Eating disorders have different faces.
And, just like a thumbprint or snow-flake, no two are completely alike.
That being said, there is a universal unspoken language amongst both those struggling and those in recovery—a mutual understanding that says “I get it”… “Been there, got the t-shirt.”
Nicole is no exception.
I began working with Nicole about a year ago.
In fact, she was my very first distance client—based all the way out in Singapore of all places.
Having struggled with an eating disorder since she was a pre-teen, at age 23, Nicole was sick and tired of being sick and tired and contacted me seeking, more than anything, guidance and hope in finding life ‘outside ED.
The toll of her eating disorder had taken her 5-foot-1 frame to 57 lbs. and upwards of 12-13 hours spent walking, and walking and walking—every day.After years spent in and out of hospitals, treatment centers and doctors offices, Nicole wanted a way out.
“I am tired of just getting by. I really want to know what it means to thrive in my own life,” she said during one of our first sessions.
And as time went on, weekly we wrestled and worked through her questions, fears and hesitations around recovery, food, fitness, life outside the eating disorder, her goals, her passions, her dreams, her hopes, finding her voice again, setting boundaries—nothing was left off the table.
Her honesty and thoughtful processing of all these things was raw and real:
I just don’t know what a decent relationship with exercise looks like and what God intended for my body.
You brought up the hierarchy of needs chart, which I thought was interesting. If I am not able to give my body the physical sustenance it needs then I realized, naturally, I won’t be able to really focus on the other elements like social interactions or trips I want to take.
I am beginning to realize that life was meant for so much more than worrying about food and activity…
Do the voices ever go away? Or do they just get drowned out?
About to have my snack soon…I suppose there’s no harm increasing my intake…
I just started taking this life coaching health and wellness course and am already learning so much. The key point about how wellness isn’t just the absence of illness – but about how its about thriving in life – your key message too!
I want God to be glorified through my story. I can’t do this without Him.
This is just a hodge podge glimpse of her evolution—most importantly her evolution to wellness in her mind.
As she has continued to keep her EYES on the prize—the prize of freedom (life without ED), and day in and day out, fight for her right to be free from the clutter in her mind (that ‘voice’ and universal language she has known for more than 10 years of her life)…the more she has begun to experience freedom.
Most recently, over the past couple months, as she has regained her health little by little, Nicole connected with a local coach in her city at a nearby CrossFit affiliate.
As CRAZY as that sounds, Nicole had been seeking someone to help hold her accountable to the changes she desired to make in her “crazy” 12-13 hours a day spent exercising.
We often discussed these habits, and I explained to her that in order to make new healthier habits, particularly around over-exercise, we often need to replace these habits with new routines.
She knew she didn’t want to spend her days walking, and walking and walking…she also didn’t know if or how to put an abrupt stop to a pattern that had become ingrained in her daily routine for years…and needed someone on the front lines to tell her what to do—and what not to do—when it came to her exercise routine.
Seeking out support, Nicole openly shared with the coach at the box her struggles and desires to continue to restore her health.
Three days a week, she began showing up to the local box for a 1:1 session with this trainer who took her recovery and health, very seriously. The routines and sessions have been very basic: learning things like how to squat properly and the technique of a clean.
Still working towards continued health restoration physically, he advised group classes would not be the best fit, but agreed to empower her to learn the power of beauty in strength—and for the FIRST TIME in her life, she has begun to not only transform her mind around beauty, health and fitness…but gain her life back.
Currently finishing up school for life coaching, it is her hope to coach and lead others in the near future. In addition, she is reconnecting with friendships and plans to travel more as well—see the world.
“I no longer want to be skinny. I just want to be healthy. I want to be stronger. I want to be able to live my life outside the gym as well—it is meant to make me healthier and stronger in order to do that,” she said.
Words cannot even begin to describe the night and day difference occurring in sweet Nicole’s life.
But pictures do.
And while she is still ‘in process’, striving towards recovery—aren’t we all?
A key turning point for Nicole in her healing process?
Finding something that motivated her for life outside sickness—and setting goals around her passions, dreams and future.
Additionally, the more Nicole has begun to take care of herself and heal, the more she is beginning to value herself.
After all, when you value yourself, the more likely you are to take care of yourself.
Today, as we continue to process and work through the ‘nitty gritty’ pieces and old demons of recovery…the more she is coming to life.
For years in my own personal recovery journey, counselors and doctors and treatment protocols continued to dwell on the past and tell me I’d always struggle with the mindsets and patterns of my eating disorder…this is just not the case.
Freedom is possible.
Continue to press on and tap into the things in life that move you—there is life outside ED.