Fighting Through My Struggle with Body Dysmorphia and an Eating Disorder

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A few months back, one of my social media posts about my own experience with body dysmorphia struck a major chord when it elicited over 1,000 comments. Hundreds (maybe thousands) of people have reached out to me for help since, and I realize this is a struggle many of you have experienced or are experiencing. In an effort to provide hope to anyone needing it, I am reposting this today. While I’m not expecting this post to be a “cure all,” I am praying it touches those in need most and lets them know there is light at the end of the dark tunnel…and that happiness and balance can be found!!!

*Originally posted on Facebook and Instagram on October 24, 2015.

Posting this is a bit gut-wrenching for me. More than anything, it’s rather uncomfortable to focus on MY body, MY change, and MY weaknesses and struggles from my past. It’s so much easier to highlight the peeps we work with and stick with posting cute family selfies. But, I also feel incredibly proud of how far I’ve come physically and mentally over the past 8 years, and I hope there is someone out there that this gives hope to.

Eight years ago, I was terrified of gaining weight. I worried that one little nutritional slip-up would ruin me. While I had many people telling me to “eat a cheeseburger,” I had the hardest time seeing what it was that they were seeing…and was still caught in some of the lingering darkness from my decade-long battle with an eating disorder. Clearly, I was still struggling with body dysmorphia, even though I thought I was healed. While I had found the willpower to stop my binge/purge cycles, I was still somewhat of a confused messuva woman. I was convinced that I would never be able to eat more than 1200 calories again without putting on weight where I didn’t want it.

The girl on the left never would have believed that today I’d have 2 more babies (4 total), eat 2600 calories a day, add 20 lbs to my frame, and feel happier, healthier, fitter, and more in control of my body than ever before. AND have a very healthy relationship with food!!

Those I have to thank for this:

  • Chris for helping me take my first leap of faith toward 5 meals a day (terrifying to the woman on the left). You have been my rock through this…and you may not even know it.
  • My EWL peeps for helping my own healing as you courageously allowed me to coach you through (and be a part of) yours.
  • My amazing coaches for opening my eyes to a whole new approach for my body. It’s been incredible to see the changes my body has made in this short time by trusting the process: increasing calories/counting macros, decreasing cardio (to ZERO), and lifting like an athlete to build muscle. Thanks to my amazing coach, Damian Segovia at Pro Physiques, for guiding me every step of the way, and Deborah Goodman for helping me find my booty! You’ve helped me realize my body CAN get better with age, even after babies!

And for any of you struggling with any type of eating disorder, please reach out for help! Asking for help is not a sign of weakness—it is a huge marker of strength and shows a tremendous amount of courage. Below is a list of some additional reads to help guide you in the right direction, as well as some resources for support. I promise you this is something you can overcome…I have lived both sides and KNOW it’s possible!

Xoxo,

Heidi

Related reading:

Eating Disorders: The Ugly Truth of the Skinny Fixation
Overcoming an Eating Disorder: A Journey to Health, Healing, and Happiness
Emotional Eating: How to Take Control Once and for All

For additional support:

Shades of Hope
National Eating Disorders Association
Mayo Clinic


20 Comments

  1. Theresa - October 28, 2016

    Just love this. Lots to think about, lots to face! But know it’s possible! Your story is a testimony, your past struggle was made for this moment of triumph and inspiration for others! 💞

  2. Catherine - April 23, 2016

    I just watched your show for the first time. God bless you for being so inspiring. I have been over weight for a while now and I have a health issue with bullemia. It is very hard when no one wants to help you and you are stuck being this way for almost 15 years. I grew up being skinny my whole life utill i reached 40. I gained almost 100lbs and I can’t seem to lose it. It all started in my 30 when I got married. I was trying to have a baby but no luck. I blamed myself and started using food as a comfort, when I started gaining the weight I started throwing up. Most of the time I have no control. I called the dr oz show I tried so many times to get help over the years but nothing seems to work. I really no my issue but I do feel I need to be guided in the right direction. I am stuck and afraid that I will never be healthy again and will probably get ill. People look at how I was and can’t beleive what I look like now. I’m only 5’2 so I look bigger. I was 110 lbs when I got married . I know I will never be the same but I just need someone to put me in the right track. I also know that there are thousands of people with issues and you will probably never get back to me, but I figured this is my last chance. If I could just have the right balance in my life maybe I Would not be this way.

