117. An Eating Disorder Recovery Story ft. Isabel Megale; @isabels.plate

Written By:

Category:

Isabel Megale


Connect with Isabel

📲 Instagram: @isabels.plate

📲 Tiktok: @isabel.megale

Episode Transcript

Ryann

Hey everybody, welcome back to the Food Freedom Lab. We have a new guest with us today to share her story. Extra special guest because I have Isabel with us. And Isabel is my assistant. She’s been working with me since last summer, so August of 2022, depending on when you’re listening to this. And she is, hands down, my right-hand gal. And not only is she amazing in the work that she does, but something that is so special about Isabel is she is also in recovery, and that is obviously very important in the work that I do because it just hits different when somebody can say, you know, I’ve been there, I’ve done that, and now I’m on the other side. And so Isabel is here with us to not only introduce herself, so whenever you hear me saying like, this is for Isabel or this is from Isabel, especially if you’re our client, this is who I’m talking about, but also so you all can hear her story. So Isabel, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today.

Isabel

Hi, Ryann. I’m like beyond excited to be here. When you asked me to come, I was like, no way. Obviously, I’ve listened to your podcast for so long and worked on like behind the scenes on some of your episodes. And so this is just surreal.

Ryann

You get to see how I do it behind the scenes now.

Isabel

Yeah, more back-end stuff.

Ryann

I love it. All right, so I would just love for you to take us like way back to the beginning, like starting with when is the first time that you either viewed your body in a negative way or thought about changing your food when things became problematic, when you realized, hey, this is a problem, and then what you did to pull yourself out of it.

Isabel

Yeah. So my story doesn’t really start, I feel like, at the typical age that it does for most women, which is like high school, early teenage years. For my entire childhood, like growing up, we lived in a very loose household when it came to food. There was no good and bad. There was no negative body talk. Mom was like the typical, quote, healthy mom. She was running and making healthy meals and stuff, but she didn’t try and shove it down her throats or anything. So I grew up not really thinking anything about what I ate or my body, and it just stayed that way throughout high school and the first year of college. So for college, though, after freshman year, that’s where things started to change a little bit. I went to University of North Carolina my freshman year, and being from New York, that was like me totally out of my comfort zone. Everyone was from the same three towns.

They went to the same high school, and I tried the Greek life thing. I ended up not liking that, so I left it, and I just really felt like alone there and I wanted to leave. I decided it was time to transfer, but I had decided too late for my sophomore fall year. So I had missed the deadline to apply for that and I was devastated. At this point, like I wasn’t really going out so much with friends. I mean, friends, I had my one roommate who I would go out with sometimes, but I kind of retracted from that too. And I was just like devastated that I was, that I missed that deadline. So this is when I started to look for some form of control, and control is a huge part of my story. I felt really out of control being in this place I didn’t want to be for who knows how long at this point, just, I went down this spiral of like control. And so that’s when I started to look towards food. It was minor changes at first. It was like, okay, I’m gonna get this snack or choose the healthier option, whatever, small things. And that kind of just carried on the rest of my spring semester.

Then leading into that summer, I worked at a daycare, like a day camp nearby where I was working like a nine to five pretty much. And this is where things went a little bit further. I was still in that state of like out of control. I don’t know what I’m going to do for this next year. I don’t want to go back to Carolina. And so I still was sticking with like controlling food in that way where I would eat breakfast and then like skip lunch this time and like a little step further than before. So having that nine to five kind of like escalated that a little bit because it made it easier to like take shortcuts and like skip this, like go on a walk during this time, whatever. And then My sophomore fall, I went back and I decided that I was going to apply for the spring transfer.

And I knew, okay, I have to stay here for three more months. I just have to get through these three months and I’ll be in and out like good. And at this point, because of what I had done in the freshman spring, where I like retracted myself from social life, I really didn’t have, like I still had my roommate, but she had kind of started doing her own thing. She met new people and I totally understood that, but it just meant a lot more alone time. And this is when I really like took it up a notch. This is where I tried intermittent fasting for the first time, which was the worst decision I could have done for myself. I like to schedule all my classes in the morning. So I was like making rules instead of the, I think it’s 16-8, where it’s like you start eating at 12, you stop eating at 8. Like I saw that on Instagram and I just took it a step further where I was like, okay, I’m going to wait until my last class is done, which is, who knows, like mid-afternoon. And that’s the start of my window. And then I have to be done by 8. So it was the shortened version of the 12 to 8.

