National Eating Disorders Association

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On again Off again Bulimia

Hi All,

I'm noticing a pattern in my behavior and wondering if anyone has dealt with this before. I have this all-or-nothing mentality with bulimia and my body image. When I have a pretty strict workout routine I start purging again. When I'm less focused on exercise I stop purging. I want to find that sweet spot where I work out but don't feel the need to purge. How can I focus on my body without feeling the urge?

Thanks <3

Find a reason

I struggled with bulimia for a year and after I got a cavity I slowly gathered the strength to quit. It is hard especially when you might view exercise as a means of losing weight or burning calories. It was a vicious cycle for me. But getting that cavity was the last straw.

I have also been battling anorexia for 9 years. It would come in waves but there were rare occasions where I'd have a workout routine that wasn't centered on weight loss. It was about gaining strength. Nowadays, back in the thick of my ed I try to remind myself that when I exercise I do it to feel good and healthy. But remember not to beat yourself up. Easier said than done I know. Try to look for your priorities. What you want from exercise, what types of exercise make you feel happy that aren't based on weight loss and what times you feel like you want to purge most.

It's good to recognize your triggers and figure out what your goals are. And begin to separate the two slowly. Perhaps the idea that you want to maximize or hold onto your progress is something you are struggling with? Or maybe it's more of an association thing? Do either of those sound like something you've thought before?

I know you can do this though. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Purging doesn't have to define your experience with exercise. And it isn't what defines you.

I relate

I struggled for 34 years with first bulimia, and then restricting/anorexia. Over those years I went through a variety of patterns around my ED and exercise habits so I really relate to your struggle. Ultimately I found recovery through work with a therapist on issues unrelated to food or exercise, and went to Over-eater's Anonymous where I learned to use the 12-steps to cope with my disorder. Going through the 12-steps with a sponsor changed everything for me and I use the tools I learned daily to stay on track without slipping back into ED behaviors. I hope you find the right support and you can recover from the daily torment of negative thoughts and feelings. The all-or-nothing mind-set can change with a steady supply of positive self-talk, gratitude and the support of a therapist or even a 12-step group. Good luck and don't give up on recovery because it is possible.