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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I Was a Weight Loss Success Story

One of my weight loss photos.
When we hear about weight loss success stories, we always imagine these glamorous fairy-tale stories of ordinary people who lose weight and suddenly have so much more to offer life. You've seen those images before: the left frame filled with a sad-looking person, slouching over and not making eye contact with the camera, and the right frame is filled with a slimmer figure in better-fitting clothes, standing tall with shoulders back and smiling at the camera. Some of us look at these images and think to ourselves, "They look so happy now. They've accomplished so much now that they've lost weight. Can't I do that too?" We glamorize these people's journeys, turning them into role-models whether they want it or not, and aspire to lose weight so we, too, can discover the magical key to being happy with our lives.

While these pictures are circulating the Internet and thousands to millions of people are viewing, sharing, and commenting on everything from speculation about their personalities to criticism of their bodies, do we stop to think about the actual people in the photos? We assume they were unhappy and unsuccessful in the before photos, and now they're so happy and successful in the after photo. We assume they're so happy and confident in the one picture we see of them, in fact, that we don't stop to wonder if the thousands of negative comments strangers are making about their bodies will ever negatively affect them. By then they're not even real people to us anymore, and have somehow transcended into social celebrity status, where we all have opinions and criticisms about them but they're not allowed to have feelings. 

I Was That Girl

When I embarked on my weight loss journey nearly four years ago, I didn't really put a whole lot of thought into it. I actually didn't loathe my life or my body. I was a bigger girl and wasn't necessarily happy about it, but for the most part, I had accepted it and moved on with enjoying my life. Not surprising, the times I struggled the most were when people pointed out my size in a negative light or when I tried to shop for clothing in trendy, young shops. After a few back-to-back embarrassing social situations regarding my size, though, I finally caved in and decided I would try to lose some weight and change my lifestyle. "Not a lot of weight," I promised myself. "I don't want or need to be skinny! I just want to lose 20 pounds and make healthier choices."

Once I started to lose weight, though, I was running downhill and didn't know how to stop the momentum. It
became my obsession and purpose in life. All I wanted to do was talk and think about my weight loss. At first my efforts were healthy and my obsession just aided in keeping me focused on my goal. But after spending a couple of months dissecting my body in a critical light, I suddenly found more reasons to hate my body. In the words of Cady from Mean Girls, I used to just think there was fat and skinny. Suddenly, specific body parts on me were fat, and I had now programmed my mind to see fat as the enemy. I found myself entertaining destructive thoughts about my body and my progress, and started doing unhealthy things to achieve faster weight loss. I spent my days and nights daydreaming about being skinny, pinching the fat on my body, weighing myself, reading pro-ana forums, and secretly photoshopping my photos to see what I'd look like smaller. I started meticulously counting calories and eating significantly less than a healthy calorie deficit. I had tied my self-worth into my size, and so when I didn't feel thin, I was depressed, socially anxious, and lacking in confidence.

I was in a dark place, and it usually has to get worse before you can admit there's a problem. I was rapidly losing weight, but I was also losing physical strength. Everything made me tired, and if I got up too quickly or moved too fast, I'd see black spots and lose vision for a split second. I stopped hanging out with my friends because I had put on this facade of being this happy, healthy person pursuing healthy weight loss, and if I didn't eat, they'd see the truth. It took fainting at work one day before I saw I was heading down a dangerous path.

Crissfit

I didn't like the direction I was heading, but I still lacked the ability to be honest with people about my struggle, so I decided to make a health and fitness Tumblr to keep me in line. I became Crissfit: a positive, healthy-minded figure who helped girls who were struggling with what I was going through. I didn't know how to help myself, but I figured if I helped others I would eventually be able to believe what I was telling them. I eventually started eating more and lifting heavy weights, and even though I had bad thoughts about my body still, I was on the path of recovery. My blog kept me accountable for my actions, and the small community there kept me positive and open about my journey.

I posted my progress pictures in the small communities I was a part of, getting feedback and compliments from friends. I was proud of my progress because to me, my pictures spoke of not just the physical transformation, but the emotional and mental growth I had experienced in that year of weight loss. At the time, it felt nice being praised for my hard work and seeing my friends recognize how difficult and emotional my journey was. I was delighted when my pictures were reblogged, and when my Tumblr followers numbered 30k, I was giddy with happiness because it meant I was influential! People were listening to me and cared about my story. It gave me the resolve to stay strong and be healthy in both mind and body because so many young women were looking up to me.

But then my pictures started going viral over the Internet, being posted on all sorts of popular social media sites, forums, and meme photo websites. I was getting countless messages from friends, family, co-workers, and old Internet acquaintances, informing me of every place they saw my pictures posted. At first, I read them all; every last comment. I saw literally thousands and thousands of comments from strangers criticizing everything you can imagine about me: the way I was standing, my height, that I was too skinny or still too fat, my pale skin or my red hair, my "fat knees," and my chunky legs. I was told it was a shame my face was still busted, or that I may have lost weight but I was "still a 5 in big cities with actual hot girls." One popular article managed to turn me into nothing but a number, and if the blog post wasn't bad enough, the comments were demeaning and soul-crushing. I had people write lengthy break-downs on every little thing wrong with my face and body, from my nose to my ankles. Ironically enough, posting my weight loss pictures on my blogs to show my friends ended up resulting in irreparable low self-esteem.



And then, at some point, something inside of me broke. Two years of eating well and restricting calorie-dense foods went down the drain and I started binge-eating everything I felt I had missed out on: pizza, chips, soda, and take-out. I told myself it was just a break and that I'd get back on track, but the more I ate, the more I gained. The more I gained, the more emotional I was over my weight gain, and so the more I ate. Before I knew it, I had gained 20 pounds back. 