And mind you, Carolina is like a huge campus. It’s like the size of a small city. So I was active. I was up and moving, walking like, I didn’t have a tracker this time, but probably over 10,000 steps. I don’t know. I was walking a lot. I was spending a lot of time in the gym at night, like late at night when people were out. I would go to the gym and I was eating not nearly as much as I was supposed to be eating because of this like very restrictive window that I had. And I remember like specifically walking around campus being like I see stars, like it’s light, like my head is not here. And I knew, I felt that consciously, and I just didn’t think that anything was wrong. I was like, okay, I have to get to go home and then go get to lunch, whatever.

And so I would finish classes, go to the dining hall, swipe in, and get the, quote, cleanest option that I could get in this, like, it’s one of those where you swipe it and you have unlimited access to anything, not just like swipe as you go kind of thing. So I would swipe and get a little to go thing of rice, grilled chicken, and like broccoli. And that would be breakfast, lunch, whatever, my first meal. And so once I, I would bring that back to my room, close the door, it was, eating was very private for me. So I would sit in my room, even if my roommate was around, obviously inhale it, because I was starving, and then carry on about my day, counting down until dinner, basically. And dinner would look the same. I’d go to the dining hall, swipe in, get the same thing, and then go home. Sometimes I would let myself have like a cookie or if they had a little dessert option, I would bring it back with me too. And I would eat that all in about 30 seconds in my bed and then wait until, and that had to be before eight o’clock, by the way.

If it wasn’t before eight o’clock, like if it was at 8.01, I guess I can mention this after, but yeah, things would happen if it was after that eight o’clock mark. So I would eat that and then wait until about like 9 30 or 10 and hit up the gym. And I was there until like 11 or something and then I’d go to bed, do it again the next day. And I felt like I was being so healthy. I thought that I was like the epitome of, I have all of this in control. I am so good. I was always like a slimmer build. I think that’s just my natural body type. I used to be super short and slim and then I spiked up and I grew like seven inches and now I was just taller and slim. But I didn’t even realize that I started to lose weight at this time. And I wasn’t really around other people for anyone to notice, like family or close friends or anything.

So yeah, I was just like, this rocks. I’m doing a great job. I’m so good at this. But at the same time that I felt that way, I would have these like complete spikes down where I was like, like what I mentioned, if I ate at 8.01pm, it was like I had committed murder and I needed to like repay for the grave sin that I just committed. And that’s when I would push my eating window back, let’s say another hour the next day or some other consequence like that to punish myself for breaking that rule. I don’t really think at this point that it even become about my body. It was more just so like having that control that I mentioned before. I wasn’t really looking in the mirror and trying to like, at least not consciously, maybe subconsciously, I was thinking like, oh, cool, I lost a little weight, but it wasn’t like the focus of my attention at this point.

It was more just having that control and having something to like basically live for at that time. I was so depressed. Like that was a really dark time for me. And I didn’t share that with anyone, what I was doing or how I felt at all. Because again, there wasn’t really anyone around. I was in North Carolina. Everyone was in New York. My roommate and I weren’t that close anymore. So yeah, that was when things started to get to that level. I transferred my sophomore spring to Boston College, which is where I ended up graduating from. Love BC, love Boston. And my spring semester is when I met some new people. I started making actual friends and like going out.

And that’s when the alcohol came into the picture, which is another huge chunk of me and like this part of my life specifically. I was using alcohol as kind of like a band-aid where I would basically like binge drink. I feel like that’s normalized in college, but like this was my era of binge drinking. Sophomore into junior year, go to parties and go out. Even if I wasn’t going to parties, we were staying in the apartment, like I would take it too far. And it was because I wanted an excuse to eat, I think, honestly, like I wanted the excuse to be like, oh, I can have the pizza, like I’m drunk, whatever, or along those lines. And I also just wanted to not think about the food at the same time, because those thoughts were running on a constant loop during the day.

And then when you go out at night, it’s just like, let loose, have fun, have the pizza, go to bed. And so at this point, I did notice my body start to change, and I started to regain some of that weight that I had lost before. And this is, I think, when it became about my body, because I wasn’t in that place where it was like, I need to control my life, like, what’s happening. I felt so out of control at Carolina. And now it was like, okay, I’m at the place I want to be, but now my body’s changing. I don’t like that. And I was trying to stick to the routine that I had before. Couldn’t do it with my new class schedule with my friends. Now I wasn’t by myself all the time. So this is when I started to like push the exercising a lot more and just try to I had to shift my intermittent fasting schedule, where I would eat early in the morning, hold out until whenever, like dinner time.

