Green Recovery: Heather’s Positive Affirmations

by Gena on January 7, 2012

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Hello guys! Happy Saturday. Hope you’re welcoming the first full weekend of the new year with something fun.

I’m here today with a new, deeply moving Green Recovery entry from Heather, who writes the fun and sassy blog For the Love of Kale. Heather has been a huge CR supporter for a long time now, through her tweets, her comments, and her general enthusiasm for plant based living. Most recently, she’s given me tons of comforting feedback about the travails of being a student again. Heather, you rock.

I hope you’ll all be moved by Heather’s story of descent into disordered habits, and her gradual, triumphant journey out of it through self love, positive affirmations, and kale.


It began with one little sentence that would forever change my life. I was 15-years-old and sitting in gym class one day, when one of my classmates came over to me. We were acquaintances and talked from time to time about things like what the most popular girls were wearing or next Friday night’s football game. One particular conversation, however, took an entirely different spin.

This classmate sat down next to me and told me that I was getting “a little chubby.” Me? Chubby? I sat in shock and thought for a minute, questioning the words that had sunk into me like daggers. I was far from having to monitor my weight and was involved in sports. Overall, I considered myself to be a happy and healthy teenager. Still, that conversation ignited a fire inside of me. I decided to take a second glance at my eating habits. Now, I was the girl who would gladly wolf down two double cheeseburger meals at McDonald’s without an ounce of regret. I was also the girl who would visit the school store during lunch for every day and purchase a package of Sour Patch Kids.

While my lifestyle choices were far from healthy, I had always been at a below-average weight for my height. For this reason, I figured I could eat whatever I wanted. But that comment resonated with me. I decided to take action. A new mantra became my mission: I was not good enough until I was thin enough. As we know, in the eating disorder realm, there is no such thing as thin enough.

Now, it might sound like a healthy choice to cut sour patch kids out of one’s diet. But my motives were not good. I wanted to be accepted and thought losing weight would get me there – out of the inner turmoil that comes along with being a young, adolescent high schooler. I wanted to be accepted by others because I didn’t accept myself first. I needed others’ affirmation.

After the Sour Patch Kids omission, I rapidly worked myself into a downward spiral and found myself face-to-face with an eating disorder. “How did I reach this point?” I thought to myself. To be frank, I didn’t care how I reached that point. All I cared about was reaching that unattainable ideal.

Three years later, at the age of 18, I was in my first year of college. I had gone up and down with my eating disorder but had finally managed to reach a place of stability. But the minute I stepped foot on campus, all of those high school feelings of gaining other people’s acceptance rushed back to me. I clung to my eating disorder until I decided to visit a doctor on campus. She told me that if I didn’t gain weight, I would be kicked out of school. A lump formed n my throat and my heart sunk. Something clicked inside of me that day.  I was so out of control and so ill, that I was at risk of not being able to function as a normal college student. What was I doing to myself?

I knew that I needed to become a better “me” but I didn’t want to do it with Ensure or Boost.  I wanted to do it with real food. So, I decided to embark on fueling my body in the best way possible. That is when operation vegan kicked in. I started eating nutrient-dense meals, filled with new-to-me foods like chia seeds and quinoa. Instead of viewing food as my enemy, I viewed it as my friend, keeping me free from diseases allowing me to thrive! I was happy. This was a new feeling  to me; once I had felt distanced from for so long.

Through my eating disorder, I found my passion. I switched my major from journalism to nutrition, became a certified Mind Body Barre instructor, and will be graduating with a BS in nutrition this spring. I couldn’t be happier…and in a twisted way, I owe it all to my eating disorder. I am so excited for my future as a nutritionist and hope to inspire other men and women to realize their full potential  and overcome their food demons with the help of plant-based living.

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Seven years later, my eating disorder no longer dominates my life. I can say the word “healthy” without equating it with the word “fat.” I still struggle with my “eating disorder voice,”  the voice that never ceases to tell me how worthless and ugly I am. But I choose not to listen. Instead, I lend an ear to prayer, positive affirmations and self-love. Because I am strong. I am intelligent. I am beautiful. And so are you!

Stay lovely,

Heather


So many things stand out about Heather’s story. Two I’d like to focus on: first, this narrative reminds me of how easy it is for one childhood comment or judgment to deeply injure a person’s sense of value. I had a very big appetite as a child (shocker), and I distinctly remember being teased by various members about it: Gena, the bottomless pit, Gena, the trashcan. It took me about twenty years to reverse the damage that these remarks had created.

