Dear Eating Disorder,

I hate you.

So, so much.

I hate what you’ve done to my mind.

How I can’t seem to ever escape your pull, your toxic lure.

I hate what you’ve done to my body.

Making it weaker than it needs to be.

I hate how you always seem to beat down my spirit.

Introducing self-doubt, depression and negativity.

I hate that I’ve wasted SO many years listening to your lies.

I hate how you’ve damaged good relationships with friends and family.

I hate that sometimes you have control.  And I’m left helpless.

No more.

No effing more!

Eating Disorder, I’m breaking up with you.

Breaking free of the putrid stench you leave on my life.

Breaking free from the darkness.

I choose to run into the light.  The marvelous light.

ED, you suck.

Plain and simple.

And I’m tired of courting you.

With all my heart,

Lindsay

Yesterday, for the first time in quite a while (6-8 months?), I felt the desire to purge.  Like I left my kids to watch their movie, walked into the bathroom and stood over the toilet.

I didn’t allow myself the relief that purging would have brought.

I chose to stop.  To walk away. 

Something that took all my willpower.

I’ve never closeted my history with an ED, but I’m not always as open about it as you might like.

The truth is – I still struggle with it.

The negative thoughts, the contemplation of restriction or binge/purging.

It’s there.  My ED is still there.

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I would never let myself eat this entire burger.  Maybe 1/3.

It pains me to say that.  But it’s the truth.

And by speaking it and admitting it, I can bring light to it.

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I had a reader email me recently, sharing her own struggles with bulimia.  (This is SO common, guys!  More than I ever thought possible.  I get emails ALL THE TIME!)

I told her about my struggles and gave her some coping advice.

You see, the difference between yesterday and say, 8 years ago, is that I now know how to take control of my thoughtsHow to capture them and mold them into something different – and THAT is where recovery starts.

Here is what has worked FOR ME over the past 8 years in dealing with disordered eating and poor body image.

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HOW TO OVERCOME AN EATING DISORDER/DISORDERED EATING: 

1.  TALK ABOUT IT!

Tell someone.  A friend.  A family member.  A counselor.  Your husband.

The thing is – they probably know already.  And if they don’t, they won’t be as judgmental as you think.  I promise.

Reach out!  People want to help.  That’s the way we’re designed.

2.   SPEAK YOUR ACTIONS!

This one has helped me tremendously.  As you’re thinking these negative thoughts or going through the actions of binging and purging, SPEAK YOUR ACTIONS.  What I mean is, say out loud, “I’m going to the bathroom now to make myself throw up.”  “I’m sticking my finger down my throat.” “I’m fake eating so that I can control my calories.”

When you assign WORDS to your ACTIONS, it gives your mind a chance to catch up with your body.  Then you take back control over the situation.

3.  TAKE OWNERSHIP!

An ED is so very active.  Never passive.  You actively choose to starve yourself.  You actively choose to make yourself throw up.

YOU do this.  Nobody else.  No one’s forcing you to act this way.  Take ownership.

Then relinquish that ownership and stop doing what you’re doing.

4.  KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS!

Become aware of what triggers your ED.  It might be a person, reading food blogs or fitness magazines, or certain foods.  For instance, what set me off yesterday was a simple spoonful of Cookies and Cream ice cream.  (Ice cream was something I’d binge on in the past (then purge), so I know that I need to be careful around it.)  I also avoid a couple of healthy living blogs because they make me feel bad about myself.  Over time, I’ve found out what sets me off.

KNOW WHAT TRIGGERS THOSE NEGATIVE BODY IMAGE THOUGHTS.

Then avoid them.

5.  HAND IT OVER!

One of my favorite scriptures sums this point up….

Romans 12: 1-21 – “…present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do NOT be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

– “Present your bodies” – a strong and healthy body, not a sickly body that you’ve abused.

– “Do not be conformed to this world” – meaning don’t succumb to peer pressure to look a certain way or eat certain foods.  This “world” places far too great a value on the superficial.

– “What is GOOD and ACCEPTABLE and PERFECT” – An eating disorder is absolutely NONE of these things.

Hand over this burden to God.  To prayer.  To listening to the Holy Spirit (what some might call your conscience).

