Because this is National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) week and because I have many new readers who may or may not know about my past, I thought I’d share a post I wrote nearly two years ago.  Since the post ran, I’ve changed SO very much.  ….But I still have a ways to go. 

My hope is that someone out there reading today, someone who’s struggling with negative body image, will WAKE up and see that living with an eating disorder is not living at all.  And I want to open my door (my email) to anyone who needs to talk!

——–

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 thoughts. How 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?

splendid…lindsay

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  1. Pingback: Five Things Friday
  2. Calee says:

    Thanks for continuing to post about your ED. It’s tough! I just found out yesterday that Ke$ha is in rehab (I don’t normally care about pop culture, but I played a song by her on my radio show) for — you would never guess it — ED.

    You’re so right about ED never really going completely away. I know that when I’m less busy I’ll have a struggle with it again. Right now I don’t have many issues except minor body image things every once in a while, but I definitely don’t have the pattern of disordered behavior I used to.

  3. Missy says:

    In my many many MANY years of living with (or..in spite of) disordered eating and reaching for recovery this is one of the most helpful tip lists I’ve read.

    I LOVE the speak your actions. Wow.
    I’m gonna use it now. Thanks!

  4. Dr. Kathleen Fuller (@HUGirl) says:

    Your honest story is inspiring and reminds me of my past journey through several different eating disorders from age 11 to 45. I am now 67 years old and still follow the steps I learned that work to be as present in life as I can be, I write about many aspects of eating disorders on my blog since I have been counseling those with eating disorders for 22 years now. Over the years I am thrilled to see that ED Awareness has progressed this far and certainly will continue. Thank you so much for your open and honest post.

  5. Jenn@Mark My Miles! says:

    So great that you are honest with yourself and honest on this blog. Love it! By brining the ED into the open (on or off the blog) you are winning over it. ED’s like secrecy and shame. They thrive and grow in the dark. You are not allowing it to stay in dark and Recovery is present in this post. Inspiring!

  6. Kanoelani says:

    OMG I admire you so much! So much of what you wrote I can relate to but in a different way you see I also have a not so great relationship with food. I am currently on a weight loss journey because of this relationship. I have always had a hard time talking(b/c I was always so shy… painfully so… not so much anymore ;-)) and making friends. This made me subject to ridicule and bullying and lots of ugliness. I was filled with so much sadness and depression mostly that I turned to food for comfort for years and years until I reached my highest weight at 346 lbs. I’m now down over 100 lbs and still I can hear those not so nice voices in my head telling me I’m not good enough and to go and eat this and that because it’ll make us feel go and so on. I know I have to change the way I think and feel about food and slowly but surely I am but it is sooo HARD. Ppl don’t know how hard it is but you just explained how hard it is for ppl and I want to thank you for that. Can’t wait to meet you at Blend :-D

  7. Jody - Fit at 56 says:

    Love you for writing this!!! I have quite a few recovering ED & disordered young girls that follow me on Instagram, like 17 to early 20’s… they say seeing that it is OK to eat healthy foods & have muscles helps them. I hope it does! HUGS!

  8. She Rocks Fitness says:

    I am glad that you are having women reach out to you and open up. I am sure it can be exhausting at time, but it is nice to know that they trust you and want your help. I love your honesty and ability to open up to all of us. We are so hard on ourselves these days and it pains me to know so many women struggle with eating disorders. I have had my own issues with them as well. It sucks, but I 100% agree with all of your tips! XOXO

  9. Jolene says:

    Love that you shared this, that you are open and honest and share your past struggles and journey to help others. that is so important!! And I am so glad that you no longer struggle with this day to day and can control your thoughts…that is very hard, our minds are SO powerful aren’t they?!

  10. Sarah @ The Smart Kitchen says:

    I was just chatting with a girl in my PhD program the other day about my disordered eating past, and how it’s not always past, but often a lingering present. It’s almost like an addiction you try to beat, but the thoughts (calorie counting, sense of control) and behaviors (for me it would be restrictive/reactive eating or compensatory exercise or eating) have a way of sneaking back up on you. In some ways it is even MORE difficult because with other types of addictions, smoking or drinking, it is not something necessary for life, but we have to eat to live, and so every single day we may be faced with a challenge. I am so blessed to have supportive friends and family members, and that I’ve come so far mentally, physically, emotionally! Not being afraid to talk about it is key–it is amazing how many people understand or are at least willing to try.

  11. Megan (The Lyons' Share) says:

    Your honesty is so admirable – both for how much it will help your readers and for how much it will benefit you in your own continued recovery. These are amazing tips, and I hope you feel so proud of yourself for putting this out there. Even if it’s a struggle, you are making such amazing progress! Congratulations!

