Overcoming an Eating Disorder: A Journey to Health, Healing, and Happiness

Overcoming an Eating Disorder

While it?s hard to open up and talk about moments in my life I am not proud of, the effect this post had on social media?over 3 million reached and almost 900 comments at last count!?and the lives it seemed to touch, was incredibly worth it. I can?t help but post it here on my blog as well, in hopes of it reaching and helping even more in need, especially since one of our dear friends and contestants on Extreme Weight Loss season 5?Pearls?also suffered for years from an eating disorder.

Moment of truth: In the depths of my own severe eating disorder, I never thought in a millions years that I would be happy with my body. ?Weight, scales, body image, exercise, food, dieting, restricting, binging, purging, fear? were just a handful of awful words that would literally plague my mind daily for nearly a decade as I battled with the strongest opponent ever: MYSELF. I fought my own demons each and every day. Each day attempting to release myself from the hell I was living. Each day striving for a healthier life. Day after day, month after month, and year after year, I failed. Each failed attempt was proof to me that I?d always suffer, and that I would never live a ?normal? life. There were times I felt my body wouldn?t be able to handle the stress I was putting it through, and I worried I wouldn?t make it to the next day.

The picture on the left is me at 17 in the place I mentioned above. This wasn?t even the worst of it?fast forward 6 years?I was married with a baby on the way and still didn?t have my crap together. Luckily, that was about when things changed and healing began. Becoming a mother and learning to be selfless was one of the best things that ever happened to me, and it truly helped set me on a better path.

Two kids, one divorce, a new husband, and two more kids later, I am healthier than ever before. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. While it truly has been a slow journey, the fact that I am eating upwards of 2600 calories a day to build muscle will never be anything short of a miracle to me, because the thought of increasing size was always something that absolutely terrified me. At 33 years old and 20 lbs. heavier than I?ve been the majority of my adult life, I feel sexier, stronger, more beautiful and confident than ever before. Yeah, I might have a little more cellulite and wear a couple of sizes larger, but I can lift heavy weights and carry someone on my back without feeling like I’m gonna? break. 😉 I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I saw this pic Chris snapped of me the other during my workout and couldn?t help but cry a few happy tears for how far I?ve come. I thank GOD every single day that I?m not suffering now like I did for so many years.

For ANYONE out there struggling with feeling like you will never get out of the vicious eating disorder cycle, use me as PROOF that it is possible! GET HELP! Seeking help may seem like a sign of weakness, but it is truly a sign of strength. Weak people do not reach out for help. Only strong and courageous people do!

If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, here are some amazing organizations that can help:

Shades of Hope
National Eating Disorders Association

And please check out this blog post for some additional information about eating disorders and some tools that have helped me work through my own eating disorder.

Xoxo,

Heidi

Related reading:

Fighting Through My Struggle with Body Dysmorphia and an Eating Disorder
Eating Disorders: The Ugly Truth of the Skinny Fixation

61 Responses

  1. I just started watching your show and I really identified with Pearls and you. I have been on every diet imaginable. I was anorexic in high school and suffered from bullemia, and was addicted to taking laxatives. I know how it torments your mind. I started taking tae kwon do and krav maga and that was the best shape I’d ever been in my whole life, the first time I could look in the mirror ever and actually LIKED the way my body looked. Well, 3 kids later, I have not have had the time that I had before. I just had my daughter 2 months ago and need to lose about 40 pounds. I saw your carb cycling for the first time today and I’m going to try it! What suggestions do you have for workout for someone who doesn’t have a lot of free time to work out. That has been my issue. I work 40 hours, plus coming home to a newborn and my husband works 2 jobs so finding time to myself to workout is really hard. Anything you suggest?

    1. Yes! Learn about the exercise part of Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program here: https://heidipowell.net/9059/all-about-exercise-2/. Their 9-Minute Missions (strength training) only take 9 minutes in the morning, and then they recommend up to an hour of Shredders (cardio) sometime during the day. Even if you can only get in a few minutes at a time, that works – it all adds up. You can do this! And congratulations on you new baby!