Surrender it.

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These are just a scant few of the ways to approach recovery – and every person is different.  The main point I want to hit home….

Recovery is a journey, not a destination.

A journey that makes us WAY stronger.  Able to change our minds.  Able to encourage others.

A journey that simply must be taken.

————–

Dear Eating Disorder,

This post felt good to write.

No, GREAT! 

This post was a slap in your face.

Until next time…said no one ever.

I’m over you.

I’m….

splendid…

lindsay

QUESTION:  Poor body image – thoughts/solutions/something I didn’t cover?  If you were to write a “breakup” letter to something, what would it be?

  1. zoe says:

    hi lindsay-

    just wanted to say i really appreciate your posts! i got here via julie’s blog at pbfingers and i really like your attitude.

    i wanted to point out something that maybe others have noticed and appreciated too- you make it clear that you are a woman of faith but you don’t alienate others in the process. like in this post where you connect the holy spirit with one’s conscience, i really like that. also when you mentioned in your post earlier about believers and having/ keeping friends, i thought your response was just great. i love healthy living blogs but sometimes feel alienated by the religious components of some.

    so thanks!!
    zoe

  2. Bek @ Crave says:

    Fantastic post from a fellow ED recoverer (and still going). I so get you on not reading ‘certain’ healthy (pfft pa-lease) lifestyle blogs too. Also, so much of what you recommended my therapist and I have been over. You are amazing lady. Woman after my heart :)

  3. mom2one says:

    Lindsay, I have just started to follow your blog, and what a wonderful find! I, too, have dealt with ED for way too long. He is an evil, all-consuming part of my life that I have tried to “divorce” many times, but he always finds a way to creep back in. I can totally relate with your recent almost purge situation; when my daughter takes her nap, ED decides to take over. Thank you for talking candidly about ED because so many people just don’t get it! Way to go for standing up to him:)

  4. ilene says:

    Ownership, speak your actions, know your triggers, strive to control your thoughts. All powerful, spot on advice. I have alluded to my ED history on my blog but have never delved in as intensely as you have in this post. Thank you for such brave, honest words. You are helping MANY through your forthrightness.

  5. jenny says:

    Wish I didn’t get this — but I do. And while my ED is not as ‘active’ as it once was, it’s still there — waiting for moments of weakness. I am glad my God is stronger than the lies that creep in and that He made me in His image. Love Romans 12…

    Thanks for being you.

  6. Leah Ebrahimi says:

    Thank you so much for this post. Almost 10 years of my life were 100% consumed by an eating disorder. I lost SO much to the stupid disease and I still fight it on a daily basis. Your blog is such an inspiration to me and I turn to it for advice and support on almost a daily basis. Although, you probably don’t even know me, I feel like I know you so well through your honest posts and your thoughtful advice. I truly appreciate you Lindsay! Keep up the amazing work!! :) Please!

  7. Meg says:

    You are amazing Lindsay. I know you have a ton of support, but I need to offer mine too.

    I also need to thank you for sharing this. Nothing feels more relieving than being honest <3 you will only become better and move further away from your ED now.

  8. Kirsten says:

    Thank you for this Lindsay. You tell that ED! I understand how it feels to always be in that mindset no matter how much time has passed. I guess it never goes away. However, what DOES change is our PERSPECTIVE and our ABILITY TO OVERCOME. Thank you for the amazing tips. You are beautiful! Curls and all :-)

  9. holly says:

    you are lovely and brave and wonderful. keep on fighting – through it all, you are going to help yourself and SO MANY PEOPLE. hugs hugs hugs.

  10. Jessica, the_toned_teach says:

    WOW. I LOVE this. I think you are an amazing and strong woman! The Lord has given you so much strength & courage. He will never leave you, my dear! Keep your eyes focused on Him, the LIGHT, and ED will just.. well, go to Hell. hah! (…but seriously :))

  11. Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) says:

    Bravo for being so brave. I’m not sure if this is your first post like this on your blog, but it sounds pivotal for you.

