Starving to Be Perfect

Starving to Be Perfect

My weight was nobody's business but my own...or so I thought.
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I was tuning my guitar for youth group worship when my friend Sarah ran up excitedly. "Hey, Josh," she said.

"I got my roll of pictures from our retreat developed. I thought you'd like to have this one because it's of you playing music."

I glanced at the photo. "Wow, that's great," I said, smiling. "Thanks!"

As she went to find a seat, I slipped the photo into my guitar case. Later that night, when I was alone in my room, I took the picture out and stared at it.

I hated it.

I look so hideous, I thought. I'm so big, my guitar looks like a little toy. I want to be a musician? Who's heard of a fat rock star?

I'd been overweight for as long as I could remember. Now, I was one of the biggest guys in my junior class. I hated being the best friend and never the boyfriend. I hated being the funny guy people laughed at and not the cool guy they envied. I want to be more than the happy–go–lucky chunky guy, I thought. I am tired of being fat. I am done with this.

I decided that if I wanted to weigh less, I just needed to eat less. So early in the winter of my junior year, I started cutting back. Within weeks, I was hardly eating anything. Some days at lunch, I'd eat only a pack of crackers. Soon, I'd lost three pounds. I was so happy. Wow, this is working. I thought. Now, if I cut out the crackers, I will be that much closer to where I want to be.

It got to a point that I was proud that I'd eat less in a week than most people eat in a meal. During a weeklong summer camp, all I ate was a slice of pizza, a little fruit and some fries. But usually, my daily menu was a cup of plain noodles (there was no way I'd eat sauce!) and an occasional bagel.

I lost a lot of weight and I lost it fast.

By the first day of my senior year, I was a new man. It'd been about nine months and I was 70 pounds lighter. When I walked through the halls, all eyes were on me. I wasn't "the fat kid" anymore. I was getting attention and lots of compliments. It's working, I thought. Now, I'll just eat a little less and I'll be perfect.

The only problem was my parents. They kept asking questions and trying to make me eat. One night at dinner, my mom loaded a plate full of chicken and broccoli for me—knowing that if I served myself, it'd stay empty. We sat there for a long time as my parents ate and watched my plate carefully.

"So how was youth group, Josh?"

"Fine."

"How's your music class going?"

They played it off like we were having a nice family conversation. But I knew they wouldn't let me leave until I ate. Finally, I stabbed a big lump of chicken with my fork and stuck it in my mouth. When I finished my plate, Mom smiled and took the dishes.

"Well, I'm going up to my room to work on all my homework," I said and ran up the stairs.

As I went up, I thought, Sure, you can make me eat, but you can't make me keep it down.

I went straight to the bathroom and made myself throw up.

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