Dealing with My Weight Gain

At the time, it felt like the end of the world. I was a small-town and internet celebrity for my weight loss, and here I was, gaining all that weight back! I was still getting hundreds of messages a day from people desperate to know how to lose weight or simply congratulating me on my weight loss. People were still sending me links of places my pictures were being posted. It got to the point where seeing those comments or even seeing my own weight loss picture triggered feelings of low self-worth. After all, I had let people base my self-worth entirely on my size, and if I had put on weight again, what was my value? So many sites had reposted my pictures with superficial headlines like "She Fixed It" and many comments had referred to my before photo as repulsive and calling me an "it." If I had put on weight, did that mean I was "broken" again?


I thought I was in a dark place with my disorder before, but I went somewhere deeper and darker. I became a slave to my emotional eating disorder in a way that I never did before. It was like there was another person inside my head, fighting the rational part of my brain for control. Sometimes, the ED voice would win and lock away the rational Criss, leaving me to dwell on destructive thoughts about my body. And then I would starve; literally starve myself for multiple days. I would eat little or no food and drink a surplus of water. I would sometimes take sleeping pills to go to bed early if I thought I'd end up weakening and eating late at night. When I could cope with the hunger pains without having to go to bed, I saw it as a success. In a sick, twisted way, I had begun to see the hunger pains as necessary punishment for the crime of being fat, and when I could withstand the pain without succumbing to eating, I felt strong. I was happiest when I was successful in my fasting. I began to feel the most beautiful when I was hungry and hadn't eaten enough. When I went to bed without eating most of the day, I smiled to myself in pride at being strong enough to overcome my "weakness." I felt weak and easily winded, but the scale was going down dramatically and my waist was becoming so slender, so I had a skip in my step regardless of energy.

But for every few days of extreme restriction and starvation, there was a week or two of extreme binge-eating. I would just be so, so hungry after not allowing myself food that I would eat one thing and just break. I'd crumble and lose my resolve, eating everything in sight. I would eat until I was literally sick and hurting. I welcomed the pain and considered it punishment that I deserved. I saw myself as a fat, disgusting slob, lacking even the most basic control over food, and I felt I deserved the physical pain, emotional wreckage, and shame.

The worst part was that I struggled to acknowledge I had an eating disorder, to others or even to myself. What would people say if they found out the person whose pictures were reposted daily as fitness inspiration was actually struggling with an eating disorder? Furthermore, would they even believe me? Nobody ever seems to believe girls who claim to have an eating disorder unless their BMI is extremely low, and clearly, mine wasn't. Worst of all, what would I do if I admitted it to myself? I knew how to do things right, and admitting that I lacked control over my body and mind would make me feel foolish and unintelligent. All I had ever wanted was to be known for being an influential and intelligent individual; to admit to the world that I had an eating disorder would chance losing all credibility I ever had. I was scared of everyone's judgment and having to cope with all the backlash when people realized the person they idolized as some sort of weight loss wizard and healthy role model was flawed. Human, like the rest of you.

Recovery

I feel relieved that I am finally at a point in recovery where I can tell everyone the truth of my struggles, and it has also helped to know that I'm not alone. Do you know how many other people known for their weight loss stories have struggled with similar issues? Surprisingly, almost every person I've met who has lost a large amount of weight has recounted experiences that closely mirror my own. Why does that happen? I suspect the unsolicited attention and the pressure of being turned into an internet role model eventually becomes too much for them, and eventually we crash and burn. We let people tie so much of our worth into our weight loss stories that we lose our identities when we aren't the people in the "after" photos anymore. 

I'd be lying if I said I was fully better now, because I'm not. I don't know if I have a happy ending to this story. I still have bad weeks where I restrict too much and then binge in response, but finally admitting that I had an eating disorder helped take a weight off my back. I'm trying to learn how to find a balance between the two extremes, but habits-- especially ones spurred by an emotional disorder-- are hard to break. Mostly, though, I'm trying to find ways to celebrate my self-worth that don't hinge on my weight. After being known solely as Crissfit for so long, it's hard to fully break from that identity, but I'm an intelligent, talented individual with so much more to offer the world than being merely a successful weight loss story. There's so much life has to offer than wasting it worrying about what the scale says.

Oh, and for those thousands of sites who posted my photos with cheap, superficial headers that added false context? I wasn't broken, and so I didn't "fix" anything. I'm not an it; I'm exactly the same person at 130 pounds as I was at 200 pounds. I didn't lose weight because my ex-boyfriend called me fat, my pictures weren't posted in the wrong order, and I'm not a "disgusting animal" in the left picture just because I'm bigger. Whew, that feels better.


88 comments:

Lizzie said...

Such an interesting perspective. Congrats on your weight loss, but more importantly, good luck on breaking away from that and just being seen for you. It seems as weight will always define a piece of us, not matter what size we are.

Anonymous said...

This is a phenomenal piece. Your courage is inspiring to me, having gone through a similar weight-loss-to-eating-disorder experience, although of course my journey wasn't as public as yours and I wasn't exposed to the trolling and shaming. Your message at the core here is so important. We are all so much more than our bodies, and yet, it is so difficult for others to get beyond mere physical appearances.

Okaykayluhh said...

I relate to this too much. I too have a weight loss success story, though my follower count is no where as high as yours. I went through a lot of the same things as you once i hit my after weight. I developed so many unhealthy habits as a means to maintain the standard for my physique that i had set for myself to my followers. Extreme carb restriction (which resulted in fatigue, lbp, and losing vision/seeing black spots, similarly to you) , an eating disorder (one right after the other) , unhealthy thoghts about food to the point where i was terrified to eat anything unhealthy. It's so nice to know i'm not alone. Thank you so much for sharing .

Phillips08 said...

I found you very inspirational and I am sorry that you were treated so badly. I thought you were a beautiful woman before and after. It's so easy to throw insults around on the internet. There's no accountability. I doubt most of the people who left those comments wouldn't say a damn thing to you if it was face to face. It takes a brave soul to put yourself out like you have and you've helped a lot of people, I'm sure of it. Keep your head up beautiful!

SamanthaCaryn said...

I've been fighting similarly after losing eighty pounds and regaining most of it over the last two years. I'm starting my weight loss all over again but with new perspective and without loathing my body or punishing it.