  12. Annette@FitnessPerks says:

    Beautifully put. You’re so honest!

    When I struggled with my eating disorder & then disordered eating habits, I was so very lonely & in denial. But yes, once things started to hit rock bottom, it did help very much to talk to a sister who was not judgmental at all. And then eventually, my husband helped me tons. <3

  13. Mindy @ Road Runner Girl says:

    Thanks so much for opening up about this. I’ve struggled with eating issues…but luckily I’ve never given in and made myself throw up or starved myself…although I’ve thought about it numerous times. It’s so hard seeing how skinny is so in in our society. And their version of skinny really is unhealthy. Bravo to you on your journey!

  14. Christa @ Edible Balance says:

    My favorite in this list, is to hand it over. When it gets so debilitating that you can’t even think straight, God knows. He understands what we cannot put into words. I love this, and love you for sharing Lindsay! I have never starved myself or forced myself to throw up, but I had a very distorted view of food for a while. Now I see food as nourishment for my body and healing. And above all I enjoy it again! It’s been a long journey, but I am so grateful to have been brought through it… by the grace of God!

  15. Krista @ Tiny n Fit says:

    This is such a great post. I also suffered from bulimia and only after a hard ‘come to Jesus’ moment with myself did I realize that real change in my thought process surrounding it must occur. I haven’t told many people my bulimic past- but those I have told were helpful, like you said! I still struggle with wanting to purge at times- it’s on those moments I mentally slap myself and say ‘NO, your body does NOT deserve this, you won’t gain 25lbs immediately from this, you will be fine.’ I struggle with those pesky inner thoughts but realizing you do have the power to control them is a huge first step- and one you must make every day to recover. You and your body deserve to be happy!

  16. Amanda @runtothefinish says:

    I actually never knew this about you at all! I really wouldn’t have even considered it an option, amazing what we “assume”. I never have had an eating disorder, but know I have long been working to overcome issues I learned with body image from my mother as a child. Great tips!

  17. Heather says:

    Aaah! Romans 12:1-2 is the most impactful verse in my healing journey as well – but the MOST important part for me was to be “transformed by the RENEWING OF MY MIND…” Through years of counseling and inpatient treatment back in the day, the most important thing for me was to find those things in my thinking that DIDNT line up with God’s Word and to, as you said, hand them over to God, asking Him to help me replace them with the truth. Renewing my mind is a very practical thing – I have scriptures that directly counteract all of those lies written out on notecards in first person, and I read them outloud to myself every morning as I’m getting ready because “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). These aren’t just about food and body image, but because an eating disorder is rooted in SO much more, they are really just about the faulty way I’ve viewed myself, God, and others, and it’s a HEALING PROCESS!! I’ve been walking free from my ED for 12 (!!!!) years this April, and while the body image issues and lies still sneak in, I’m still reading those cards daily and I’ve added new ones in recent years!! It’s amazing how much truth is wrapped up in Romans 12!! Thanks for sharing your story again!! :)

  18. Meg @ A Dash of Meg says:

    girl, my friend, thank you for being so honest. and, from struggling with an eating disorder in the past as well, i totally agree with your list. i can really relate with your number 2 as i practiced sharing my feelings and thoughts out loud to. helped so much. and i love when you say recovery is NOT a destination. i think that’s a big thing for every one to know. love you

  19. Caitlyn@BareBalance says:

    This hurt my heart. To be honest, I do not know if ED recoverers will ever fully recover. Looking at the media and that which is deemed acceptable by society… we are consistently given reminders of why it is we started in the first place (in some cases, anyhow… I did not actually stop eating because of the media; but a vast number of people do). We also kind of restructured our mind for so long, trained it in a new way. I believe that training is difficult to… un-train.

    But! Even though I have this thought (as depressing as it may be), I think it creates more opperunity for strength. That fact that you did not throw up means that you’re extremely strong. It would be like an alcoholic walking into a bar and getting a glass of water. I think it is more strong to be presented with the issue and life regardless, rather than suggesting you do not have the issue at all.

    I think the moment that you accept that an ED is a a life-long battle, you take some pressure off yourself too.I used to beat myself up because I was not ‘recovered enough’, but seriously? What is recovered enough? There is not standard. Every situation is different, so there should not be any way to measure.

    Don’t let these moments get you down. Focus more on how strong and beautiful you are for walking away. :) Stress will come, we will have days we hate our bodies and we will always be subject to some of our stressors. But like you, we need to remember that we are bigger than that. Much bigger. I am so proud of you for walking away.

    Great post and good ideas.
    If you ever need to talk I am here too (my email is open to you)

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