Advice on Loving Yourself: Find Joy In The Journey

written by Christie Linton

Recovery is weird for me, but it’s getting better.

I don’t know if everyone goes through the same recovery process, but mine was slow and difficult at first, and I’m still on Prozac daily to help with the anxiety and depression. This helps keep me on track. My eating is better, and I can go out to eat with my friends now!

Something that I have been personally struggling with is eating too much, so now I’m trying to regulate that back again. I received this book called “Love to Eat, Hate to Eat” from my nutritionist and it’s all about looking at your relationship with food and preventing the emotional cycle from eating. It’s hard balancing that scale and not feeling bad about it, but I can now eat a meal without feeling guilty, which is a big journey in itself.

Seeing the number on the scale doesn’t bother me, either! This is how I know that I’m making progress. Recovery is never a straight line, it’s more like a roller coaster. 

Life looks so much happier for me now.

I’m able to focus on building friendships again, having relationships again! I was in a two-year relationship during my anorexia, and thankfully he helped me survive my eating disorder. And even though we are no longer together, I feel like I can now focus on me more! I can get back to my career again because I’m no longer bogged down in myself or in being selfish.

There’s so many other important things in the world that are more rewarding, that bring more joy to life, than being stuck in front of the mirror being obsessed with your reflection. Self-love is a journey in itself!

I think that being in the cheerleading world makes you always consider your body image. Every woman, every girl, already has these tendencies, but when these evolve into an obsessive, consistent thought, it becomes an issue that you can’t control. 

Christie with her boyfriend Jon 💗

There isn’t one girl who thinks they’re perfect. Everyone has these problems, and they have to be vocal about it.

Holding these feelings, these terrible thoughts inside, only makes you feel worse. But when you can have a conversation about it and you can be open about it, you become stronger. It was such a relief to finally get this terrible secret off my chest, and I am so glad that I did! I became stronger against it. 

These days, the media and society in general has come to a conclusion that small=better, that skinny=good. That’s the mind-set that we have all been brainwashed to believe, and it’s sad because it’s not true. Growing up in the cheerleading world makes you run around with these super small uniforms on, and especially as a flyer, you’re constantly being thrown up in the air and looking your best while doing it. And the media has really driven this entire idea home. Even with clothing in stores now, it’s insane how small they make the clothes! They make us think that it’s normal. But it’s not. 

Christie with her older sister, her best friend, Kim.

A lot of people think anorexia is a choice. There’s a stigma to it.

But often it’s a culmination of a lot of things like stress, mental health, and so much more. I used to think it was just a choice, but now I know that anorexia is not a disease that you can choose to have. I knew a girl who used to cheer at Haydens with me, and I remember specifically how little she would eat even though she was incredibly small and fit. I never understood why, and I always thought that she just simply chose not to eat. 

But when I went through my own experience with anorexia, I finally realized that anorexia is not a choice. It overtakes you mentally. I’m such a mentally strong woman, so to think that something like this could dictate my entire life was beyond overwhelming. It didn’t happen overnight. It was gradual, but once it happened, I was in a downward spiral. Anorexia often develops because, when women or sometimes men go through certain events that they feel like they can’t control, this is the only way they feel like they can hold onto some form of control.

It could happen to anyone. 

If I could, I would tell myself early on that being skinny, that being small, is not the joy in life.

Don’t prioritize your whole life around that, because it won’t bring you happiness! No matter what I did, there was never going to be a moment where I would feel satisfied. There were so many other things in my life that I let slide that could have been true drivers of happiness for me, but I let them slide because I thought that I would only be happy by being skinny. Weight is just a number. It does not mean anything. More defines you than that, it’s not who you are. 

To other women, young and old, who are struggling with body image, please know that it’s a slippery slope, and there’s so much more to life than that! At the end of the day, weight does not define you as a person. Life is short, and it’s far too easy to get bogged down in the little things. Everyone is beautiful in their own way, inside and out. 

Taken shortly before Christie decided to get help. Anorexia was no match!

Someone I know personally reached out to me while struggling with this as well, she wanted to know how she could overcome this. She was so young, only 13 years-old or so. It absolutely broke my heart because anorexia took years away from me, and knowing that it could do the same to someone so young was heart-breaking. There’s so much more to life to experience, to be a part of! 

An eating disorder is a very selfish disease. All you think about is yourself. You think that everyone is looking at you or judging your thighs or your stomach, but they’re not! Nobody is looking at you like that. What really helped me overcome this is to do things for others, and to think about other people more. When I’m not thinking about myself, I’m not thinking about my anorexia or my problems. And that’s a huge help for me, not being so selfish. It doesn’t matter what size pants I wear, and I promise the world doesn’t stop if you gain five pounds! 

“Find joy in the journey” is my mantra in life now. Joy has become my favorite word.

Through everything that I dealt with, I’ve discovered that it’s all about finding joy during all of the negative that happen. I’m more of an optimist now. Even with others in my life, I can tell them to look for the good, that God has a plan. My spiritual journey and my faith have also helped me in this journey, and I haven’t really met anyone else who’s been able to overcome their eating disorder without their faith. That’s been huge for me as well. 

I have this Pinterest board that I created while going through recovery, and it’s titled “Getting Back to Me.” (I thought that was trendy ) It’s literally just a lot of quotes that I found to help me get through my eating disorder. As I was struggling to overcome it, I found my strength in these quotes whether they were from the Bible or just really inspirational.

You can’t do it alone, you have to have people to talk to about it! 

I used to be so embarrassed and so ashamed about this, but it’s not a choice. It happens to you. it’s a disease. It’s not easily controlled, and I’m not ashamed of it anymore.

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