How I’m Doing With My Eating Disorder These Days [Readers' questions]

by Charlotte on October 5, 2011 · 87 comments

While I don’t use numbers and do not remotely condone, excuse or justify my disordered behaviors past or present, please be aware that some of the following may be triggering to certain readers. Take gentle care of yourselves; you know what you need today.

 photo credit

Recently I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people about how I’m doing in my eating disorder recovery now. Usually people ask because they’re curious or are struggling with similar demons themselves – truly I never had any idea how prevalent disordered eating and thought patterns are until I started blogging/writing about it – but I got a couple of e-mails this past weekend that I want to specifically address, especially as they seem to be recurring criticisms of my book.

Am I Still A Compulsive Over Exerciser?

The gist of the first e-mail was along the lines of “You say you’re recovered from exercise addiction [compulsive over-exercising*] but I don’t believe you. You still obviously work out a ton.” Other people have asked this question in a slightly different way by saying, “Is it really a good idea for you to continue writing about fitness when you know you have this issue?” One sweet reader even suggested that I rename my blog The Great Charlotte Experiment and then I wouldn’t have to blog about fitness as much. (Love you Annie!!)

Quoth the inimitable Kurt Vonnegut, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

I try to be very careful with the words I choose in talking about my struggles with various eating disorders. (In the past I’ve been anorexic, orthorexic and, obviously, a compulsive over-exerciser. And while I’ve never been bulimic I’m going to confess that it wasn’t for lack of trying. Apparently I don’t have a very sensitive gag reflex.) So I would never say – and hope I’ve never led you to believe – that I am “recovered.” I don’t know that I will ever say that. I prefer to tell people I am recoverING. And doing really well with it.

Here are the facts: I am at a healthy weight (nope, still not weighing myself but I was healthy the last time I weighed myself and my clothes still fit the same), one that I’ve been at for about a year now so I think my body is happy with it. I’m at a healthy body fat percentage. I’m menstruating every month (and also PMS’ing every month, sigh). My thyroid is no longer whacked out. I workout one hour a day (sometimes less), once a day, six days a week and the Gym Buddies hold me to it if my workouts start to creep up. These are all the numbers.

While there is no formal definition of exercise addiction as an eating disorder (it’s classified in the DSM either as a symptom of bulimia as a purging tactic or as a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder as a compulsion), according to most accepted standards I do not now fit the criteria. Yay!

But the real story goes far beyond the numbers and official definition: I am light-years happier than I was three years ago (the time span covered in my book). Not a day goes by that I don’t sit down to eat something and am overwhelmed with immense gratitude that I get to eat this yummy food. It is such a gift. Also, I am better about listening to my body with the exercise thing. After feedback from you guys, I dropped doing any measurements for my Experiments and now evaluate everything purely on if I think it is fun and effective. Yes, it’s subjective but I’m cool with it and seems like you guys aren’t bothered by it either (not that any of you are under the delusion that my “experiments” are very scientific anyhow, right?).

Yesterday: We were running Tabata intervals and six into it, I suddenly felt queasy. The old Charlotte would have pushed through and finished – juuust twooo moorrre! – even if she puked. But instead I hopped off, turned off the treadmill and said I was done. Gym Buddy Krista even prompted, “Come on you can do two more!” (She was being encouraging, not pushy) and I still said, “Nope, not feeling it today. I’m done.” And that was it. We used the rest of our time playing a hilarious game of 2-on-2 basketball in the gym during which I learned that you CAN foul people even if they’re not holding the ball. (How was I supposed to know that holding Allison’s hand wasn’t allowed?!)

This is a huge deal to me and I like to talk about it for two reasons: First, it took a lot of hard work to get to where I am now and I’m proud of myself for doing this. I honestly never thought I could live my life every day without counting calories, tracking macronutrients, clocking workouts and weighing myself. And yet here I am, not just hanging by my fingernails off the cliff’s edge but really genuinely happy with myself and my life. Second, I want to give other people hope that they too can overcome the worst of this. (And thirdly, I want my kids, when they’re old enough to read all this stuff, to know how much I love them and how hard I’m fighting to be the mom they need me to be.)

Now for the bad news. I still care too much about my perceived weight. I still have a lot of ED’ed thoughts. They’ve been a part of my thinking for so many years that they are almost second nature. All bad things still manifest as “fat days” in my mind. Sometimes I still mentally calculate the caloric “cost” of meals. Sometimes I still cry in my closet because I can’t find anything to wear even after trying on 70 outfits. Sometimes I still complain about my thighs. But the difference now is that I don’t let these thoughts define my behavior. I think it sometimes, yes, but I don’t act on it. And I try not to beat myself up for thinking them.

