A few days ago, I was at my university’s gym running on the treadmill. I wish I could say I was there purely to strengthen my body, improve my mood, and dwell on my overall health and fitness. But nope. I was exercising because my eating disorder told me I had eaten too much and it was time to burn some serious calories. “Fair enough,” I said, after my eating disorder finished complaining. I laced up my running shoes and tied my hair back and ran to the gym.

The Calories Made Me Do It

Running is typically my exercise of choice when it comes to burning calories. There’s something comforting about seeing the number of “calories burned” slowly increase as I run on the treadmill. As the number grows with each mile, I hate myself just a little bit less for the food I have consumed. But just when I think I’m making progress, my eating disorder pipes up, “Your fat really giggles when you run, you know.”

Extremely embarrassed and self-conscious, I consider leaving. But nope. Doggedly determined to burn those calories, I continue on. Mile after mile. Just before reaching mile five, a girl I’ve never met before walks up and says, “Hi!” in such a friendly and cheerful voice I wonder if I have met her before but have just forgotten who she is.


“Hey,” I respond, slowing my pace to a walk.

“Do you ever run outside?”


“Well, I’m training for a half marathon and I think it’s so amazing that you’ve run five miles! Most people get on the treadmill and just run or walk for a mile or two at the most. It’s really awesome to see you and it inspires me! My name is Emma, by the way.”

“Haha, that’s really sweet,” I chuckle. “And it’s nice to meet you, Emma.”

We chat for a few minutes and I find out Emma is a freshman hoping to go into the medical field one day.

“If I see you running here, can I come run next to you?” she asks (our gym has a couple dozen treadmills).

“Of course,” I smile.

“You just look so healthy and fit and it’s so inspiring!” she adds.

I laugh. “I wish that were true!”

A minute later, she runs off to study.

As she leaves, I shake my head. If only you knew that I’m punishing myself for being too fat, I think. If only you knew how sick I really am…

Eating Disorders Never Accept Compliments

The fact is, eating disorders never accept compliments. When Emma told me I looked healthy, I took that to mean fat. Yup, seriously. “If you were skinny, she would’ve said you looked thin, not ‘healthy,'” my eating disorder pointed out.

People can tell me I look great, healthy, happy, cute, gorgeous, whatever, and my eating disorder will still turn that around to mean “fat.” Even when people call me skinny, my eating disorder responds, “Maybe you’re skinnier than you have been in the past, but you’re still fat.”

I can never catch a break. Every compliment is turned into an insult.

Life Is Too Short

May I just say, this is insanity. Life is too short to live like this! ED, I am accepting the compliment from Emma and any other compliment someone gives me! Thank you, goodnight!

Tell your eating disorder who’s boss. Tell your eating disorder that Kristi from ED Heal thinks you’re freaking amazing, strong, and gorgeous. Keep your head up, beautiful, and tell ED where he can shove it.

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Why Eating Disorders Suck

Social Media and Eating Disorder Recovery

Eating Disorders and Hopelessness