And I just picked up running. Like I started running out of nowhere. I’ve never been a runner in my life. I never tried it before. And I’d be like, okay, I’m going on an eight mile run today. And I would do it. And I did it basically like, not every day, but like multiple times a week, way more than I should have been doing because I wanted to burn off the drinks, the pizza, whatever I had had, even if it was just going out to lunch with my new friends at the dining hall. It felt like it was quote, like too much. Everything I was doing was way too much and I needed to get back to what I was doing before. And I actually remember this is now like, like I said, sophomore into junior year, this is how it was. And I remember my junior fall, my two girlfriends that I was living with in this house, one of them actually did have an eating disorder herself and she was in recovery for that just starting.

And so we were trying to be very helpful and helping her in any way we could. But my other girlfriend and I were like 100% into the diet, like, paleo, we’re going to be paleo this week, week, sorry. We’re going to be paleo this week. We’re going to be vegan this week. We’re going to be whatever. And we just started going down that whole rabbit hole. And my girlfriends told me, like, after nights out, I would come home and bawl my eyes out. I don’t remember stuff like this. I would bawl my eyes out about my body and tell them, like, I can’t believe, like, this is what I’m, like, I just, you know, pour out everything that I was thinking about my body. I would pour that out to them. And I would wake up and be like, I did what? Like, that’s crazy. I did not say that. I don’t know what she’s talking about. Kind of just like trying to backtrack. And it was just a really vicious cycle at that point of going out, feeling so guilty for whatever I had consumed, whether it was from the party or from before the party, whatever, just this immense guilt and then trying to work off whatever I had consumed.

And yeah, it was just a really vicious cycle of that. And I didn’t think, again, that I had a problem, even though I was sobbing to my friends about my body at this point. We go into junior spring, I moved into a new house with new girls that I hadn’t met before. We weren’t friends, but we just signed up for this lease. And they were all very sweet. We would try and do like little pizza nights and get to know each other. Obviously, I didn’t love the food situation. Like, they really wanted to bond over food. And I was like, nope, I will make it with you, but I’m not going to participate in the eating part. Or I already had, I would say like, I already had my snack plate for lunch.

Like that, even saying snack plate is as a meal, I’m like, oh my God. But I was known as like the fit girl in the house for sure. I was the fit friend. And so when I would say like, I’m having my snack plate, they were like, oh cool. Like they just knew me as that identity. And so then COVID hit that March and we all got sent home, obviously. And this is when I was kind of like, oh shit, like what am I going to do to work out? Like I’m not going to have the gym. I’m not going to be able to even go on a run or, you know, at that point it was running. That was like my exercise of choice. So I started to panic a little bit and I reverted back to that UNC eating schedule where I would push out as long as I could. And I already knew what I was having for my lunch and dinner and then my like little sweet treat at the end of the night. It was very plant to a tea and I didn’t stray from it. I remember thinking also like I would wait until 12, let’s say to have my meal and I would inhale it.

And then around like two o’clock I was thinking, oh my gosh, I’m hungry again. Like what is wrong with me? Like I could do this before. Like why am I struggling with this now? I was so good at this. And at this time, I picked up doing like the online workouts, like Pilates.

Ryann

I know, is it Chloe Chang?

Isabel

I didn’t do that one, but like along those lines of video at home. And this is when my family started to pick up on things because we were in the same place 24 hours a day. I lived with my mom and sister in the same apartment and my dad lives about five minutes away. So we would bop around and see him when COVID started to open up, like things started to open up. But for the most part, it was my mom and sister that kind of picked up on like, okay, Isabel is super strict about this, this, this, whatever. And Isabel has to do at least this amount of exercise before.

And like, they would pick up on things. And I remember my mom approaching me about it a few times, but like the first time she did it, I exploded at her. I like, I was ready to go to war and I just gaslit her. I was like, you don’t know what you’re talking about, mom. Like, do you even read like what this is? This is good for you. I just started to like throw all these things at her in defense. And again, at this time I didn’t realize that anything was wrong. I thought that she was wrong and that I was doing all the right things. And she kind of backed off, I think because of my explosive reaction. And I just kept doing what I was doing. I was way over exercising, not eating enough, nearly. And I did, this is an important part too, I think, but I don’t know where it really goes in. I got birth control put in when I was 18. And so my period was very irregular from the start.

