Sitting cross legged on the floor of my bedroom, I frantically opened my laptop. I didn’t even know what to type. Desperate for some sort of guidance, my fingers crawled across the keyboard. Into google I typed: “is it possible to ever really recover from an eating disorder?” I was 41 years old and had been trying to recover from an eating disorder for more than half of my life. Not even sure what I was looking for, I scrolled the search results. The profile of a fresh faced beautiful woman standing on the beach caught my eye. Little did I know that clicking on this search result would forever change my life. Perhaps it was destiny. Maybe intuition guided me that day. Whatever led me to the homepage for The Recovery Warrior Show doesn’t matter. I’m just grateful I landed there.
My introduction to the Recovery Warrior Podcast
I had never even listened to a podcast, yet suddenly I found myself diving into episode after episode of The Recovery Warrior Show. The host, Jessica Flint, had a warm and welcoming voice with a light laugh and a charming personality. I felt like she was a friend chatting with me on my couch. One after another, I heard stories of resilient courageous warriors who broke free from their eating disorders. Not a single warrior had the same exact story as mine. Yet I found I related to each and ever single one of them on one level or another.
After struggling with anorexia and bulimia for more than 23 years, I had started to lose hope of ever breaking free from the prison of the eating disorder. I had been to treatment twice and worked with various therapists, psychiatrists, and nutritionists over the years. The war I waged on my body as a naïve 17 year old had transformed into a lifelong battle. I was tired. And losing hope quickly. The exhausted and overwhelmed mother of three young children, I started to feel like perhaps this was simply my destiny- to struggle for the rest of my life. Thank heavens I was wrong.
Listening to the Recovery Warrior Podcast changed my life
I know it sounds corny- to credit a podcast for changing my life. Of course, when it came to my recovery, I am the one who had to do the work. A podcast couldn’t make me sit down to three meals a day and eat them. It couldn’t tell my husband that I needed help, and it couldn’t make me sit with the discomfort of a full stomach when every cell in my brain screamed at me to use a behavior. No, a podcast couldn’t save my life.
I had to be the one to choose recovery.
What the podcast did, however, was equally important. It was the catalyst for me to choose a better life. Hearing stories of others who had chosen recovery offered me hope. Suddenly I realized I was not the only one. I felt a little less alone and I found a small glimmer of hope. If these women could do it, then maybe, just maybe, I could too. Sitting on my floor, cross legged, a tiny spark of hope started to grow with in my soul.
I knew I had to try it again.
It is difficult to put into words the liberation that occurs when you realize you are not alone in your battles with food and body. To understand you are not the only person on this earth who fights a demon every day at the breakfast table. It changes everything. When you believe you are inherently broken it is easier to fall for the lie that you can never change. But when you hear others speaking your truth, the tiny flame of hope deep within your gut starts to grow. Recovery becomes a possibility in your soul.
And so I chose to try again
On days when the eating disorder voice relentlessly screamed in my head, I put in ear buds and literally filled my head with the podcast. Replacing the self destructive voices with stories of hope, resilience, and healing was transformational. Warriors described their new journeys and I marveled at the lives they constructed that no longer revolved around shrinking their bodies. So many of them were doing amazing work and helping others. I began to dream of a day I could also use my story to help others. It seemed far off, maybe even impossible. My inner critic laughed at my ideas. But a tiny seed took root in my soul. Perhaps there was a shred of possibility that I could make this world a better place. That seemed a lot more important than shrinking my jeans size.
In between episodes with amazing warriors, the host interviewed experts in the field of recovery. It was through the podcast I was introduced to the Health at Every Size movement. My inner scientist gobbled up the research of Lindo Bacon and I ever so slightly loosened my grip on trying to control my body. The humanitarian in me gravitated towards the work of Christy Harrison as I learned about the ways fatphobia contributes to systemic oppression. She taught me the words diet culture and suddenly I realized that fighting such a harmful paradigm felt better in my soul than going along with it ever did. And when I initially heard Isabel Foxen Duke speak on the podcast, I got goosebumps.
For the first time in my life, I began to allow in the possibility that maybe the problem was not my body. Maybe the problem was society.
A Journey not a Destination
Choosing to become a recovery warrior has been a long journey requiring courage, compassion, dedication, and time. Recovery is a process- not a destination. It often means taking two steps forwards and one step back. There is no finish line.
Choosing to love and care for your body in a society that sends us damaging messages telling us to shrink our bodies from every angle is terrifying.
But it is also the key to living a free life. I went from listening to the podcast, to seeking out help. Diving into courses was the next step towards reconnecting with my authentic self and gaining my life back.
Five years ago, when I listened the podcast for the first time, I felt like an empty shell. My life was small and suffocating. Obsessed with shrinking my body, the smaller it got, the worse my life became. Living with an eating disorder is like having tunnel vision. All I could focus on was food, my body, and shrinking. And I could not tolerate the unknown because it terrified me.
One of the beauties of recovery is how it opens your eyes up to the magic of possibilities. No longer focused only on the bites of food on plate, my life, my mind, and my world have grown so much bigger.
With every step I have taken towards letting go of the eating disorder, I have taken a step back to reclaiming myself.
No longer an empty shell- I am now filled with hope, with passion, with connection, and with joy. I wake up excited to live in alignment with my true purpose. Which has nothing to do with my jeans size.
If I could go back to my former self- five years ago- there is so much I would tell her. That exhausted, scared, and empty girl sitting cross legged on the floor would be shocked to know that she was on the edge of a transformation. How could she know that in just five years she would reconnect with her passion for writing? Or that she would land her dream job working for the very company that helped save her life? Most of all, could she even fathom being on the actual podcast that offered her a lifeline?
Being a guest on the farewell season of The Recovery Warrior Show feels very bittersweet. I hate the idea of the show ending because it has been a turning point in so many warrior’s lives. At the same time,
Recovery has taught me to respect and embrace the cycles of life.
I have learned how to let go when something is no longer serving me. And I understand that when something ends, it opens up space for a new beginning.
Just like letting of of an eating disorder opens up space in your life for a new beginning.
And so, while I am very sad this is the final season of The Recovery Warrior Show, I am eternally grateful for the roll it has played in my own journey. As well as other warriors all over the world. I am humbled and honored to be a guest on the show. And I am ecstatic to see what the next step is for the amazing Jessica Flint and for Recovery Warriors.