Eating disorders

what a woman sees in the mirror

What she sees

TRIGGER WARNING: The following information may be a trigger for those with eating disorders, particularly bulimia, but I encourage you to read, or have someone read it. They can help you put to use the information they glean from this article, as it may be invaluable to you, however, discretion is advised.

Anorexia, Bulimia, PDD-NOS

When we adopted our oldest daughter, Lisa, at the age of 13, we knew she had a very disturbing past, but we didn't know she had an eating disorder. She and her older sister lived, homeless in a car, in downtown Albuquerque New Mexico, with a father on heroin. Their mother was in a mental hospital. They pan-handled on street corners for money to buy tuna fish and crackers to eat. They were taken into custody by Child Welfare Services when Lisa was 8. Her sister was adopted immediately by an Aunt and Uncle in another state, but they didn't take Lisa, because she has Downs Syndrome. Lisa went through five foster homes in five years. She learned that she couldn't trust adults to take care of her and she learned to survive.

Johnna & Mark greet adopted daughter Lisa

Within a couple of weeks, I noticed evidence that Lisa was sneaking food. I know everything I buy and keep track of how much is on hand, because at that time, I only went shopping once a month. We had a farm and most of our food was either in the garden or in the barn. This was a totally new and unfamiliar concept for Lisa, who began to help with the chores. I can tell you that she knows where food comes from.

When she gorged herself on 6 one pound blocks of mozzarella cheese, and later, an entire loaf of Texas Toast (19 slices at 190 calories each) straight from the freezer, as evidenced by the crumbs on her bedroom floor and the plastic bag stuffed under her mattress, I locked up everything. I had tell the youth ministry leaders at church " do not allow Lisa any have food that I don't send with her and to watch her around snacks. She knows how to be sneaky, manipulate people and work the system. She has asked if a child or teacher will finish what they are eating and if not, can she have it? If I don't take these measures, she will eat herself to obesity, sickness and an early death. She learned at an early age what it is to be hungry and she is afraid that she will go hungry again. When supplies got low at the end of the month, she became very uneasy. When we left the grocery store each month with three full carts of food she had a grin from ear to ear and a bounce in her step. Lisa has an obsession with food and God knew she needed me to be her mother, because I have a food addiction too. I know how she thinks and what to do to help her.

Food addiction photo:caption

Anorexia and Bulimia are said to be an extremely complex mental health condition, but really any obsessive-compulsive addiction fits that description. Usually, the person who is addicted is the last one to recognize it. I have to admit, that is true of me too. I was very aware that all I could think about all day was food - all day. I ate for comfort and couldn't stop eating, even when the food was gone. I couldn't understand why I wasn't fat as a teenager. My mother said I ate like a horse, but I didn't gat "fat" because I exercised a lot and worked hard. I was admired for that.

"It didn't occur to me that I am a recovering Bulimic, until I did the research for this article and saw myself in what I read.
As a result, this was a most difficult article to write." JVW

Eating disorders are just a sample of several obsessive-compulsive behaviors that have common underlying causes. First lets define "obsessive-compulsive addiction". An "obsession" is an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person's mind."Compulsive" is an irresistible urge resulting from or relating to an obsession, to do something that is against one's conscious wishes. "Addiction" is a condition of being physically or mentally dependent on a particular substance, thing, behavior or activity, with an inability to stop, even in the face of incurring adverse effects.