But I think at this point, it was like my period was just not anything. And I didn’t think twice. I was like, oh, it’s the IUD or the birth control, whatever. So yeah, again, keep going. I didn’t have a, I didn’t have a problem. I was doing all the right things. Oh, this is important too. I had my Instagram at this point as well. I picked up my Instagram back in my sophomore year with those two girlfriends that I lived with in the house and we would share our paleo vegan, whatever healthy eating recipes. And so I was using my Instagram since sophomore year for that purpose though, for sharing the recipes of, you know, my healthy life.

And so at this point, flash forward back to where we are, COVID in my apartment, I’m using my Instagram and I start to realize that I have an issue. This is like leading into my senior year of college. So this is like summer before senior year. I realized, OK, maybe I’m not feeling so great. I kind of don’t like I just had all these hesitations slowly build up where I was like, okay, this kind of sucks. Like I don’t really like doing all this all the time. And it felt uncomfortable, but I didn’t think that it was like, I need to go talk to mom about this. And so I took a long break from the Instagram just at this point, I was not on it. And right, like two weeks before I left for senior year, I was like, okay, maybe it is time to talk to mom. Maybe I do need to get some help. I honestly don’t know what sparked that in me to like say, let’s talk to mom, but I didn’t, spoiler. I left for college, never telling my family, and I got to school and I lived with two of my best friends now in an off-campus apartment.

And we all had our own rooms, which was so sick for so many reasons. But at the time I was like, oh, this is so sick. I can like work out anytime I want and eat in my room anytime I want again, like no one can bother me. Coming from the COVID house to like this, it was so awesome. So that’s exactly what I did. I like woke up early and I was always working out. I had to work out X amount of time before I was able to eat. I kind of like let go of the IF strict hours, but my meals became super, I mean, they always were very controlled and restrictive, but they became even more where I was like, okay, I can eat at this time, but it has to be this. And it was not enough, not a breakfast. It was like an apple and peanut butter. And that would be like, I have to have this.

So I was waking up early, forcing movement, like for who knows how long in the morning and then eating and then doing remote class, having a lunch, which was not really a lunch. And then going on like a long walk. I had my tracker at this time, so I was walking like 25,000 steps a day. We had this reservoir across the street, which was so beautiful, and I wish I could go back there right now, but it’s like a huge, I think it was like one point something miles, and I would just walk it for hours and hours and hours. And my roommates, like everyone was doing their own thing, like they had class, they were doing clubs, whatever. No one thought like, where’s Isabel for these couple hours. I was like, oh, this is great. I have my alone time again. And that was not the best, obviously, in terms of eating disorder stuff. So yeah, I would go on those long, long walks, probably multiple times a day. I would do like an afternoon session and then I would do a night session after I ate dinner, which was not dinner.

And at this point, I, these girls now are my best friends, but I also really prioritized all this other stuff, obviously. So I would prioritize all this other stuff involving food and body and exercise. And I kind of like took the back seat and it felt like I was watching them get super close when I wanted that too. I mean, looking back on it now, again, they’re my best friends, but looking back on it, I was like, I was choosing these other things like food and controlling how much I moved as like, as opposed to prioritizing, getting to know these girls who are so awesome and so lovely and my best friends. So that was all in the fall, about like three weeks or so, maybe like the first month into being back at school. I, this was like, you talk about a switch flipping. This was my moment.

I was, you know, I did my normal routine. I was up, I was doing my forced exercise in the morning, and I remember I was in the middle of doing like a yoga pose. I don’t even know the name. And I just bursted into tears. I, out of nowhere, this was not like I was thinking about anything. I was just, I just started crying and crying and crying. And I was like, what is going on? Like, I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m so over this. And like, that was my moment that I was done and I didn’t know how to fix it. But I was like, I need to talk to someone. Like I need to tell mom at least, because that switch just totally flipped for me in that moment. It’s funny how you can like look back and say, this is the moment that that happened, like so specific to the point that I was like, I was doing a yoga pose at like 7.30 on a Tuesday.