I'm moved and overjoyed that you're learning to cope and live healthy again, I know it's an uphill battle. Your story was an inspiration for me when I started losing weight and I'm touched that you are so open about such a difficult but common struggle that so many off us fight behind closed doors. Thank you for inspiring me again :)

Haylie0207 said...

I think you're a beautiful person. I always have even when I knew you as Crissfit. I never saw you as a skinny girl who was once bigger I just saw beauty in both the before and after photos. My sister suffers from an eating disorder and it's hard for her to keep on track because she to lost a lot of weight. People in our town did the sane to get as to you which only made it worse. I've seen the pain in her face. I'm sorry people are so terrible but I'm so happy you wrote this. I'll be showing it to her.

criss said...

Thank you for your responses, everyone! I appreciate how well received this post was, being that it was so difficult to write. Seeing how many of you can relate to my struggles, if you ever need to reach out to someone, I'm here for you!

Brittany Weber said...

Criss, You have always been awesome! Just wanted you to know. You have always been pretty.

voluptuouslythin said...

I've never gone through a large amount of weightloss or weightgain and the most I've experienced in is 20lbs in a year, but then again I've attributed it to growing nearly two full inches and filling out in my hips and chest. I was always the "bigger" girl of my friends even though I've never gone above 150 and that's nothing bad. I'm healthy and unable to work out, so I'm fairly happy with myself[one of the lucky few not so tremendously affected by the social media of our day.]

I never realized that those who go through large amount of weightloss experienced these sorts of issues and I can't pretend to understand. I'm so sorry you went through all this, but I'm glad you're on the road to recovery and being healthy. I send my best regards and my support. <3

Anonymous said...

It's so sad that women have to go through so much when it comes to their weight and looks. Thanks for writing this piece - really inspirational. You should try reading Loveability by Robert Holden. It's a book about learning to love yourself for all that you are. You don't need luck in your recovery because you're a strong woman who will overcome this.

azzurra bazzali said...

I'm going through something similar, minus the internet thing.I've always been too shy to post my pics online, but I spent (and still spend ) hours and hours online looking at pictures of skinny girls or success stories and belittle myself because I would never be as skinny or as beautiful or strong willed as they were.Then I reached a point when I had to change my shoe size, I had gained that much weight, and that gave me a wake up call.At 5.2', I was 195 pounds.I started eating healthy and counting calories and got to 150.And there I stayed.I couldn't lose any more weight.I didn't gain, either, but I couldn't lose.Then my marriage crumbled, and I got to 120 pound in a month and a half.I just couldn't eat, sleep or think at all.But I felt, for the first time in my life, SO beautiful.Men lined up to date me and I based my self este on that.For the first time I felt confident and sexy.It actually lasted a while, but eventually stress metabolism wore off, I got more relaxed and secure because I started dating my boyfriend, and I didn't realize I wasn't going to be able to eat whatever I wanted and still lose weight forever.So, I went back up to 138.The more I gained, the more I panicked and binge-eaten anything I could find.Now I'm going to the gym, but I still can't fully commit to healthy eating.I'm trying, but still fail.It's mostly breakfast that I'm failing at, as I feel like I need comfort food when I wake up.During the day I'm mostly ok, but mornings..I hope I will be able to find a way someday.Thank you so much for this post.

Haplo said...

Losing some weight myself and it's not an easy ride. Very inspirational piece. Keep up the good work!

Alex Marshall said...

Can I recommend a good blog to you? Keeping Healthy Getting Stylish, the writer (Laura) has struggled with weight loss, taking it to the extreme and gaining back for recovery purposes and has written about it so honestly and openly that it's incredibly warming to read. I think you might get a lot out of her story.

Here's her latest post on the subject:
http://keepinghealthygettingstylish.com/2014/01/weight-loss-wordy-post.html

x

Anonymous said...

oh noes 20 pounds

Sarah said...

I'm so happy you posted this and are doing better. I always admired you for so much more than just your "Weight loss story", like for how kind you were to your readers. The weight loss was something I found interesting because I too was in the weight loss process. I found you from fitocracy to start with but it was your geeky humor that made your blog one I enjoyed.

Anonymous said...

SNARKFACE

Laura (DT) said...

Thank you so much for writing this! I wish you the best in continuing your path on recovery, and I'm ridiculously impressed with your bravery to post this in the first place. Brava!

Shannon Mullen said...

It disgusts me when a gorgeous, smart, and compassionate person like yourself is berated by people who lack the intelligence to understand individual situations, the heart to support you through all of your troubles, and the eyes to see how beautiful you are inside and out. Some people are as ugly on the inside as they are beautiful on the outside. Feel sorry for those who have to scour the internet and anonymously hate on other people in order to validate their self-worth.

Lona Smith said...

The entire societal view that grown women must maintain prepubescent shapes and appearances does nothing but perpetuate the very existence of eating disorders!! It was only 100 years ago that women who had naturally curvy bodies were considered the epitome of beautiful. I honestly believe that healthy is better than thin, and I'm working toward that. I'm 5'3 and 260 pounds. Im a size 18 and I don't care what the tag says or what the scale says. What I care about is: can i climb the stairs without being winded? (nope). Can I walk a mile easily? (nope) Do my clothes flatter the body I have now, not the one I remember? (working on it) Am I happy? (for the most part) Am I healthy? (working on it). I worry about my weight because of how it affects my health. NOT because of how other people perceive me. Why? Because those same women who are whining at me about my plump thighs are the same women who cry when they look in the mirror because they are "fat". It doesn't matter what we weigh, we all do it. We pick ourselves apart in the mirror. Accept that we are all made differently, and beautifully, and perfect. How boring the world would be if everyone looked like Paris Hilton. Me? I think that what makes a woman attractive comes from inside anyway. When you're happy, it shows on your face. That glow cant be faked with makeup. No diet or surgery will make that shimmer in your eyes, that sparkle. That comes from loving yourself for who you are, not what you look like.

