National Eating Disorders Association
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Anorexia

Editor's Note: Content Warning-This post includes mention of eating disorders thoughts/behaviors.

Not flesh of my flesh

or bone of my bone

You were not born beneath my heart but in it 

I knew these words before I ever remember hearing them spoken to me. They were lovingly repeated to me by my mother throughout my childhood and, as an individual adopted during my infancy, they provided a deep sense of security, love and connection to my family and the world. 

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Blood, sweat, and tears. That’s what it takes to become a champion, right? 

And then what? After you push yourself until you drop, after you win, after you abuse your body and mind to get to that one place you are so determined to get to, then what? Will happiness appear?

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Recovery doesn’t just happen. It’s also not some cliché buzzword tossed around to “inspire” you. Recovery is real. It’s not a luck-of-the-draw deal where you put your name in a hat and hope to be chosen. It’s a grueling, relentless, personal process that will push you beyond your limits over and over and over. Will you choose it?

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If you ask my friends in NYC to describe me, you’ll be painted a picture of a boss lady taking on the city as a full-time professor, writer, and consultant, in addition to being a fitness influencer. They’ll also tell you I’m a people person, excitable, and will always make time to help you move apartments and celebrate your birthday.   

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The focus in the eating disorders field is usually on diagnoses, symptoms, and related impairment. There has been little research, or even discussion, about negative traits that were present during the illness, which can be positive during and after eating disorder recovery. This is particularly important because, for most people, these traits will persist throughout their lives. In addition, Walter Kaye, MD, has noted that these traits may confer advantages in professions.

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When I began my recovery from my Eating Disorder (ED), Anorexia Nervosa (AN), I had a lot of momentum. I was sprinting towards a “recovery finish line” that I had imagined for myself within a self-imposed timeframe of a few months. This was in stark contrast to my 23 years of living with AN. At the 6 month recovery mark, I hit what I thought was a huge roadblock. For the first time in years, my weight had been restored to a point where my periods returned. I had a lot of mixed emotions surrounding this; happiness and excitement, but also distress and fear.

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This one’s to you, anorexia – 

For changing my life. 

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I want to open this with a personal share – 

The other day, I went to post a picture on my recovery Instagram account. I was by the pool – one of the first warm Spring days here in Denver, and I posed with my new swimsuit perfectly positioned – the light-infused filter chosen – and I had my caption ready to go.

“Soaking up rays – living my best recovery life." I planned to write to followers. 

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My eating disorder (”ED”), anorexia nervosa (AN), emerged when I was 12. Over time, like others, I learned to personify and separate the voice of “ED” from my own. “ED” constantly yelled at me, told me that I wasn’t enough, that I needed to count/restrict my calories, over-exercise, weigh myself, and sacrifice everything else in my life for the goal of being thin. EDs run in my family, and along with other disorders, genetically predisposed me to develop one. 

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Resolutions aren’t really my thing. I am all for “clean slates” and “fresh starts” and any other similar optimistic metaphors that apply that help put us in a positive frame of mind where we feel motivated and can make meaningful progress toward achieving a goal. The issue I have, rather, is the word that lies at the root of resolution – resolve – that takes on a particular and, too often, intensely pernicious significance, that operates as a brutal code of self-monitoring, self-denial, and self-punishment for those of us who struggle with eating disorders.  

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Not long ago, I was sitting in a hospital room by myself wondering how I had once again let myself end up in the situation I was in. It definitely wasn’t my first “rodeo” with anorexia nervosa. You see, I knew what was going to happen. I knew where restriction led me, yet somehow my pattern of behaviors kept repeating themselves. 

It was during this short admission that I started to question why I was still sick and why I wasn’t getting better. 

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