Growing up, Tia Rain DeHaan-Palubiak never turned down a bowl of spaghetti. “No dieting, no purging. Just good genes and a fast metabolism,” the 22-year-old revealed in a video about her battle with anorexia. “My favorite foods were high sugar or high fat … I prided myself on being able to keep up with the guys. Sweets were my favorite.”
Throughout high school Palubiak competed in dance, track, swim and gymnastics, making it easy for her to maintain a weight that fluctuated between 105 and 115 pounds. “I’d always cared heavily about my appearance and felt that the better I looked, the more people would like me,” she admitted in the YouTube video. Shortly after beginning her freshman year at the University of Wisconsin in 2012, Palubiak says she was reminded “that the world values thinness.”
That’s when Palubiak began restricting her food intake. “And soon, all the things from my past that made me feel so bad, didn’t make me feel so bad anymore,” she shared. “Because I could at least be in control of this. Of my weight. I could decide if I wanted to lose or gain by toying with calories. But of course, I wanted to lose because people complimented me. People noticed. But most of all, I wanted to continue losing weight because the more I lost, the less empty and alone I felt.”
She lost 45 pounds in just nine months.
By sophomore year, the 5-foot-5 blonde transitioned to a raw vegan diet, “as a way to further limit my options and reduce my chances of weight gain,” the public relations major explained in the video. “I remained between 70 to 80 pounds.”
Soon, size 00 jeans were too big.
The disease began to take a toll on Palubiak’s body: She stopped menstruating and began suffering from bloody noses and debilitating migraines. Her tailbone protruded, making it painful to sit through college classes. She worried she would have a heart attack. Yet every morning, the first thing Palubiak would do was a yoga routine complete with 100 crunches and pushups.
In October 2013, Palubiak received a phone call from the therapy unit on the college campus. It was a call that saved her life. Though Palubiak tells Us Weekly, “I still feel pressure to be thin,” she is committed to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“To me, recovery is a series of steps, mostly forward, but sometimes backward or none at all,” she tells Us. “Recovery can look like going out to dinner with friends or a day of forgetting about my weight or calories. I’m at a place where I am healthy.”
Palubiak also offered some advice. “When I was suffering, all I wanted to do was isolate myself. People stared, or whispered, but very few actually talked to me,” she says. “This allowed my disorder to worsen, so to the friends of someone with an ED, I’d say don’t stop being their friend."
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