As for the blogging/writing aspect, fitness is my passion. I have so much fun doing it. I never get tired of learning about it. I love everything about it and the thought of losing that aspect of my personality feels like an immense loss. Exercise is important. Telling me to not ever exercise again is just as unhealthy as me telling myself I have to workout 6 hours a day. And I want to show people that you can have a healthy relationship with exercise, even if it wasn’t always so. This may not always be the case with me and this blog – I’ve really been enjoying all the parenting writing I’ve been doing for Redbook and Yahoo this past year – but for now this balance works. (Annnnd let’s be honest, I blog about way more things than fitness on here anyhow.)

Using Humor to Discuss Eating Disorders

The second e-mail I got was from a very, very upset girl who feels like I trivialize the seriousness of eating disorders by using humor in my writing about them. This is a personal thing and I believe her feelings are legitimate but for myself, using humor is a way for me to talk about very painful subjects in a way that I wouldn’t be able to without it. I try not to cross the line but since the line is so individual I know I sometimes offend people. And for this I’m very sorry. Eating disorders are often started as a way to protect that fragile inner part of us and when we’re in recovery we’re cracked wide open, sometimes before we’ve had the chance to develop other, better, coping techniques. I never intend to hurt or offend but all I can do is say that I’m doing my best and offer my apologies. The only story I can tell is my own.

And please, if you think I’m being callous leave me a comment! The only way I’ll ever learn is if people tell me what helps them and what hurts them. In the entire 5 years I’ve been blogging I have only deleted two comments and neither was a criticism of me (one was a stomach-churning comment from a trolling pedophile and one was a comment saying my ex-boyfriend should have killed me and shut me up when he had the chance). As long as you’re not a pedophile or a murderer, your comment will stand. All I ask is that you try and be respectful – I am a real human being:)

Where I Am Now

I’m not perfect. (So so so not perfect!) And eating disorder recovery is not a straight line. But I’m definitely moving forward. And I have so many of you to thank for this. I cannot even tell you how many times an e-mail or comment has come offering just the right words or resources when I needed them. Feeling accountable to you guys has kept me from some serious back-sliding (like the day I bought the diet pills and then returned them because I didn’t want to have to write the post explaining that insanity). I thank you for your love, kindness, support and especially for your gentle criticisms. I appreciate every one of you who has cared enough about me to write me and say, “Girl, you’re getting all crazy up in here again. Find a therapist who’s not in prison.” And thank you most of all for your patience as I find my way through this. I never anticipated that my eating disorders and my recovery process would be so public but in the end it’s been a gift.

Do you have any other questions for me about my eating disorders past, (less) present and (hopefully gone) future? Anyone else make it all the way through high school and still not know the rules to basketball? (Did you know that every shot is worth an arbitrary 2 points?? Why not just say 1 point and save on math?)

*After trying out all the various names for this affliction – exercise addiction, compulsive exercise, exercise bulimia, excessive exercise, exercising done wrong – the one that I ended up settling on is “compulsive over-exercise” because it best describes how this disorder feels to me. While I have used it as a way to control my caloric balance, the majority of the time it’s been a compulsion that I’ve used to ameliorate the seriously high anxiety I have from my obsessive thinking. Even when over-exercising started to make me gain weight I didn’t want to stop because I found it so temporarily soothing. When I went to ED therapy, the diagnosis I got was “Anxiety disorder, subtype: OCD”

 

{ 84 comments… read them below or add one }

Katye October 5, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Oh don’t you just love the lovely world of EDNOS. story of my life. I’ve been trying to find the words and courage to write a post about this and hopefully I will at some point this weekend. I was very sick but a) couldn’t be called anorexic because I didn’t completely loose my period (I was also on birth control and my BMI was 2 % points too high. b) I wasn’t called bulimic because I didn’t binge enough calories (my idea of binges was more alike a couple hundred calories rather than a couple thousand but the purging and over exercise/compensation was still the same). So I was EDNOS. Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. And I basically took it as “HA! You’re even a failure at having an eating disorder!”. So I never really felt like anyone knew what to do with me in treatment. Ugh. And I think recovering is a term I will use for the rest of my life, no matter how good I feel or how far off symptoms are because like an addiction, all it takes is one hit. Great job girl and keep it up!