Causes of obsessive-compulsive addiction:
- Having parents with a substance abuse problem or psychological disorder, as in Lisa's case.
- Having a parent who is a perfectionist, abusive, critical and/or living in a stressful, negative home environment, as was the case with me.
- Low income families, where there is very limited food on hand. I too knew what it was to be hungry and would get food from the trash can in the cafeteria or from another child. After all, my father would bring home produce from the dumpster behind the grocery store. We fed a lot of it to the chickens, but what was still edible, we ate too. A grandma's house I stuffed myself at holiday dinners until I couldn't breathe and would sneak food from the cupboard and ice box (refrigerator).
- Children who have low self-esteem often feel angry, depressed, lonely, stressed and/or anxious and eat for comfort. I know I surely did.
- They have difficulty managing emotions in a positive and healthy way. I used to hit myself when my father was not around to hit me, when I did something stupid.
- My father told me I was lazy, fat and stupid. Concerns about weight and body image often result in emotional eating.
- Bingeing and purging is a negative way to cope with stress. For other people with a different addiction, they may drink too much, gamble, steal, resort to shopping therapy (another one of my addictions), etc.
- Major life changes or transitions can trigger a level of stress that is beyond a child or adults ability to cope. Being homeless and then in multiple foster homes was more than any child could bare, especially one with mental retardation. Being afraid for my life, beaten and emotionally assaulted with degrading words and actions was more than I could handle as a child.
- People with eating disorders typically are perfectionistic, overachievers and appear to have it all together, but inside they feel helpless, inadequate, worthless and a total failure. They are all or nothing kind of people and they focus on pleasing others. My father engrained in me that my value as a human being was all about how strong I was and how hard I could work. I was his son, really. Weight lifting was my gym class all through high school. I took it to such an extreme that at the age of 45, after 25 years of repeated misdiagnosis, it was discovered that I had a large abdominal hernia and 4 prolapsed organs from lifting things that weight as much or more than I do. I didn't know when to stop lifting and I didn't know when to stop eating. It was all or nothing, but mostly all, plus more.

The causes are social, emotional and biological in nature. Contributing factors include culture's idealization of thinness, family environment, emotional difficulties, low self esteem, and past traumatic experiences. They may be involved in an activity that demands slenderness; ballet, gymnastics, modeling, actors, runners, wrestlers or they may have parents who are overly controlling, putting a lot of emphasis on looks, diet and criticize their children's bodies and appearance.

Stressful events that can trigger anorexia or bulemia include, the onset of puberty, a breakup, physical or sexual abuse, or going away to school. Brain chemistry plays a significant roll in developing anorexia. High cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the brain and decreased levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, which are associated with feelings of well-being, are linked to anorexia.

I continued to struggle with the desire to binge, and yet still be thin. I felt guilty after eating. Waking up to see a trim body in the mirror and then a pregnant looking body by dinner time bothered me. I wore baggy dresses, because I felt so swollen. Gorging on food and using laxatives seriously damaged my digestive system and resulted in the accumulation of health problems that plagued me for 30+ years, costing me tens of thousands of dollars, and could have shortened my life expectancy. I no longer deal with low self-esteem, depression and argue with the negative voice in my head several times a day. That is all gone!

I liked the feeling of being what other people call "skinny," but now I know I don't see what they see. I used to find myself getting on the scale every day, at least once, and glorying to see how low I could get numbers, but I didn't purge, so I didn't think I had what is considered typical Bulimia. As a teenager, I tried to make myself vomit a few times, but I just couldn't keep it up. That was a good thing. In my 30's I had to go for a week without eating at least once a month, because my intestines got so backed up from bingeing that there was nowhere for the food to go, and I'd throw up anyway. I needed to let my intestines catch up. I would get stable and then gorge myself again. Unable to digest my food, I was melting from malnutrition, but toxic from accumulated food in my gut. My teeth died. I experienced systemic nerve damage and memory loss from vitamin B deficiency, couldn't sleep, was afraid to eat and craved sugar like it was an addictive drug. Well, actually it is.

There was a time when my size 2 jeans were too big and what I saw in the mirror scared me. Bones were sticking out, it was uncomfortable to sit because I had no padding, and when I hit my elbow it really hurt. My mother was afraid for me.

My obsessive-compulsive addiction was "Continually thinking about food and thoughts of eating intruded on my mind, with an irresistible and uncontrollable urge to consume large quantities of food against my conscious desire not to. All the while knowing that I will suffer with constipation and need to fast and do enemas to correct it." Living this way was a rollercoaster physically and emotionally, and I knew that if I could just maintain balance, I would feel better and life would be better, but instead, I binged.

