NEDA SUBMISSIONS: Why are you proud of your body?

The Valentine’s Day hearts are put away, the chocolate’s all eaten, and Walmart’s aisles are filled with the luck ‘o the Irish and shamrocks. It’s the end of February, and that can only mean…

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week!


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Your Body is Not a Photograph

Quick, think of the perfect body.

No matter how “body positive” and “health at every size” you are… No matter if your perfect body has six-pack abs and quads the size of tree trunks… or if it included slender legs and a voluptuous boot-ay, I’m sure you at least had the flicker of some image in your head. And it probably wasn’t a mirror image of yourself as you are, right now.

Maybe it was how you looked on spring break in college. Maybe it was slightly similar (*cough, cough* identical) to the powerlifter you follow on Instagram.

Whatever it was, to you, it’s perfect. Ideal. The epitome of happiness.

Femail female body graphic preview.jpg

But, here’s the thing, our image of an ideal body–whatever that might be–is just that: an image. A snapshot. A picture. A photograph.


The catch? Photographs never change. Read More »

How to Lose 5lbs in 5 Minutes (or Less)

I haven’t weighed myself in 1 year, 11 months, 29 days, 2 hours, and 15 minutes. But who’s counting, right?

Quite honestly, I haven’t had the desire to see what I weigh. I know it’s more than my lowest (a soaking wet bag of bread probably weighs more than my lowest) but less than my highest. I feel good. I can exercise, eat most food with (relatively) little guilt, and actually look in the mirror and like what I see. That’s more important than a number on a scale.

But I’m still a recovering addict.


With all this talk of New Year’s, losing those holiday pounds, making this “your best year ever!”… it’s hard not be triggered. The other day, I went to the gym to do my regular routine, to block out all those thoughts of I have to do XXX amount of minutes or I have to eat XXX calories and There It Was. The Bane of My Old ED Existence. The Determiner of My Fate.

The Scale.

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The Non-New Year Resolutions

This year, I’m not going to lose “the last 5 pounds.”

This year, I’m not going to out-exercise half a cookie I ate last night.

This year, I’m not going to compare myself to that woman on a magazine, that guy on Instagram, or even my sister. I’m not going to waste energy focusing on other people, when I should be focusing on becoming a more refined and happier version of me.



This year, I’m not going to step on the scale every morning. Weight does not define me.

This year, I’m not going to eat an apple and see it as roughly 100 calories. An apple is food. Food is energy. Energy is life.

This year, I’m not going to cancel dinner plans because I researched the menu online for hours and couldn’t find anything that would fit my macros. Enjoying friends and family is way more important than calculating protein, carbs, and fats.


This year, I’m not going to stress so much if I skip a gym day. Or two, or a week, or a month. The gym will always be there. Life won’t.

This year, I’m not going to stand by and watch–mouth watering–while my friend eats a slice of cheesecake and I say I don’t want any because I’m too full or I had dessert yesterday or whatever other excuse I make up.

This year, I’m going to live life.

I’m not going to let food, exercise, or comparison steal my happiness.

I’m going to learn to be myself, and take this new year for all its worth.


Your turn! Thinking Out Loud:

-What are your “non”-new year resolutions?

-What’s one non-body/exercise/physical appearance goal you want to work on? For me, it’s writing for fun more and working on a creative novel manuscript. I’d also like to become more comfortable with unexpected changes in routine or unplanned outings.

-What’s something you accomplished this past year?

Why I'm Done Being "Better" | Fuel For Freedom

Why I’m Done Being “Better”

That’s it. I’m done. I want to get rid of the “-ers.”

You know what I’m talking about.

When you did the best you could… but think you could have done bett-er.

When you finish that race… but think you could have ran fast-er.

When you lift a new PR… but think you could have been strong-er.

better way

There’s nothing wrong with pushing yourself. If we never aimed for higher goals, we’d always be stuck in our old ways. Inventing excuses for underachieving simply to make ourselves feel good is a trap all in itself.

But there’s a difference between realizing where you have the potential to improve… and neglecting to celebrate the achievements you already have in a constant pursuit of something “better.”

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Did I Choose My Eating Disorder? | Fuel For Freedom

Did I Choose My Eating Disorder?

I hate making decisions.

Even picking a restaurant takes me an hour. I mean, who really wants to choose between a burger and sushi? (And don’t even get me started on when we actually get to that restaurant and the waiter hands me my menu.)

Decisions are scary.

Choosing one thing often means not choosing the other. It means deciding what really matters to us. What will really help us in the future.

Sometimes we choose “wrong.”

It could be as simple as eating that greasy pizza when you know it will give you heartburn. Or it could be more serious. You could choose one job offer, only to realize a few months later that you’d prefer to lie on a bed of nails than work for that company.

Did I Choose My Eating Disorder? | Fuel For Freedom

But do you choose having an eating disorder?