Taura said...

You are talented storyteller and writer!

Mom has suffered for years with an 'eating disorder'. I've learned some of these same skills.

You're inspiring by being real.

Thank you for bringing Criss back.

Chloe said...

It doesn't matter how little of a community you post your pictures on--anything you put on the internet will be seen by everyone and anyone. Sometimes I feel the internet is just as cruel, if not more cruel than the outside world.

Humans aren't meant to be on diets. When we starve ourselves or deprive ourselves of calories, we binge and pack on the weight to compensate. But you probably know this by now.

It's a real shame that harsh words said by anonymous (and maybe not so anonymous) people drove you into an eating disorder, along with a warped idea of what you should be.

Someone very close to me was bulimic at 16 because her coach told her to lose a few pounds to run faster. Nearly 20 years later, she still exercises excessively but has finally regulated the way she eats. I hope it doesn't take you as long to recover.

Anonymous said...

I felt so angry and sad reading how people reacted to your pictures. ... ? What always puzzles me about mean comments like that, especially from men, is that in person those same men would be thrilled to get to even talk to the women they scathingly critique on the internet. Do they get a sense of power by critiquing women who they couldn't have? I think so. I also think it is some kind of mental disorder to hate people because they have fat on their body. I feel so angry reading about that hate. I felt sad reading about your struggle. That just pulled on my heart. And I feel inspired by your honesty. Reading about your struggle gave me a larger context to see my own struggle. I see that it is a way to keep women down.
I can relate to your struggle with food. For years I restricted my food in order to stay thin. I was obsessed with food and I got tired of living my life that way. I decided to cure my mind by letting myself eat whatever I wanted to. I gained about 80 pounds which was scary, but I was determined not to ever diet again. It worked! I stopped obsessing about food! That voice in my head left and I was free to focus on my life. I felt I healed myself, but from the outside, it just looked like I added a lot of fat to my body. :)
Within a year, my appetite normalized and I lost 40 pounds over the next two years without any effort. Then I lost 15 more pounds. But this last year, I decided I wanted to lose the rest of the pounds I had gained and so I investigated the best ways to eat healthily. I kept in mind that I didn't want to diet, but even choosing to follow a healthy eating "program" triggered my obsessiveness about food that I had before. It triggered my excessively careful eating which then triggered binge eating. So... even though I found a program that was very healthy, it just doesn't work for *my* mental health, to follow a program.
I wish you more inner peace and sanctuary. I know that dark times like these can be a necessary part of gaining more wisdom, compassion, and happiness. "There's so much more life has to offer than wasting it worrying about what the scale says."
Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring words.

MB said...

Thank-you so much for sharing. That must have been hard to write. The "one popular article" has me seething with rage. People can be such fucking assholes.

Best of luck to you. <3

Jarenth said...

Thank you for sharing this story. I don't know you, of course, but you sound like a cool and interesting person, and someone I am way happier about being around on this world than the kind of people who post the kinds of hateful comments you had to deal with. And I hope you manage to find a path to recovery and equilibrium that works for you.

Lauren said...

I clicked on this link posted by The Anti Jared and my first thought was "oh, I've seen that girl all over Pinterest"! Thank you for sharing about your journey, it was a great piece. Best of luck going foward

Robin said...

Glad to get an update from you, you are a true inspiration to thousands of people.

I hope that everything improves and that you are truly happy.

Anonymous said...

Lona... What an awesome comment!! I am working on doing exactly what you are and thank you for giving me the motivation to keep on doing what I'm doing and becoming more self-accepting.

Criss... this is an awesome article. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and struggles with us.

Anonymous said...

Holy shit girl why you being so emotional over stupid stuff such as weight loss. find a purpose in life and do fitness as an hobby, dont revolve your life around it. Also don't take people on the internet seriously, just ignore all negative comments. It's the internet, those people dont know you = their opinion is worth shit. Once you realize this, you will feel more happier in life than ever.

Nick said...

You're a wonderful person. Thank you for sharing all you've gone through on every side of your personal struggle, and all the hell you've gone through because of society's belligerent superficiality. Your willingness to stand up against all of this is beyond admirable. You are an inspiration, not only for your fitness achievements and your bravery in the face of an eating disorder, but your willingness to stand up and hold a mirror up to the superficiality of the world at large. You humble me and inspire me, and I wish you nothing but the best.

Robusken said...

Oh man this was quite a story! I'm glad you shared it because you're right, you don't really get to hear how the person feels in these weight loss pictures. I'm sorry you went through all that undeserved internet hate, it's kind of scary how negative the internet can be =/. But I'm glad your focusing on finding self-worth of yourself as a unique and great person. I'm totally gonna check out the rest of your site and I hope you only get happier as the days go by!

Anonymous said...

A fantastic, inspirational piece- never let those people who feel the need to react negatively affect the way you see yourself- those people clearly do not live a happy fulfilled life of their own so they feel the need to put others down.
Keep going- you're a very strong individual :)

Anonymous said...

Very interesting read. I do think that there are some gender differences regarding weightloss like this. Former fat kid syndrome.

Anonymous said...

Criss, you are so strong for putting up with all this shit and still being able to write about it. You are gorgeous in both the before and afters: you have such vitality in your eyes.

F said...

Makes me sad you had to go through that. :/ You truly are beautiful either way. I find online comments like that (overly mean about weight/looks) to be - at first scary and at second hilarious. Scary - because people shouldn't be so small minded, and hilarious, because.... look at them. They all have some flaws somewhere that people could be equally as mean to them about.

June said...

Criss, lots of hugs. It amazes me how many people will misuse another's photos, objectify a women's body in excruciating, and just say such vile, vile comments. Do they have no empathy whatsoever? How would they like their own bodies picked apart in such a manner?

Take care of yourself. Know that you're beautiful no matter what your weight is and focus on your self-worth that is not connected to your body. Best luck to you on your recovery! Also, thank you for sharing your story, I'm sure this will help many put major weight loss in perspective. It's NEVER as easy as weight loss=happiness.