What eating disorders have in common with other addictive, obsessive-compulsive behaviors:
- All you can think about is the object of your obsession - an addiction. That can be drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling - or in this case food.
- You will do what ever is necessary to have it, even if having it causes pain, sickness, or other undesirable consequences.
- You will sneak and lie about it. You hide that fact that you eat and sneak food when no one is looking.
- You can't control yourself around the object of your addiction. You start eating and you can't stop, eating until you feel discomfort, pain or sick.
- You try to work the system and avoid the consequence of your indulgence, resulting in purging, fasting, excessive exercise, laxative abuse .
- To compensate, you have an unrealistic perception that results in an obsession with your body and your weight.
- You feel guilty, ashamed or depressed after you partake of the object of your obsession - eat.
- You try to work the system - vomit, exercise, take laxatives, or fast to control your weight.
- You alternate between two extremes - overeating and fasting.

Both Anorexia and Bulimia involve restricted food intake. Anorexia is characterized by extreme weight loss. Bulimia is characterized by episodes of binging and purging to control weight. Another type of eating disorder that is less well known is ENDOS - "Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified". Many people fall into this category, which has many of the characteristics of an eating disorder, but either it is not severe enough, or not occurring over a long enough period of time to justify a diagnosis of anorexia or bulimia.

First identified in 1874 by Dr. William Gull, Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric condition, mostly due to starvation or suicide. Dr. Gerald Russell described the condition known as Bulimia in 1979. It is the most common, but also the easiest to hide from friends and family members.

Anorexia is characterized by an increasing preoccupation with the number on the scale, how you look in the mirror and what you can and can't eat. A person will pretend to eat or lie about having eaten. They constantly think about food, while eating very little. They feel fat, despite being under weight, or feel fat in certain places; stomach, hips or thighs. They are never thin enough and spend a lot of time checking for flaws in the mirror, denying that they are too thin. They use laxatives, diuretics and appetite suppressants, ipecac syrup and stimulants. Bulimics disappear after meals, running water in the bathroom to disguise sounds of vomiting and reappear smelling like mouthwash or mints. They are obsessive/compulsive, punishing themselves with exercise to burn calories after bingeing.

The effects of anorexia - When calorie restriction causes the body to go into starvation mode, it shuts down to conserve energy. The body begins to consume itself, and medical complications increase as body fat decreases. The body and mind suffer the consequences.

The brain and nerves are affected. You can't think, are moody, sad, irritable, can't remember, feel faint, and experience changes in brain chemistry.
• Hair becomes thin, gets brittle and falls out.
• Heart palpitations, heart failure, low blood pressure, slow pulse.
• Blood problems, such as anemia.
• Muscles feel weak and joints swell, bones fracture easily and osteoporosis develops.
•The kidneys develop stones or begin to fail.
• Body fluids are out of balance and minerals are low; potassium, magnesium and sodium.
• Constipation, inflammation and bloating become chronic.
• Skin easily bruises, is dry, yellowish. Nails become brittle, have white streaks or lines. You get cold easily or can't get warm.

People with eating disorders are often malnourished and nutrient deficient, even though they may be overweight. A number of biochemical and physiological imbalances can contribute to the symptoms associated with eating disorders. Zinc deficiency may be part of the puzzle. Zinc in needed to make hydrochloric acid for digestion.