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charlotte October 6, 2011 at 11:22 am

Good point about the ED-NOS! Glad to know that I’m not the only one who’s recoverING. If you do write that post, please send me the link!

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Rebecca October 6, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Oh, God.

I know *exactly* what you mean about feeling like a failure at having an eating disorder!

(And actually,
it sounds like you and I have had really similar manifestations of eating disorders–especially the bit about not purging large amounts of calories…you’re not alone in that EDNOS world!)

I am totally cheering on your recovery from here, Katye.

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Katye October 6, 2011 at 1:51 pm

hahaha I’ve been convinced to finally stop deleting my “ED-NOS” post and publish one this weekend

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Sable@SquatLikeALady October 5, 2011 at 9:55 pm

The OCD girl living inside of me HATES that shots in basketball are worth 2 pts each…with the exception of course of free throws and 3-pointers. It feels so assymetrical to me. And I PLAYED basketball for like twelve years. So.

I love your honesty here. I love the way you view exercise, and yourself, and just everything.

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charlotte October 6, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Ok THANK YOU. Krista said, “First team to 20 points wins, each shot is 2 points” and I was like “Or we could just say first team to 10 points wins, the end.” And she just stared at me. “No, we couldn’t. Because in basketball shots are 2 points.” Sheesh.

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Kat October 5, 2011 at 9:56 pm

I’ve been writing a lot lately (very different style than what’s on my blog) and it’s reasons like *this* post as to why.

I feel like a lot of people are underrepresented… and that people don’t understand the journey of eating disorder recovery… That we believe in this “click” moment due to the way novels and memoirs have been written.

There are so many questions. There are so many gray areas… and as you said (or alluded to) recovery is about having more good moments than you did in the past.

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charlotte October 6, 2011 at 12:14 pm

So true about the “click myth” and I had surmised you were taking a deeper look than what was posted on your blog from you said a few days ago. Like I commented there, I’m really excited to see what you are doing and where this all goes! (When you’re ready to share, of course)

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Kelsea October 5, 2011 at 9:57 pm

I think this is awesome, and I totally understand. As someone with an ED past, people question if my current lifestyle (veganism) is healthy, or if being so INVOLVED with food through a joyful cooking hobby isn’t just another version of an eating disorder. The answer, obviously, is no – I’m finding joy and happiness through a healthy relationship with food for the first time in my life – and that sounds exactly like your current exercising habit.

So, hell yeah lady. Stay happy.

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charlotte October 6, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Congratulations on finding that healthy relationship with food! It’s such an amazing feeling when it finally starts to work isn’t it?

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Sinner Ella aka Heather October 5, 2011 at 9:58 pm

You say you aren’t perfect, and while I do believe that every human has their faults, you are perfectly YOU. You do everything you can to pit yourself in a happy and healthy place, and while at one points your perception if healthy was skewed, you recognized that for what it was. You will, unfortunately never be recovered, but will always be in recovery or recovering and that you know this makes your journey 1 step easier.
Just a heads up, the DSM V comes out next year, so you never know, you may officially become labeled. I say screw labels, be honest worth yourself and always hold yourself accountable for your behavior and accept responsiblity. As MizFit would tell you, always be “Unapologetically Yourself. ”
(Virtual high five and the sound of hands slapping)

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Kat October 6, 2011 at 9:11 am

The good thing about becoming a labeled person though will be better access to care (and better insurance coverage)

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charlotte October 6, 2011 at 12:28 pm

I love Mizfit’s slogan! And she is the very embodiment of it as well. As for an official DSM diagnosis, I do think it would be helpful to have this classified as its own disorder mostly because it seems like the last socially sanctioned eating disorder and people need to acknowledge that there is such a thing as too much exercise…

And thank you for the reminder that I AM perfectly me:)

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Sable October 5, 2011 at 10:19 pm