Anonymous said...

You're pretty and brave and VERY impressive. I'm glad that you're starting to treat yourself well. Good luck on your journey!!

AtlantisAK said...

I found one of your before and after photos on the internet a while ago and saved it in my 'Weight Loss/Motivation' folder because for some reason, I found it more motivational than all the others I'd seen (and you're gorgeous in both the before and after). Beyond that photo though, I didn't have a name to use to find out more about you or your journey. There was no way to read your story of how you'd lost the weight.

Just today, I saw a Facebook post with a different photo of you and this article. Honestly, it wasn't what I expected and at first I had mixed feelings...but now I'm glad that I had a chance to read this.

At my biggest, I was 285 and 5'9. I am currently 220. My weight loss started unintentionally...I was always happy and confident in myself and never saw my weight as a problem. I had the nice classic hourglass shape with some extra junk in the trunk. Rarely was there any discrimination against me or my weight.

I went through some extremely rough times with my mentally/emotionally abusive (now ex)boyfriend whom I was with for 6 years. It was an emotional roller coaster for the last 3 years we were together before it finally hit the breaking point 6 months before the end when I finally had enough saved up to leave.


During those last 6 months, I found out the hard way that when under extreme stress, I can't eat. There is no option of even forcing myself. Even after we broke up and things got better temporarily, I still managed to get it in my head that I wasn't good enough, that I needed control in my life....And those thoughts eventually developed into an ED which I barely had control of. I found another guy later and was with him for 2 years (we moved in together on campus since we also both needed college roommates otherwise I'd have been homeless). Halfway through the relationship, he admitted he had no attraction for fat people. That blew my mind and any progress I had started to make was entirely undone.

Every day it scared me, but I became obsessive....I'm sure there's no need to fill in the details. Each individual ED seems to have roughly the same storyline: calorie counting, severe calorie restriction, distracting yourself with other things, etc. Thankfully I've gotten rid of the two huge stressors in my life (my exes) and seem to be getting control over the ED. There are days that it crops it's ugly head back up, but I'm determined to get myself straightened out physically. Before the ED, my health was amazing. Now I have aches, pains, headaches, iron deficiency, horrible depression, anxiety and a whole slew of other things. And my metabolism? I know I've done a number on it as well. It's been about a year maintaining 220, eating better overall, etc. Granted I don't quite eat what I should, it's much better than it was. My next step is to work on losing weight again...in a more healthy manner, controlled and voluntary. My goal is 180, maybe less depending on how I feel and how it looks on me.

In a way, I'm happy to see that your story isn't all fluffy puppies and cute kittens, but that you've also struggled the same that I have. No one should suffer or struggle, but it's nice to know that you're not alone out there. I'm glad you're sharing your story and the truth behind what happened. Thank you. :)\

By the way...I can't tell you how happy I am to also see that you're a geek girl!

Ross F. said...

Wow. Thank you for sharing this story. You're awesome---best of luck to you. :)

Jenelle said...

Mean people suck and it breaks my heart that you've been treated so. I've seen your pics and have seen the asinine comments.

Keep your chin up girl. You're way ahead of the game just by recognizing this stuff.

Hugs!!!

d.m.b. said...

I realize that I have almost all those same voices in my head, going back and forth between pride and severe punishment. My weight has been up or down 40 pounds in the last several months. Seeing someone else talk about it though... I think I need to analyze this differently.

Jaque M said...

Hi Criss, I'm from brazil and my english is horrible so forgive me.
I saw your photos a lot of times in different facebook pages and tumblrs. The first time I saw it was a collage with photos of some steps of your weight loss, and I imediately thought: that's awesome! This girl is so pretty that she looks great in every single picture, regardless of her body shape and size. Pretty fat girl, pretty normal girl, pretty skinny girl, pretty blond, pretty redhead, amazing!
I could never imagine that you still strugle with body issues. As a fat girl trying to lose weight for 23 years, all I can say is that it doesn't matter if you failed sometimes, you are still a great role model. You achieved so much, lost control, took it back, lost it again, so real, human and sincere. Girls today don't need to mirror themselves in flawless weightloss-machines, they need inspiration in the real world, from persons that have strengths and weakness to deal with.
I somehow see myself in this story. I never really accomplished a significant weight loss but went almost insane, completely exhausted thinking about my size and hating myself trough all these years. I had to see a psychotherapist for almost two years to regain my self confidence and inner strenght, and stop caring about the comments from less important people in my life.

Thanks for sharing your story, and I wish you all the luck in the world in putting your head back in place. Don't forget that you are beautiful in every way, so you really don't have to care about it, and you can put effort in accomplishing a lot of great things beyond losing weight.

Ps.: This time I saw the link for this post in a brazilian facebook page about healthy weightloss allied to mental health. ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi Criss, i just wanted to say that i think you are very beautiful,not for your appereance,but for your words and attitude.We women tend to be too hard on ourselves and on other women,even when we are conscious about how bad things like slutshaming and fatshaming are.People like you, who share their own experiences and encourage others to stop these kinds of harmful behaviors are a great example and an inspiration.

Curly Pink Runner said...

WOW! beautiful words, and they resonate within me because I relate 100%. we are not a number, we're not broken, we're ENOUGH, we're perfectly imperfect in our humanness. thanks for sharing your story and best wishes to you- I hope your life is amazing each and every day- the good, the bad and the ugly ones.

Heather said...

Good on ya for the post. FWIW, I think you're adorable in all the photos - I love how happy you look in your pink sweater.
I'm very, very overweight (my BMI puts me at morbidly obese), but I recently lost 35lbs. It was a big victory for me - but the amount people comment on it, I think ESPECIALLY people who don't know me well, the tone of the comments really starts to bug me. I feel healthier already (even though I have at least 120lbs to go), I'm more active, and I'm eating better food. I'm still working on the emotional components of the binges. (I don't do super-strict restricting, thankfully I've at least avoided that side of disordered eating.) I backslid over Christmas, and that's been hard. But I really, really like how it feels to have a "good" day - where I get a walk in, eat well (focusing on veggies and protein), and just generally take care of myself.
I'm totally rambling (ha! that's nothing new!) but I just wanted to say thank you for sharing about your life and talking about the importance of how we discuss our health and bodies - the vocabulary we use, especially around daughters/sisters as well as other women is absolutely critical. We have so much media and history working against us - cultural and personal - that we need to work strenuously to carve new pathways leading us all to better physical and emotional health.