They skip meals, diet, binge, purge and eat very erratically. High sugar foods and refined carbohydrates increase blood sugar levels, decrease serotonin and endorphin production, stress the adrenals and create imbalance and cause depression. Chromium is an important mineral for blood sugar control, and is lost when the diet is high in sugars. Depending on caffeine to boost energy blocks the production of serotonin and melatonin, which are needed to fall asleep. The result is sleep debt, tiredness, irritability, feelings of anxiety, depression and a life that is out of control.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a significant role in controlling carbohydrate intake, promoting sleep, managing obsessive/compulsive behaviors, mood and emotions. When neurotransmitters are in sufficient supply mood and emotions are stable. When they are depleted or out of balance, the urge to over eat or starve takes over. Some people eat for comfort, and eating helps them feel better for a little while, because food tastes good and provides a short term high from carbohydrates. Some individuals starve simply to manage their mood and feel like they are in control of something. Tryptophan, an amino acid found in poultry, vitamin B6, zinc and insulin are needed to make serotonin. Dieting and vomiting depletes tryptophan levels rapidly. Binging leads to significant increase in serotonin production in the brain, which temporarily reduces stress and depression, but this is followed by overwhelming feelings of guilt and low self-esteem. This causes them to purge, which reduces Tryptophan, and serotonin and the vicious cycle begins again. Low serotonin levels coincide with the personality traits typically seen in people with bulimia - depression, obsessive/compulsive behavior, irritability and drastic mood swings. Just a few hours of depleted Tryptophan can cause cravings and mood problems to return in bulimics who are years into recovery.

Hormones interact with neurotransmitters to simulate many of the brain's mood sites. Low estrogen is linked to low serotonin and an increase in cravings. Low progesterone can cause infertility, anxiety and PMS symptoms, while too much can lead to lethargy, increased appetite, weight gain and depression.

Stress hormones are produced by the adrenal glands, and eating disorders put considerable stress on the body, especially the adrenal glands. Adrenal stress easily disrupts hormones in the thyroid. Eating mostly vegetables and a diet low in quality protein causes a lack of amino acids for hormone production and puts the adrenal glands at risk of exhaustion.

Food allergies and intolerances often result from malnutrition. Gluten grains (wheat, rye, oats, barley, spelt, kamut) can interfere with the absorption of nutrients and affect neurotransmitter production and thyroid function. Casein, a milk protein and lactose, a milk sugar, may create problems and cause depression. The phytate content in soy can block iodine uptake and the absorption of thyroid hormones and depress thyroid function. Hypothyroidism (low thyroid) can contribute to weight gain.

Essential fatty acid deficiency often happens with people who have eating disorders, because they are "fat conscious". Low fat diets have been associated with depression and irritability, because essential fatty acids are crucial for bran function and sex hormone production. The proper function of stress hormones also depend on a diet which includes about 20% fat. Blood sugar regulation also depends on fats and it can drop rapidly in the absence of fat.

A diet high in sugars and refined carbohydrates can reduce friendly flora populations in the gut and gives rise to yeast overgrowth in the gastrointestinal tract. This can lead to leaky gut, malabsorption, malnutrition, constipation, bloating, and decreased motility. The toxic overload from backed up fecal matter and toxins created by the yeast can cause mental and emotional symptoms similar to Bipolar Disorder. The biological mechanisms that cause you to feel hungry and full fail to produce those sensations and the body stops communicating with you. You don't feel thirsty, sleepy or happy.

Emotional stress acidifies the blood and the body interprets that as a sign of imminent danger. This triggers the flight-or-flight response and the adrenal hormones divert blood flow from the GI tract to the heart, lungs and muscles. The GI tract is then deprived of oxygen and nutrients carried by the blood, so it can't digest food. This also slows down peristalsis - the alternating contraction and relaxation of the intestinal muscles and increases the build-up of acidic waste in the intestines. Vulnerable to the acidic contents of the gut, the intestinal lining becomes inflamed, killing off friendly flora which aid digestion. This causes voids to develop in the mucosal lining that allow waste, toxins and parasites through and into the blood stream. Once these invaders, toxins and debris are processed through the liver, they are delivered to the cells of the body. This increases chemical sensitivity and food intolerances.

