This past week I revealed the only skeleton I have ever kept in my closest. I was recording a podcast with my amazing friends Abel from Fat Burning Man and Kaleigh from The Paleo Angel. We were discussing Intermittent Fasting and body image issues at length due to some complications Kaleigh had experienced. During the end of the podcast, for the first time, I revealed that I have struggled with bulimia for the past 12 years and have never told ANYONE. Shortly after sharing this on the podcast, I had the amazing pleasure of recording a very intimate podcast with one of the most compassionate and caring human beings I have ever met, Stefani Ruper from Paleo for Women. In conversation, I had shared with Stefani my struggles and she wanted to talk to me about it. I trust her and felt comfortable to share, so we dedicated an entire podcast to my issues, as well as body image issues in men and women and within certain communities like Crossfit. If you would like to listen you can find that HERE.
For my amazing friends and family that have always been there for me, please understand that the reasons you did not know had nothing to do with you. I love and cherish every one of you with my entire being. This was something I struggled with alone, and therefore wanted to attempt to remedy alone. I ask that you please support me and respect my decisions, and support me from this moment forward on spreading a positive message and using my experience to help others get healthy and love themselves.
There are many things about my past that I think contributed to what lead me to this struggle. I am not going to look for a sob story, but I was not the most popular kid growing up. The first time I ever purged was sophomore year of high school. It is one of the clearest memories of my life. I managed to muster the courage to ask someone to a formal dance. That was huge for me. I went to the store to get fitted for my suit, but I was timid and just going through the motions. The immature asshole helping me was having trouble finding pants to fit me that matched the jacket size. He was making it loudly obvious that I was an inconvenience and my weight was an issue. It was the longest hour of my life. I had to try on multiple pairs of pants and with every pair, came a comment to go with it. I remember acting like nothing had happened the whole time driving home. This was the most dangerous part. This is where the slippery slope started. I cried for HOURS that night when I got home.
I hated myself!
I hated my family life!
I hated everything about my existence!
I snuck downstairs to the bathroom at around midnight and for the first time ever, I forced myself to purge. I had not even eaten dinner that night because I was so upset, so there was nothing to get rid of. Even so, I felt like it made me skinnier because I was in control and it would work.
As anyone with this disorder will tell you(that I have personally known), it’s a rollercoaster. I had weeks, sometimes MONTHS of consistently purging and also then years where I was able to fight the urges.
Shame was my motivating force.
At the height of it, during 2005, I exhibited symptoms of anorexia as well as bulimia for 6 straight months. I had just had my final surgery out of 5 on my legs, and I was at my heaviest weight, around 250lbs. This was the dark hour for me. For six months, I was alone in my barracks room. Sometimes 2-3 weeks without seeing anyone. I would sit in my wheelchair and stare at myself in the mirror.
I would PUNCH MYSELF in the stomach while crying because I was so depressed!
I would go three days without eating, and then eat an entire pizza and purge it up 10 minutes later. To be honest, I am surprised I am still alive for how low my depression was. I really saw no light anywhere.
One of the biggest episode triggers I dealt with was the loss of ability to participate in anything fitness related. I WAS SO CONCERNED WITH BODY IMAGE, I would violently spin out of control. The other triggers were always social events, big ones. Every time I had to participate in anything that required me to wear a dress uniform, or suit, I would dread going to a tailor. I had flashbacks of that day of my sophomore year so I avoided it the most I could. There were also the simple things like my negative body image when I was in the gym or at the beach. Even being tickled caused negative thoughts and a downward spiral.
It is so rarely talked about and mostly avoided to maintain some macho complex. Well guess what, F$#K THAT! I am a man, I HAD body issues, I WAS bulimic, I HAVE emotions and I am going to SHARE them with the world. I want to share this with you in the hopes that this may reach even just one person. I’ll know then that I did my job.
I spent so many years of my life feeling inadequate. Throughout my life I believed the only way people would value me was if I gave every ounce of myself. Problem was, I would often come across as an egotistical asshole while I tried too hard to hide my secret. I was misjudged because I was too busy crying on the inside to be myself and ask for help.
Those days are behind me!!!
This part is the hardest for me, mainly because I know I am past these demons but it is very fresh for me. The last time that I forced myself to purge was in March of this year. I was competing in the Crossfit Opens and I broke my right hand. Once I was injured and unable to perform at the standards I had created for myself, it forced me to spiral back down the dark path. I was also getting ready to head to PaleoFx and meet all of my Paleo idols for the first time. I started to doubt myself and I was convinced I would be judged solely on my physical appearance. Once that ball started rolling, it just didn’t stop.
Once I was there though, I met so many amazing people who just loved me and I was so supported. Strangers, online friends, and friends I already had, were gracious and encouraging on all I was working on and trying to do. Not once, did anyone ever say anything to me about the way I looked. Not once did any of them ask about my crossfit abilities. It forced some self-reflection and I realized that if all of these people I didn’t even know treated me with dignity and respect, why would the people closest to me ever do that? They must not care either how many pull-ups I can do, or how fast I can run a mile, or whether I have a 2 pack, 4 pack, 6 pack or Keg.
They are going to love me and support me.
Even though I reflected, and I mentally had beaten my demons, I was still not ready to tell anyone. I had the mindset that because it was always only my battle, that since I conquered it, no one else needed to know. Until one night this past summer, I was attending the Ancestral Health Symposium. I did not have any anxiety leading up to or during the event for any fears of judgments from others (this was huge for me). I ventured out to a bar in downtown Boston with my friend Abel and my new friend Stefani (remember these two from earlier? See a connection yet?). It was 1 am, and the three of us were socializing about websites, goals, dreams, drive, and visions. After a few NorCal margaritas, Abel asked me why I push so hard and do what I do for others. In response he got a 12-year synopsis of my entire history. He showed so much compassion and love for someone he had barely known, it finally clicked with me that I was almost ready to share this part of my story. I will thank Abel in a later post, but for your reference, he is now my Best friend, business partner, and the man who asked the right question to save my life.
Here are my thoughts on what I have learned through this journey. I hope that they may help you or someone you know in any way:
- Write “it” down. Admit it to yourself. Putting it on paper makes it real.
- Tell someone. Accountability is something some of us struggle with and telling a friend or family what your plans are will help keep you on track
- DON’T be afraid to admit your struggles and tell someone you need help
- Being proud should be saved for another time. Your true friends and family are going to love you for you and support you regardless
- LOVE YOURSELF. When you wake up in the morning every day, think of 3 positive things that you love about yourself and write them on something. Put them on a post it and put it on your mirror. This may sound cheesy, but that sets the tone of your entire day. Positive thinking breeds positive results.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. The small stuff were my tipping factors until I learned that even if my car breaks down, or I get a flat tire, or I have a bad day at work, that I am still alive and able to influence this world in a positive manner. Always be the optimist in every situation. There truly are two sides to every story and I want you to be the positive side.
My name is George Bryant.
I suffered with Bulimia and body image issues for 12 years!!
I am a man and there is no shame in admitting I needed help!!
Here is my promise: I beat this and will remain strong and love myself from this point on. I will lead by example and do my best to guide others on the same!!
I can not give you any medical advice on how to address your problems legally. This post describes what I learned and how I overcame it. If you or someone you know needs help, check out these resources below:
**If you chose not to leave a comment, but you would still like to talk to me, You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I promise I will read it**
There are a lot of people struggling with issues, some will open up and some are not ready, but reading this could benefit them all. Please share and let’s make a difference!!