    • Team Powell - April 23, 2016

      Hi Catherine: Chris and Heidi truly wish they could personally help everyone, but they’re not taking on clients right now. That’s why they’ve made all their transformation tools available for all of us to use to achieve our goals. You can learn about their carb cycling program – the same program they use on the show – here: http://heidipowell.net/9060. And please discuss this, or any nutrition and exercise program, with your healthcare team first and then follow any modifications they might recommend. Make and keep that first promise to yourself, choose a cycle, and go! You can do this!

  3. Michelle - April 13, 2016

    Heidi you are an inspiration that’s a fact, do you train or can you recommend a trainer I’m 41 over weight and I have employed trainers at the gym that have just done the opposite of what I need.

    • Team Powell - April 13, 2016

      Hi Michelle: Heidi isn’t takin on clients right now, and I don’t have any recommendations for trainers. The top certification organizations do have directories on their sites of trainers, so that might be an option for you.

  4. LeAnn Sharpe - April 5, 2016

    Dear Heidi,

    I am a 44 year old mother of 4 adult children, 26,23,21 and 20. I have a goal to do a photo shoot June 25th, my 45th birthday. To be a healthy, vibrant and strong woman. I am at a healthy weight at the moment but I have not been in the past. I am struggling with how to go about achieving my body composition goals for the photo shoot. I’m pretending it a bikini competition because I’m not brave enough to get in a tiny bikini just yet 🙂

    I do struggle with worrying about adding bodyfat with the additional calories to help me train but I also want to be a little leaner than I am. I am not sure if I am eating enough or too much and what type of training I should be doing.

    You inspire me because you are a mother of 4 and have overcome eating and body issues and are so strong and healthy now. I am still finding my peace with my body, and eating disorder.

    Can you guide me to any information about what I should be doing

    Thank you so very much for sharing your life, your struggles and triumphs.

    Sincerely,

    LeAnn Sharpe

    • Team Powell - April 5, 2016

      Hi LeAnn: What an awesome thing to do for your birthday! Here’s a post from Heidi’s blog that might help: http://heidipowell.net/10540/ask-the-powells-gaining-healthy-weight/. As for training, that’s a very individualized thing since each body is different. Heidi does have some workouts she’s posted on her social media channels and on this blog that might help. You can do this!

  5. Shelisa - March 28, 2016

    Ran across this on FB. I’ve been bulimic for 2 years now and I’m still obese. who said eating disorders make you skinny? Lol You’re gorgeous!

  6. Kat - March 1, 2016

    This really hit a nerve for me as I’m the girl on the left and I really want to be the one on the right. I do a lot of home exercise and lift but at the moment it is very controlled.

    I recently used the gym at a hotel I was staying in and I caught of glimpse of what I really look like and was shocked at how skinny my arms are but then I got back to my hotel room and saw them in that mirror and thought they were fat again. I know they are skinny but at the same time I don’t, it’s so hard to describe.

    When I got home I joined a gym to try to build myself up a bit by lifting heavier as I do actually really enjoy it, my partner is going to help me but I’m very scared of growing, I already think my legs are huge, my sensible head knows that it is pure muscle as I can’t even pinch anything to measure with calipers but my BD head thinks it is fat.

    How do you get your head around growing muscles? I really want to change my body to the strong one but the BD head is pushing back so hard and it is really scary.

    • Team Powell - March 1, 2016

      Hi Kat: Have you spoken to your healthcare team or a professional who deals with body dysmorphia about how you’re feeling? This might be a good place to start. And it definitely is all about taking those baby steps to change your mindset, and these baby steps can be different for each person. It is a journey, but you can do this! We wish you the best!

  7. C. Diane Crady - February 19, 2016

    Heidi,
    I love watching Extreme Weight Loss and seeing how the people transform their lives and bodies. I am a 60 year old woman who suffers from Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, Osteoarthritis, Degenerative Disc Disease, and Neuropathy. I worked for 16 years in a manufacturing job that required me to beat on steel molds with a sledge hammer, and I worked around many chemicals all of which contributed to my health problems. I have also taken care of several of my family members before their deaths which meant many days and nights in hospitals. All of these were in different states from where I live with my husband and each time it meant putting my life on hold to care for family members for months at a time. I have lost 2 brothers one at 39 who was shot and killed and another brother who passed away at 37 from a brain tumor. I stayed and cared for both of my parents for several months before they passed away, and had to take care of their estate. During the time my youngest son was in the Navy (5 yrs. as a submariner) he had 2 accidents. Both of them resulted in head injuries and we received phone calls with both of them that he may not make it. Both times I again put my life on hold and went to nurse him back to health. There have been other things in my life that have added so much stress on my life. With each incident I gained weight. I also began to feel a great deal of depression and guilt. I now weigh over 230 lbs. It is so hard on my knees and back and body. I have been exercising. I do some light weights, steps, walk, videos, yoga, zumba, and I tried kickboxing which I loved, but it was not good on my back and hips. Exercising is very painful for me. I exercise then I suffer from pain. I try to eat healthy, but I know I have more work to do in that area. I eat breakfast, then I don’t eat anything else usually until dinner. I have a really hard time swallowing if I try to eat and I am not hungry. The weight is very hard on my body and it causes me to be in pain. I would love some help as far as diet and exercises that won’t be so hard on my joints. I find that it is very confusing to know what kind of things I should be eating.
    Sincerely, Diane

