Written By: Alex Viada
*The following is inspired by a post shared by Alex Viada on his personal Facebook page. The below has been edited slightly from its original content.*
Well, I found it. Not a terribly easy thing to post here. I’ve talked in the past a few times about issues with eating disorders personally, and decided I would dig this up to remind myself.
I think a lot of folks tend to see my fairly snarky approach to what I view as “overly clean” eating, measuring food, sacrificing for the win, all that other silliness… and it’s not meant to mock those who have serious goals that they work hard for. I’ve been there, I guess, more than most. I remember when I gained a lot of weight in college, then had a turnaround moment when I was tired of being portly (I’d gained 80 pounds) and out of shape. So, I turned all my dedication towards losing as much weight as possible and towards finding something that I could just blow everyone else away at.
I would eventually find the ultimate self-control, a level of personal mind over body that nobody could match. I started to look down at people who didn’t have the dedication to do what I did, who didn’t have the drive. I couldn’t fathom not living this lifestyle, not relishing that empty belly feeling I had every night, and not feeling that familiar weakness at the top of every flight of stairs that reminded me that I was burning away all that worthless fat. I took DNP, the old Ripped fuel, 1-2 grams of coke a day, and was down to about 150-200 calories a day.
It had nothing to do with magazines, or media portrayals, or of the other crap that people parade about. That shit was for the weak minded, right? This had to do with me. This had to do with me being the best I could be at, and something that nobody could ever take away from me. People didn’t think my goals were healthy? Bah, giving anything your 100% all is unhealthy to an extent. Something’s eventually going to kill us all, right?
This might sound familiar to some, though it might not. In this picture I was 148 pounds. 5 pounds later I ended up in the hospital, so weak I couldn’t control my own bowel movements. I told nobody about this. The damage was long lasting. I had lost my girlfriend of nearly four years, I trashed my endocrine system, and I had almost dropped out of college. I had a hard road back. I binged. I gained slabs of weight. I hated the person I was then, and I hated the person I was becoming. My identity was totally shaken.
I finally did discover what it was like to rebuild. It was in that first moment I really picked up a weight, to think about actually building myself up rather than tearing myself down. Though every now and then, the old horror creeps back. I catch myself totaling up calories in my head. I squeeze a nonexistent love handle and temporarily want to tear it off my body. Hell, even building can be an obsession. That same drive and determination to be exceptional can result in as equally an ignominious and horrible end. You never recover from these things.
All you can do is see them coming.
So my message is, and always has been to do what you will, do it well, be the best you can be. But be good to yourself. Don’t go down the road I did. Ever.