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Why I'm Grateful for My Eating Disorder

Statistics estimate that anywhere between 8 million and 10 million Americans are suffering from some type of eating disorder. Even more alarming, 77% of those with reported disorders say that disease can last anywhere from one to 15 years.

I was one of those statistics. I'd like to say my story is unique, but in reality it is probably pretty similar to many others - and that's ok. I'm not quite sure why I developed one, when others have not, but I am not sure I would change my life, either.

When I was in second grade, I remember looking at how my legs spread on my chair during school. My friends were so skinny - why didn't their legs spread out? I was self conscious of my weight, often times 8-10 pounds heavier than my peers. I was so discouraged about my body, I asked my mom if I could have a surgery to make my thighs smaller. I was seven.

Fast forward through years of having a (normal) appetite, family members asking "Where does all that food go, a hollow leg?", and continuing to feel self-conscious of my more muscular build. I was not a fat child. I possibly would not even qualify as chubby. But in my mind, I was a whale. Middle school rolled around and I began playing competitive soccer. I was good, but I wanted to be great. My dad suggested I would probably be able to run faster if I lost about 10 pounds - an extremely logical statement, but one that took a toll on my subconscious.

At school, I was also still dealing with feeling different than my friends. Feeling larger, taller, thicker. A 'friend' once held his hand up to my face and said, "Man, if you had so-and-so's face on your body, you'd be a ten." You'd think that being told my body was all that looked good would make me feel amazing, but all it did was show me that the only control I had over my attractiveness was the control I had over my body. I started to obsess.

It actually started pretty innocently, as I took charge in learning more about my health. I started eating more fruits and vegetables, worked on cutting portions, and tried to eat more "cleanly". Once I started losing weight and gaining attention, I was hooked to the process. It wasn't necessarily my behaviors that were dangerous, it was my mentality. While I never was hospitalized or refused to eat, I developed a harmful relationship with food. I considered calories and fat an enemy, and even after "healing", still had a broken relationship with food - a relationship that flipped as I went through high school and college, dragging me through another addiction. During this time, I was involved in an emotionally abusive relationship and horrific break-up, and food was my drug.

The hardest part for me was that I was working in the health and fitness industry. During college, I wanted to study exercise physiology - partly due to my obsession with weight and the body, and partly due to feeling called to that field. I felt like a hypocrite and shied away from excelling in my career, and almost even quit grad school. I persevered, but my career suffered.

It wasn't until a few years after college, when I was dating my then-boyfriend-now-husband, that I knew I needed to make a change. I came clean and told him everything, and through his love and support and my faith in God, I turned a corner on a 10-year-long disorder. I was finally able to break free and bloom. I discovered health coaching, and knew that this was the field I was destined for. Because of my journey, I have a deep compassion for those struggling with weight, body image, and food addiction. I want to help be a source of strength and support for overcoming and changing a lifestyle.

When we suffer, we have a hard time trusting that there is a purpose for the pain. We can't see past our struggle - and that's ok, it is not our job to. But that also highlights why it is so important to never give up. I can't tell you how many times I tried to stop on my own - but all it took was one time, the right time, and not only was I done, I was ready to finally grow into the person I was meant to be and help others transform their lives.

What I've learned since that decision to finally make a change is that food is not my enemy, nor is it my solace. Health is more about nutrition and exercise, than it is about a clothing size, or a scale. Happiness can be derived best from relationships, not relationships with food.

If you are ready, or feel close to being ready, to make a change - I am here for you. If you are not ready, I am still here for you. Coaching is designed with you in mind. It is not my agenda, it is yours. You are worth your health, and you are worth your life.

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