I’ve blog-stalked you for a long time, but never commented until recently since any sort of conflict pretty much sends me into crazy sick super anxiety chaotic mode so I try desperately to avoid it. I actually consider posting on here as part of my therapy, since it’s a safe place to start trying to have a voice. I’m so proud of you, Charlotte. You’ve come such a long way. It’s always a process of “recovering” rather than being “recovered” because those thought patterns become wired into your brain and you have to rewire it another way by fighting them, and its not easy. But you’re doing it, and that’s what matters. I’ve never found you callous about the subject or thought that you were trivializing it, simply using the same humor you always write with (which, by the way, makes your blog so darn fun to read!) You may as well laugh as cry. And I completely understand continuing on with fitness. Weight training was the only thing for so long that kept me OUT of my eating disorder. You can’t restrict/purge/over exercise and get stronger/perform better. Cardio is still iffy for me though, I have to limit it or I get super crazy thought patterns creeping in. I think eating disorders, like most mental illness, are just something most people are ignorant about (which leads to them saying really callous, stupid things =/.) Oh, and the scoring in basketball never bothered me. Football on the other hand…

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charlotte October 6, 2011 at 12:30 pm

This: ” Weight training was the only thing for so long that kept me OUT of my eating disorder. You can’t restrict/purge/over exercise and get stronger/perform better. ” is so powerful! And thank you for sharing your journey with me too – it has helped me so much to know I am not alone in all this.

As for football? You are 100% right, it’s way more messed up than basketball.

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Quix October 5, 2011 at 10:51 pm

I say it all the time – my friends and Zliten keep me from my own crazy perfectionism and drive. I’m glad you have such a great support system both IRL and here. It’s nice to get closer to the happy place, no? (Putting it in perspective: I came across some teenage poetry of mine – bleh, I can’t even remember what it was like to feel that way…)

Glad you are still here blogging, you are definitely one of my fave blogs to read! :)

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charlotte October 6, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Thank you – that means a lot to me as you’ve been with me right from the very beginning! And holy crap, re-reading my teenage journals makes me want to alternately hug me and slap me.

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Katie October 5, 2011 at 11:32 pm

It is posts like these that keep me reading. (That’s a compliment, but also a lie, because I’ve never read a post I didn’t love, but I really love this one!)

You have come SO far since the beginning of your blog. I know because I feel like I’ve been reading since the beginning, and your book might as well have been written by a different Charlotte. You are a new person and I couldn’t be happier for you! I am happy you’re happy. We’re all happy. Woo-hoo!

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charlotte October 6, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Thank you Katie – this really means a lot to me! Thanks for sticking with me through it all:)

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Terri October 6, 2011 at 12:06 am

I think you’ve come so far and done so well it’s incredible ! I’ve learned so much from you. I find that if a subject is talked about with humour then it doesn’t cause a reaction with me and I can think about it without feeling attacked or preached at. You have turned this into an art-form ! Thank you so much for blogging and your honesty.

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charlotte October 6, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Thank you Terri:)

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Heather October 6, 2011 at 12:30 am

Awww Charlotte, your courage continues to inspire me. That’s for the update; you didn’t owe it to anyone, but your honesty is just so badass. I too use humor to talk about difficult things, and I always appreciate (and recognize) when you go there what’s up. It’s good stuff. Keep it up.

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charlotte October 6, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Thank you for your encouragement!

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Jenn (GH) October 6, 2011 at 12:53 am

This post made me so happy! You are amazing and honest! You’ve come so far and it’s been fun to watch you grow. I never mind your humor…in fact…I don’t know I would have kept reading in the beginning if you had not been so funny. ED blogs in general don’t hold my interest but because yours is so funny and yet so honest, I stuck with it. Now I read it because of YOU whether you are being funny or not.

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Charlotte October 6, 2011 at 12:49 pm

I love you Jenn!!! And someday we are going to squee over eachother’s dresses in real life;)

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Kathryn October 6, 2011 at 1:01 am

I’ve enjoyed your journey while travelling my own. Thanks for the honesty.

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Charlotte October 6, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Thank you Kathryn:)

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Tracy October 6, 2011 at 4:16 am

No other friend (real or perceived bloggy-friend) understands all the twists, turns and subtleties that you do. Please know that so many times you are stating in a delightful Outloud Voice what I’m thinking/feeling/struggling with. I appreciate you and will keep you in my prayers. And don’t stop please!!

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Charlotte October 6, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Thank you so much for your support and encouragement!

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reid October 6, 2011 at 6:09 am

Charlotte, I am so glad you posted about this and that you have the ability to speak so openly about it. I’ve struggled with anorexia and over-exercising since I was 10 and no matter how much I move forward, gain confidence, understand what I need to do, it is still there and I have to be careful. I don’t talk about it a lot, but I think that it needs to be talked about more. (Especially with the constant childhood obesity talk in the media…)
It’s great to hear that you have found what works for you. I think one of the hardest things I have had to learn is to treat myself like I would treat other people..(ie: not so hard when you know you need a break and knowing when that is and believing it…)

Sending good thoughts your way- keep doin what you’re doin! :)

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Charlotte October 6, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Thank you! You nailed it: “I think one of the hardest things I have had to learn is to treat myself like I would treat other people.” I appreciate you sharing a little part of your journey with me too:)

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Naomi/Dragonmamma October 6, 2011 at 7:09 am

Sounds like you have things under control. Carry on, soldier.

