A year to heal

Bree Boyce

Last Thursday and Friday I had the opportunity to shoot with CNN for their "Why the Health Not" segment. All I can say is, wow! How wonderful it is to still be able to share my story of struggles and triumphs. Seriously, the best feeling in the world is knowing that I can help someone suffering the same way I did..and still do. That's the thing. Most people think, wow! You've lost the weight so now what? Well, you STILL have to work at it everyday. It isn't a one time lose the weight and it's over type deal. It is a lifestyle.

I struggle everyday, just like many others. The hardest thing for me (and something not a lot of people really know about it) is suffering from two types of eating disorders. At 17, I was 234 pounds and considered obese. After changing my lifestyle, eating the right things, and working out I lost over 100 pounds in three years. Yes, three years seems like a long time, but that is the key to maintaining. Quick and easy fixes don't work. Been there...Done that. You go on the crazy no carb, soup, raw diet and lose a ton of weight only to gain it back when you start eating those foods again. You can't deprive your body of those nutrients. Yes, give up sugar and fried fatty foods...But, you don't have to give up good carbs, protein, fruits, veggies, and good fats. Your body needs those nutrients to fuction properly.

Off my soap box and back to my story of living both sides of an eating disorder. I lost the weight, won a crown, landed multiple TV show appearances, and developed an eating disorder I never thought I would face... Anorexia.

After all the hard work of getting in shape the healthy way I started to over do it. I focused on a number rather than how I felt. I started to let society dictate how I should look. I felt as if people only saw me for a number or how thin I looked. I started cutting my calories drastically to a point where I would be eating less than 250 calories a day, also while working out 2-3 hours daily. My body ached. I was tired, depressed, and angry. Angry at who I had allowed myself to become.

My lowest weight was 102 pounds. I remember after competing for Miss America coming home and having to face realization. I had to come to terms that I couldn't live being obese and I surely couldn't live being anorexic. With the help of specialist (who I had formed great relationships with through my obesity campaign), family, and friends, I eventually pulled myself out of the dark hole. But not before scaring and hurting my family, damaging my body, days of not wanting to see daylight, rejecting my friends, ruining relationships, and only focusing on my image. Luckily, the people who truly care about me stood by my side. A lot of people thought I was fine..I always put on a smile in front of others, but inside I was dying. It was the same feeling I felt being obese. How did I become this way? How did I allow this to happen to me? Well, the harsh realization of eating disorders is that they can happen to anyone. Unfortunately, people who have lost a massive amount of weight go through this quite often. There hasn't been much light shown upon it because quite frankly, when you loose a ton of weight people are just happy you are not "fat" anymore...So what is the use of now telling them you're anorexic? All they compliment you on is how thin you are and you start to love that feeling of satisfaction. You start loosing more and more until you realize you can't stop and you are so afraid to eat even healthy foods in fear of gaining one single pound. You enjoy the feeling of being hungry...An empty feeling you are controlling. It's called Anorexia nervosa.

I can't explain to you the intense fear you have of gaining weight or looking in the mirror and your bones are poking out of your chest and yet you still see 234 pounds starring back at you. Your life becomes consumed with dieting, food, body image, numbers on the scale, etc. If your ribs aren't showing you aren't thin enough. I have lived this. I have suffered tremendously and I still do. That's the scary thing. Every single day I am a work in progress. This past year has really served as year to heal. I have finally come to the point where I can accept that I can't be 100 pounds wearing size double zero's that are too big. I can't have my bones pertruding through my skin, I can't work out 4 hours a day to the point my body aches so much I can't sleep, I can't suffer anymore. If I had continued that life, I probably wouldn't be writing this.

I'm here to be open and honest with people. It's through being vulnerable that you help others out of their darkest hours. I've pulled myself out of some dark holes in my short 25 years and I will continue to fight not only for myself...but for others. It pains me to see a young girl hate her body because she isn't a size zero. It pains me to see someone ruin their health by living a sedentary life and filling their body with junk. So that's where I stand..You can't be obese and you can't be anorexic. funny, huh? You have to find that happy medium. Where you are YOUR best? I'm not saying that people should live unhealthy lifestyles and eat junk and never work out because they should "love themselves" I'm saying...Learn about what you are putting into your body. Is it benefiting you? Are you getting physical activity in almost everyday? Are you taking the steps to live a HEALTHY lifestyle? Not starving yourself or taking some ridiculous pill to only wish to look like the model on the cover of a magazine. Life is about being happy and healthy. Learning what is good for your body and loving your body at it's healthiest.

Each of us is a work in progress. No matter what your battle is..We all want to be our best. And if you don't, then you should. Life is about accepting who and what you are while also accepting others just the same. I've learned that people will talk about you whether you are overweight..or if your too thin. Heck, they will talk about you no matter what size you are. But why? It boggles my mind. I would love to live in a world where everyone supported each other rather than tore them down. I hope that reading this will change some people's perception of those who struggle with weight, or any struggle really. It isn't an easy road to travel and if you've never suffered with an eating disorder I encourage you to read up. More and more young people are developing scary eating disorders and even costing them their lives.

So next time you are quick to judge someone on their outer appearance..Take a moment to think how that may effect that person. Another thing to take away from this...Love yourself for who you are. Not for what others think of you. And last, if there is one thing you take away from this...It gets better. I am telling you as someone who thought it would never get better..that is does. It's a daily process, but as long as you are willing to work on yourself, I PROMISE it does gets better.

My segment on HLN for "Why the Health Not" will air in mid April...I'll share my story as well as tips on how I stay motivated and healthy! I will post the exact date as soon as I know!

Until next time...