Lindsay's Story: Overcoming Disordered Eating
Hi! My name is Lindsay. I am *almost* 32 years old, and reside in Louisville, KY with my husband Nicholas and my two boys, Liam (4 in a couple weeks) and Gabriel (2). I am a military spouse, SAHM, and full-time fashion stylist for cabi clothing. Life is only a smidge chaotic! When asked to tell my story, it is hard to know where to start. All I know is that my journey began because God allowed me to hit rock bottom, so that I could turn to Him and begin a new life in Christ. If you take ANYTHING away from my story, I implore you to take away this main point. It all begins and ends with God.
I will outline my testimony to you. We all struggle differently, and my “rock bottom” might look different from yours. Either way, the solution is Jesus! I married my husband Nicholas in 2012. Before that time, I struggled so much with perception of my weight and appearance. About 6 months after our wedding, I really decided it was “time to make a change.” This was the beginning of a slippery slope that would worsen for another 5 years, ultimately leading to disordered eating, orthorexia (obsession with healthy eating), and compulsive exercise. I was stuck in a comparison trap that I never thought I could escape, and my lifestyle became more and more restricted. I was bound by the chains of exercising 5-6 times a week (sometimes more than once a day), and tracking every single morsel that went into my mouth. My thoughts around food became very obsessive—which was my body begging me for more nourishment. Over the years, this worsened and worsened. Social situations became a nightmare. I could never enjoy spending time with the people I loved because I was constantly recanting the calories taken in and expended. It was truly exhausting.
The weight came off quickly, and as per normal by today’s cultural standards, I was praised and complimented. Everyone thought I looked amazing on the outside, which only fueled me to continue; yet no one knew how very sick I was on the inside. It was like being on a hamster wheel—striving for approval from others rather than the only approval I needed—God’s. It would be a few more years of learning the hard way, but I was very stubborn. Looking back, I can see all the ways God tried to pursue me during this time, yet I ignored it. I continued finding ways to “acceptably” exercise, so I decided to start running in addition to the gym. By 2014, I completed the Disney Marathon (and again, was praised for my accomplishment, further igniting my fire to continue on). I have no problem with people who enjoy running marathons—go you! IF you are running marathons to burn extra calories and as an excuse to eat? Yes, I have a problem with that. Running was a permission slip to occasionally indulge in things AND allow myself eat around 2,000 calories per day (which at the time for me was still incredibly under-fueling). I would look at my husband and think “How can he eat that and not worry about it, or put it into an app to track?” I thought everyone else was just wrong, or plain lucky that they didn’t have to live this way. It felt like it was my cross to bear.
I got pregnant with my first son, and did pump the brakes somewhat. After he was born, I started right back up. Whole 30 and Beachbody’s Insanity were what I followed. Not only was I very underweight, but I began to develop orthorexia. Since I achieved this low weight I had been seeking, I shifted one obsession to another. I began label reading, shopping only at health food stores and farmer’s markets, and scared myself half to death based on nothing but pseudo-science. Today’s “wellness culture” can truly be a socially acceptable form of an eating disorder or disordered eating, so I really caution you to think twice if anything I have said so far may resonate with you and your habits or lifestyle.
I had not been to church in quite some time. I “believed” in God, and grew up in the Catholic church, but I had no relationship with God. During this time of my journey, God began to strongly pursue my heart. I listened to the nudge and I began attending a non-denominational Christian church when my husband was deployed overseas in the summer of 2015. Instantly, I felt a connection. Was the pastor speaking to me? My story, my circumstances? I was blown away and couldn’t get fed enough. In November 2015, I said yes to Jesus and was baptized. I thought I had already reached rock bottom, but God was not finished with my story. He had more to teach me.
My obsessions only worsened after I said yes to the Lord. I began a very restrictive keto/paleo diet, started CrossFit compulsively, and my mental health was the worst it had ever been. Not only that, but my hormones and cycle got very messed up. I felt depressed, isolated, and alone. I was unable to get pregnant and couldn’t understand why (I had yet to have difficulty conceiving). I was exercising so much, and eating so little that my fertility had completely shut down. Once I realized this, and began eating more carbohydrates, I got pregnant immediately with my second son in February 2016. I ate more, but continued to restrict to certain food groups. When morning sickness kicked in around 7 weeks, and nothing on my paleo diet was edible to me, I ate a piece of bread and nearly had a panic attack. That is when God revealed to me how sick I was. I talked to my husband soon after, after I had done a little research, and told him I think I had a problem and needed help. He fully agreed and supported me, which is when my therapy began. It was finally time to unpack over a decade of disordered eating and thought patterns. I was introduced to Intuitive Eating, which has since changed my life. Recovery took me nearly 2 years, bringing me to the present time. I had to take a complete hiatus from exercise, which I did for 11 months before I felt ready to resume with a clear and healthy mindset around positive and joyful movement.