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Charlotte October 6, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Aye, aye Captain! ;)

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Hannah October 6, 2011 at 7:16 am

Thank you so much for this very honest and real post. The recovery journey is just that, a journey. We aren’t perfect and while things can appear as ok on the outside the inside mental thoughts take so long to play catch up.

The jumping off the treadmill was a amazing and hard thing to do. I’ve been there so many times. Good for you!

As for names of what you call your disorders…why do we need labels? We never fit into just one. Perhaps labels help the medical community, but after 14 years I’m convinced that when we label ourselves it actually stands ot postpone recovery.

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Charlotte October 6, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Good point – labels are such a tricky thing. Getting a label in the beginning was important because it made me stop pretending that what I was doing wasn’t sick. But now? Yeah it’s time to focus on just being Charlotte. Thanks for the understanding!

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Noel from Hypoglycemia-Dieting October 6, 2011 at 7:19 am

Any disorder is just another journey we take in this thing called life. Sounds like you have things sorted. Thank you for posting – you are a real inspiration!

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Charlotte October 6, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Thanks:)

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Dr. J October 6, 2011 at 7:21 am

It’s all about the voyage , isn’t it, Charlotte! I really love that quote you began your post with! Your ship has had a voyage or two and is still full sail ahead!!

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Charlotte October 6, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Thank you Dr. J!

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redhead October 6, 2011 at 7:30 am

Not all shots in basketball are 2 points! Some are 3 pointers, and foul shots are 1 (the shots Allison gets to take after you hold her arms down, if she was trying to shoot when you did that).

For what it’s worth (I say this as someone who had an active ED for over half her life and the better part of two decades) – the thoughts DO get better, but they are the last to do so (in my experience at least). You learn the healthier actions and eating patterns and exercise patterns and you start finding the balance between no exercise and too much exercise, etc, and that slowly becomes easier as you learn not to listen to the thoughts. And then, slowly, the thoughts get easier. It’s gradual. You still have days when you have the ED thoughts (oh no XXXXXXXXX bad thing happened so I’m fat, etc) but you also have good days when you can deal with things healthily – and slowly, the good days start to outnumber the ED ones (and you start recognizing that the ED days are ED days and catching yourself and saying, no, I’m not really fat – it’s just that XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX happened and I’m upset). And, gradually, you have fewer and fewer ED days, very gradually – and one day you see something that would normally be triggering (run into another girl obviously exhibiting ED behaviors at a restaurant, etc) and you realize later that you didn’t react to it at all. It’s very much one day at a time. At least, that’s been my experience (it may not hold true for everyone). But don’t beat yourself up, because it does come eventually – and in the meantime, learning not to listen to the thoughts is more than half the battle.

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Charlotte October 6, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Thank you for your understanding and your advice! I think you are exactly right – it’s a series of good choices. And the mind will follow the body. Thank you for the reminder to not get impatient with myself:)

And, just for the record, *I* was trying to shoot and Allison was jumping in front of me. So I grabbed her hand so I could throw the ball past her;)

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Abby October 6, 2011 at 8:54 am

This is the exact post I hope to write myself next year at this time (or sooner, but there’s that whole “get over compulsive exercise/OCD/underweight thing to barge through first.) In all honesty, I’ve had a draft of the damn thing for 10 years, so this does revive my hope that some form of balance is truly possible. Like you, I defer to humor and irrational OCD-laced rationalization, but it’s all about using my powers for good and not evil. I love exercise, but without mental health, it becomes null, void and unhealthy.

Great post.

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Charlotte October 6, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Thank you Abby – I had no idea you were struggling with this too! Thanks for sharing your experience with me and I hope you do write that post soon! And when you do, please let me know! This: “I love exercise, but without mental health, it becomes null, void and unhealthy.” is so so true.

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Penny October 6, 2011 at 8:59 am

It heartens me to read this. You should be so proud of yourself. We’re so proud of you!

