Finding Strength in the Struggle
“I don’t remember a time when I was ever not conscience of my weight. I did a lot of swimming and played a lot of sports, but I was heavier. I was a bigger kid,” shares Jessica Stafford.
When Jessica was 15 years old, she was in a bike accident that resulted in her losing her three front teeth. This loss dramatically impacted her self-esteem, and from there, she strived to fit in with her classmates. She became fixated on how much others ate and would alter how much she ate based on how much was left on her friends’ plates. Jessica went from a size 10-12 to a size 6. In college, she began purging and dieting, dropping down to a size 4 and weighing only 98 pounds. However, she started to gain weight while following a diet plan, much to her disappointment. “That’s when I began restricting my diet. I would skip breakfast and lunch and have a cup of grapes for dinner. Whenever I would visit my family, I would eat dinner, go take a shower, and throw it up,” she says.
Unfortunately, things didn’t change, and Jessica’s twin sister began going down a similar path. It wasn’t until her sister went into treatment that Jessica admitted that she, too, had an eating disorder and began the journey to overcoming her disorder. When she joined the program Remuda Ranch at The Meadows, an eating disorder treatment center, she was labeled as anorexia purging type. This particular disorder includes a fear of weight gain, restricting food intake, and engaging in purging behaviors.
“I felt like a performing monkey in the center. I’m a perfectionist, and I didn’t want to upset them so everything they told me to do, I did. I was put on a ton of medications. It was a faith-based center where we met with a dietician, a therapist, and a nutritionist. We would sit around a table and eat our meals together. All of the girls I met at the center are still my friends today,” Jessica shares.
When she returned home, Jessica focused on staying on the right path. She continued to meet with a dietician and follow the meal plan she was given while at the Ranch, and she also did her best to not compare herself to others. However, after a 15 year struggle, Jessica relapsed when she was in her 30s. Jessica began seeing her therapist again, but shares that the disorder didn’t stop being an issue until she became pregnant. She explains, “I’ll still have those thoughts of ‘Should I eat this?’ and ‘Should I work out more?’ The easiest choice is to just stop eating, but I can’t, I have two kids to live for.”
Jessica stays busy and rarely has any free time, but she fits in workouts when she can. She maintains her health while also working in property management; being a top salesperson for Younique, a cosmetic and skin care line; and filming live makeup tutorials on social media for her friends and viewers. She exudes confidence in her videos and has no problem sticking up for herself now, even when it comes to dealing with the sometimes negative comments she receives. Her mission in life? To glitter positivity! She has changed the life she used to lead for the better and she’s thriving and happy, but most importantly, stronger.
“I am stronger now because I have gone through this. Anorexia didn’t define who I am, and I want people to know that they are worth something and that they are more than the struggle they are going through. They are beautiful inside and out. Our worth is from God, not from man,” she declares.
For anyone who may be going through a similar situation, Jessica encourages seeing a dietician and putting someone else in control of meal planning because there’s a healthy balance of everything. While sharing a story like this is difficult for many, it’s something Jessica will continue to do. She explains, “I am very open with my story because if one person doesn’t have to live the way I did, it’s worth it.” ■