I’m a person with a large appetite for many things: food, love, experience. My appetite reflects my overall hunger for fulfillment, or so I like to think. This, anyway, is how I’ve managed to turn what was once a source of shame into a source of pride. I think that Heather has managed to do the exact same things: the food that was once weighted with guilt is now a source of pleasure for her; the body she once tried to diminish is now nurtured and treated with respect. But her story certainly demonstrates that words can have a lasting impact, and it offers us a cautionary reminder to set positive and supportive examples for the young people in our lives by never engaging in “fat talk,” or offering up unwanted body commentary.

The second thing I wanted to point out was Heather’s statement, “I can say the word “healthy” without equating it with the word “fat.” Oh, how that resonates. I’m sure that all people who have experienced healthy weight gain post-ED and been told they look “healthy” again can relate to the strange mix of emotions that surround that word. Health is the goal, of course, but part of recovery is mourning the illness one had become so enmeshed with. It took me years—years—not to cringe when people remarked upon my looking “healthy.” Thank goodness I’ve managed to embrace health—and everything that comes with it—so heartily now.

And now, I’m ready for your responses. What stood out to you from Heather’s story?

xo

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{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga January 7, 2012 at 5:16 pm

I am so glad you’re in such a better place, Heather.

Thanks for sharing your story!

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 7, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Thank you for reading, Averie! Your love and encouragement goes a long way. :-)

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Sonya January 7, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Thanks Heather for sharing your story! I read your blog regularly and really enjoy what you have to say :-) This post really resonates with me – a few careless comments as a young person can cause so much harm. Gena – my family too used to make fun of my appetite – I was nicknamed ‘Henrietta Hoover the Food Remover!’ Although I have told them how these comments affected me, I still don’t think they believe it was enough to trigger disordered eating! Even now, when people exclaim – ‘I can’t believe you eat so much and stay slim’, I feel anxious and hurt, even though I know it is because I eat a nutritious, plant based diet that allows me to do so. I hope to move to a place of pride too and be thankful that I can love food and eat in plentiful amounts to my hearts content!
Best of luck Heather and keep being strong and beautiful!

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 7, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Sonya,

Your support means the world. Thank you!

It is definitely hard to ignore people’s careless comments. The other night, someone said, “Eat a steak!” to me. I laughed it off because of the myriad of errors in that statement. Stay strong, girl and keep up your amazing eats!

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Lolita @ High On Health January 7, 2012 at 5:56 pm

I just recently discovered Heather’s blog and it is clear what a strong and positive woman she is from her entries.
It’s great to see her positive story here Gena. I am new to the blog world but have been reading Choosing Raw for the past month or 2 and thought it was time I said hi. I love your Green Recovery series, it is such a beautiful idea.

What stood out to me in Heather’s story was her ability to see the trauma of her eating disorder in a positive light, because it helped her to discover her true passion to study nutrition. I also suffered a difficult time with my health before I found out I had Coeliac’s disease and it was a very dark time of physical and mental decline for me. However, like Heather, I now see that this happened for a reason: my healing journey led me to likewise discover my unwavering desire to become a nutritionist and help others through a plant based diet.

Thank you for sharing Heather and thank you for the fabulous series Gena!

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 7, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Lolita,

Thank you for reading! I agree…what Gena does here for the Choosing Raw community with the GR posts is amazing. :-) I’m so happy that you too have found healing through your disease.

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bitt January 7, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Thank you for sharing, Heather. So proud of how you’ve really grown, and while being a student too. I can relate to childhood comments being hurtful. I remember a few all too well. I realized it stemmed from those people’s own thoughts about themselves, luckily I knew them well enough to know that they had their own self-loathing they were projecting onto me. Interestingly, sometimes those childhood comments do not lead to restricting eating, they can lead to overeating for comfort. So people should just shut up about it already, huh?

Excited to find your blog too, Heather and off to explore it.

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 7, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Bitt,

Thank you so much! I’m glad you can relate to the trials of being a student while dealing with all of the “extra stuff.” Goes to show we’re never alone!

You make such a good, valid point. Often, people’s words stem from their own insecurities. And I agree…we should shut our mouths about others’ eating habits and keep on keepin’ on!

