Rafaella Calil, 28, was excessively preoccupied with weight and invested in unhealthy tactics to lose weight. The lawyer began to realize that the search for an aesthetic standard harmed physical and mental health at the mother’s funeral, when she was “destroyed” and received praise for being thin. Next, Rafa tells about the issues with the scale and how the race was important to overcome the problem:
“I can’t remember exactly when I started to worry about my body and weight, but I know it was when I realized I was a woman. Since then, I haven’t been able to eat for a long time without being afraid of getting fat. every day, but there is analysis to combat the nuisance.
At age 11, a story left a big impression on me. One day, I ate a lot of breaded chicken, ended up feeling sick and vomited. When telling an adult, the answer was: ‘At least you lost weight’. The sentence was short, but the meaning immense. That statement allowed me to think that anything went to be thin.
When I menstruated, the issue became even more striking. With hormones, I ‘bodied’: I gained thighs, buttocks, breasts. This bothered me so much that I started researching diets and testing everything to lose weight. I have memories of several numbers on the scale, from so much that accompanied my weight loss. I can tell, for example, my exact weight on the day of my 15th birthday party, because instead of being excited about the celebration, I was worried about the scale.
Here, I’ll make it clear that in this text I’m not going to say at any time my current weight or the weight that I was at some stages of life, so as not to encourage people to try to reach the same number.
Heavier diets and alternatives
Once I started on a lot of diets, it was hard to have a limit. At first, I restricted the amount of food, then decided to take out the sugar, and then the carbohydrates. So, I started to only drink shakes and reached the stage where I asked to take medicine to lose weight.
I was very young, about 15 years old. I combed everyone to take it, not thinking that there was no need to use a medication and suffer from the side effects, as my issue was purely aesthetic and I had a distorted image of my body.
The medication left me with a dry mouth, anxiety and, I’m sorry for the intimacy, constipation of the strong ones, those that kept me away from the bathroom for more than a week. But it was hard to see that. All I saw was that I was losing weight. And the thinner I got, the more compliments seemed to come—and the more my need to control my weight increased.
The remedies generated a rebound (or accordion) effect. I lost a lot of weight and then gained a lot of weight, in a dangerous reaction that made me want to go back to medication. I gained weight studying for the entrance exam and took medicine because I wanted to enter college thin; I gained weight while working too hard on the internship and I did crazy things to lose weight because wanted me form lean. The fight was constant.
I even sought alternatives such as laxatives, something very harmful to health (for those who do not need it and use it for aesthetics). The pursuit of thinness even took away my freedom. Sometimes I took laxatives when I was on the coast and deprived myself of enjoying the beach, as I needed to stay at home, near a bathroom.
In fact, whenever I traveled, worry went with it. Once I went to Disney and took egg, chicken, apple and whey protein in my bag so I wouldn’t eat junk food in the park. I even panicked and cried when I misread the menu and ordered a dish that came with fried food. I remember the pain of seeing my boyfriend’s face at that moment. At this point, I realized that my restrictions affected the people I loved and this was one of the first warnings for me to start rethinking my habits.
My Mom’s Cancer Changed Perspective
My mother always exercised, she loved to train and did it for pleasure. But then he discovered a Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is a type of lymphatic cancer. She was hospitalized and everything was very difficult.
She couldn’t do much of anything, but she still asked me to take rubber bands to the hospital so she wouldn’t be stopped. There were phases where she could run and enjoy, she made it a refuge and I was impressed with the strength of that woman.
When she got sick it was my thinnest phase, I can’t even say how it happened, I just didn’t eat anything.
My mother’s situation was very difficult and I felt that I had lost control of life. So I turned to diet and exercise with all my might, it was like creating a little universe where I could control everything.
People told me I was too thin and I thought it was great. It was like that until the day of her wake, Maria Rita, my mother. I was destroyed and one of the people said to me: ‘You’re so skinny, aren’t you? Cool’.
At the time it snapped at me, I was thin because I was suffering the worst moment of my life, how did anyone think that was a good thing, a compliment? It was so aggressive, so inappropriate. The message is that ‘being thin is more important than anything, you are destroyed by the loss of your mother, but being thin, it can’t be that bad’. It was horrible.
My mother lost a lot of weight during the treatment and I thought: ‘She’s pale, she’s weak’. My record started to drop, being so thin was about being sick, it wasn’t healthy, to have the strength to live you have to eat, take care of yourself. With her illness and the strength to stay healthy, enjoy and take refuge in sport, I began to rethink my choices—all in my own time and with the necessary breaths to go through the grieving.
End of inconvenience and passion for running
I found a nutritionist focused on eating disorders, a psychologist who took me in and started a transformation. One day I went to the gym and all the machines were full, so I decided to run. Afterwards, I didn’t stop anymore…
I just started to love the feeling that in running I challenged myself every day, celebrated achievements, sweated and overflowed.
I became attached to the sport during the grieving and it was good for me. When I saw it, I was already running 15 km, I found an incredible trainer and soon completed a half marathon (21,097 km).
Running also helped me redefine my relationship with food, since without eating properly I couldn’t stand the trainings and competitions. I started taking carbohydrate gel, can you believe it? Do you know what it means for someone who doesn’t eat carbohydrate foods to use a supplement like this? Conquest!
Running is a sport that is enough, it is not a way to lose weight, it became my activity, which makes me feel strong. I understood that the sport is not about being the fastest, it’s about pushing my limits.
Before I didn’t see anything good in life if my body wasn’t thin, today I see values in other places, I understand my body as one of the pillars of life and not the only one.
I overcame eating disorders and document everything on my Instagram with the greatest truth. I want to welcome that 11-year-old Rafaella who thought she needed to conform to an aesthetic standard to be happy.
It is necessary to show that it is okay to ‘be you’, to gain weight in the pandemic, to want to rest. The acceptance process takes time, but it’s beautiful and powerful. This story is about me, but if a person meets, cheers up, puts on sneakers and runs away after reading something here, I’m already very happy, because I feel like I helped them.”