    Like many of your commenters above, I don’t have a full blown eating disorder but have had my food and weight demons all my life (weighing 233 at my highest). I try to be as normal as possible, but I know I’ll never be able to eat a whole burger either without a huge amount of guilt. And I know that my rainman calorie counting brain will always be doing a quiet tally even when I try not to count. Trying to maintain the figures that we all want puts us at odds with ourselves and what we would really want to eat (the gyros/burrito/pizza/ice cream) rather than what we DO eat (the huge salad, shirataki ‘noodles’, egg whites & Arctic Zero). It’s a sad but very real state of affairs.

    I’m rooting for you to keep your ED at bay. Hugs to you my friend.

  12. Lisa says:

    This was such an awesome post Lindsay!!! I seriously have read it about 5 times. I can for sure relate, and I feel like I’ve suffered from it for so long, and know that I still have a lot of struggles to break through. It takes so much strength to share your story with others and am so thankful you posted about this! It helps so much when we admit our struggles to others who can possibly relate to us and can help us grow. I admire you for posting this and opening up to all your readers!

  13. StoriesAndSweetPotatoes says:

    Lindsay. This post was so great! I’m so proud of you for not purging. Every trigger we work through only strengthens us. Those tips you gave are spot on! It helps me so much to take a pause, figure out exactly what my eating disorder is telling me, and then I just a take a contrary action. Even though I have pretty strong recovery, I constantly have to choose LIFE. You are so strong and inspiring, thank you for sharing! xo

  14. britt@knewlywifed says:

    Linds, you go girl. I’ve never battled an ED, but I deal with worries all too often. LIke you said, it helps to voice it, and take ownership of your thoughts. When I feel worry creeping in, I always tell myself that God made me for SO much more than this!

  15. Laura @ Mommy Run Fast says:

    Such a powerful post, Lindsay- kudos to you for sharing so honestly! I’ve never dealt with an ED but did have some disordered thinking about food in college… it can take years to re-set your mind! Love the Romans 12 passage- perfect fit.

  16. calee says:

    I LOVE YOU.

    you summed it up for me. I’m glad that I have a group of people that I can talk to about this that understand how to deal with it ( because shoving food down your throat and making you not do a workout is the opposite of what you need).

    that being said, i’m going to get some gelato.

    PS I hope calorie counting hasn’t made this worse. You can e-mail ME if you need to talk. My friend Kim and I e-mail each other when we have those near-purge moments (or text or whatever). It has proven to be helpful.

  17. Michelle says:

    Thank you for writing such an honest post, Lindsay. Not only do your readers most likely appreciate the honesty (like me!), but it sounds like it was powerful for you personally. Keep taking care of yourself.

  18. Tara Burner says:

    love the post and another awesome scripture I hold on to is 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

    and yes totally to ED being active and still having a hold even when we may believe it doesn’t…bulimia is/was/is my ED I deal with…that and obsessive exercising along with a few other quirks.

    Hugs and support to YOU!!!

  19. Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries says:

    linds, thank you so much for being so vulnerable and open – i appreciate it so much. you know i’ve been through some of the same stuff (from the email i sent you several months ago), and i just have to thank you for being such an inspiration to us all! i admire you so much. xoxo

  20. Sarah @ The Smart Kitchen says:

    I love this. I love you. I know that we were destined to meet. :)

    While I’ve never had a full-fledged ED, I have dealt/do deal with “disordered eating” on occasion, which goes along with things you’ve written about before: calorie counting, etc. It’s a conscious effort to say, “What is good for me?” “What is good for my body?”

    I’m going to cut myself off before I ramble on with no point…but thank you for writing this, and thank you for being YOU!

  21. Emily says:

    You are so amazing.
    I’ve read “Life Without Ed” by Jenni Schaefer a few times and she emphasizes that one should write his/her own break up letter and it was not until now that I realized how much that will actually help my recovery process. Thank you for sharing this…off to write my own letter; once and for all!

  22. Danielle says:

    This is one of the best and realest posts I’ve read in a long time!!! Thank you for sharing the truth! I am a blogger myself and I struggle sometimes with relaying that “perfect” eating image when in reality sometimes I feel the farthest from it! I’ve wanted to break up with ED for the longest time and it seems to always sneak back in when it is not welcome!!! I love your tips and have bookmarked this post to come back to each and every day I struggle in the future! Thank you!