Anonymous said...

hey criss! first of all, this was a great, moving piece and a very interesting read.

my girlfriend also suffers from eating and body image disorders. we've dating for almost a year now, and had been friends for many years before going out, and I never knew about any of this. it terrifies me that she (and I guess a lot of people that struggle with weight) suffered in silence for so long. she once told me about all the little things she would do to hide her illness from her family and friends, and I was impressed and saddened.

every since we started dating, I've been trying to help her and we've been fighting this together. its a slow, very (in)tense, and sometimes frustrating process, but she has made some incredible progress and i'm very proud of her.

i rely on my gf to tell me of ways to help her, but sometimes its hard for me to even relate to how she feels. Stories like yours help me a lot in trying to understand how she feels about all this and hopefully help her as best as I can.

congratulations for your courage. you're a true success story, not of weight loss, but of character, maturity and emotional and mental strength. trust me, you've helped a lot more people than you'll ever know.

once again, thank you! cheers from brazil :)

Nicky Grant said...

So sorry you had to go through all of that. Thank you for what you have written. It's brilliant and you come across as a lovely human being. I love how you look. I think you are beautiful...You had beauty when carrying more weight and it is lovely to see you slimmer and looking happy too. God bless you!

Rach said...

Criss, I've never read your blog before this post...but I am so glad you wrote it and I came across it. You are a gifted writer and such a kind-hearted woman! I think your "before" photos are truly beautiful too. All of your photos are! Your smile is so bright, and you can see in your eyes that you're happy :)
It is so horribly sad when people turn others into objects, instead of seeing them for the unique, wonderful individuals that they are. I am so repulsed reading the responses to your before/after photos and I can't imagine how horrible you must have felt reading them. Those people all have immensely skewed views of reality, and I hope you are able to stay far away from their criticisms and not allow their skewed views to affect your own!!!
And I do have to say, not owning a scale is one of the most feeding life choices I've made. I love not knowing how much I weigh, and how that's carried over to not caring. Praying for you and wishing you the best of luck as you start your journey to recovery!

Rach said...

*FREEING life choices, not feeding! Oh dear what a typo. My bad!

ragdollpirate said...

I absolutely loved this piece. I have lost 200 pounds give or take since I gained a little back before I became pregnant with my now 4 month son. I had no internet trolls making comments I had a friend who I considered a best friend making comments about where's my sagging skin and horrible stretch marks etc. It made me take a step back when she basically accused me of being a liar. However, I am really happy now that she made me feel like this terrible person for actually losing weight in a healthy way and allowing my body to do what comes naturally to it when you lose weight gradually and correctly. The reason I am happy about her hatefulness isn't because it made me want to lose more weight and be this thin sexy thing because it didn't it made me realize my calling. I am in school to become a dietitian because we need more honest people who aren't going to shame people. Shaming doesn't work in making people healthy and I have noticed the weight loss community seems to be full of people who want to shame others. I want to be a light in that darkness that is the fitness community and I believe if we had more posts like this in the world of the internet where it was of an honest struggle and how words have power over people negatively and positively that we could possibly change the way the fitness community thinks and acts. Thank you for your bravery. You Rock in both pictures and don't ever believe differently =)

Sue-Ann Marquis said...

Hiya - one of your friends on Fitocracy just introduced me to your article and well, to you. Kudos. You're an amazingly strong woman. Alot of things have happened - alot of criticizing bad things... but know that some bitter things make you a better / stronger / more empathetic / sympathetic character - of which, as you can tell from some horrid remarks people make, is so so rare. Treasure these experiences... I know it is hard, but it makes you even more than a super gem. I see this as so much more than just a weight loss story.

I relate in some ways - I can be considered as pretty / sexy / fit, but my God, I hate my body. I starve, try every fad diet, then binge eat like no-one's business. I have been this way for YEARS (since I was a teenager). I read so many "success" stories, like it ends when you lose weight... but it's a constant battle / journey.

I hope you continue to understand what matters most to you and love that for what it truly is... you cannot change some people's mentalities, but you can change some girls who are in similar situations and realise that they are not alone! So keep doing what you're doing, focus on positivity, keep your mind on the people that matter, and rock on :)

Besos,
Sue (all the way in Qatar!)

Anonymous said...

You identified as a weight loss story which when exposed to the internet forced you into being a celebrity and fed into your insecurities. Now you're identifying as an intelligent, talented girl and putting yourself and your story out onto the internet again. I know you depend on the internet a lot for your social life and...just...something to do, but depending on constant feedback from people to acknowledge your value is really unhealthy. You hid your flaws and insecurities in hopes that people would like you more instead of acknowledging that you are not perfect. You started to believe in your own hype because you lived in an echo chamber of people congratulating you on how awesome you are, and when 4channers and redditors act like they're expected to it really crumpled your sense of self because you had based so much of it on external feedback.

You are flawed. You are not perfect. You fuck up. A lot. This does not mean that you are not allowed to be loved. This does not mean you are not allowed to love yourself. Don't construct an identity that relies on perfection or adoration. When people say negative things about you, try to figure out if they are just being mean or pointing out an actual flaw. If you've already acknowledged your flaws to yourself, then you can reflect on their comment rather than get defensive. You are actually, quite objectively, extremely insecure and it comes out a lot in your blogs/logs and interactions with others. That doesn't mean you're a bad person--it's just something to work on (I recommend Rippletit's "Starting Security" for dat dere linear progression). You also get really defensive when people accuse you of GOTIS (of course there's two sides to this since women can instigate it or be victims of it). I think it's perfectly fine and normal to be an attention whore on the internet. If you recognize it you can feed it in healthy ways and address what kind of attention you're really looking for, rather than denying that you're *that* kind of person and letting an addiction spiral out of control.