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Star January 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm

What an inspiring and courageous young lady! Heather, you are going to be a wonderful role model for your clients, family, readers and friends because of your courage to tell your story. Congrats on your graduation and keep inspiring!

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 7, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Star,

What a compliment. Thank you so, so much for reading and sharing some love. I send it back to ya! :-)

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Lori Lynn January 7, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Thank you for sharing her story. It’s encouraging to me and love how she has overcome her eating disorder.

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 7, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Lori Lynn,

I’m glad you found encouragement in my story. Thank you for sharing that!

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Ela January 7, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Thanks for sharing this precious story: it has the flavor of a butterfly-style metamorphosis and is so touchingly beautiful. I’m so glad that you made that turnaround, Heather, and integrated the insights it gave you into making interest in health central to your life and purpose.

Those ‘fat talk’ and ‘fat as healthy’ comments sure did resonate, although I never got comments that way as a kid. I’m still getting over my recent trip to Israel, though, when one of my great aunts first saw me, and in the midst of her litany about how good I looked, said, “you’re fat…” I know that it’s six years since I went back to Israel, and six years ago I was emaciated, and the time before and the time before, so she was maybe just making the contrast, but even in a different language and a different culture, it hit me very hard.

Lucky you that you had a big appetite as a kid: a sign of a healthy metabolism. I still cringe whenever people comment about how much other people eat, and about their appearances (and some people do it all the time). I hate it when the connection between food and weight is constantly reinforced, when we all know lean people who eat like (lean) wolves and overweight people who really don’t eat all that much.

Blessings to you both and thanks for the inspiration!
love
Ela

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Gena January 7, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Ela,

Me too. I despise that people think it’s perfectly ok to comment upon others’ eating and weight. If anything is intimate in this world, my god, those things are.

G

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 7, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Ela,

Thank you for taking the time to read. What your aunt said…my goodnes…I’m so sorry. It is so hard to shake those comments because you know they ultimately mean nothing if you’re happy and healthy. But they still dig. Sending love and light your way!

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Valerie @ City|Life|Eats January 7, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Heather – your story is written so beautifully and has such hopefulness and sparkle. Thank you for sharing.I can relate on a lot of levels.

Gena, I too had a big appetite as a child. I also had a phase in childhood where I was not as quiet and bookish as I was earlier on and then reverted to – I distinctly remember several family members commenting on both my weight and my “loud laugh” and “loud voice” and just wanting to become tinier and tinier and quieter. Worst feeling ever.

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Gena January 7, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Valerie,

When people ask me why I wanted to be “thin,” I always have to object and say that what I really wanted was to be “tiny” and “small” and “light.” (This is part of why all the talk about “lightness” in the raw community sometimes is triggering to me.) I wanted to be ethereal, to disappear, to be daintier and neater. I can absolutely relate to what you’re saying.

G

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Kathleen January 8, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Apologies for butting in but I relate so much to both of your comments. As a child I not only had a huge appetite for food, I had an incredible zest for life which presented itself in boundless energy, a loud voice, strong opinions and a desire to be part of adult conversation. As a teenager, I realized I was too much for certain people to handle and compensated by trying to make my personality smaller, controlling my laughter, hiding my opinions and ultimately restricting food. I craved that lightness that Gena refers to and restructured life accordingly. I now see that energetic child with such joy and appreciate both her appetite for a full life and her willingness to take up space.

@Heather – Your story is so touching. I applaud you for turning a painful period into such a positive career choice. I know you will touch many lives both young and old. Best of luck in your endeavors!

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 7, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Thank you so much, Valerie! I am an avid reader of your blog, so your comment goes a long way.

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Jami January 7, 2012 at 10:14 pm

Wow, thank you Heather and Gena! I, too, can related to the “bottomless pit” “joke” (as a still-healthy freshman in high school I ate two big macs the night before my first 5k race!) and to being picked on for my “big” laugh. While they may not have been the only factor, I believe comments like that were a factor in making me strive for “smallness” – and what a terrible thing to wish for! It’s so wonderful, Heather, that your experience has in one way or another led you to such a positive and knowledgeable place, personally and professionally.