  23. Janine@ThePurpleGiraffe says:

    Very powerful post, thank you for sharing. Having never battled an eating disorder myself, but known folks who have, this speaks to me more than you could know. Continue to empower yourself to CHOOSE the right action – stay strong!

  24. Kim @ Wonderings says:

    Lindsay, Thank you so much for sharing this. I have not struggled with an eating disorder in my own life but I definitely have some dysmorphia issues. You are amazing and you are getting stronger every day!

  25. sherice@foodieluvsfitness says:

    Lindsay ~

    You are a strong woman.. only a strong woman would share her deepest secrets with strangers! I love you for that!! I think that an eating disorder is just like any disorder or disease, because that’s what it is, a disease.. it will always be there just a little.. hiding behind the corner, just a little of itself showing. I think everyone has something that they struggle with. Something that has a trigger, that you think how will I ever escape this! Thank you for opening your heart and sharing yourself!!

  26. Jess says:

    Wow. You are incredibly inspiring – yes, YOU. The beautiful and fit woman who just admitted that she still struggles with ED. I admire your determination to kick ED to the curb and your dedication to educating others on what has worked for you to keep it at bay for so long. Especially the part about ‘handing it over’ to Him and also, speaking your actions. So powerful. Thank you so much for sharing so openly with us, as always. And please, please, please – stay strong. xo

  27. Heather (Heather's Dish) says:

    OK i love that you added the “said no one ever” part at the end :)

    i love that you wrote this and have to say that i agree with it wholeheartedly. i know that for me to get over my disordered eating i had to bring it to light and i had to keep it in the light. i had to force myself to tell Nate when i was thinking those toxic lies. i had to own up to it. and slowly but surely it started to fade away. it’ll never be totally gone, but it doesn’t own my heart or mind anymore!

    praise :)

  28. Alyssa @ Life of bLyss says:

    Linds, I know you’re going to get 1048593 comments about how fantastically brave, beautiful, and inspirational you are. I’d like to be one of those 1048593, because it’s true. Your candid writing is seriously impressive and I (have/will always) admire you. :)

    BIG HUGS AND KISSES. I miss you!

  29. Kelly says:

    I am really glad you posted this Lindsay. Honestly, I have worried about you for a while but never felt comfortable saying anything to you. You are extremely fit and work out all day long but I have never felt like you eat enough calories and I always felt like you had your “safe foods” that you would eat and that there was a certain level of fear associated with eating other foods. I think the first step is recognizing that you will have probably always have an ED. I know that sounds scary but accepting that is key. Then once you accept that you take back the power. You control the ED not the other way around. No one meal will ever make you fat. No one burger (the entire thing) will undo your hard work. No one food should ever have that much power over a person. Having an extremely low body fat percentage is just as dangerous as having a too high body percentage…especially in women. I know I sound preachy and I don’t mean too. I used to work at an ED clinic I have seen this over and over and my heart just wants to help. Hang in there. Hopefully this blog post is the start to a happy journey of reclaiming your power.

    • Kelly says:

      I also wanted to say that I think blogs can be tricky. I think they can be really good outlets for healing but they also offer a lot of reinforcement for ED’s by the commments about how great someone eats or how awesome someone looks or how jealous they are that the blogger can do X…you see what I mean. So then the blogger can say, see? I eat enough…everyone says how great my day looks. Or I am not too skinny..everyone talks about how great I look. Another reason why I loved this post you wrote because it doesn’t let people do that. They see the real struggle behind the scenes.

  30. Melissa @ Live, Love, & Run says:

    I have never actually battled bulimia, but I have purged before, in shame of the amount of food I had just eaten. (This was about, oh, 2 years ago.) I made an appt. with a psychologist almost immediately. My sister battled bulimia, and it’s so sad that you guys are not alone. You battle it for far longer than people expect you to. The thoughts. The sudden onset of body-hatred. My parents were so busy with work and military life to notice she was so sick. I came home from college one spring break and walked past her room. The smell was enough to knock me over. How had they not noticed it, especially with the number of air fresheners in her room? I found it all…and brought the problem out into the open and she hated me for it. But that Christmas, I received a bowl of lifesavers in the mail. It was from her. It’s been one of the most wonderful gifts I’ve ever received. Eating disorders are evil…no one ever really wants them, but they creep up as if they’re the only way out. Like it’s the only way you control something in your life. After the experiences I had with both my sisters (the other had a more mild case of bulimia/anorexia), and my own experience with emotional overeating, I’ve decided that my 10-year goal is to work with children/adolescents and their parents to help prevent ED and obesity – to teach them how to eat and move. This was a wonderful, honest, “you’re not alone” post. I’m really glad you’re breaking up. ;)