It’s terminally frustrating the way people see us as “better”, as if there’s some sort of off switch in our brains we’ve been looking for all this time. “Oh, there it is! Phew. I’ll stop the celery diet now.”

It’s also annoying when people sigh and say “well, you’re never really cured of an eating disorder are you?” like we’re on death row now. I mean, I can see their point, you’re never going to COMPLETELY obliterate those thoughts, but there’s a lot of room for improvement within those parameters. And realistically, how many women DON’T have negative, destructive thoughts every now and then?

But making progress from being sick is a real struggle. It’s a long, relentless journey. and, as you say, it’s not always a clear path. Sometimes have to take a step back in order to move forward. But the longer we slog on, generally, the easier it gets to shut the bad voices out.

Well done C. I cheer you *cheers*! With pompoms *shakes pompoms*! Thanks for sharing and helping so many of the rest of us realise we’re not alone.

Px

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Charlotte October 6, 2011 at 1:12 pm

This really means a lot to me Penny! You were one of the first, years ago, to say (kindly) to me “I can’t watch you do this anymore, it’s too triggering for me.” At the time I was sad although I totally understood so to come this far *with* you, it feels really good. Thank you, my friend:)

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Kirsten Jones October 6, 2011 at 9:19 am

In the nine months since I started following your blog, my relationship with food and exercise has actually taken an entire 180. While I still struggle with ED thoughts, my behaviors are fairly healthy. I’m not perfect, and I still have my backslide days, and sometimes weeks. But overall I’m working toward a better, happier me and best of all, thanks to you, I know it’s completely possible. I appreciate the honesty and yes, even humor, with which you approach the subject. For me, you have redefined the illness because of your candor, taking my ED out of the realm of tragic terminal illness and placing it in perspective. Essentially, you shrunk the scariest demon in my life to the size of a pebble. Ed is so much more manageable when it’s tiny in comparison to the rest of my life.

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Charlotte October 6, 2011 at 1:14 pm

This: ” taking my ED out of the realm of tragic terminal illness and placing it in perspective.” is the nicest thing anyone could say to me. I am so so glad I was able to help you in a small way with your own struggles. Ed definitely shrinks when you expose it to the light:)

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Laura October 6, 2011 at 9:32 am

Several weeks ago in a post, you wrote about seeing a nutritionist and said you’d let us know how that went. I’d love to know what you learned from that and how it works with intuitive eating. I’m just starting out with intuitive eating after several years of trying to follow other people’s diet advice (i.e., low-carb, very low-carb, Paleo, Perfect Health Diet, gluten-free, dairy-free…). After so many years of listening to other people, it’s scary not to have anyone to follow. I can tell when I’m hungry, but I have absolutely no idea what I want to eat. I’m not at all sure which food my body actually likes and which food my mind tells me I should or shouldn’t eat.

Thank you for your honesty and the insightful way you describe your own journey. It helps. A lot.

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Charlotte October 6, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Ooh thank you for the reminder! Yes, I love Jenny, the nutritionist! Basically the way it works for me with IE is that the nutritionist doesn’t so much tell me what to eat but gives me a reality check when it comes to what’s healthy. She let me talk through all my thoughts about paleo, low-carb, veganism etc. and then reminded me to focus on the core of what we know about good nutrition. She made a couple of specific recommendations and they’ve been going really great. I need to write that post up…

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Alyssa October 6, 2011 at 10:11 am

The way I see it, this is YOUR blog. You can write about anything you want, in any way you want. The rest of us can choose to read it or not, as we see fit. Having said that, I think you are ALWAYS respectful and sensitive. I’ve been reading your blog now for 4 years (I believe) and you have never once been offensive or in any way inappropriate, IMO. If a reader finds your posts difficult to read, then it is her/his responsibility navigate away.
When I was at the beginning of my recovery for bulimia, my therapist told me something that has stuck with me (and it’s been over 20 years now): At the end of the day, I am responsible for myself. Yes, I need support, and have the right to people and resources who will offer that support, but I am the only one who can heal myself. The world won’t change for me, I have to find a way to be in the world without doing harm to myself and others. It may sound harsh, but it woke me up. I had been holding on to a victim mentality, blaming everyone and everything else for whatever I felt was wrong, waiting for everyone else to take care of me and not learning to take care of myself.
What I’ve seen you do, Charlotte, is EXACTLY what that therapist told me. You have been so brave and inspiring, and I think most of your readers keep coming back because of that.
Oh, and the tutu pictures.
And the Adventures of the Gym Buddies.
Love you, girl!