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Amy Skretta January 7, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Gena, I think this guest post really affirms what you’ve been talking about lately, regarding finding your identity in your food choices and being content in those choices. I struggle, but everyday, the voice of the choice that will make me happiest is louder, and I have you to thank for much of that.

Heather, I can relate to being a healthy eater as a young teenager, and thankfully, I wasn’t picked on or was told I was fat. I think I would have died. Kudos for you for your choices– I know you give credit to your disorder for where you are today– and all of our choices always bring us to where we are and who we are!– but I also want to say kudos for making the RIGHT choices, like seeking a doctor when you recognized things had gone too far. You are an inspiration.

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Ally January 7, 2012 at 7:51 pm

How true! It seems that through my ED days the only two comments I would get from people where that I either looked “too thin” or “healthy” and so naturally the word “healthy” became the opposite and negative counterpart to “thin”. It took a lot (and is still taking!) to reverse that connotation in my head and once more create a loving energy around the word healthy. It makes me laugh how we can take something so seemingly and logically lovely as the word healthy and food and create such monsters simply with our thoughts…

Thankyou Heather and thankyou Gena for these always inspiring posts!

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Gena January 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Amy,

Thank you for pointing out how extraordinary it was that Heather sought out help on her own. That is HUGE.

G

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 7, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Amy,

Thank you for your words of encouragement. It is people like you that inspire and reaffirm the decisions I’ve made. YOU, my dear, are an inspiration. :-)

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Emma January 7, 2012 at 8:18 pm

De-lurking for only the second time to say: Loved this post :)
I certainly identify with the struggles of being a student and how they interact with personal body-food-health-identity issues…the dining hall is still my archenemy. First-year apprehension seeped into every domain of my life freshman year of college, and the campus culture of perfectionism certainly didn’t alleviate any of my worries. After two and a half years, I’m still working on reaching balance in my eating patterns (though veganism has really helped in this area!)
Heather, I am truly inspired by your story and your ability to nourish your body. Reframing your interactions with food as an endeavor to nourish your body is so crucial to attaining health, and I really have to remember that on a day-to-day basis. Your story is going on my reread list; truly inspirational.
Thanks Gena for continuing the wonderful Green Recovery series!

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 7, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Emma,

Your comment literally sent chills through my body. I know exactly how you feel. Know that your feelings are valid. Breathe deeply (OM!) and keep striving for balance. You WILL get there! I have faith in you.

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elizabeth January 7, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Heather, I very much relate to your story. Although I was a few years older when my eating disorder kicked in, my own downward spiral was triggered by a comment from my running coach. He said I’d probably be a lot faster if I’d lose a bit of weight. Of course he meant 5 lbs and not 30! I was faced with a similar threat when I returned to school the next year and I did manage to gain the minimum amount of weight to remain on my x-country team. Sadly though, it was another eight years before I learned to embrace my appetite and to really feed myself. And even more time to arrive at the healthy relationships I have with food, and with my body, today.

My Brazilian housekeeper is always commenting on my weight; in her eyes, I’m either too thin or I’m getting chubby! (I think in her mind, “getting chubby” is a compliment.) Thankfully, such comments don’t effect me anymore, one way or another. I was very irked when a male “friend” (he’d like to be more than a friend, but that’s all he is) complimented me on my body. He was complaining about how all the women he meets are so fat, and why can’t they look like me. Not sure why but his comment made me SO ANGRY. I was like, “But I’m so thin, if my body type is your “ideal,” you are writing off 99% of the women out there.” And then he tried to tell me that he didn’t find me thin at all, but perfect. Not sure why, but I found it very triggering. Still, I think it’s my inner feminist that he triggered, and no my inner (and long dormant) anorectic.

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Gena January 9, 2012 at 10:05 am

Elizabeth,

I was once told something like that by someone who was definitely more than a friend. I had the same reaction. It was part feminism, but in my case it was also triggering because he had made my attractiveness seem tenuous. What would he think of me, I wondered, if I were a little bit heavier? Does that mean my beauty is contingent on being slender, just as I’ve always secretly feared it is? Etc. Not sure if any of that flashed through your mind, but it did flash through mine.

xo

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elizabeth January 9, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Truthfully, no, but that could be because I have no romantic interest in this guy. Since college, all of my boyfriends have wanted me to gain weight! So maybe that’s the expectation I have of men who care about me? I don’t know. I do know that if anyone’s ever attracted to my thinness (and not to me in spite of my thinness), I’m a bit freaked out. I wonder if the attraction is even real, or if it isn’t based in a narcissistic longing for something uncommon, unusual, rare. Maybe it does relate to what you described as a desire to disappear. Not sure I’ve experienced that in the same way you have. I do know that I don’t want to be paraded, shown off, etc., and certainly not on basis of my looks, which aren’t even “natural” but the result of a psychiatric disorder. Something about the guys who try to feed me (much as I ABHORRED it when women tried to feed me) made me trust them more. (God, I am weird.)