PEOPLE HAVE LOTS OF THINGS THAT THEY DON'T LIKE ABOUT THEMSELVES. You can't just keep ignoring that shit or you're going to end up in the same dark place. It's OK to wear a mask on the internet because you need to protect yourself, but please please please please don't try to be some image of perfection that you're not.

Don't try to be "an intelligent, talented" girl. Just be Criss, a work in progress.

[As a personal side note, I used to think I was a smart, confident, talented girl who would never do anything stupid or fall victim to someone trying to take advantage of me. SURPRISE!!! It happened. A lot. And when I tried to talk to people about it their responses were along the lines of, "But you're such a smart, confident person how could you let something like that happen to you--you must have wanted it to happen." So that's a really fucked up thing to think about, too.]

FlyingPurpleHippos.com said...

I really appreciated this blog post and I had to fight the tears. I had to close the forum you linked to after reading a few comments because I already struggle to not think that most people are awful. While I've never had an eating disorder, as someone with depression who struggles with accepting my weight, I can relate to a lot of what you said. I think you could also relate to my blog series I've just started called "Depression and..." One of my planned upcoming posts is going to be "Depression and food."

Vita said...

man so sad, people are so superficial these days, i work out so i can feel good and be healthy! keep on lifting =)

Craig W. said...

People talk a lot of s**t on the internet these days, without even thinking about it. I'm sure that NONE of them wouldn't said those things to your face. And it seems that you were only seeing the negative comments...for every 1 hater there were 100 people that really appreciated you for your incredible body transformation!

Tara said...

I am no where near goal weight, but I can so relate. On one hand, it feels good to have people acknowledge your effort, but on the other hand, when people say, "You look great!" after you've lost 40 lbs, a little voice in your head goes, "Does that mean I didn't look good before? What happens if I go back there?" And as I have lost weight, people have asked me, "Do you feel great?" and seem miffy when I answer, honestly, no. I don't. Maybe it is the release of toxins that were stored in my fat. Perhaps it is the fact that there are more days than I would like to admit, where I stayed in my calorie range, but have not eaten enough healthy foods, and nourished my body. Perhaps it is because of the fact that even though I am smaller, I am not to goal. I am still "fat". I am doing Weight Watchers, and because of tracking every bite that goes into my mouth, feeling restricted, the comments/expectations of other people, and some physical pain/ limitations that are worsening, I am struggling with the cycle of "being good" and binge/stress eating right now. You are not alone.

Rosie said...

I found some of your photos used without your permission in ads for diet pills:
http://hollywoodlife.com/2013/10/14/mulan-gay-once-upon-a-time-aurora-season-3-episode-3/
They did not use the photos in their article itself (link in the sidebar) but it is still really infuriating to see somebody's photos used without their permission AND to see them take credit for all of your hard work and dedication to sell their bogus product.

I was not sure how best it would be to contact you but I do hope you will see this.

You are lovely and a huge inspiration, I am really heartbroken to hear misogynistic fatphobic shitbabies on the internet have been so gross, but for every one of them there are a thousand of us, who are all very proud of your success and think you are absolutely amazing. Best of luck.

criss said...

Rosie, thank you for contacting me about it! It looks like I'm going to have to take major steps to get this removed, since you're not the first person to alert me about it. I feel kind of gross that they've not only stolen my pictures, but that they're using them to promote some awful weight loss product.

Michelle said...

You have always been an inspiration to me, and motivate me to work harder towards my weight loss goals. You did it the healthy way, and that's my goal as well. So today while I was hunting the web for weight loss articles to tips and suggestions, I found myself on this website talking about weight loss supplements, i.e. the "magic pill", there was a picture of you at the top of article that is going around Tumblr of your before and after weight loss pictures. I was in shock because I knew I had read you had done it the old-fashion way and not with magic pills. The website is here if you are interested in seeing it: http://www.allconsumerhealthnews.com/0159-c5-rw2-t12-st1-h1010-l1/?c2=c5-rw2-t12-h1010-l1-0159&c1=0159200xxxgcp200reg03036n#.Uxaz3oVniX1 , it's a safe site, just talking about how to "lose weight fast". I didn't know if you wanted to leave it or try to have them remove your image. I figured I'd pass on what I found and let you make that choice since you worked so hard and may not want to be associated with that kind of site. I am so glad that you were able to overcome the hardships of negative talk and get back on track to being healthy. I am currently working on the same journey and hope to be as successful as you. I look forward to seeing what new stuff you will post about yourself here and see what other sides of Criss we've yet to meet. :-)

dougsbeard said...

i know this is a little odd, but i remember seeing you post on imgur before but you popped up again today in user submitted, this time your picture was attached to an ad or something. http://imgur.com/gallery/giAiHGH just thought should know.

Anonymous said...

So sad when people feel the need to put others down. It seems that the internet has encouraged that a lot with people thinking oh who cares, I'll never need to know or hear of these people again. Good for you tho on doing what you can to rise above it!! Just thought I'd mention too with your hair colour reminded me of Rose McGowan from Charmed haha!! Hope you will continue to rise above the stupidness people may say without ever thinking of the consequences or even caring about that.

Andy said...

Your story is a true inspiration. I can relate to so much in it ,yet it gives me the motivation to continue in my journey and not give up. People say things without thinking twice , they often just say stuff without even mean it. Unfortunately those words can often be very hurtful. We just need to stay strong and positive!

Anonymous said...

Hey! You look great now, I love your hair color and the color of your skin.. You look really pretty in every picture, but you look happier or with a special sparkle in the ones when you are thin, but.. that's ok! You are happy because your accomplishment.

People always have something to say, so do not listen to their comments.
I don't know how old are you now, but the confidence to ignore people, is obtained over the years, with experiences.

