Eating disorders and disordered eating are prevalent all around us and remain a pressing issue that at times will remain hidden and concealed. A shocking “1 in 5 women struggle with an eating disorder or disordered eating.” And over 24 million Americans and 70 million people worldwide are struggling with an eating disorder of some kind. 90% of these individuals are between the ages of 16 and 25. We want you to hear @paulina.bf’s story. She is a PumpUp member who has gone through a anorexia, bulimia, and depression. To steal a quote from her: “I let it break me, I let it win. I didn’t care, nor did I talk about it. I went from being my only friend, to being my own shrink. “ Read on hear about her journey and how Paulina has made the necessary changes to a better, and healthier lifestyle.
Paulina downloaded PumpUp 6 months ago as she was in search for inspiration to start exercising. She didn’t start getting active on PumpUp until 2 months ago because she wanted to join PumpUp’s positive community and was in need of some motivation.
As we mentioned before, Paulina is one of our members who has struggled with an eating disorder. We wanted to talk to her to hear her experience, how she overcame it, and to have her story be an example of perseverance and strength for anyone else reading this or struggling with similar issues. She shares with us what her life was like with an ED:
“Around Easter time of last year, I started engaging in bulimic behaviour. At this point it wasn’t so bad. I acted normal most of the time, was with my friends, I went to school and did homework. On the surface everything was normal. However, I was binging and purging up to 5 times a week. If I had time after school before my mom came home, I would go to the store, buy some ice cream, and eat the entire tub. I kept on eating even if I felt like my stomach was going to explode. My stomach would literally hurt.”
When summer came around Paulina fell into the pattern of anorexic behaviour. “I almost didn’t eat. For breakfast I would have an apple, sometimes I would eat a carrot too. For lunch I would eat a slice of bread or a biscuit and for dinner I would have whatever my mom made. Then I would just eat a bread slice at night so my parents wouldn’t start to worry. Sometimes I would pretend that I made myself some evening food, and take the bread to my room, just to go put it back afterwards.
I went from 72 kg to 65 kg in a couple of weeks. That was my goal weight, but I wasn’t happy with my body at all. I managed to stay at that weight more or less the whole summer, but the last two weeks I binged and my weight went right back to 72kg. I was so sad, and when school started, I began getting depressed. I thought about food constantly, and I got more and more isolated from my friends, especially my best friend. She knew about my ED, but she didn’t know what to do since I wouldn’t talk about it.”
Eventually Paulina started to turn things around and take control of her body, finally realizing the kind of behaviour she was engaging in was unhealthy and causing a ton of harm to her body. So in October Paulina joined a gym and began training 3-4 times a week. She tells us, “I mostly did cardio for 40 minutes and some strength exercises for 20 minutes.”
Although Paulina was starting to exercise and get active she tells us that the time between October and January was the point she was at her lowest, as her depression was completely consuming her. “My depression was bad, and I just didn’t want to be here anymore. I did things I’m not proud of, but I don’t regret them because at that time they helped. It limited the pain. I cried myself to sleep almost every night, and I knew I needed help, but I didn’t do anything about it. I thought I deserved it. I felt like a terrible person, and I didn’t have any interest in getting better. “
We asked Paulina how exactly she persevered through her ED’s. Her answer was honest, “To answer how I battled my ED and my depression, I didn’t. I let it break me, I let it win. I didn’t care, nor did I talk about it. I went from being my only friend, to being my own shrink.” Paulina decided to change by herself by analyzing every part of her life. She looked back and tried to figure out how she had gotten that bad. She did this alone and without help because she didn’t want her parents to find out. Paulina says, “I didn’t want them to know. I really just don’t want them to feel like they are bad parents, because I love them. For now Paulina says, “I just take one day at a time, and I am now starting to feel like this little part of me (my depression) is slowly crawling back to wherever it came from.”
With this change, Paulina started to exercise 5-6 times a week. She tells us, “ I feel like PumpUp has helped me maintain that exercise level. I’m a lot more confident about my body now because of the amazing community. I use PumpUp almost every day, tracking my activity and seeing how many calories I burn.” As Paulina said earlier, when she used to go to the gym she would mainly focus on her cardio. Now, she barely stays on the treadmill for 10 minutes. She loves weight lighting. “I feel like weightlifting is therapy for me, and I feel like it’s a way for me to deal with my depression. Now I also train for about 2 hours most of the times I’m at the gym.”