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Lou January 7, 2012 at 11:04 pm

This is awesome, thanks so much for sharing your story, Heather – your journey is totally one to be proud of. ED’s can teach us so much about ourselves, and unearth such hidden strengths, and in your case, passion.

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 8, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Thank you so much, Lou! <3

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Hannah January 7, 2012 at 11:21 pm

Thank you for sharing your story, Heather. It’s so brave to do this kind of thing!

What stood out to me was, as other people mentioned, that you heard the warning about school and just did a 180 and turned around! The desire to kick ED’s butt came from within you, which is awesome.

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Dorota January 8, 2012 at 5:02 am

Heather, thank you for courageously sharing your story! What stood out for me was the passion & excitement you have for your future.
It sounds like you are in a very good place right now and like you will be able to use the lessons you have learned to help other people. Best of luck!

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wendy (healthy girl's kitchen) January 8, 2012 at 7:18 am

Ditto!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What a wonderful story. I hung on every word Heather and am so happy to hear that you have turned your eating disorder around into an amazing life path of helping other people. G-d knows, the world needs this right now! So very many people are suffering with eating disorders and they don’t even realize it (did you talk about the newly recognized compuslive overeating/binge eating disorder in your studies? Plant-based can really tame that monster.).

Then Gena, what you said: “I’m a person with a large appetite for many things: food, love, experience. My appetite reflects my overall hunger for fulfillment, or so I like to think. This, anyway, is how I’ve managed to turn what was once a source of shame into a source of pride.”

That’s me.

Thank you for putting it into words.

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 8, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Wendy,

What a lovely spitfire you are! Thanks for your kind words. We did discuss the “newly recognized” ED in class, but not as much as I would have liked to. It’s still being “discovered” and investigated in the medical world.

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wendy (healthy girls kitchen) January 8, 2012 at 7:00 pm

yes, that’s a nice name for me. LOL!!!!!

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tweal January 8, 2012 at 7:57 am

What a great story, thanks to both Gena and Heather for sharing it and encouraging dialogue on the subject. Heather, it’s great to hear that you’ve used your past to motivate you for your future.

Throughout childhood I was bullied for many things, the main thing being my weight. I wasn’t even that chubby or fat, but I did develop early and I guess kids interpreted that as a bad thing. And I was shy so I made for a good target. When I transferred schools in grade 6, I had a hard time making friends and fitting in. There was one boy who would call out “Hey fat arse!” every morning as I walked by him and his friends. That obviously affected, and still affects me. How cruel kids can be. But looking back I realize it was probably because this boy felt so insecure about himself. I think it could even be referred to as ‘small man syndrome,’ which I see clearly for what it is now, but didn’t at the time.

More recently, a new friend made a tactless comment about something I’ve always been sensitive about. Something I was even bullied for as a kid. I was totally caught off guard when she said it, and I didn’t really respond because I was so embarrassed she had noticed one of my ‘faults’ – not just noticed, but pointed out. How mortifying. After the fact, I thought of multiple ways I could have better handled the situation, and now I am prepared for her next remark, if it ever comes.

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 9, 2012 at 10:23 am

Thank you! I think you raise a great point…that most people’s teasing stems from their own insecurities. In the moment, it is so difficult to understand that – especially when we’re younger. The fact that you know that now will carry you forward!

As for your “friend,” it might be a good idea to tell her why and how she hurt you. Being open and honest is part of any relationship and she might not have realized the weight of her words. <3

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Marisa January 8, 2012 at 8:15 am

What a great story!! It’s amazing how through disordered eating you have found your passion, and I can totally resonate with that because I have a similar story. I love how you said that now you view food as something to make you healthy, not the enemy. I think that is the key to recovery. Heather, thank you for sharing and Gena, thank you for posting stories like these. I love starting my Sunday mornings so uplifted and inspired!