  2. Today I watched the “Pearl” episode of your show. It made me question whether I have an eating disorder. I would never have thought so but now I wonder “do I”.
    My story is, I have been in the fitness field for over 35 years. I have also embrace healthy eating since my late 20’s. I slowly took baby steps to remove the unhealthy foods in my life. 10 years ago I went Vegan. It was then that I went from a size 6 to a size 2. Still as active as ever I realized how hungry I was all the time. So I tried the eating every 3 hours to keep myself satiated. I eventually found out that wheat was causing me digestive problems, so I removed that from my diet, which made it even more difficult to feel full. I finally gave in and decided to add fish and greek yogurt to my diet, becoming a pescatarian that doesn’t eat wheat. I was teaching 4 cardio classes a week and lifting weights and my weight was increasing bringing me to a size 4. I was ok with that.
    At the beginning of this year, is when my weight started to creep up on me. I have never counted calories but I was still eating clean and healthy and was gaining weight. I started an intense weight training program to build muscle mass to help with my metabolism. My weight is up as high as when I was pregnant weighing 150 lbs. I am 5 foot 5 inches, now wearing size 6 and some 8. I am lost as to how I get my weight down. I already feel deprived of food but don’t know how to eat better than I am. I am not interested in meat so my protein sources are eggs, beans, fish and yogurt. Can you recommend an eating program I can follow that helps build muscle tissue without eating meat? I feel like all I think about is food. Its almost depressing.

    what to do? Linda

    1. Hi Linda: Thank you for sharing your story with us. You might want to check into the nutrition part of Chris and Heidi’s carb cycling program in their book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” Learn about the basics here: https://heidipowell.net/2713. In their program, you could eat egg whites, fish, and Greek yogurt as your protein sources, as well as other options, and beans would fall into the carb category. Give it a try – you can do this!

  3. Heidi, thank you for your words! Much like Pearls, I had moment recently that made me honestly think about not eating. I tried on my dream wedding dress at a bridal boutique and realized that I had put on 30 pounds in less than a year. I knew I had gained weight and couldn’t fit into my clothes but I denied that thought by just wearing sweatpants and never dressing nice. But I didn’t stop eating! I made a conscious decision to lose the weight the healthy way. I have 9 months to do it. It’s going to be hard between working full time, going to school full time, and planning a wedding but I bought that dress anyways and I’m going to fit into it. Thank you, Heidi!

  4. Thanks for sharing your story. I’ve had issues with eating, weighing myself obsessively, and not being happy with my body. I have been both too skinny and slightly chubby. I was able to work through these demons and turn to exercise. Then when my body rejected food (yes – it can happen) and I was unable to physically eat enough, it was truly depressing. I was underweight and did not exercise since I did not want to lose more weight. I honestly thought I looked disgusting being so skinny – my muscles were no longer toned. Not being able to exercise was really a downer. When my body recovered and I started putting on weight, it felt great to go back to the gym and tone my muscles. My main goal is being able to work out and have the best body – that means eating a sufficient amount (no skipping meals or starving and no overeating) and working out without overdoing it. This healthy attitude helped me through a pregnancy and hopefully will help me through a second pregnancy 🙂

    1. Hi Karvachauth: Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. I’m sure others who have had these same issues will find inspiration from your story. We wish you the best!

  5. I am 25 yrs old and I have been struggling with an eating disorder for 6 yrs, I have been lost and consumed by the disease I am at my lowest weight and currently getting help. I strive to one day look like heidi, I don’t know how to get as fig as you but that is my dream! Thanks for your honesty and inspiration.

