You are NOT Defined by a Number
The number on the scale. The number in your bank account. The number of instagram followers or facebook likes. The number on your paycheck. The number identifying your age. You are more than a number. Do you believe that?
I used to believe my identity was wrapped up solely in a number–the number on the scale. Along with that number, I based my identity on the number of calories I consumed and burned during exercise. When I was 19 years old, I was clinically diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.
As I type this, I’m in awe that I’m actually writing the truth about this dark and scary time in my life. I never thought I would tell others about my previous life with an eating disorder, because I didn’t want that to be my identity. I didn’t want “recovered anorexic” to define the way people thought of me. So why do I share this with you? Why now?
It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and I believe awareness is what saved my life. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, up to 24 million men and women of all ages have an eating disorder.
Did you know that:
- 4 out of 5 US women are dissatisfied with their appearance?
- 81% of 10-year old girls are afraid of being fat?
- eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses? (source: eatingdisorderfoundation.org)
- only 1 in 10 men and women with eating disorders receives treatment?
- 95% of those with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 26?
- the body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females? (source: anad.org)
I share these statistics to say that I am living proof of recovery and restoration. The number on the scale no longer defines me. By God’s grace and love, I have found freedom. And it tastes so good. Food used to be my enemy. And I believed that food had won me over. That I had to be scared of food, and that food was allowed to control me.
It took years of loving support and prayers from my family, friends, and medical professionals for me to realize that food was never my enemy. And there was never winning or losing. There is eating. Nourishment. Living. Balance. Truth. And a lot of Grace.
I am so grateful for the freedom to eat quality ingredients that give me life, instead of take life away. I look back at my journey with food and a distorted body image, and my quest for freedom, as a beautiful story that has shaped me into the person I am today.
One day, I want to help young girls with my story. To bring encouragement and hope to someone who is fighting the battle between fear and love. To offer my story of healing and grace. To tell someone, “I get it. I’ve been there. I’m not there anymore. And you don’t have to be, either.” One day.
In the meantime, I hope and pray that you believe this truth: you are NOT defined by a number. You were created to live a healthy and confident life. You were created just the way you are, and you are beautiful. Do you believe that?
Love, Ali xo
I'm Ali. I write about my journey of living a full and healthy life with food allergies, overcoming the comparison trap, and cultivating authenticity.