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How I Overcame My Eating Disorder Part 1: How My Eating Disorder Began

Posted Jul 29 2011 8:40am

This past week I received several email from readers wanting to know how I overcame my eating disorder. As you know, I still do have times where old thoughts rear their ugly heads . Fortunately, I have been able to use the skills and knowledge that I have learned to isolate these thoughts and slowly pick them apart one by one.

While it is wonderful to see where I’ve ended up in my journey, it’s equally important to understand where I started. Therefore, I decided to write a short blog series starting with How My Eating Disorder Began.

beautiful run through newburyport MA

It is important to note that the information I share in this series is my story and what has worked for me. Everyone is different and it’s important to determine what techniques and strategies help you. My advice does not replace the advice of a certified medical professional and I highly recommend that anyone who is struggling with disordered eating seek care from the appropriate specialists. ( Treatment Finder )

I discuss aspects of my eating disorder that you may feel uncomfortable reading about and/or may be a trigger if you are currently struggling with an eating disorder. If either is true, please do NOT read this post.


How I Overcame my Eating Disorder Part 1: How My Eating Disorder Began

Like many who struggle(d) with eating disorders, my problems began in college. The all-you-can-eat cafeterias caused me to lose my sense of healthy, balanced meals and I began overeating constantly. Despite my overeating, I managed to stay quite fit because I loved working out as much as I loved eating. With the combination of rugby practice, group fitness classes, and strength training, I was often exercising four hours a day.

This routine continued until the fall of my senior year when my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer. Suddenly, my world was in upheaval. My eating habits worsened as I would eat half a jar of peanut butter or most of a tray of brownies in one sitting. I couldn’t seem to control this urge because I didn’t realize that I was simply trying to numb the worry and pain that I was feeling.

During that time I was also in a relationship. While it was by no means abusive, it simply wasn’t a good fit, yet I also tried to push those uncomfortable feelings aside to make it work. My senior year of college was when I first tried purging. Not only did I know about the practice from TV and magazines but my late sister Lizzie also struggled with bulimia.

After graduating, I worked at a gym in Washington, D.C. teaching group fitness and training members. I was also training for an off road half ironman triathlon. The half iron was actually my first triathlon, I definitely had the mentality of going hard or going home.

Working in a gym wasn’t too much of a problem because the staff and members were very down to earth. However, during that time I felt very unsure about wanting to continue down this particular career path and my romantic relationship was now long-distance and ridiculously undefined. The lack of control I felt caused me to want to exert control over my body and weight and therefore cut back on my eating. When I felt that I had overeaten, I would compensate with exercise and purging.

That fall, we received a call from my Lizzie’s roommate in England who was extremely worried about her and the amount she was drinking. My family decided that my buddy Emmy and I would go and try to convince Lizzie to come home and return to rehab for alcoholism.

pic with lizzie

We flew over and spent a week with her, mostly pretending to be visiting friends who also lived in London. Eventually, we sat down for lunch and softly tried to get Lizzie to understand that she did indeed have a drinking problem and that she needed to enter treatment. Unfortunately, she was an old hand at this and Emmy and I didn’t stand a chance.

How I Overcame My Eating Disorder Part 2 coming soon…

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