Annie Grossman Was Recovering From An Eating Disorder And A Debilitating Injury When She Discovered Kettlebell Kitchen — And It Completely Changed Her Relationship With Food
Annie Grossman grew up playing any sport she could.
She started snowboarding at the age of six. She played basketball and tennis. She swam and dove and did gymnastics. Her junior year of high school, she was named a Kentucky Allstate soccer player.
Sports provided the only lens through which Grossman ever viewed her body — it was a vessel for performance. She didn’t participate in sports to stay in shape, she participated because she enjoyed doing so.
Grossman’s body image issues began when she started attending conservatory for musical theater and took a break from playing sports.
That all changed when Grossman left behind the Kentucky horse farm she grew up on to study musical theatre at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. For the first time in her life, she chose performing over sports.
One day in ballet class, Grossman caught her reflection in the mirror. It was the first time that she remembers truly noticing her body.
“All of a sudden I realized I wasn’t the image I had in my mind... My body had changed,” Grossman said.
The pressures of post-college life in New York City led Grossman to develop an eating disorder.
It wasn’t until after graduating that she acted on this thought. Grossman moved to New York City permanently to pursue her theater dreams and immediately threw herself back into soccer and training, as a way to cope with mounting pressures in her life. Finding a job was harder than she thought it would be, and she was dealing with other issues in her personal life.
Slowly, Grossman started to notice physical changes in herself. She was thinner, and she liked it. Others noticed too. During a time when she was hearing no from every audition she went to, it felt good to be affirmed.
In an effort to hold onto that affirmation, and to cope with feelings of uncertainty and inadequacy, Grossman started making herself throw up. This led to chronic headaches, anemia, and multiple hospital trips. But Grossman’s eating disorder was taking much more than a physical toll on her.
“It took joy out of my eyes, friendships…I started believing I was a waste of life and a waste of potential. It tears you up, and it tells you who you are,” Grossman said.
Several years into her eating disorder recovery journey, Grossman tore her ACL during a soccer game, prompting her to find a meal delivery service to rely on as she recovered from surgery.
Things started to drastically shift for the better when Grossman confided in a friend about her struggles. She started counseling and began her journey into recovery.
About five years into that journey, one soccer game threw a wrench into Grossman’s recovery. She had been playing for the New York Coed Soccer League when she did what all athletes dread: she tore her ACL. Like any good patient who wants to recover quickly, Grossman pre-habed before her surgery as much as possible, working hard to strengthen the muscles surrounding her ACL.
The surgery itself went well, but two weeks later, Grossman noticed her leg starting to swell and change colors. A hospital visit confirmed she had two blood clots, which had resulted in deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This not only caused her excruciating pain, but also left her unable to stand for long enough to even cook a meal. Her church rallied behind her, setting up a meal train so that she didn’t have to rely on takeout.
While Grossman was grateful for the gesture, many of the meals she received were foods she was still scared to eat, thanks to her struggle with an eating disorder. That’s when she remembered, prior to her surgery, coming across someone eating Kettlebell Kitchen meals. She didn’t recognize the company, but she was intrigued by the meals and the fact they seemed both delicious and healthy.
Eating consistent meals allowed Grossman to think more clearly, listen to her body, and make healthy choices.
It didn’t take long after Grossman started consistently eating KBK that she began to notice changes in her relationship with food. Her cravings and her bingeing episodes became less and less frequent. Despite being in pain, she felt clear-headed and able to identify her body’s hunger cues and react to them in a positive way.
For the first time in a long time, Grossman felt like she had wrested control of her life back from her eating disorder.
“The things I wanted to do that would give me life and fuel me further — I was able to say yes to those things,” Grossman said. “I had the strength to say yes to them.”
And the most empowering part for Grossman was that she was doing all of this without being able to use sports and exercise as a coping mechanism.
Kettlebell Kitchen helped Grossman understand just how much fuel her body needed.
That’s not to say that things were easy, though. Far from it. For so long, Grossman had viewed food as the enemy, and changing that perspective was one of the hardest things she’s ever had to do.
“You have to eat to survive. And so it’s like you’re looking at your demon, in a sense, three times a day, every day,” Grossman said.
Part of what helped shift that perspective was knowledge. Grossman’s eating disorder was no longer dictating how much food her body needed or what she could and couldn’t eat. She learned what macronutrients were and how much she needed to eat to fuel herself — a process that was both shocking and freeing. She reintroduced foods that she had once loved but had banned from her diet.
Grossman is still working through her recovery journey, and she’s comfortable with that.
It’s been almost a year since Grossman tore her ACL. She’s hoping to get back into playing soccer this spring, and she’s already gearing up for next winter’s snowboarding season. As for her recovery journey — it’s a work in progress, and she’s just fine with that.
“My expectations for my recovered self are more realistic now knowing that perfectionism is not the goal,” Grossman said.
There’s a part of Grossman that’s grateful for what her journey has taught her. Her eating disorder no longer defines her. She’s discovering who she is outside of her struggles, and more importantly she’s starting to believe in that person.