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 9, 2012 at 10:24 am

Thank you, Marisa! Your attitude is so bright and positive. :-)

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Abby January 8, 2012 at 9:33 am

Thank you both Heather and Gena for another articulate and inspiring blog post about something that so many people struggle with.

What stood out to me was also the memory of one simple comment from someone that really should have had no impact on how you view or value yourself. I think we all have a memory of some off-handed words that struck a chord for some reason, and unfortunately, they’re rarely of the positive variety. It’s a matter of moving past it and taking into account all the wonderful things people to say to us instead, but most importantly, the kind and compassionate words we say to ourselves.

Although I am still struggling to regain my own health, I know that it’s possible and that I have control of my choices. It’s hard, it’s a daily struggle, but I have to believe that it’s worth it. Thanks again!

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Gena January 9, 2012 at 9:55 am

Oh so worth it. I believe that you’re going to reclaim your health very soon, through persistence and courage to face the new and the unknown.

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 9, 2012 at 10:26 am

Hi Abby,

As Gena said, it is so worth it. I find the key to making the right choices is planning and confidence. We schedule everything else in our lives, so why not make healthy eats and exercise part of that plan? It might seem tedious but it goes a long way. If you need some help, feel free to drop me an e-mail. :-)

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kate January 8, 2012 at 9:38 am

Heather and Gena
I love this series – so positive and powerful for all ED and ex ED sufferers out there, and I love this post.
Heather, you must be a truly remarkable person to have so much self knowledge and courage to recognise how ill you were and to be able to turn things round so completely by making a career out of your disorder.
Gena/ Bitt et al: how right you both are about people of all ages making personal comments about appetite and weight as a projection of their own fears and insecurities onto others. As a member of the Skinny club, I have spent years weathering remarks about portion size, “greediness” and speculations as to whether I am bulimic (ex anorexic but that is another story). I have always refrained from responding in kind as I don’t want to spread the bad karma behind these original remarks any further. As Gena says, you can’t get much more personal than that. The freedom with which other people openly judge others by such superficial criteria as appearance has always shocked and saddened me – a real lesson on the need to take responsibility for your own insecurities and bad feelings rather than trying to make other people responsible.
Thank you for an inspiring post. It is fantastic to hear stories of how EDs have changed someone’s life in a positive and meaningful way.
I am sure you will be a fantastic and empathetic nutritionist and I wish you every success.

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 9, 2012 at 10:28 am

Kate,

I am truly humbled by your comment. Thank you so much! I believe it is possible to get to that pinnacle of “being sick of being sick.” It’s just a matter of taking your vices and turning them into positive attributes. :-)

You rock!

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Alexia @ NamasteYoga January 8, 2012 at 10:53 am

heather’s story is great and it reminds me of one of my friends in high school who said something very hurtful that made me change my whole behaviour. As a teenager you want to be liked and other teenagers influence you so easily. it’s hard to be strong and dont listen.so great she got over it!
another thing that stood out for me is : healthy” without equating it with the word “fat. usually people tell you that you look healthy when you look a bit chubby, have gained weight etc. and its such a wrong way of using it! I think we should use this word more often to compliment someone for looking glowing, strong and cheerful!

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Lia January 8, 2012 at 10:58 am

Yah, that comment about not equating healthy with fat resonated very much with me. Great post, and I wish her the continued success. It’s interesting how so many people who have had disordered eating or mindsets have become enamored with nutrition and health and go on to earn degrees or certifications in them.

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 9, 2012 at 11:26 am

Great point, Lia. As I became more interested in nutrition becoming my career, I was so amazed at how many ED sufferers (recovered and not) were majoring in nutrition.

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Brittany January 8, 2012 at 11:27 am

Go Heather!! Moving story! It’s crazy how certain things/words stick with you forever. See you this spring!!

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 9, 2012 at 10:35 am

Brittany! I miss your smile. Can’t wait to brave MNT together!

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Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles January 8, 2012 at 11:32 am

Thanks for sharing, Heather! I think what stood out to me most was the courage you had to recover with real food, your way. Keep making strides to being healthy, what an inspiration!