So I picked up the phone and I called my mom and I was like, mom, I don’t know how to go about this, but I really am struggling. Like, I don’t know what to do about food and exercise. I’m really, really struggling with my relationship with that. And she was like, Issa, we know. We have been able to see, and we haven’t been able to get through to you. But yeah, we know. And so that was a little bit of a relief, but I obviously took the defense. I was like, what do you mean you knew? But yeah, so that was the first phone call, talking about it. And I talked to my dad about it too. And from there, I started seeing a ED therapist in Boston. It was very like, I went into it being like, I don’t think this is going to work. Like, this is not, what is she going to be able to tell me? But I was still willing to go. So I went and it was in person and we started and it was fine. It shifted to online and I wasn’t fully loving it. I would leave the sessions not really feeling any different or like I learned anything new, which I don’t know if that was like me being resistant or if that was her, I don’t know. I don’t really know. I just left feeling that way.

And so I quit. I finished up with the therapy in February, I think, or maybe January. Okay, this is also an important part. After my senior fall, I spent most of my spring semester at home. I went back for Christmas and I was like, I’m really, really, really struggling. I cannot be away from home. I just decided that for myself, even though I had felt this connection with the other girls and I wanted to get super close to them, I didn’t feel like I was in a place to be on my own. So I spent most of my semester at home in the spring, quit therapy, and I just kind of like sunk into this like depressive state where I had no motivation to do anything. I was barely doing school. I didn’t care about friends or anything really. I just was like a zombie, walking zombie, living with my mom at this point, because my sister was still at school at this time. So, senior spring, I would go back and forth to Boston sometimes because I wanted to see my friends and I wanted to connect with them more.

So, I would go see my girlfriends, especially leading up to graduation. I would go back a lot more. And at this point, I was still eating super restricted. I hadn’t really made any attempt to change anything. I just knew that I had an issue and my mom made me go to the doctor and I got diagnosed with an eating disorder, which I don’t think, I mean, we knew that before, like before going to the doctor, but progressions like that happened, but nothing of me being like, okay, I’m actually going to make changes now. Okay, so graduation happens, I go back for grad, had a great time, you know, I actually was able to let loose with food and like enjoy the drinks without going too crazy. I mean, that’s a little bit of a stretch, but like it was grad week. I was having fun.

I was enjoying my time with my friends. Also, this is the year that like laxatives and other purging took place. So like that winter period when I was just in that low depressive state, even though I already knew that I had an issue, but like that’s when I tried laxatives for the first time. I only did that like a few times. I was never really able to purge besides exercise if that counts. But like there had been times over the years where I tried the traditional, but nothing was ever quote like successful. I was never able to fully do it, but I tried. And then, like I said, laxatives was this year that I had tried to do that. So I graduated, I’m back home in the summer, and this is like the turning point for me, part two, like a second turning point where I was like, okay, I’m actually ready to like take on recovery and make these changes because I’m so sick of A, being that zombie state and B, like, I don’t want to be controlled by food anymore. I’m just so over it.

And so this is the point where I just kind of did like all in in a way, if like you’ve seen that on social media. I didn’t do like the full Stephanie Buttermore all in. I wish I did, but I couldn’t. So I just like challenged myself to start like with little things like, okay, let’s eat three meals a day. How about that? Like something so basic, like eating three meals a day, eating the sandwich, little things that kind of added up over time. And looking back at my camera roll at this time, I did that recently, it’s so many bagels. It’s so many like specific foods, like the specific bagel order or the specific like sandwich order a million times because I’d not had it for so long. And it was so nice to be able to have it again. I was like, I’m getting it every single day and I never got sick of it. So yeah, I was really challenging myself every day. I’m surprised that I didn’t go back to therapy, like to see anyone at this point, but I honestly didn’t feel like I needed to. I felt like I was making strides, like whether they were big or small on my own every day. And I had the support of my family, obviously, and my friends, which was beyond helpful.

So yeah, that was during the summer. I started like lifting weights and I felt stronger. I honestly probably should have taken a little break from exercise, but I didn’t at this time. I like dialed it back a lot, but I just kind of like shifted it in a way. But yeah, if I could go back and change something, maybe that would be it. Like adding a longer or any sort of rest period. But yeah, this summer I was eating a lot more, breaking food fears, like working against that and my body did change this time again because I was doing all these things. My body started to change. I have a lot of photos of me crying and throwing away old clothes and going through that whole process. But looking back on it now, I’m like, thank God you did that. That needed to happen. And looking back, what did that even do? You gained, okay, you gained some weight and your body changed, but look at where you are now. Like, so worth it. I digress. So my body started to change.

