kristi michelle

Beyond the ED

When you live with something for so long, it can become a part of your identity.

My eating disorder is something I have thought about every single day for years. It makes sense that something so ever-present in my life could quickly start to feel like my identity. When I started working on this book and launched my recovery blog, YouTube channel, and Instagram, my eating disorder became even more of an identity. Was I going to be stuck talking about eating disorders and eating disorder recovery for the rest of my life? Would I ever truly move beyond the ED?

Not that talking about eating disorders is a bad thing. We need more discourse on the subject, not less. But I found I was being held back in my own recovery. I was constantly engrossed in the world of eating disorders. In addition to my own struggles, I researched everything ED-related and planned content around my findings and personal experiences. I spent months working on this book, struggling to articulate my story and share encouragement and guidance. I responded to messages from people around the world dealing with their own eating disorders and seeking help and advice. I wrote guest articles about my recovery story.

While I plan to continue sharing my story, creating recovery resources, and hopefully being an encouraging voice in the recovery community, I want my life to be more. I want to not only encourage women to recover from the eating disorders, but to show them how amazing life can be on the other side. Life beyond the ED—beyond counting calories, beyond the treadmill, beyond the binges—is beautiful. And that is just as important to share as the struggles are.

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating. My greatest motivation for recovery was imagining the life I wanted to live and realizing that in no part of my desired future did my eating disorder even play an infinitesimal role. In college, when my eating disorder was at its worst, I never stopped focusing on my goals. I wanted a successful business, I wanted to write a book. I wanted to be a leader and mentor and cultivate healthy relationships. I wanted to reach financial milestones. I wanted to live an uninhibited life. How was I supposed to have a successful business when my eyes and mind were blurry from lack of food? How was I supposed to write a book or have successful relationships when my every spare moment was devoted to running? 

These goals were my life beyond the ED. And I’m so thankful to say that I’m well on my way to achieving the life I’ve dreamed and planned for. This is not to say that I have my life completely together (I certainly don’t) or that I no longer struggle with my eating disorder (I certainly do). But as I move beyond my eating disorder, I have the strength, energy, and mental capacity to focus on the things I actually care about: my future, the people around me, and the positive impact I pray I will have.

I have the capacity to pursue even my more trivial goals like practicing the piano and learning Spanish. Seemingly small tasks that I simply didn’t have the mental space or energy for only a few years ago now add a tremendous amount of joy to my life today.

What is life beyond your eating disorder? Is it a thriving family? A successful career? New hobbies, friends, or adventures?

While I will always talk about my eating disorder and share my story, I am choosing to be proactive in the way I talk about my story. It doesn’t end with the ED. It ends with life beyond the ED. It ends with the goals I’ve reached, the relationships I’ve cultivated, and the life I’ve built that I’m loving to live.

When you face an impossible day in your eating disorder, don’t be discouraged. Focus on life beyond the ED. You are fully capable of having everything you dream of and more. Keep your eyes on the prize. Plan for the future you want to live. And never give up. There is life beyond your ED.

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