Currently, my weight has restored, and most days I don’t think a thing about what I eat. The joy that has entered my life since breaking these chains has been incredible. Not only did God free me from the hell hamster wheel that is orthorexia, disordered eating, and compulsive exercise, but He began revealing other things to me and opening new doors I never would have imagined. When I got pregnant with my second son, I decided to leave my nursing job and become a stay at home mom. (Nursing school is where I met the lovely Brittney Porter). I loved helping people in the nursing world, but my passion was fiercely lacking. This was a big issue discussed in my therapy sessions—the issue of me feeling like I had nothing to offer the world, no gifts to give, or no talents. Thank you, Satan, for kicking us while we are down and making us feel as though our worth comes from within ourselves. LIE! My therapists did not help me unpack this lie—I learned this over time as I studied deep into God’s Word. Once you say “yes” and dig in, I promise you that God will begin to reveal to you SO MUCH MORE. I had to completely give up my career to realize that my identity comes from being a daughter of the King, and then God began to show me my gifts and how I could use those for His purpose and kingdom…in a way I NEVER would have dreamed up in a million years!
God introduced me to cabi—a designer clothing company based out of LA that has been offering an alternative way for women to shop and work for 16 years by bringing a “pop-up boutique” of lovely clothing into womens’ homes around the country. This is truly a relationship-building career (with a side of amazing fashion). I instantly fell in love with the product, but when I saw my friend running this successful business out of her home while being able to stay home with her two young boys, a lightbulb went off! I said yes to cabi, and then even more amazing things began to happen. I met so many incredible women my first season, after a rough and difficult start (it is hard to own your own business!). I was staying home with my boys while my husband was deployed overseas this past spring, while trying to get my new business off the ground. After several hiccups, my business began to grow in what seemed overnight. I started building clientele quicker than I could almost manage. People were reaching out to me! At the end of the spring season (which runs February to June), I discovered I had earned the title “Rookie of the Season.” This is an AMAZING honor within the company. There are 4 big awards each season amongst the 3,500 stylists across the US, UK, and Canada, with Rookie of the Season being included in those 4 awards. I was blown away! Cabi sent their film crew to my house from LA to interview me, as well as my husband and boys—an interview that was shown at our biannual training to all stylists this past July. I won an amazing trip to Beverly Hills that I will be attending next month with the other 3 award winners, the president, CEO, and two fashion designers. They sent me a survey just yesterday asking me about my wine preference, favorite type of massage, and favorite scent!! I don’t know what is to come on this trip, but I know it is going to be amazing.
I hope that through my testimony, you can see God’s handiwork in EVERYTHING. I don’t know what your story may be, and I don’t know what kind of pain you have been through. What I DO know, is that whatever you are dealing with, God can take it. He will bear that cross for you and help you find a way out, press forward, and come completely dependent upon Him. Don’t wait another day- JUST SAY YES TO JESUS AND WATCH YOUR LIFE CHANGE. As I write this, I am trying to bring to paper the amazingness of God and sing to the rooftops his praises, but it is too big to even try to put into words. Reflecting on that, that is exactly how it should be! I will never be able to put into words what God can do and what He has done inside of us, but I am certainly able to share the what He has done for me, the Gospel, and that Jesus is the answer!
When asked what advice I can give to someone who is struggling I would say become a follower of Jesus—that has to be #1. Everything else will fall into place. If you are already a follower of Christ, it is time to get back into the Word so you can hear God. You have to be listening, and you have to be obedient. Say yes to coming back and He will welcome you with open arms. Find some Christian friends or counseling for support. You may have wonderful friends who support you, but if they are giving you “worldly” advice, it will not ultimately lead you to healing. You cannot do any of this on your own strength, but God can help you overcome.