I was eating more and I just started to feel a lot more like relaxed and free. Obviously there were times where I’d be like, oh my God, what did I just eat? Like I would have these freak out moments where I would need to like cry or I would need to let it out in some other way, a healthy form of releasing your emotions. But for the most part, it was like a steady incline where I was like, okay, things are getting easier, things are getting better. And so that was summer of 2021. That brings us to like basically where we are now. I feel like since that summer, things have just gotten so much easier. I still have my moments sometimes where I have that voice and I have to kind of work through it, but it has gotten again, so much easier. I can hear it and separate that voice from my own voice and realize that’s not me talking. I know that that’s an irrational thought or that’s an irrational desire to do something.

I can separate myself from that and I know that I don’t have to do that and I’ll be totally fine because I did that before and I was totally fine. So yeah, I’ve just learned a lot from it and I’m really grateful. Honestly, like it sucked. It was so, so shitty, but like the relationship I have with food and my body now is just so much better than even before all of this even started, like when I was in high school and I didn’t even think of my body. Like this is better where I’m at least like conscious of it and I am grateful for it and I appreciate what it does for me every day. Whereas in high school, I was like, whatever, like body who cares, like I don’t, I hope that makes sense. But yeah, that’s pretty much my story. I took off the fitness tracker for good. Like, that was one of my recent wins. Recent, it was like last year, but still. No more trackers, just listening to my body. And yeah, I think that’s pretty much it.

Ryann

Thank you so much for sharing that. There’s so much of that that I relate to, I think. The biggest thing that not a lot of people talk about that should really be talked about more is that like epic defending of the eating disorder. Like, oh my God, the just anger that I used to elicit when anybody said anything that I had a problem, like the denial where it’s like, what?

Isabel

It literally turned me, I mean, I’m sure it turns like everyone into like a master liar, master manipulator. I wouldn’t even think twice about lying about something. Like, where were you at this time? If I was like out on a walk or like at the gym when no one knew, where were you at this time? Oh, I was like at so-and-so’s house. Like, I remember you saying that in your story, actually. Like, you would say you were babysitting, but actually you were doing whatever. Like, it turns you into a liar. And on the defense, like this anger comes out of nowhere and like, you just lose that like your personality of like fun bubbly happy and you’re so serious all the time.

Ryann

I’m curious with that because I know that a lot of people mention to me like Ryann you’re so different like how did you like turn into this like confident person and I’m like it’s just that like the eating disorder sucked everything away from me this has always been my personality do you feel the same?

Isabel

Absolutely I I mean ever since I could talk I have been like the biggest chatterbox. Like, I don’t even know how long that just took me to speak. I just love to talk. My family has always told me, like, Isabel’s always chatty and bubbly and like outgoing. And then obviously during this time, that was all taken away. I feel like even when I was trying to get to know my roommate, that was taken away because I wasn’t outgoing or chatty or bubbly with them. And that’s why I feel like maybe they’re getting closer than I can get to them. No, that didn’t make sense. But like, they’re getting so close and like, I just don’t have the energy to even do that. Like, I don’t have the chattiness in me anymore. And then as like time has gone on and I feel like at this point, my personality has came back.

Ryann

When you said my, like my identity was fitness, like I was the fitness gal, like everybody knew me as the fitness gal because it is so easy to disguise this in the name of fitness and health, right? So when you were healing your relationship with food, what was it like for you to redefine that identity?

Isabel

Yeah, I didn’t like it. I loved being the fit friend. Another thing that I was really into was like the tracking and like using my fitness pal. And I was like, talk to my friends about that too. I would, you know, talk about the calories and the macros and stuff. And so not having that side anymore, I was like, okay, so I actually do need to like, think about other things that I enjoy and other things that make me happy. Obviously that didn’t make me happy, but like just rediscover like kind of what lights me up.

Ryann

Yeah.

Isabel

So that I could like make connections with other people based on those things, as opposed to being the fit friend. Because I’ve also realized that when it comes down to it, like they didn’t care that I was fit. Like it wasn’t like, they weren’t like, oh, we’re friends with Isabel because she’s the fit girl. Like no one thought about it like that, except me maybe. But yeah, so coming up with like, not coming up with, just realizing like new hobbies that I had and new passions and being able to connect with other people with that was hard at first, but it happened.