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 9, 2012 at 10:34 am

Thank you, Kaitlyn! :-)

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Megan January 8, 2012 at 11:45 am

Heather–
What a great message to share. Keep rockin’, woman! I am in my 3rd year of PA school and love reading blogs by others that are trained in medicine, nutrition, etc (like yourself and Gena!) who are trained in the evidence based medicine era of western medicine but are also open to exploring other sides of healing and medicine that we might not learn as much about in the classroom!! Im definitely adding your blog to my list of must-reads!
Best–Megan

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 9, 2012 at 10:29 am

Megan,

Thanks for your words of encouragement, girl! Keep on truckin’ with school. We’re ALMOST there!!! So excited to have you as a reader. :-)

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Christine (The Raw Project) January 8, 2012 at 12:35 pm

What a great story, thanks for sharing, Heather! What sticks out to me is channeling an ED obsession into something positive you’re passionate about and into a healthy lifestyle. Like Heather, my ED started in high school and has been with me in some form or another through college and early career as a negative passenger. It wasn’t until I embraced it and channeled it into something positive that I felt balanced with my lifestyle.

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 8, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Christine,

SO true! Turning it into a positive is a really big game-changer. I’m so happy you found solace.

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Marissa January 8, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Thank you, Heather and Gena, for this lovely story. I’m so glad that you were able to share it with us all!

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Laura C January 8, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Heather, congratulations! Thank you for sharing this story. It reminds me of my own in plenty of ways- how a single comment or thought can spiral into an ed, and how new environments can trigger that bottomless desire to please and conform to others. I also appreciate your discussion about calling people “healthy.” I’ve watched people recover from anorexia and my overwhelming thought is that they look so healthy and beautiful- in contrast to underweight and unattractive. Then, immediately, I flip the comment on myself and feel a wave of nausea at being called healthy and immediately interpreting that as meaning fat. It’s sad. I don’t know what the best response would be- I suppose to avoid comments on physical appearance entirely would be best- but I know for me it was also so critical for me to know that people didn’t see me as fat after recovery. I suppose “you look so much prettier,” while kind of shallow, might convey the point better?

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 8, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Hi Laura!

You bring up a really crucial and interesting point. When dealing with an ED sufferer, it’s best to avoid physical comments altogether. EDs often stem from perfectionism and, ultimately, no compliment will ever be enough for a disordered mind. For example, an ED sufferer might think “pretty” isn’t good enough because she wasn’t called “beautiful.” What stuck with me was when my friend said to me, “You are no longer sick and lost. You are a beacon of light.” That really made me feel good. Sending you lots of love!

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Laura C January 8, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Thanks for your response, great point. For me, also recovered, I feel like I need the physical feedback- it reassures me and builds my self esteem. It is probably most important from my partner, though, and it makes sense to avoid it in the friendship context, since that shouldn’t have anything to do with physical appearance anyway. I think it’s a double-edged sword- as you said, no comment could be good enough, and could feed obsession with appearance, but then a lack of feedback also leaves me with my own distorted perceptions and imagination, which benefit from a reality check.

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Gena January 9, 2012 at 9:53 am

Laura,

You raise a really interesting counterpoint! It’s fascinating how different kinds of words and feedback benefit ED veterans in different ways. I still cringe when people comment upon my physical person (even in a positive way, which is mostly what happens), but I also have to admit that it’s about time I started to loosen up some of my own discomfort and rigidity there.

xo

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McKella January 8, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Heather, thank you so much for sharing your story. The thing that stands out to me to most is that you channeled the energy from your ED into something wonderful and fulfilling. You’re an inspiration!

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Ali January 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Wow, Heathers story IS my story. I remember so vividly comments like she received. I also know the pain of being told your looking “healthy” or worse, “curvy” after recovery. It is very hard to walk away from the negative connotations that our EDs have set towards some words. I think that learning to be active (not over active) and learning to fuel that activity properly, once one has re-established a healthy weight, is one of the best ways to learn that healthy can be a good thing. I know that becoming fit, strong and capable, has really helped me to turn my focus from being skinny to being healthy, and actually wanting people to comment on my glowing health! It is much better to be glowing with health. It really is a shame that people do not realize the weight of there words so often. That is what still gets to me. weight issues are so sensitive in the formative years, I wish I could protect every teen girl from any off kilter comment. I also wish I could transfuse self love into them, so that it would not matter what others said! But life is a journey, and we all must learn. Thank you Heather!!

