I hopped into my car and turned the key in the ignition, watching the dashboard light up and all of the dials come to life. As I backed out of the driveway, I happened to glance down at the temperature controls of my car, and I noticed a light on that typically wasn’t. The airbag on the passenger side of my car was off, because I had my heavy purse, and a few other items on the seat. Why is this significant? No one knows this, but when I was 13 and just realizing how obsessed I was with my weight, I would sit in my parents van, on my way to an appointment or a therapist session, or on a quick trip out to the local Walmart, and I would wait for the “passenger airbag off” light to appear on the dashboard of the van. One day I had noticed that the light came on, and had looked in the manual to see if there was a way to switch the airbag on again. When I flipped to the correct page I read that the airbag turns of automatically if weight lower than 60 pounds is on the seat. Something in my mind clicked. The light could never go out as I was sitting in that seat. I wouldn’t let it.
Now, years later, I can’t believe I was alive then. I know at one point I weighed myself and I was at 98 pounds, before Ed took over completely. For so long, I was resistant to the thought of ever weighing more than that. Ed said 98 was enough, if not too much. I became so addicted to exercise. I lied about how much I walked and ran. At one point the doctor I was seeing said that some moderate exercise was OK, that walking slowly could be good for my mental state. But I was so adamant that I get my walk in that I made sure it happened every day, rain or shine. When it was winter, Ed told me to walk outside, no matter how cold it was. My mom was worried though, so she told me to call the local time and temperature in and if it was above freezing, I could walk outside. Otherwise I had to walk on her treadmill. I hated walking in the cold and the rain. But Ed told me to do it, and so I did it. I would run. I would exhaust myself to the point where even Ed was a little worried about my heart giving out. Sometimes I would wake up from a deep sleep, sure I was having a heart attack. Others, I would be walking and imagine what would happen if I just collapsed. Who would find me? How long would it take?
And as you probably know by now, as if the addiction to exercise wasn’t enough, I was also watching what I ate. I looked at every nutritional fact label, even those on water bottles (perhaps God had decided to add calories to water now!) because it was such a habit. Now that I have partially climbed out of the hole that I dug, I can appreciate the idea of exercise in moderation. Sometimes a walk sounds delicious, stretching muscles and moving around. But I know that it would be all too easy to overdo it, so I will have to be careful, once I recover fully. I think it has been super important in my recovery, to see that just because I don’t exercise, it doesn’t mean I will balloon into a hippopotamus. I think it has been more beneficial to me mentally not to exercise this time around. I love feeling like I have an excuse to be lazy! I don’t know how much I weigh, (but I do know the “passenger airbag off” light would not be lit up!) and frankly, I don’t care. No one has mentioned a “goal weight” or when I can start exercising again, and I am happy with that. I think my body will naturally begin to work towards health, as I give it the nutritional tools it needs. And eventually, my body will be right where it should be.