Society seems to think so. Eating disorders can be cast off as “diets-gone-wrong.” Girls who took the 1,200 calorie rule just a little too far. Guys who just wanted to cut weight for their sports and didn’t stop. College athletes who just spend a bit too long in the gym.

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5 Things You Learn in Recovery

Choosing to start recovery is a leap. A big, big leap.

An I’m standing on the edge of dark, scary cliff and on the other side is rainbows, butterflies, and happiness that I know I’ll have if I just close my eyes, take a breath, kick out my legs… and possibly fall to my death on the sharp, pointing rocks below leap.

man on cliff
Kind of like this.

No one else can make that decision to move your feet from your “safe” ledge and trust that you’ll make it to the other side. That’s all up to you. However, once you start recovery, you need other people to support your journey. They can act as the wind under your wings, keeping you afloat until you make it.

It’s said time and time again, but recovery is worth it. It’s worth the setbacks, the struggles, the days of self-doubt. It’s worth the wait (and the weight). Choosing to get better means choosing life. It means choosing not to starve yourself, not to binge and purge, and not to overexercise–despite that voice telling you that you’ll be nothing without those parts of your identity.

ed recovery quote

That’s another beauty of recovery though. You learn to rediscover that identity. And, trust me, the new one leaves room for all the happiness, ice cream, and self-power you never had with the old one.

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Recovery is Not a Solo Act | Fuel for Freedom

Recovery is Not a Solo Act

For the longest time, I thought I was a unicorn. A myth, a legend, the impossible incarnate.

Recovery is Not a Solo Act | Fuel for Freedom
A self-portrait

While my friends moaned about how hungry they were, I could feel full on nothing but salad and hardboiled egg whites.

While my sisters took rest days, I could workout for hours on end every single day.

While my mom had endless phone calls to friends whenever she had a rough day, I could hold in the tears, not crying until I was alone in my bed and the lights were off.

I was the best one-man circus the world had ever seen.

Recovery is Not a Solo Act | Fuel for Freedom
This is how I felt most of the time during my recovery.

But one thing they don’t tell you is that it gets awfully lonely standing up on stage by yourself. Here I was, trying to juggle all the balls in the air at the same time without so much as an assistant waiting by the sidelines for when one of them inevitably dropped.

There’s nothing wrong about being an introvert. I’m a person who will gladly spend a Friday night reading a book rather than going out for drinks. I’ll proudly admit that I actually enjoy sitting at lunch by myself sometimes, if only to get my thougths together and not having to worry about making conversation.

As much as this social withdrawal makes eating disorders easier–for hiding obessive habits, for disguising the weight, for allowing thoughts of your own innate unworthiness to consume you–it makes recovery dang-near impossible.

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What I Gained with the Weight | Fuel for Freedom

What I Gained with the Weight


There, I said it.

If you found an old picture of me from my freshman year, you’d see a girl who certainly didn’t gain the “freshman 15.” She lost it… plus some. She was fit! She was healthy! She was–dare I say it–thin!

But she also felt like a failure. She wasn’t fit enough, healthy enough, thin enough. She wasn’t small enough, even though if she got any smaller she’d vanish into the air. But that’s what she wanted. She wanted to be perfect, and perfection demanded unraveling everything that made her a unique human being. Anything that made her stand apart from the rest of the world.

I am allowed to take up space

Over two years later, I’ve finally gained enough weight that I notice it in pictures. I know no one else can. I look so much healthier than the sick girl from freshman year, but there’s no denying it.

I’m bigger. You can see more of my body in the frame.  My arms are no longer sticks that disappear behind friends’ heads. You can no longer see grass in the background through the gap between my thighs.

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Not Being Afraid to Ask for Seconds | Fuel For Freedom

Not Being Afraid to Ask for Seconds

As much as I love eating at friends’ houses, there always comes that awkward moment.

You know the one. Right after you’ve finished the last bite of your meal and right before your stomach grumbles for more. You eye another piece of turkey or salmon, your mouth waters at the very sight of the still half-full pot of sweet potato casserole.

But no, you can’t possibly ask for seconds. What would they think of you?

That you were a glutton. That you were greedy. Maybe they want to keep the rest of the food for leftovers.

Not Being Afraid to Ask for Seconds | Fuel For Freedom

I know I’ve been there, lusting for more food when everyone else’s plates look like they’ve barely taken a bite off of them. I know I want more, but I’m afraid to speak up. Afraid of what others might think. Recently, I asked for a second piece of chicken in the dining hall when the lady handed me a piece. I hadn’t eaten since lunch, and I knew the small chicken breast on my plate wasn’t going to satisfy the beast raging in my gut.

Saying I wanted more took everything in me. In the past, I’d accept the little piece and hurry back to my table. I wouldn’t admit my body might need additional nutrients that day. I wouldn’t admit the serving size that might be enough for some people wouldn’t be enough for me.

I was worried someone would judge me for wanting more food.

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