Having been a chubby child and an obese teenager, I was thrilled when my weight loss at 30 years old was noticed, when I was praised for working out and being active, when I was lauded as healthy and a good example for others who needed to lose weight.

I was anorexic.

Each compliment sunk me deeper into anorexia. Starving myself on 400 calories a day and exercising 15 hours a week, including waking up nightly at 2 am to exercise for 30 minutes, must be good, right? I mean, if everyone is praising me, I must be doing what’s best for me, right?

The miracle is I never reached my goal weight of 126 — a little thin for my age at the time but not unreasonable. Even at 200 calories a day and 18 hours of weekly exercise, I couldn’t get below 133.

I did, however, catch the flu. With a depleted immune system, a lack of necessary vitamins and minerals in my body, and a case of serious dehydration, I couldn’t battle the flu, resulting in a long and serious illness.

An illness that saved my life because it broke the cycle of anorexia that was killing me.

As I slowly recovered from the flu and anorexia, I gained weight quickly and was soon at 155. That’s when the negative comments and disappointing looks began.

It took all my willpower not to get caught up in the extreme diet and exercise cycle again. I had to block out the comments and ignore the sad and sympathetic glances and all the accusations, mostly from within, that I failed, that I was disgusting, that I wasn’t good enough.

Fortunately, I found a doctor who knows someone can be healthy without being thin. And, I found a man who thinks skinny women look like “brooms with hair” and enjoys dining with a woman who enjoys food. And, I learned to accept that being me is better than being anorexic.

Health and weight may be related but they are not the same thing. Do what is healthy for you. If that means taking a drug that causes weight gain but helps keep you mentally balanced, take the pill and forget the weight.

As you said, Erika, buy jeans in a larger size. Then, go live your life!

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