A complication of an eating disorder is appendicitis. The appendix is part of the immune system, like the tonsils and adenoids. The location of the appendix at the bottom of the ascending colon, clearly indicates that its purpose is to protect the small intestine from toxic waste. It produces antibodies that destroy viruses, but also disposes of toxins and bacteria that inflame the bowels. Physicians are not aware that inflammation from toxic acidic waste is the initial cause of appendicitis. The inflammation, pus and pain in the lower right abdomen is caused by an infection in the appendix and surgeons typically remove it. An alternative is to use herbs and diet to detoxify the appendix and let it heal.

Many people do not see a link between acidic waste and degenerative disease. Acid reflux, gastritis (inflammation of the stomach), nausea, vomiting, bloating, gallstones, and ulcers are all caused by foods that injure the gastrointestinal tract and cause problems in other organs outside of the digestive tract. If a symptom is not directly related to a physical injury, it is triggered by the acidic waste products produced by nutrient deficient, sugar and chemical laden food that is inappropriate for the blood type of the individual consuming it, and parasitic infection.

Another complication with an eating disorder is gallbladder problems. Saturated fat helps prevent gallstones. Cholesterol is one of the raw materials needed to make the salts and acids that bile is composed of. Bile salts stimulate peristalsis in the digestive tract to move food and waste products along. Constipation causes waste matter in the colon to putrefy and give off toxins. The toxins are carried by the blood from the colon to the liver to be detoxified. The overloaded liver can't neutralize it, the toxins flow back into general circulation and are carried to the kidneys for excretion. Congested kidneys fail to filter out the toxins, so the blood carries it back to the liver, creating back pressure, which incorporates the toxin in bile and releases it into the gallbladder where it bonds to cholesterol, bacteria and parasites that were also not filtered out by the liver, and hardens into a gallstone. Therefore, gallstones are a sign that the body is full of toxic acidic waste that has damaged their kidneys and liver to the point where they can no longer eliminate it from the body, and parasitic and bacterial infection. Gallstones are the body's last attempt to remove acidic waste from the blood, so that it doesn't lower the blood pH factor. It is important to modify the diet to prevent further accumulation of acidic wastes in the body. Also, an under-active thyroid can reduce gastric secretions in the stomach and contribute to gallbladder disease. Ox bile, taken with meals that contain fat, is a good substitute when the gallbladder has been removed. The digestive enzymes lipase helps to emulsify fats and protease breaks down protein. Olive oil helps to increase the flow of bile. The malic acid in apples helps to dissolve gallstones and relieve congestion. Grapes, beets and endive detoxify the liver, kidneys and gallbladder, and improve digestion and elimination. A gallbladder flush recipe may be helpful.

Restoring Candida yeast to its proper form, function and station, restoring a healthy gut microbiome, healing the intestinal mucosal lining, and taking digestive enzymes to assist in digestion and assimilation to improve nutrition are the first steps that put me on the road to healing and balance. Taking SAM-e, melatonin, tryptophan, amino acid complex, 5HTP and vitamin B complex helped to regulate my mood, avoid the emotional roller-coaster ride and get some sleep. I don't need any of that anymore.

Decreasing stress will allow the two halves of the autonomic nervous system - sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves, to become balanced and work together. Blood and lymph fluid distribution is normalized, resulting in the delivery of oxygen and nourishment of all organ systems. Complete digestion and motility is restored.

It is common for anorexia to be part of your identity or even feel like your "friend". You may think that anorexia has such a powerful hold over you that you will never be able to overcome it. Any change, even positive change, is difficult, but possible and very much worth it.

1) Admit that you have a problem. Life has not been getting better, no matter how low the number on the scale gets. Physical and emotional damage has resulted. Seek help. Stay away from the places, people and activities that trigger your desire to be thin; looking at magazines, friends who talk constantly about diets and loosing weight, etc. Realize that there is a spiritual battle going on behind the scenes; your enemy has been filling your mind with lies and he is trying to destroy you. God wants to help deliver you from this path of destruction. Look to Him for help. A support network of family, friends, coworkers (the better they can understand what you are going through, thinking and feeling - they more supportive and helpful they can be), doctors (stabilize serious health issues), nutritionist (develop a meal plan that will provide the nutrients and calories to restore health and maintain a normal weight), counselors (identify and help you resolve negative thoughts and feelings that fuel your eating disorder and replace them with healthy, realistic beliefs)and the Holy Spirit (help your self esteem, teach you how to deal with difficult emotions, stress and problems with relationships in productive ways) can make recovery easier.