  6. Hey Heidi.

    I figured of all people I’d reach out to you . I have always struggled with being tiny . I’ve never weighed over 10lbs in my life except when I was pregnant and gained 90lbs. Lost it all in 10 weeks just eating clean and light excercise. I did get diagnosed in 2009 with fibromyglia vertigo and depression due to stress and military life. I was put on all kinds of meds from 09-10. In between 2011-2012 time frame on no meds I gained 28 lbs . Literally in 3 months . In 2012 I started working out and lost it all and gained tons of muscle I kept going and working out . In fact I was so fit for almost the last 3 years but recently over the last 3 months I’m losing tons if muscle and tons of weight . I work out daily and I even started lifting and drinking a protein shake 2xs a day on top of a 2100 call intake and I’m still losing . I haven’t been called skinny in 3 years and now people are worried about me . I haven’t changed anything except not doing cardio. I would love for you to take me in and teach me how to get my muscle back . I know yall help people lose weight but what about a show you help people get there muscle back on. I’m going to see the doctor for blood work bc it is extremely odd it’s just not coming back on like it normally does very quickly .HELP ME GET STRONGER GET MY MUSCLE BACK AND TRAIN ME THE CORRECT WAY PLEASE.

    1. Hi Karen: Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Chris and Heidi would love to help you personally, but unfortunately, they’re not taking on new clients right now. It sounds like you’re definitely on the right track, and I’m glad you’ve made an appointment with your doctor to see what’s going on. I truly hope you can find the answers you’re seeking, and we wish you the best!

  7. Heidi,

    I have been suffering from an eating disorder (combination of anorexia, bulimia, and overeating) for 9 years now. I have been living in shame and fear for so long, too ashamed to admit I had a serious problem. It is women like you being unafraid to share your story that inspire women like me to seek help. Knowing you have gone through the same thing and sought help makes me realize I can do this, too. I thought for a long time I was weak if I asked for help, but you are so right that only strong people do. It takes incredible strength to ask for help. Thank you for sharing your story. I started counseling on Monday and I am incredibly hopeful that I will recover.

    Both you and Chris are incredible people. Keep doing what you’re doing. You really are making a difference.

    1. Hi Sara: Thank you so much for posting your story. And congratulations on taking that very important step to ask for help – you are on your way to recovery! We wish you the best!

  8. Heidi,

    I’m not sure if you get a chance to read all these comments but
    I have been wanting to write to your for around a year to thank you. I’m 22 and I’ve been dealing with my own eating disorder for many years now. It hasn’t been until recently that I’ve been able to be at a healthy weight and it is sincerely because of your show.

    At the darkest times of my eating disorder, I was eating 300 or less calories a day and sleeping the majority of the day. In my active moments I would often watch tv. In full fairness, my obsession with food brought me to your and Chris’s show but the impact has been all but positive.

    You inspired me to eat more, work out more, and just be happy with myself, this post is so brave and thank you for being such a huge inspiration for me on my recovery.

    Thank you for changing my life.

    Audrey

    1. Hi Audrey: Thank you so much for posting and sharing your story with us. Thank you, also, for your kind words and support for Chris and Heidi and their mission to transform lives – I know they truly appreciate it! Congratulations on all the positive steps you’re taking in your recovery – you can totally do this!

  9. Are you guys taking clients that aren’t on EWL? I am in AZ and really need help! I have eating disorder issues and now looking at going to MX for weight loss surgery. I need help; your help.

    1. I’m so sorry, but Chris and Heidi aren’t taking on clients right now. Because of this, they’ve put all the tools they use on EWL in their book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life,” for all of us to use to achieve our transformation goals. You can learn more about their program here: https://heidipowell.net/9060. you can do this!

  10. First off, let me start off by saying, I’m happy Chris and/or the network included you on the show. Not only, are the both of you extremely positive and have a great outlook on life, but also are humble. Most of the time you see trainers, certified or not, being cocky and treating their clients as such. As if they are better than them, or talk about themselves and not the client. I have spread the word here locally, to have people tune in and share the experience that I have as I watch the show. I feel like I already know you both. Please continue doing what you’re doing and never change!! You two are like my own Superheroes!! Thank you and bless you and your family.

    1. I completely agree!!! Heidi definitely adds more dimension to the show!!! The show gets better and better!!! I can really appreciate the openness of the Powell’s sharing about emotional eating, food addictions, eating disorders, etc… it is a show that documents the full transformation-inside and out!!!

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