You’re 15, You pick up a magazine while waiting in line at the grocery store with your mom; skimming through, you see an ad for dietary supplements and an overabundance of workout plans in accompany to taking the pills. Curiosity begins to take over and you start with some of the workout plans, under-eating, and adding apple cider vinegar to your water. Ten days go by and you don’t see the results that the magazine promised- where did you go wrong? Maybe working out a little longer, a little harder is something you pick up for the next ten days. But still, no results. The initial reaction is to up the calories out- but then, suddenly, your body gently reminds that you have to eat- or do you?
Combining a high caloric deficit with an intense work out should do the trick. This time, is the time you reach happiness. After a couple of months, your diet is no longer working, triggering the hunt for a new diet that promises twice the weight-loss, in half the time. Only this time around, you have to work your way into convincing your mother that this diet is still healthy and you won’t be on it for too long. That couldn’t be further from the truth; you will never reach happiness, and the diets will end only for the next fad diet to take hold of your precious life, shortly after. But those magazines won’t warn you, the back of the pill bottle won’t tell you that besides the weight you’ll lose, you will also lose yourself, your family, the relationship you once had with food, and your friends.
Your weakened heart will beg you to stop there, but every pill or body that is smaller than yours, will keep you hooked. The euphoric feeling you get after your body sets into starvation mode from the caloric deficit, will keep you hungry for more. Food will soon be something you see as a threat and the trust you once had with your body’s hunger cues, are non-existent. You’re now 18, and it’s time for what was supposed to be your high school graduation, but instead, you are laying in a hospital bed. You have severe anemia, lanugo, and your teeth are so brittle from all the nutrients you said “no” to, that biting into anything will crumble your teeth. Upon being discharged, a nurse offered you a pamphlet on a treatment center for disordered eating- you kindly decline.
Coming home was not easy. Your mother says that in order for you to live here, you must sign-in to treatment. Internally, in the semi-healed mind from the recent hospital visit, you know your mother has a point- you need help. But, those thoughts of seeking treatment were abruptly cut off by the disordered voice. You choose to move out so you can pursue your ideal body, your ideal weight, and how could I forget the one thing you were chasing after all along- happiness. See, the one part you failed in, is the one you thought you wouldn’t; you fell for the tricks, the sweet talk of the pill pushers, and the persuasive photoshopped bodies.
Soon enough, your weight no longer shifts. You feel as though you can’t walk more than a few feet without becoming fatigued, and your heart is working twice or thrice as hard. Eventually, the strong and full heart you once had at 15, finally had enough. Your organs began shutting down one-by-one to support your heart, but you didn’t notice. You praised yourself for feeling worse because oddly enough, in some twisted way, it must mean that it’s working. Your mother spent the night at your apartment because you weren’t feeling well, even though you said you were fine. The following morning, you continued to take weight-loss supplements, scarfed down the bundle of vitamins and pills the doctors prescribed to you, with a large cup of coffee. You stood up too fast for your empty body and heart to handle. Soon enough, you were back in the hospital with more damage to your vital organs than you could have ever perceived happening.
Diets work for some, but those who are predisposed to eating disorders, begin at a young age, or even “test the waters” can get hooked for life- literally. Don’t Die(t) for a body or happiness that is unattainable through changing how much you eat or, by taking some wonder pill.