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Gena January 9, 2012 at 9:54 am

Oh god. “Curvy.” Yes, it’s incredibly hard to hear those words in the middle of recovery. What I DID like hearing was that I seemed more confident, or more happy.

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Andrea January 8, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Thanks for your open and honest post, Heather!

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 10, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Thank you for reading, Andrea!

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elizabeth January 9, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Just as unwelcome as comments on my weight are comments on the volume of food I’m eating. (I get these a lot more …) Once at my mom’s I took one of those 6 oz. pre-washed boxes of arugula and turned it upside down onto a plate and prepared to top it with all manner of other veggies – my mother looked so horrified. And I was thinking, I haven’t even hit 100 calories yet!

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 10, 2012 at 9:28 pm

This is SUCH a good point, Elizabeth…and one I wish i addressed. It’s so crucial to refrain from commenting on other’s portions, etc. because that can be triggering. Thank you so much for pointing that out!

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Laura @ LauraLivesLife January 9, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Thank you for sharing your story – it helps me to remember to be careful about what I say, even in passing, to everyone, but especially my little sister who is 14 now. It’s a totally fragile age and I remember something word for word that someone said to me at that time that has affected me my whole life. I’d never want to do that to someone else!

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 10, 2012 at 9:19 pm

SO true, Laura. It’s wonderful that you realize this and so thoughtful that you’re going to put it into practice. :-)

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Johanna January 10, 2012 at 8:52 am

The thing that really hit me was also the comment. I was chubby as a child, I got to hear it a lot. I still have very hard times looking at photographs from when I was a kid, ’cause it brings bad memories back. I wasn’t happy then, and I can feel that shining trought the pictures. But, as Heather, I am now using food as a way to treat and love myself, instead of punishment. It makes the whole difference! :)

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 10, 2012 at 9:20 pm

So glad you are reaping the positive benefits of food, Johanna! DOESN’T IT ROCK?! :-)

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Alex xoxo January 10, 2012 at 4:37 pm

I truly loved this blog Heather and i find it so amazing that you’ve got your life figured out and you’re so excited about your future! Your post was very inspirational as I’m in the middle of recover right now.. i was supposed to be in the clinic but refused to go ONLY because i found it horrifying that for someone who ate barely anything, was being forced to lick their plate clean with not-so healthy snacks and meals. That was when i realized i could gain weight in a healthy way by eating organic, or just plain and simple HEALTHY foods. for a couple of months i was at a plateau and was scared yet again to increase my calorie intake, but now i’m so interested in eating healthy that when i recently increased my intakes, i no longer feel any guilt for it instead i feel stupid for missing out on all the yummy, nutritious things to eat that will keep me healthy. I am going to university in 2 years, and was planning to study law, but since i’ve had this ED.. just like you, i’ve changed my mind and want to get into nutrition or psychology. I’m so glad to see you’re happy and healthy and i just wanted you to know that you are a HUGE inspiration to me and many other people out there!
Alex xoxo

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale January 10, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Alex,

MAJOR kudos to you for getting help for yourself. That is highly commendable. It sounds like you’re on the road to true inner peace. That makes me smile. :-) If you ever need anything, I’m only an email away!

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AmandaRunsNY January 12, 2012 at 7:37 pm

“I’m a person with a large appetite for many things: food, love, experience. My appetite reflects my overall hunger for fulfillment, or so I like to think.”

I love this line; it really resonates with me. I seem to want everything some days….even things that are entirely out of the realm of possibility, like winning a gold medal in the Olympics. And sometimes I want things because I respect the motivation and the outcome, though it’s not something I’m actually passionate about, such as aid work in the third world or legal work. Ultimately, I see this huge appetite as you succinctly put it, fulfillment. I would use a thousand words to describe that need, but you nailed it down in one word. Cool.

I also think that this appetite for…fulfillment…is why bulimia is the eating disorder that I manifested. It have me a way to satisfy all that wanting, if only for a moment.

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ChrisF January 19, 2012 at 8:05 am

”What stood out to you from Heather’s story?”

To my mind, her clarity and strength. She found the root cause, the basis of the belief that was holding her back, took steps to learn and empower herself (switching to a nutrition course) and then went from strength to strength.

Not ‘amazing’ – what Heather did is something we can all do. Clarity of communication with ourselves, strength and commitment to positive, lasting change.

Good job – good blog!

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