  31. Danielle says:

    Great post!! I love your steps – especially #1. We are so often silenced by our issues, when they are something we should be talking about! It truly is amazing how being open and honest and just getting things off your chest can be so cathartic. And you’re right, most of the time it isn’t a “shock” to people, and the ones that you think will have the worst reaction, are sometimes the best!

  32. Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health says:

    I love you Linds! Such and AMAZING post! Seriously. I never had a full blown eating disorder, but man do those pesky thoughts still linger! In fact, as I’ve been doing Soul Detox I’m finding that most of the toxic thoughts and words that I have are about and toward myself and my body! No good. I need to end that!

  33. teabagginit says:

    thank you for posting this – it is so important to remember that the “D” in “ED” is not just a disorder, but a disease. we all have to keep fighting and winning b/c there is so much good in the world!

  34. Andrea @ andi and her candy says:

    Thank you for sharing this story. While I never have purged, I have always had disordered, obsessive feelings about food and my body. I can totally understand the urge and the feeling.

    Way to crush that feeling and give it no power! You ARE AWESOME! :)

    LOVE YOU!!!!

  35. Steph @fitmomtraining says:

    Beautiful post Lindsay. I’ve struggled for over half my life with body issues, eating issues and the like. Your list is great and will help others who are still struggling. The only thing I would add to it (because it helped me immensely) is Forgiveness. Forgive yourself and forgive others who have wronged you. Those burdens lifted brought new life to me.

  36. Alex @ therunwithin says:

    thank you for being so honest and real, I think part of being an inspiring role model is the ability to put yourself out there and say we are all not perfect and those desires still do arise. You are a superstar and I really look up to you, you are one of the blogs that inspired me to start blogging – something I truly am thankful for.

  37. Cait @ Beyond Bananas says:

    WOW. That was a powerful post, Lindsay. And so honest. I really admire your ability to be so honest with a desire to purge. I have been struggling with body image more than usual lately with my wedding coming up because I want to look awesome in my wedding dress. But looking awesome in my wedding dress just won’t be possible if my MIND is not in the right place! Regardless of how I look.. my mind will distort how I actually look.. so I don’t feel beautiful – I am NOT going to let that happen!

  38. Kurtis McDermid says:

    Excellent post. I am going to be sharing this with some of my clients who suffer from eating disorders.

    It takes a lot of strength to over come an eating disorder but it also takes tremendous strength to share your story, or even just part, with everyone. Thank you, I know this will help others

    Kurtis McDermid
    kineticforcefitness.wordpress.com

  39. lindsay says:

    remember what you sent me the other day? Just when you are doing great, in God’s will, satan will prowl, He will prowl and tempt you. But on the armor of GOd, the shield of faith, and kick that TOXIC ENEMY to the curb! amen!

  40. Ericka @ The Sweet Life says:

    And…I can relate. My post today is similar in nature…about how it’s always still THERE, just lurking around. But you are right, speaking the truth is the way to go. I hesitated to post what I did today…wondering if I should but I’m glad I did. I have done a break up letter type thinkg to my ED in the past…and have come SUCH a long way. So much freedom now as compared to back then. But we just have to keep chossing life and freedom.

  41. Kristen @ notsodomesticated says:

    Great post! I never had a full blown eating disorder, but I definitely had disordered eating and a poor body image. And I still sometimes struggle with body image. But I am so thankful to the Lord for how He has helped me in this area!

  42. Tina @ Best Body Fitness says:

    You know I can relate. And, you’re right. It can STILL have such a hold. That’s why we recognize, open up about our struggles, and then can move forward in triumph and faith. Love love love you and know that I think you are BEAUTIFUL and AMAZING. Hugs!

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