decision to get better. I reached a rock bottom when I hit my lowest weight. I was under so much physical stress, and I put all of my relationships at stake. I had lost my period, I was unable to go outside because I was at risk of hypothermia during the Winter, my hair fell out in clumps until I decided to just cut most of it off, and the constant exercise left me too exhausted to even work.
At my lowest weight, I had lost over 100 pounds from my highest weight. I had always been heavier, but I never learned how to maintain a healthy weight or a healthy life. It’s been fifteen months since I began recovery, and it has been the most difficult and rewarding thing I’ve ever done.
I started researching the paleo diet at a low point in my recovery. I was feeling discouraged as I began to develop something called Night Eating Syndrome and found myself unable to fight off serious binge-eating episodes, which lead me back to restriction and bulimic tendencies. The effects of starving the body in addition to a severely damaged relationship with food are long-lasting. In a frenzy, I decided that paleo might just work for me: it would help me to manage my hunger, get my hormones in check, and maybe I’d even lose some weight – always an ulterior motive in the mind of a former anorexic.
I won’t say that paleo was a magic cure for me, but it helped me immensely. Off the bat, it gave me a way to channel positive energy into my food. After developing anorexia, I can’t recall a time when my mind was not occupied by obsessive thoughts of food. Try as I might, I can’t just shut that part of my brain off. When I began paleo, it gave me something to feel passionately about. I loved cooking prior to paleo, and I already purchased my foods local and organic as much as possible. I think the best part about it was the immediate community I found online. It was the first time I actively sought out support in the way of a group, which I’ve since found to be crucial to my new approach to recovery.
Shortly thereafter, I began to work with the team at myPaleoPal. I downloaded the app after perusing through /r/Paleo, and I’ve been using it ever since. I was lucky enough to connect with the founder off the app, and I now run their social media, the writing on the blog, and the weekly newsletter. It felt like it was meant to be – as though this opportunity would help me in my healing process – and it has. I am not a prolific figure in the paleo community, but I strive to practice what I preach.
Lastly, paleo introduced me to the world of weights. I’m a former cardio addict, and the thought of using the elliptical for an hour at a time ever again makes me cringe. After a couple months of research and deliberation, I decided on a strength-training program. I do kettlebell and bodyweight sessions three times a week now, and I’ve never been happier. I love the way that I feel stronger and sturdier each day. I walked in with intentions to train to get better, not to burn a certain amount of calories in order to reach a certain weight. My outlook and my accomplishments have changed the way that fitness is built into my daily life. Moreover, it has been the single most powerful tool in healing my body image and body dysmorphia. I value my body for its ability rather than the way it looks to me in the mirror.
In all honesty, I face a struggle every single day. My brain is always battling my body, telling me I’m not good enough. I am not perfect paleo. I have episodes of relapse that are becoming few and far-between as time goes on. But things are getting better, and my perspective and insight develop more and more each day on my journey towards health. I write very candidly about my day-to-day experiences on my blog, ‘A Body of One’s Own.’ It’s the good, the bad, and the ugly. It can be scary to put myself out there the way that I do, but the positive feedback I receive makes me feel confident that I am doing the right thing. One of the most helpful tools for someone who is struggling is knowing that someone else out there is going through the same thing. So many people reach out to me to say, “Thank you” or to ask me for guidance, which makes the entire experience – the ups and the downs – feel worthwhile.
Today, I am happy and healthy. I am free from disordered eating. I have built a lifestyle and career that allows me to live without stress and do what I love. I recommend paleo to anyone who struggles in their relationship with themselves or food. The quality of my life is improved when I am eating well and moving more, it’s as simple as that.