Ryann

I was gonna ask if you were a tracker. So how did you let go of those numbers, not only just like deleting my fitness pal and the exercise tracking, but what about what helped you with mental tracking?

Isabel

That is, that was like one of the hardest things because when you read a label so many times, like it’s automatic, it’s like literally imprinted in your brain, like picking up anything at the supermarket. So I definitely, when I deleted the app, I don’t even remember when I deleted the app, honestly. But I deleted it. I remember still keeping track in my notes. So it didn’t really do anything. I was still keeping track on my phone. I slowly fizzled out of that because I was like, that’s just hurting you, Isabel. Like, you know that that’s not good. So I stopped doing that. But then, of course, my brain still works. So I was like using mental math and like things like that. And I think just over time, like kind of zooming out as things got better.

And as I grew, I would still remember those numbers, but it just didn’t mean so much anymore where I was like, okay, so I know that this has X amount of calories, but like, who cares? Like at this point, I’m not at the point where that’s gonna, you know, make or break my mood if I eat this or make or break my day, whatever. Like I just reached a point where it doesn’t matter to me what the number is. So I can know it, but like it doesn’t have any power over me anymore.

Ryann

Yeah, yeah, I love how you say, you know, I acknowledged that that number was still happening, but I kind of just made things matter more. And I know you hear me talk about this all the time in group where I feel like it’s so unrealistic to be like, just don’t think about it or to just not care, but it’s way more realistic to be like, okay, but what matters more? Well, me enjoying this meal with my friends and my family and being present and being healthy, even though I may still have that thought.

Isabel

Yeah, definitely. Like, even today, like, if I pick up something and like, I know, okay, this has the X calories in it, but I’d rather have the peanut butter with my oatmeal because it tastes so much better.

Ryann

Yeah. You didn’t mention anything about this. So let me know if I’m overstepping because I know you, but I’m curious, where does your boyfriend fall into this? Did he know you when you were on the restrictive side or after and does he, like, how did you tell him about this if he didn’t?

Isabel

Yeah, so John, his name is John. John and I first started dating my freshman year. Like we went to high school together. So we started dating freshman year of college before things started getting bad for me. And we were long distance, so he didn’t see me. He didn’t really know anything about my relationship with food at this time. Then we broke up. I think that may honestly be part of the reason that things escalated sophomore year, because I was like, and I’m single too. And so we weren’t really in communication for a lot of the time that I was doing a lot of these things. Like we would see each other sometimes, but not that close. He did come across my Instagram.

He revealed this to me. He came across my Instagram after I had come out on there saying that I’m in recovery. And so he knew, but we weren’t talking at this time, which is weird. But then we got back together winter of 2021. And I was like, I should tell you something. And I just left it so like, I need to tell you something like dangling over his head. Cause I knew I needed to say it cause it was a big part of my life. I felt nervous about it and I didn’t know that he had seen my Instagram already, where I’m so open about that. So we sat down and I was like, I just told him basically everything I told you. And it was really good. He told me that he saw my Instagram. He told me that he already had an idea, but he didn’t want to push it out of me.

And so glad that we could talk about it now, all these things. And now he’s just like the most supportive boyfriend ever when it comes to things like this, like challenging me when he knows that I can use that push but not like, you know, shoving me into it, like over the line kind of pushing. So yeah, that’s where he falls into it. It was a weird because we broke up and we were together before that whole thing.

Ryann

So he was kind of with you, I mean through bits and pieces of it, but saw both sides, I guess?

Isabel

Yeah, yeah, basically, yeah.

Ryann

If anybody is listening to this and they’re like on the restrictive side, haven’t quite fallen into binge eating, and are like I want to recover and at the same time I’m so afraid of my body changing and like what that is going to mean. What words would you have for them?

Isabel

I mean I feel like right off the bat my mantra in general that applies to this is all discomfort is temporary. Like that is what I repeated to myself with every thought basically when I was like that summer when I first saw my body start to change. Not first, but when I saw my body start to change. Just repeating that discomfort is temporary and like whatever I’m feeling right now is going to pass. Like no feeling good or bad is forever. So the change that I’m feeling right now that I’m going through right now is not going to last forever. And I really used that when it came to like the physical discomfort of my body changing as well as the mental and it worked.

