I honestly can’t remember a time in my life that I wasn’t worried about body image or food choices. I learned from an early age what food was good and what food was bad. If you did eat the “bad” food, there were always comments and guilt to follow. I developed very compulsive behavior around food at an early age. I would hide food in my closet, binge and then feel so much guilt. I never had a healthy relationship with food. After moving out on my own and being free to do my own grocery shopping, of course I wanted all of the things that were off limits growing up. This is when the weight gain/weight loss and crazy diets of all sorts began.
When I was about 20, my husband and I wanted to lose weight so we started working out a little, mainly walking and jogging. We slowly started swapping things out and making healthier choices with our food. It all started pretty innocently, not obsessively and it worked. About three years later we’d each lost 45 pounds and were maintaining our weight and healthier lifestyle. Things were really good. Unfortunately, I wanted more. I wanted the 6 pack abs, the “perfectly” toned body, low body fat percentage, smaller size clothing, etc. I had it in my mind that if I could just weigh X amount, then I’d finally be happy! I became completely obsessed with what I needed to do to achieve the body I was after. Guess what? I achieved that weight and was left still hating my body. I was now even more miserable and unhappy.
I’d spent over a year working out 5-6 times a week because I had to. I was eating very little and restricting foods, especially carbs. I was working out for 1-1.5 hours, lifting very heavy and starving myself. I started to deal with awful daily anxiety, something I’d never had before. I became very depressed. I lost my period for almost a year. My only focus was my workout schedule and what I was eating. Everything was planned, prepped and input into My Fitness Pal at least one day ahead. Sometimes I had my entire week input. I wouldn’t stray from it either. If a friend asked me to dinner, I’d typically pass because my day in food was already planned. I was obsessed and I’d become a completely empty person. The usual happy and positive Mia was now moody, depressed, socially isolated and miserable. I eventually started to realize that something was very wrong. I knew I had a problem, but I had no idea how to escape it. I spent months feeling completely trapped. Nobody really knew what I was living in each day. There were days I remember thinking “I can’t live like this anymore. If this is my life, I don’t want it”. I even hid a lot of these feelings from my husband.
In August 2015 I finally went to the doctor and had blood work done. My results came back and it wasn’t good news. My levels were that of a post-menopausal woman. I was only 28 years old. I don’t even have children yet. How could this be? I was diagnosed with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. This is when your hypothalamus stops producing certain hormones because your body isn’t a safe place to carry a child, due to either extreme physical or emotional stress. This results in a woman no longer ovulating and menstruating. How does one fix it? Well, I now had to stop working out altogether, relax and eat. I had to convince my body that I was no longer going to starve it. How in the world was a girl with severe disordered eating habits and a huge fear of gaining weight going to accomplish this? How could I ever give this up and un-learn all of these crazy food rules I’d spent so long obsessing over? How do I stop forcing myself to work out and allow myself to relax, something I wasn’t any good at? How do I truly change my thoughts around all things fitness and health? For so long I was blinded by the world’s idea of perfectionism, but the answer was quickly made so clear. It was simple and right in front of my face the whole time - SEEK HIM.
During the times that I was obsessing so badly, I had pushed God to the bottom of my priority list. I was too busy doing other things and my mind was no longer focused on my relationship with Him. In the times I needed to be clinging to Him most, I wasn’t. At first, this realization was even more depressing. What have I done? I need Him so bad right now and I’ve neglected Him. Why would He still love me or be here for me now? Those thoughts didn’t last long though. I was soon overwhelmed by God’s grace and never ending love for me. It was as if he wrapped me in His arms and told me “you are my daughter, you are and always have been precious and perfect in my eyes and I love you more than you know.” I knew without a doubt that the only way I was going to get through this was to surrender it all to Him.
I now pray every single morning on my way to work in the car. I thank Him for loving me, offering me grace and for healing me. I ask Him to help guide me throughout my day, my struggles and to help me keep my mind focused on Him. I want to crave Him over anything else. I know I have to guard my heart from the enemy and the lies that the world wants me to believe. I had to become very careful about what I read or looked at. I experienced such a huge mind shift those first few months. It was absolutely amazing! I went from truly feeling like there was no way I’d ever be free, to 100% believing and trusting that He was going to set me free from this.
I feel like there was one particular morning that things really changed for me. I was driving to work and stopped to get a coffee. I got back in the car and decided to have a few minutes in prayer before I continued on. I’d had a little bit of a tough morning, was feeling a little defeated and just wanted to reset and talk to the Lord. I finished my prayer and felt the urge to quickly turn the radio on. Right as I turned it on, a song that I’d never heard before was just starting. As he began to sing, the tears started to fall. Not sad tears, but overwhelming tears of joy. I’d never in my life cried so many happy tears. The song was Danny Gokey’s “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” and I knew in that moment I was supposed to hear those words. These specific words really hit me- “So get back up, take step one. Leave the darkness, feel the sun. Cause your story’s far from over and your journey’s just begun”.
I’m happy to say that after only two months of truly relaxing my body, I regained my cycle and have kept it normal. That was a huge victory for me. Healing takes time and I still have bad days, but I’m grasping onto the Lords hand and investing time in my relationship with Him daily. I’m learning to give myself grace. I’m quick to replace negative thoughts about my body with words of affirmation. I know that my purpose in this life is not to track calories, miss out on joyous occasions with friends or spend my days hating the body that God gave me. God changed the desires of my heart, just like I prayed for Him to. To see where I’m at today, only 7 short months later, it amazes me. It’s ALL Him. Through Him, I am free.
Throughout my healing process, Katie & the Dashing Dish site have been such a huge blessing. I became a member right around the time I really started to give it to God; I know that wasn’t a coincidence. She’s really helped me in finding a new healthy balance and my true identity in Christ instead of the things of this world. I’ll always be grateful for that!