Talking Body: Part I: I Have an Eating Disorder

There was a mini controversy yesterday in Indonesia’s webosphere.

Tara Basro, an Indonesian actress posted a photo on her Twitter account of herself in underwear, with visible tummy flabs. The caption contains words of encouragement towards positive body image and describing her journey towards self love.

She has since taken down the original post after Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology flagged it as potentially violating the regulation on pornographic content on public media.

Her last post on Twitter is this other photo of her, sitting on the floor, still with layers of fat visible on her belly (I am sure this is not the original one judging from the pixelated version reposted by online media).

And it made me think about my own battle with eating disorder and body image issue, the past 3 years.

This is the first time I am going to talk about this publicly. I will split this into a series of post so it doesn’t read too long — addressing points about binge eating, obsession with exercise, obsession with food, recovering from amenorrhea, what I learned from the battle, and the magnitude of body image issue in society.

Hopefully this can help someone out there going through the same experience. If you relate with any of these or have any question, feel free to hit me up on Twitter. Happy to chat.


How I look is the least interesting thing about me

I never thought about it that way before but I did have very healthy self esteem and body image. I know I am an interesting and attractive individual.

I have no interest to try and fit into the media’s portrayal of beauty standards. My style leans towards the nerdy, tomboy, rock chick / tough / athletic type. And I prided myself for it. I am one of the bros.

I am proud to be a “woman who eats”. I secretly scoff at this typical “women who orders salad and count their calories”. I am one of those “not one of those girls” girls.

I am aware of the whole conventional beauty standards slash body image “game”. I label it as superficial and somewhat positioned myself as “above it”. It’s a bit of a snob of me but eh life works out great, making that trade-off, holding onto that identity.

I used to not even notice how I look, let alone scrutinising. I don’t actually know how much I weigh from 2000 till 2010. Probably hovers around 44 – 46 kg (150cm tall). I think during 2009 – 2012 I checked myself in the mirror total less than 10 times — all consumed by work.

But then I started playing that game in 2016.

I was dating someone who was into fitness, and it feels natural to adopt their value system. This happened gradually, 1+ year into the relationship, so I think I picked it up also because I think I’ve won at the other games at that point. Or I am seeking distraction from playing other games that I think has higher difficulty level and I don’t want to deal with at that moment.

I could use a new score board to start attacking.

I am in my 30s anyway so seems about the right time to start working on and allocating more resource on my health. Health and physical looks have never been my focus till that point and fortunately I never had any big issues — always been sleeping and eating well. So all in the right timing.

I started working out.

I did functional training, compound movements, body weight. Just to build some muscle mass. Some squats, resistance band, ab wheel, stairs. Just trying to be more active and break a sweat every day.

I experimented with intermittent fasting. I also started strength training on July or November 2016. I did all of these consistently for 2 years.

I felt and looked the fittest I have ever been. I loved my body composition at that time.

And you know as a type A personality, you are damn good at starting something and sticking to it until you see results. Then the results keep you going.

I was able to walk more lightly at longer distance. In 2017 – 2019 I went on multiple solo backpacking trips to Lisbon, Porto, Rome, Milan, Athens, Dublin, Cork. Exploring these places on foot with one backpack for a couple of months. I felt strong and was on top of the world.

And I lived each day being scared of losing it. I was so attached to the body composition I had achieved.

I have found the formula, built the momentum, and built the habit. All I needed to do is maintain it, with minimal effort, compared to stopping, falling further from the maintenance mode and having to climb back up. I’d rather show up day in and day out.

Then I stopped getting my period.


Hi there! This is the first part out of 5-part series on my experience with eating disorder and amenorrhea. Hopefully this can help someone out there going through the same experience.

If you relate with any of these or have any question, feel free to hit me up on Twitter. Happy to chat.


Also published on Medium.

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