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Charlotte October 6, 2011 at 2:46 pm

I love you like a sister, Alyssa!!! Thank you for this:)

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robyn October 6, 2011 at 11:33 am

Really glad to hear you are willing to walk away from a workout and listen to (and honor) your body. When I learned to skip the gym on days I wasn’t feeling it — even weeks at a time — I knew I wasn’t just replacing my eating disorder with exercise addiction. (I had ED for 7 years, but am now recovered for 10+.) The negative thoughts, body image issues will take years to overcome. But every day is another chance to get it right and embrace your self. Thank you for sharing with us every step of the way.

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Charlotte October 6, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Thank you for your support!

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Erin October 6, 2011 at 12:21 pm

I don’t think I can ever say I am recovered. I still look in the mirror or at my body and say dang it I didn’t workout enough today and I still have these stupid love handles. I sometimes feel guilty for only working out 45 minutes a day instead of an hour or hour and a half. But it’s just a feeling, I don’t act out on it and I may let it dwindle a bit but I let it go. There are three things that have changed in my life to make me be able to not act on my thoughts. One my hubby, he’s one of the main reasons when I jumped from anorexia to over exercising that I stopped. Two is my disabled arm. Yup having constant pain is a pretty good stopping mechanism. When I do too much the pain gets too back for me to function so I know I can only go so much. Three my daughter Samantha. I have to be a good influence on her. I will not let her pick up any disordered habits from me!

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Charlotte October 6, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Yep, I’m right with you on reason #3!!! That is so huge and I’m so glad that you, for all your reasons, are coming back from the dark side;)

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Melanie October 6, 2011 at 1:13 pm

I just wanted to say i’m proud of how far you’ve come. I love reading everything you write. I hope you don’t ever stop blogging about exercise or anything else you want to write about. I commend you for pouring your heart out about your problems so that a complete stranger might benefit from your mistakes. You are a beautiful person inside & out!

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Charlotte October 6, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Thank you for your encouragement Melanie!

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Rebecca October 6, 2011 at 1:17 pm

ATTAGIRL!!!!

And?

If you ever fall back into those old patterns of behavior?

No one here is ever going to be mad at you.
We are all so desperately
(and often beautifully)
flawed–

Thank you for sharing your journey,
thank you for your humour, even if it’s occasionally dark.

You have made a difference in the way I approach fitness and health,
and you’ve reassured me that I, too, can get better.

Love you, Charlotte.

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Charlotte October 6, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Thank you for loving me in sickness and in health;) Seriously though that means a lot to me and takes a lot of pressure off…

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Rebecca October 7, 2011 at 11:59 am

Of course!

:D

Sometimes I think we need to add, “In crazy and in calm” to those vows.

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Abby October 6, 2011 at 4:00 pm

I just wanted to say this post makes me so happy to read Charlotte! As someone who’s struggling again these days I really find it an inspiration. Someday I will accept that letting go of my ED will not instantly make me overweight, there is a middle ground. I’m so glad you’ve found it!

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Charlotte October 7, 2011 at 7:46 am

There is a middle ground, yes! Although like you it feels like I move in and out of it. If I ever figure out the trick to staying there I’ll be sure to let you know:)

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becca @ bellebottoms October 6, 2011 at 4:18 pm

I love your honesty, and the fact that every time I read something you write, I find myself going…”seriously, we could be sisters!” Besides the fact that you live in the arctic cold and I live in the nasty heat ball that is Texas :)

keep recovering! and keep sharing! you are beautiful!

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Charlotte October 7, 2011 at 7:47 am

I need to move to Texas so we can really be sisters! Because I’d much rather be too hot than too cold… And thank you for the support!!

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Jennifer October 6, 2011 at 6:49 pm

I just wanted to thank you for this post and for all the posts where you have addressed this issue so well. I am an eating disorder therapist and I really appreciate your honesty and humor.

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Charlotte October 7, 2011 at 7:49 am

Thank you Jennifer! That really means a lot to me! And thank you for the work you do:)

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Scott October 6, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Although I haven’t been reading your blog for a long time, I can totally relate to where you are at right now. Things aren’t perfect, but they aren’t anything like they used to be. I look forward to reading more of your posts :)

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Charlotte October 7, 2011 at 7:51 am

Thank you Scott! And thank you for reading – that means a lot to me!

