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To My Eating Disorder…5 Years Later

November 13, 2017

The other day I caught a glimpse of my legs in the mirror as I was walking out the door. I thought to myself “wow my legs look big today” and then immediately moved on with my day.

I didn’t stand there critiquing my body to shreds. Nor did I stand there spouting positive affirmations about how strong and sexy my legs looked.

I noticed. I acknowledged. I moved on.

It's been 5 years since recovering from an eating disorder. Today's post is dedicated to my eating disorder, what it has taught me and how it changed my life.

5 years ago I was just on the cusp of recovery, having realized that toxic thoughts about my body and extreme diet and exercise habits were actually making my life far worse than better. Of course, I’d have a long way to go, but it was my first realization that perhaps I didn’t want to live the rest of my life trying to manipulate my body.

I micromanaged my meals, perfectly portioned my food and pushed my body to extremes in the gym. I was, like many young women and men these days, struggling deeply with my body image. And while I hadn’t found a way out, I had finally accepted that I wanted to find a way.

What followed was years of therapy, self-discovery and raw vulnerability with my friends and family (and occasionally the entire internet…).

I gave away the jeans that no longer fit, took extended breaks from exercise and learned to move and nourish my body from a place of compassion rather than manipulation.

I grew both mentally and physically. And while I would never wish this experience on anyone else, it 100% made me who I am today.

If I hadn’t had such terrible body image issues, I would have never tried to manipulate my body through food and exercise. But I also would never have discovered things like chia seeds and running. And while I’m no longer obsessive about rationing out my chia seeds, and I quit running a few years ago, they in turn introduced me to the power of food and exercise to heal your body and actually care for it.

I learned how to cook delicious and nutritious food from scratch and how to use yoga as a way to support your physical AND mental health.

Through my struggles with my eating disorder I learned the important lesson that no matter how much effort you put into your physical body, you will never be healthy if you ignore your mental, emotional and spiritual health.

I learned the power of positive relationships (and animals!) in helping to heal and why there is nothing selfish about self-care. I also created this space.

When I started The Healthy Maven in 2013, I was just coming to terms with my eating disorder (it would take me many more years to open up and accept this term). I started a blog to help inspire people in the kitchen, move their bodies and find the version of healthy that worked for them. But in so many ways, THM helped me find the version of healthy that worked for me.

I still lived in fear of certain foods and was struggling to find a balance in my exercise routine. I was, and still in many ways, am not recovered. Though I’m learning that our insecurities are what make us human and that the best way to handle them is to be compassionate with ourselves.

At the same time, I can’t help but look back and be in awe at how different a person I’ve become. I can go out to eat without scrutinizing a menu. I can live my life without thinking about the next meal. I can get drinks and not feel like I “earned it” in the gym. I can eat dessert when I feel like it and skip it if I don’t. I can listen to my hunger cues and know when to push my body and when to slow down. I can live without a scale and truly, honestly don’t wonder what that number says.

The holidays have always been a time for me to reflect on this past year’s growth, or in this case, the past 5 years. I remember the Christmas where I ate a salad, or the one where I ate a raw, vegan pizza. And I also remember last year’s Christmas sitting on the floor with C eating Chinese food out of the carton. So yeah, a year can make a world of difference, we just need to be patient and be open to the change.

So to my eating disorder, thank you. Thank you for introducing me to a better way of living by showing me what it means to not live your life fully. Thank you for showing me how important it is to care for your mental health. Thank you for introducing me to a community of people who continually inspire me and allow me to inspire them.

Thank you for changing the course of my life.

It's been 5 years since recovering from an eating disorder. Today's post is dedicated to my eating disorder, what it has taught me and how it changed my life.

For those of you struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating, know that you can get help. I urge you to seek out resources in your community or even start by opening up to a friend or family member and asking for a referral. Check out Psychology Today to find a counselor near you who you can speak with and know that there is a better way to live. I promise.

*All photos by Bettina Bogar

No questions today – just your thoughts.