The more you repeat it, the more you start to believe it and you actually start to realize like, okay, that time passed, like whether it was a day or a week, like, okay, it finished, it’s over. So, yeah, I feel like when your body does start to change or if you’re scared of your body changing, just knowing that anything you feel during that time is temporary is so soothing because it can be so daunting being like, oh my god, I just opened this can of worms and it’s gonna be like this forever and like I’m never gonna have this control again or I’m never gonna feel comfortable in my body again. Like, no, all of that settles out on its own and it’s just, you just have to wait for it to pass.

Like, keep doing the work and wait for it to pass. I love that because I think it is really important because obviously this work is uncomfortable and it’s hard and you have to face that but it does dissipate as you start to realize as you said earlier the other things you’re gaining.

Ryann

Yeah, yeah

Isabel

You gain so much and you realize like I was okay like after that scary thing happened I was okay so not only is it temporary but you end up being fine even if the voice in your head tells you otherwise.

Ryann

Yes, so in honor of the food freedom lab what does food freedom mean to you?

Isabel

Oh my gosh, I feel like food freedom is like gaining back like what we just said, everything in life that is not food or body related. Like having the mental space to focus on other things besides food and body and like connect with others based on other things besides food and body. Like just not having food and body be the center, epicenter of your life because that’s what it is when you’re, you know, living like this, everything revolves around that. And so food freedom is like being able to like live your life without that and being like you are at the epicenter instead of food.

Ryann

Yes. Oh my gosh, Isabel, if anybody is looking to connect with you, chat with you, see your Instagram, where can they find you?

Isabel

So on Instagram, I’m at isabels.plate with a period in between. So Isabel’s period plate. And that’s where I have like the bulk of my eats, my food. I love making it look pretty. So if you need like breakfast, especially breakfast inspo, but any meal, it’s there. And then I just branched out into TikTok, as you know. We’re working on TikTok together. We are like tackling that together. It is a totally different animal, but feel free to check me out on TikTok at Isabel.megale my last name. So yeah, those are my two platforms as of now.

Ryann

She is also starting to post recipes on my blog. So if you pop over to the blog and you wanna see some of her recipes kind of written out and also a printable version, pop over there because we are going to be growing that as well.

Isabel

So yeah, that has been so fun, by the way.

Ryann

Good! I’m glad.

Isabel

I’ve loved it because I can just like fire it to other…

Ryann

But it is nice to have just like a resource for that and a space to have those.

Isabel

Yeah, and I feel like I want to keep it like a nice balance between like a balanced breakfast and like a muffin. Or, you know, like best of both worlds, like not just the, you know, quote, healthy, balanced meals, like any, anything you want, if you want to bake, you want to make like tacos.

Ryann

Yes, yes. So we have a lot of things in the works. Isabel is going to be helping me with so many fun things coming up this year and just moving forward. But that is one of our big projects right now. But I am so incredibly excited to have you on my team. I mean, forever grateful. But thank you again for taking the time. I mean, it just means so much to hear you be so vulnerable, but also to be able to have you in this space to be like, yeah, Isabel gets it. She really gets it.

Isabel

Yeah, I do get it. But I really appreciate you and everything that you’ve done for me. Like working for you hasn’t even felt like a job, like it’s the best. This is like the most fun I’ve ever had working, ever. So, and the most fun I’ve been about work.

Ryann

I’m so glad, I’m so glad. I regularly tell Grayson I’m like, I need to make sure it’s her best job so that she never leaves me.

Isabel

No, check, you checked that off a while ago, don’t worry.

Ryann

Good, good, well, thank you for coming on. For anybody that is an active client that is going to be working with me. This is Isabel. She is my right-hand gal, and we are here supporting you along. So thank you, Isabel. And I’ll have all of her socials linked in the notes below.

Isabel

Thank you so much for having me again. This was so fun.

Ryann Nicole

Licensed Therapist, Certified Nutritionist, and Virtual Wellness Coach

Ryann is a licensed therapist and virtual wellness coach who has assisted individuals worldwide in establishing a healthier relationship with food and their bodies.

Are You Ready to Heal Your Relationship With Food? 

I understand—it can be overwhelming to figure out where to begin. Let's simplify things and have you start right here:

Why Am I Overeating?

First Steps To Stop Binge Eating 

The Food Freedom Lab Podcast

FREE QUIZ

FREE GUIDE

Podcast

the food freedom lab podcast

Ryann is a licensed therapist and virtual wellness coach who has assisted individuals worldwide in establishing a healthier relationship with food and their bodies.