Paulina’s habits and tendencies have not just disappeared; she still struggles with her ED’s and her thoughts daily. “I try to eat as healthy I can, but it’s not easy. I sometimes go 5 hours (or more) without eating because I feel bad about myself. Sometimes I eat more than I should, eating a bit of chocolate here and some cookies there. Normally I drink a detox water before breakfast, I eat oatmeal or bread for breakfast and/or for lunch. Then I have a little snack, nuts or something like that, when I come home. For dinner I eat whatever my Mommy serves. After I have been to the gym, I eat a banana or a yogurt. When I come home I will probably have some bread. In Norway we eat a lot of bread, if you didn’t notice.” The best news of all? Paulina has almost totally stopped binging and purging, progress.
Favourite Part About PumpUp: “The community! They are so supportive, nice and sweet. When I have a bad day, I love looking at comments and I instantly feel better about myself and gain the motivation to keep going.”
Fave Snack: “I’m in love with yogurtnuts! Not very healthy, I know, but it’s delicious. Besides that, I am a grape and strawberries freak!
Go to Meal: “It’s so hard to pick just one. I love food, but at the same time I am super picky. If I am going to choose it has to be oatmeal with cinnamon (and butter and sugar when I am cheating).”
#1 Drink: “Water! I love water. My brother in law always teases me because I always say no to soda!”
Fave Motivational Saying: “Strive for progress, not perfection.” It’s so true. I think that in our world, people are too busy thinking about where they want to be, rather than looking on how far they have come. This includes me. It wasn’t until I started using PumpUp, that I looked at my progress. When looking back at old pictures I hadn’t realized how much my body had changed in six months.”
Favourite Exercise: “The hip thrust! I love how my butt hurts when I finish one set. My friend and I do it at the end of every workout. It’s so funny because when she finishes her set, she sighs so loud… I laugh every time! I love squats, deadlifts, back extension etc. I am strongest in my legs and my lower back, so I feel kind of confident when I lift heavy.”
Struggling with an ED? Well Paulina shares with you what helped her get through it and start to change her life.
“Well, I’m probably not the best person to answer this, since I handled it pretty bad, and in a very isolated way. My advice to you is to not give up, because it will get better. I know how meaningless those words are. They are BS as I liked to call them. I was super convinced that it wouldn’t get any better. I couldn’t imagine that my best friend and me would ever be best friends again, but now we do everything together again.”
Another thing that helped Paulina with her ED was thinking about all the unhealthy side effects. She tells us, “I was terrified of my teeth. Throwing up can really damage your teeth, and I kept picturing ugly teeth and then I wouldn’t do it so much. I also figured that if I wanted to look the way l wanted, I had to train, and if I was going to train hard I had to eat right. One morning I jogged without eating breakfast, and I thought I was going to die because I hadn’t nourished my body.”
That’s not all that helped Paulina push through; PumpUp has also played a role. “The community is so supportive! If you are unsecure about your body, you should try posting a picture, you may get many nice words!”
When Paulina first started using PumpUp her goal was to start feeling more comfortable in her own skin. She says, “The PumpUp Fam is so sweet, and have lovely words. But now I also want to make others more confident. I love checking out other peoples profiles and commenting on them. I think of how good I feel after reading a comment, and I want others to feel like that too.”
Paulina’s biggest motivation to keep pushing hard is the thought of completely overcoming her ED. Paulina notes, “I don’t want to be scared of relapsing. I don’t want to feel like I’m weak and that I cannot handle some adversity. I am also motivated by my progress. To see how far you’ve come, makes you see how far you can go.”
Paulina’s battle is still a constant struggle. As she mentions, the number on the scale is just a number but it is still hard to get over that. Paulina says, “I struggled coming to terms that my previous goal weight is not ideal for me. 7 kg down is not that realistic if I am going to gain muscles. A year ago I was at my original goal weight, 65kg. But that was the period I almost never ate. I know that you shouldn’t look at the scale as a goal, but being tall (177cm) I weight a lot more than my friends, and I feel/felt like a giant around them.”
Something Interesting About Paulina:
“I speak sign language and I am a CODA (Child OF Deaf Adults)! My mom, dad, sister, brother in law and my oldest nephew are all deaf. While my niece, our newest family member, my nephew, and I are the only hearing ones in my family hear in Norway. So pretty much everyone I know through my parents are deaf, and I’m very happy to be a part of the deaf community.
Fun Fact: Love dancing around in my room with the music blasting on my stereo! My parents don’t even notice ;)”
We are so proud and grateful of the fact that Paulina is one of our many amazing PumpUp Members. We are moved by her story and the fact that she let everyone take such a close look into her life as well as her struggle and ongoing battle with ED’s. Keep up your amazing work and be proud of everything you have accomplished, we certainly are. Give Paulina a follow on PumpUp @paulibf so you can be apart of her journey.