I’ve always been a true believer in the idea that the best advice comes from the heart. As cliché as it may sound, when there is a personal experience attached with that particular piece of advice, it makes it that much more worthwhile.
So, that’s exactly what I hope to do with this new health column, A Healthy Dose. I will offer some exercise and nutrition advice, share a slice of my heart (and, no, my heart is not pizza) and hopefully help you improve your life, all while making some friends on the way.
So for starters, let me introduce myself. My name is Nancy and I love being healthy. It hasn’t always been easy for me. For a large part of my life, I was one of the estimated 24 million people in the United States who suffer from an eating disorder. I was 15 years old and attending Pitman High School at the time my doctor diagnosed me with anorexia nervosa.
For those who don’t know, anorexia nervosa is characterized by emaciation and a relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a healthy weight. Some people with anorexia lose weight by dieting and exercising excessively, while others lose weight by vomiting.
No matter how thin I was or how many of my ribs would show, every time I looked into the mirror I saw what society had convinced me to see; a chubby, powerless and lonely human being. This eating disorder not only affected my life, it affected the lives of the people around me as well.
For nearly 10 years, the eating disorder took hold of my mind and body, and I battled to save my life with doctor visits, feeding tubes, IV fluids, therapists and nutritionists.
I remember one particular doctor visit that took the blindfold off my eyes and changed my life forever. I was a 5-foot-9 17-year-old who weighed 90 pounds. The doctor came in my room and put a monitor in front of my chest to check the rhythmic pattern of my heart. He heard an abnormal heart rhythm commonly found in anorexic patients known as bradycardia. He told me that if I didn’t get better in the next few months, I would suffer a heart attack.
From that moment on, it was time for me to choose. Should I step onto the road of recovery or let the anorexia win by taking my life? I chose the road to recovery.
It’s been eight years since I made the decision to live a healthier life. And to be quite honest, it hasn’t been an easy road to travel. Every morning that I wake up, I continue the battle the anorexic thoughts that circulate in my head. I was blessed with supportive family and friends who have helped me in my recovery. Without their love and support, I wouldn’t be alive to tell you this story.
I finally have found a lifestyle that makes sense and truly represents recovery. I combined an exercise and diet plan that works for me and have embraced it ever since. I’ve also become quite the running aficionado. Last year I ran a total of four half marathons and I don’t want to stop there; my goal is to complete my first full marathon before the year is over.
I plan to share my running, diet, exercise and random healthy living thoughts and experiences with you through this weekly column. So please join me — and other contributing writers— as we open this door to living a healthier, happier and fitter life.
To submit your healthy living advice or future column ideas, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.