The only thing you should care is your family and true friends, if you have one person who really loves you, nothing else matter!

Take care.

P.D I'm not aware of your whole story, but please tell us how did you get so thin!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, simply thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your story. I was a follower of yours on tumblr and indeed you sometimes forget the person that goes behind the transformation. It's really brave of you to share this and I hope you're doing better. Fame is great but nasty at the same time because people feel like they can judge you as negatively and harshly as they want. They hold standards they normally wouldn't hold for people they know irl. It's not fair. It's not kind. Your pictures won't disappear from the internet nor will they stop inspiring others, but I do hope you will no longer be affected by the commentary. Much love and strength for the future, x Leanne

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idahoharmon said...

Great blog. And for the record, I love your red hair and pale skin.....gorgeous

Anonymous said...

Thanks Lona, for oyur very honest and open post about this topic! Health should be the first thing to worry about, and not how to fit in a size 6 dress, anyway. Very inspiring!

Nicole & Greg Fabian said...

I don't know you, but from what I just read and the pictures above, you're clearly beautiful inside and out. :)

AIM4healthymind&body said...

Wow, you are such an amazing woman and an inspiration. Ive only just come across your blog and YOU tonight, and Ive been reading everything that you have written.
I know others have said it, but you really were beautiful before the weight loss. You are still beautiful of course, and now much more healthy Im sure - but those awful comments from people just made my heart bleed for you. You dealt with all of it with grace; you should be proud of yourself.
One thing I do want to ask you though - with the eating disorder do you see a counselor or do any therapy for this? I can see that you are trying to be realistic about food and not restricting etc etc which is great, but Im wondering if you have had or currently seek out professional help.
I ask because I too am a binger and despite having lost weight over the past few months, I have suddenly gone back to being totally sigar addicted and binging in HUGE amounts a couple of times a week. It feels almost like physical pain trying to deal with sugar cravings, it feels insane!!
Do you have any advice? i know you probably get swamped with emails and people wanting replies from you so if i dont hear back thats ok - I really did get a lot out of reading your blog and I thank you for that xxx

Mark Schmitt said...

When the internet trolls talk trash and get you down just remember that they are, in fact, trolls. And they probably live in their parents' basement, 45 years old wearing nothing but dingy "whitey tighteys" and taking bites of a cookie dough log. It's a pretty solid bet that the only women they see are in the internet porn that they have playing in another window of their computer.

Another important thing to remember: those of us at the top are always going to have haters below us.

onekindness said...

I had wondered where you had gone (from tumblr). I loved that you looked so happy, stylish and beautiful in your before pictures as well as your after shots. I viewed you as "having it all together" and actually quite envied that about you but it seems we were going through very similar internal battles. I am sorry that you were treated that way and that it is forever on the internet now. :( I found this piece to be very moving and well written. I wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavors. Perhaps we will run into each other sometime in game play. ;)

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Anonymous said...

I just found this after I went looking for your old Tumblr. This was a great read. Thank you for sharing this - I know it's scary, especially with all of the attention that you have gotten online. I hope you're doing well!

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Anonymous said...

Pfft.... never tie your value to the opinion of others if you can help it. Human stability is too fragile to trust with such a treasure.

I'm just an ordinary guy who was actually trying to find out if a picture saying a girl lost weight because she wanted her loving boyfriend to have a piece of eye candy on his arm(she was 200, then down to probably 130) despite the fact he loved her just the way she was...In my efforts to confirm if that was a true story or not I instead found this.

I will say this, your before and after pictures? You look positively adorable in both of them. Big or small, you're a very attractive person. Don't forget though that beauty is skin deep...what you need to do is make sure you're beautiful INSIDE as well.

Good luck, hopefully the morons who said those stupid hateful things trip and fall on an enormously fat cat or something...and fall in a busy street...of street sweepers...okay maybe not that bad but still fuck em.

Size Zero Patch said...

Losing weight is not always an easy task. It becomes an uphill task for most of the people. But after seeing such an inspirational success stories weight loss seems to be achievable. But it requires proper dedication and emotional support.

E Kenny said...

hey i was just wondering if you know that fake weight loss sites are using your pictures. idk if bc the pictures can be found publicly on tumblr that these sites are allowed to use them similar to how fb uses profile pictures. Anyway, just wanted to let you know that your image is being used by company's so you could take legal action or at least get some money. I have the screen shot, let me know if you need it. Keep up the great work you beautiful nerd you!

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Jamaica King said...

You look amazing, but I think what's even more amazing is what you accomplished and maintained. You are a true inspiration.

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Curvy Clothing said...

Jeez quite a long read but worth it. That is a very honest discussion of the whole weight on off saga. What I found most striking is the comments that people made about you across the web. It really is depressing that someone can sit at their keyboard and pour vitriol on others and for the most part get away with it. It is essentially bullying. Picking on someone who will not or cannot strike back. Hiding behind their cloak of invisibility these people get away with it.

In the UK we have just had a case where a news team hunted down a woman who had written dozens of hate filled rants about a couple who had lost their daughter. When she was 'outed' and began to get the same level of abuse herself she committed suicide. That is not right but something needs to be done so that such casual abuse is reduced.

Satin said...

When I saw your picture, I wanted to find the girl on it and her story. Thank you for sharing, you are an inspiration. And don't mind haters, it's human nature to talk bad about each other when they have nothing nice to say. Don't expect everybody to like you, just remember people who love you at those moments and you'll feel better. Thank you again for the inspiration, you look great!

Dannar said...

Came across your transformation and pictures on Reddit. Your story is an amazing inspiration for many people! Don't let anyone take away what you've accomplished. Your healthy weight loss and change in lifestyle has really been a positive influence on many people. You were always beautiful, it was just hiding in an unhealthy body. Being beautiful isn't about being skinny, it's about being healthy for your frame, for your body type. You are beautiful because you are healthy, not because you are skinny, curvy, fat, big boned, or any other adjective!

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