Lake Effect Series: Your Heart Will Stop

Note from Hollie: I cannot thank each people for submitting a story and sharing. Each story has been powerful and so inspirational. It is motivating me to run hard on Sunday. Run hard for Ophelia’s Place. Run hard for all of the supporters, sharers and everyone.  So thank you. 

It’s not too late to donate and please consider it.  Donating or sharing will also enter you in the giveaway that multiple companies have participated in.  I know Ophelia’s Place will put the donations to good use.

Submitted by Karla
First off, I’d like to thank Hollie for shining a spotlight on a topic so important and near and dear to my heart. Even though about 1% of American women are affected by anorexia, there is still a lot of stigma about it and other eating disorders. That’s why I’m happy to share my experience with anyone and everyone who will listen, because:

1. There’s absolutely no shame in seeking help when you need it,
2. My story is proof that there is life after anorexia, and
3. If even one person’s affected enough to assist a friend or consider treatment as a result, being open and honest about my past struggles is well worth it!

Eleven years ago, my weight was such a struggle (I reached nearly 180 pounds), that I figured all my problems, social, physical and otherwise, would be solved if I lost weight. So at 15, I started on a healthy kick, swapping grilled chicken for my beloved fried chicken fingers and visiting the gym each day after school for 30 minutes on the elliptical. As I—and my peers, boys included (finally!)—noticed results, I began cutting portions even more and adding minutes to my sweat schedule. Forty pounds lost by 6 months became 86 one year later, and I barely recognized the skeletal 94-pound girl I saw in the mirror.

My parents were at their wits’ end. We had consulted my family doctor, dietitians, psychologists and more to try to find a solution, yet nothing seemed to stop my downward spiral. At one point, I was eating about 800 calories and exercising two hours each day. I knew I was too thin and, since I was without any energy, felt myself pulling away socially from the new friends I had gained as a result of my newfound confidence. But something inside me wanted to keep losing. I needed to prove to the kids who used to taunt me as “big tit Karla” that I was in control and was not the chubby girl they believed me to be.

Eventually, my normally non-emotional dad sat me down and said, “Look. We’re worried that your heart is going to stop because you’re so thin. If you lose one more pound, we’re putting you in an inpatient treatment facility.”

I was officially scared straight, and after a few stops and starts, and years of visits with my psychologist (because, despite what I once believed, therapy is not just for “crazy people”), I got my body back on track. It took longer to get my brain on the same wavelength and move beyond the thoughts of inferiority, but within the last year or two, I finally feel like I’m becoming confident with myself, my body and what it can do for me.

One of the best things that’s come out of my eating disorder was a passion for health—in moderation. I went to school for magazine journalism and kinesiology so I could write and help educate about the importance and power of making wellness-promoting decisions while not letting that mindset take over your world. Today, I’m honored to be able to help FITNESS magazine spotlight real women who have done just that in the “I Did It!” section and aim to inspire my group fitness class students to strengthen their bodies in each of our sessions so they’re able to live long, vital lives rather than looking smokin’ in their bathing suits this summer. Because there are way more important things in life than being completely cellulite-free!

Thank you again!