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  • Reply
    Lauren
    November 13, 2017 at 10:11 am

    I can’t thank you enough for this post and for your timing. This was something I needed to read today more than any other day in the last few days/months/years. I’m still learning how to walk that line between healthy eating, exercise, and simply not eating. Your post is reminding me to look for the good in these experiences and learn from them…thank you, thank you.

  • Reply
    Jocelyne
    November 13, 2017 at 10:29 am

    Thank you for sharing this. I think I have a disorder too and I am working on that. Coping with my feelings without eating crap is a big lesson I had to learn. Thank you for raising your voice and being such an inspiration!

  • Reply
    Emily @ Zen & Spice
    November 13, 2017 at 11:35 am

    I LOVE what you said about how no matter the effort you put into your physical body, you will never be healthy if you ignore your mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Health encompasses all four areas — so many people think of it as just your physical body! I find that if I’m not feeling good mentally, I don’t want to take care of my body physically. So many people are struggling with anxiety, depression, etc, and aren’t getting help. I encourage those to get help when you need it!!

  • Reply
    Marina
    November 13, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    Oh Davida, you are such a treasure to this world. Beautifully said! I feel the exact same way about my recovery journey. There are some days where I can’t move on from that glance in the mirror, but then there are days where I’m like. “okay, time to let go.” Much love to you ALWAYS!!!

  • Reply
    Edie
    November 13, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    Love this. Love you. Your vulnerability is one of the things that makes you so personable and relatable.

  • Reply
    Nicole @ Laughing My Abs Off
    November 13, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    You’re amazing, and this post is such a valuable reminder! Lately I’ve found myself wistfully remembering my 16-year-old body and clothing size, but then I also remember how empty and anxiety-filled my life was back then and that I’m almost 20 and don’t really want to look 16 anymore. Thank you for being you <3
    Nicole @ Laughing My Abs Off recently posted…WIAW {Disney Music and Self-Care}

  • Reply
    Sarah
    November 13, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    This was beautiful. I love how you show that our past can shape us and make us stronger. I would not call my eating disorder a mistake or failure in my life, rather something I have overcome and am continuing to overcome- it is a part of my story. I have learned more about myself during recovery and I feel that not many get the opportunity to truly look at themselves from that raw level and see their character defects as well as their strengths. I would not wish an eating disorder on my worst enemy, but I feel that rising about mine has made me into the person I am today, and for that I am grateful.

  • Reply
    Karen
    November 13, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    This was beautiful and so are you 🙂

  • Reply
    Amber @ Bloom Nutrition Therapy
    November 14, 2017 at 11:11 am

    This was beautifully written and I can relate to this so much! For the longest time I believed my eating was disordered, but was actually my IDENTITY. I really identified as being “fit” and the one that seemed to have it altogether, when inside I was actually falling apart. Just like you’ve mentioned here, my eating disorder helped introduce me to many aspects of life and included figuring out how I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life eating calories only to one day grow into an older body and wonder WHY I had spent the better days of my youth wishing to be someone different. Life is too short and I really want my life to be more valuable than knowing how many calories are in 14 carrots. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Barbara
    November 16, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    Good post. So glad you have come this far. You did good work. It’s so true how the darkest times bring us to enlightenment. I’ve been there, too. Not with eating, though. Now I’m in the best place I’ve ev been in. Keep moving forward. ❤

  • Reply
    Alisa Studer
    November 20, 2017 at 10:05 am

    You are beautiful inside and out. I love that you share so openly about your experiences and you have inspired me to do the same on my blog. I’ve already written about my daughters struggle with bipolar but haven’t tackled my eating disorder yet, it’s difficult and painful to look that deep within myself. I have come a long way from counting every calorie that I ingest but still have a long way to go. Thank you for the inspiration!
    Alisa Studer recently posted…Skinny Pumpkin Oat Bars

  • Reply
    Kath Mendez
    November 22, 2017 at 2:18 am

    This is very inspiring! I’m glad that you found your way out. Thank you for sharing this.

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