    • Team Powell - February 19, 2016

      Hi Diane: Thank you for your comment and for sharing your story with us. I’m so sorry for all you’ve had to deal with, and I can’t imagine how difficult this all has been for you. You can begin your transformation journey today with the same program Chris and Heidi use on EWL, and you can learn about their cycling program here: http://heidipowell.net/9060. And be sure and follow all the links within the post too. The exercise part of their program requires no gym membership or equipment, so that should be very helpful for you. And please discuss this, or any nutrition and exercise program, with your healthcare team first, and then follow any modifications they might recommend. Make that first promise, choose a cycle, and go! You can do this!

  8. kim - February 16, 2016

    Hi I am 31 years old and was 17 st 8lbs 5 weeks ago I now weigh 16st 5lbs the weight loss has slowed down now and have found myself skipping breakfast and lunch this past 2 weeks and am weighing myself 3 times a day if not more. I am worried that this may be a form of an eating disorder and wonder what I should.

    • Team Powell - February 16, 2016

      Hi Kim: It’s best to only weigh yourself once a week, and Chris and Heidi recommend you eat 5 meals a day. If you’d like to learn more about their carb cycling program, which outlines everything you need to know and do to achieve your transformation goals, you can learn about the basics of their program here: http://heidipowell.net/9060. You can do this!

  9. Michelle Phelps - February 12, 2016

    Heidi i desperately need help from you n Chris!! Today is my bday n im 46 years old. I just started at Powell metabolic in Gilbert az. I used to be fit and active til i had to deal with a lot of trauma n became depressed n went on antidepressants n gained a ton of weight n its spiraled out of control. I nd desperately to be on the show. I don’t wanna die fat. Everyone has given up on me n I’ve gave up on myself. Plz im begging you plz help save my life!!!! I wanna be healthy n trim again. I don’t hv a problem over eating. Sometimes i only eat breakfast. I hv lupus n diabetes n other medical issues n i truly need help. Please heidi. Plz contact me at [email protected] or through aspen physical therapy where im going through your metabolic program. I need someone to transform me n help me believe in myself. I not only need physical transformation but i need you n chris to change the way i look at myself. Im at the breaking point n need help bad. Im tired of being fat n ugly n need your help. Please help save my life!! Plz!!! I’ve given up on myself. Please help me!!!!

    • Team Powell - February 12, 2016

      Hi Michelle: Happy birthday! I’m so sorry, but casting for EWL is currently closed. But you’re made a huge step in the right direction by working with Powell Metabolics! It’s an awesome program, they truly care about each of their clients, and they will help you reach your goals! You can do this – we believe in you!

  10. Randi - February 9, 2016

    Heidi do you think you would have added 20lbs of muscle and took on this new way of thinking, eating and working out( changed everything basically) if you and Chris had not been challenged by ewl peeps to do a competition? Seems as though everything changed after your first competition!

  11. Rachel - February 9, 2016

    I highly, HIGHLY, recommend this website! 🙂 http://mercymultiplied.com/
    I hope it helps someone
    xoxo
    Rachel

  12. M Keeping - February 9, 2016

    Heidi,

    You have been an inspiration to me; when I read this I feel like someone understands me; the struggle; I feel like I am still that person you were 8 years ago; trying to be the person you are today, but terrified to make the leap.

    I keep reading your encouraging words and hope that my path leads to a similar outcome to yours!

    You are amazing and thank you for being so candid, honest and open about your successes and your not-so-great moments!

    M. Keeping
    Western Canada

  13. Amy - February 9, 2016

    Wish I could be like you,I don’t have the willpower to do it but need to lose it do to medical reasons. You are a inspiration

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