Benny's Story: guys can have body image issues, too
I’m SO excited to share this super special story with you!!
While most of the people I work with happen to be girls and women, I do in fact get a chance to work with a lot of guys, too. And this is one of those cases. Yes, guys deal with disordered eating, exercise addiction, and body image issues just like girls do. The thing is, this isn’t talked about as much with guys as it is with girls, but the truth is, it happens and it’s more common than you might think..
So, I want you guys to meet one of my best buddies, Benny.
Benny’s story is pretty similar to a lot of others of you out there, I’m sure. He didn’t want to have an eating disorder or have issues with food, it actually happened pretty innocently.
One day, while out on a jog with one of his close friends, he noticed that he wasn’t as “good” of a runner as she was. Granted, he wasn’t even a big runner to begin with, but by comparing himself to her (who made it seem effortless), he felt “out of shape” and bad about himself. Therefore, he started thinking he should start running more often to get in better shape. So, he did. Likewise, they made a pact to stop all the junk food and only eat healthy food. Sounds pretty virtuous, right?
Well, while he had good intentions, these thoughts started to spiral out of control.
The original plan was just to start exercising more and eating healthier, but this soon turned into writing down every single thing he ate, eating very little for lunch, staying out of the kitchen at home so he wouldn’t have to be tempted by his “hunger,” hating the feeling of food in his stomach, and he started to lose weight (even though he didn’t need to, he was TOTALLY normal and healthy before). He had lost 15 pounds in 3 weeks…
Not too long after, the binging started.
*And like I always say, MOST of the time, binging is preceded by some sort of restriction. Yes, some people legit DO have actual “Binge Eating Disorder,” but binging because you’ve restricted yourself for days, weeks, months or years, IS NOT Binge Eating Disorder… it’s just you being legit hungry.
So, due to all the restriction he had put his body through, he suddenly found himself have crazy binge-eating episodes. He would have “cheat days” on Sundays then restart his “healthy diet” on Monday. Likewise, he started “chewing and spitting,” because if he actually didn’t consume the junk food, then he was still doing good, right?
But the binges continued… thousands and thousands of calories in less than an hour. He was stuck in the cycle of restrict, binge, restrict, binge. He binged when he was sad, angry, happy, hurt, excited, and every other emotion. It got to the point of him being afraid around food all the time: he felt he couldn’t trust himself to even eat without binging at all.
In August 2015, he finally decided to stop. He just started eating and really worked on his mindset around food, eating enough, and not going to extremes. However, even after 5 months of this, he was still dealing with figuring out how to be a normal eater. He would eat (what he felt like) was a normal-sized meal, yet be “hungry” again an hour later. Was he really hungry or what? Was a handful of trail mix too much? Should he feel guilty?
The thoughts surrounding what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, and so on were literally controlling his life. All he wanted to was to just see food as food and nothing else. He dreamed of being a normal eater.
This is the story he shared with me when he contacted me in January 2016. He found my YouTube videos and desperately wanted to learn how to be a “normal eater” again, just like he was before he decided to start dieting and exercising more.
At this point, I wasn’t taking any more clients for coaching sessions and consultations, so I advised him to get my “Get Your Period Handbook.” Obviously, Benny didn’t need to get his period back lol, but all of the things he was dealing with and concerned about are covered in my book and I knew he would find the answers he was looking for.
He got my book, read through it, watched more of my videos, and totally committed to the plan. Even after just 3 days of following the advice in my book, he said he felt like he was getting back to his old self again - he was finally NOT obsessing over food anymore! As soon as he finally knew what was really going on, he was able to fix the issues and get back to normal.
So, let’s fast forward to where he is today, a few years later.
I got an email from him about his “after story” and thought I’d share a few parts of it so you can hear it straight from Benny himself:
"Where am I at in my health-life today? I am doing great! Actually, compared to where I’ve been, I’m AMAZING! I honestly never thought I would get out of the cycle I was in with food and diet.
I was always so self-conscious; I would constantly look at myself in the mirror; I was bingeing and purging on a daily basis - I could never take on anything I wanted or aspired to simply because I was so consumed by food and diet. It took up so much of my mind, that everything else at the time seems blurry and is hard to pull from memory as for other things that might’ve been going on in my life….
I feel like every area of my life was impacted by my disorder, not just my eating habits. My self-esteem was greatly affected… Overall, it was definitely a hard time for me all around. Just goes to show how much food and diet (in a disordered aspect) had impacted my everyday life and well-being.
Today, I am so grateful for how far I’ve come in eating and diet. Not that I am a completely healthy eater, but most importantly, I am a NORMAL eater. I do not fear certain foods. I know balance. I can eat a cookie without feeling the need to go and purge at the gym for hours on end out of guilt for having eaten that single cookie. I do not obsess. I treat myself without intense guilt.
Thank you, Audra (and many other mentors out there) for your help and influence. Sure, I may have done all the work myself, but you were the ones who made me believe in myself and my ability to overcome. For you, I am forever grateful. And while it is one life that you changed, it matters; and with my recovery experience and renewed well-being, I am glad to share my story and potentially touch just one other life in return.”
It’s crazy to see from Benny’s story how much of your life can be impacted by food and exercise.
Most of the time we seem to think that food and exercise is just a PART of our lives (which it should be!), but it can quickly become our ENTIRE life if we’re not careful. The awesome thing is, once he got this all figured out, he became more confident in himself, his passions (specifically music - he’s AWESOME, by the way!!), his sexuality, his spirituality, his job (he even started his own company!), and his overall self-esteem.
ALL of these things were affected by his skewed relationship with food and exercise.
One really important point I want to make is that eating healthy and exercising is NOT a bad thing… obviously. Yes, it’s good to eat good wholesome foods, move your body, and be overall healthy, but I think one of the biggest takeaways here is to just be careful.
Like Benny, most of us fall into this type of trap pretty innocently. We’re not *wanting* to have a full-blown eating disorder, we’re just wanting to get a little healthier, which is totally fine! The key is to just be careful. Don’t take things too far. Don’t let it consume your life. Making small changes is fine, just be aware of how easily it can be for things to spiral out of control.
One of my favorite quotes with all this is,
“Extremes are easy, balance takes practice.”
And remember, we’re ALL DIFFERENT. You gotta do what works best for you both mentally and physically. Eating a certain diet or exercising in a certain way might work for some people, whereas it might be awful for you. Again, YOU DO YOU. That’s the key. You know you better than anybody else. So, focus on you and what’s best for you and let everyone else do their own thing.
Take care of yourself, go enjoy life, and don’t get too caught up in all this stuff.
A special thanks to my good friend, Benny, for sharing his story. I really hope it helped you in some way, shed some light on some areas of life that maybe you should reconsider, and remind you to just go enjoy life :)
You can find Benny here:
His Music YouTube Channel
His Pet Service/Sitting Company: Hands N Paws
Love you guys! xoxo, Audra