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Jody - Fit at 53 October 6, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Charlotte, I am so proud of you, if I even have a right to say that! You certainly have come far & quite a voyage for sure with more coming as well. I know I have my own “probs” BUT I think on the whole, I manage them the best I can.Your sharing certainly helps many!

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Charlotte October 7, 2011 at 7:53 am

Of course you do Jody! And it means a lot to me coming from you! THank you:)

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Shevy October 6, 2011 at 10:23 pm

I don’t always comment because I prefer to marinate in the ideas you present in your writings.

One thing I do want to say tonight though is thank you from my heart for being so damn authentic. I LOVE IT!!!!!

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Charlotte October 7, 2011 at 7:54 am

Thank you for this Shevy! (And for reading – that means a lot to me) You totally made me smile:)

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Sarah October 7, 2011 at 1:35 am

Charlotte I’ve followed your blog for a few years now – you’ve made a lot of changes that you can be proud of. The things you write help other people to come to terms with issues – and I love that you use humour – if its a choice between laugh or cry, laugh has gotta be the way to go. Life is a journey not a destination they say!

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Charlotte October 7, 2011 at 7:55 am

Thank you for your support and understanding Sarah!

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~Christy October 7, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I commend your honesty, your self-awareness and your humor. Your words are a gift. Making such challenging experiences available to so many who need it is so important. Glad you’re happy with where you are! It’s an important part of life! :) Congrats!

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Cammy October 7, 2011 at 4:24 pm

THANK YOU for writing this post. I think it is definitely inspiring to see that these issues *can* be overcome and that a more healthy balance is actually achievable. I also always appreciate that you don’t sugar coat everything and pretend like you don’t *Ever* care about your weight or have old thoughts, like recover is this perfect sun and rainbows state of being. Thanks for keepin’ it real, because it makes other people realize they’re not failures and are actually pretty normal for having persistent glitches in their thinking/action sometimes.

Re: humor. I LOVE that you are able to keep a sense of humor and have never found it offensive or patronizing; it was my favorite thing about both your book and blog. My view is that making jokes about the issue allows you to own it a little bit, instead of letting it own you. I had a friend with cancer that used to tell some rather shocking (hilarious yet awful) cancer jokes, but after a while I learned that laughing with him was a way to help him feel a bit of power in being able to ridicule the situation. (Not putting EDs in the same bin as cancer, just an example!).

Really glad you’re doing better and are able to appreciate and enjoy the progress that you’ve made. You’re an amazing person and deserve nothing less than the best!

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Dina October 8, 2011 at 12:54 am

I don’t know the rules of basketball and I think the only time I was EVER on the court (because my high school didn’t want the floors scuffed by tennis shoes) we played dodge ball for group fitness at my work. :P I don’t know the rules of most sports……..I got the look of death today at work when I asked “Who are the Florida Gators and are they a major league team?”

Haha if it has nothing to do with running 13.1 miles, 26.6 miles or 1500 meters…I don’t know much about them…

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Carly October 8, 2011 at 11:27 am

Posts like this are why you are just my favorite blogger! You are such an amazing woman, and your honesty and openness are inspiring and refreshing.

You may not be perfect, but you are pretty damn amazing!

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Julia H. @ The Petite Spiel October 14, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Good for you. Eating disorder recovery is a long process (been there!), but slowly but surely it happens. It doesn’t just happen suddenly, which many people don’t realize. You’re doing great and will get even better!

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anna October 17, 2011 at 8:29 pm

I am 15, but I have almost gone through the identical thing you have, the over-exercising, subtype OCD, and bulimia. I used to workout at the gym for almost 4 and a half hours everyday , I purged all through that too. It is the hardest thing I have ever dealt with, even harder, recovery. i love the support you give for this! And i am rooting for you too!!
Anna

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Charlotte October 18, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Thank you so much Anna! This really means a lot to me:) And I am rooting for you too – keep up the good (hard) work in your recovery! So glad you are figuring all this out way younger than I did!

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Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) October 18, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Whew. So glad you’re doing better! <3 Hugs.

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Kelsey October 20, 2011 at 10:49 am

I applaud your honesty. As someone recovering from an ED myself — and someone who is also genuinely in love with fitness and exercise — I agree with 100% of what you said. I’m not sure we’ll ever really, truly be recovered, but we can be healthy and pretty dang normal. Here’s to our continued successes in recoverING!

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julie November 8, 2011 at 9:01 pm

The information you shared about eating disorder is cool. And many will be able to get ideas about the disorder. Thank you for the post.

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