It is not easy to get over the fear of gaining weight, especially if you feel you are being forced to gain weight to be healthy. This fear is a symptom of anorexia. The goal is to be healthy and live a long and happy life.

Eating disorders do have nutritional aspects and an approach to restoring wellness works best when psychological treatments, regular medical monitoring and possibly medication are accompanied by nutritional approaches. Hospitalization may also be necessary when there is no response to outpatient treatment, or if weight is unstable or very low. There is always risk of serious physical complications and suicide.

Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by a struggle with the compulsion to overeat and then purging, fasting or exercising to get rid of the calories to avoid gaining weight. You give in to over eating which makes you feel guilty and ashamed. Panic sets in and you take drastic measures to undo; exercise, vomit, take laxatives, fasting, enemas, diuretics, or take ipecac syrup (induces vomiting; builds up in the body over time, leading to heart damage and sudden cardiac arrest) and you feel out of control. This takes a toll on physical and emotional well-being. Developing a healthy relationship with food and overcoming the guilt, anxiety, feelings of being out of control and shame can be replaced with confidence, a positive self image and balance.

Purging eliminates less than half the calories eaten after bingeing. Laxatives and diuretics have almost no effect.
Signs, symptoms and adverse effects of purging include:
* Thick or hard skin or scars on the knuckles or hands from sticking fingers down the throat to induce vomiting.
* Swollen cheeks and salivary glands, broken blood vessels in the eyes, chronic sore throat, hoarseness, tooth decay, mouth sores, acid reflux, ulcers, ruptured esophagus from repeated vomiting.
* Yellow, ragged or clear teeth.
* Weight fluctuates with alternating episodes of bingeing and purging.
* Dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and low potassium, magnesium and sodium levels (lethargy, cloudy thinking, irregular heart beat, kidney failure and death).
* Weight gain, swelling feet and hands, bloating and abdominal distention, weakness and dizziness, chronic constipation.
* Irregular heart beat, weak heart muscle, low pulse and blood pressure
* Constipation, diarrhea, bloating, abdominal cramps
* Hormonal changes; irregular or absent menstrual cycle
* Stomach ulcers, pain, ruptured stomach, delayed emptying
* Muscle fatigue
* Sore or irritated throat, esophagus can rupture, blood in vomit
* Mouth ulcers, cavities, tooth enamel erosion, gum disease, sensitive teeth to cold or hot
* Depression, fear of gaining weight, anxiety, dizziness, shame, low self-esteem

Knowing you are harming your body only adds to the fear, but you still have mixed feelings about giving up your bingeing and purging, even though it is hurting your body. Take heart. No matter how long you have struggled with an eating disorder, you can learn to break the cycle and develop a healthy attitude toward food and your body. It's hard to talk about what you're going through, especially if it has been a big secret. You may be feeling ashamed, or afraid of what others will think. Please understand that you are not alone. Find a good listener who will support you as you try to get better, and not judge or push you. It is important that you decide NOT to diet. Don't try to restrict calories, but focus instead on nutrition and make those calories work for you, not against you. Eat more frequent, smaller meals. This will effectively stop your cravings and thoughts of food. You will retrain yourself to eat normally and break the cycle, while reaching or maintaining a healthy and attractive weight. Get to the root of the emotional issues that caused you to develop unhealthy self image and low self esteem, attitudes about food, your body and yourself. To change your behavior, you need to change your mind. You feel powerless and out of control, but the reality is that it takes a lot of self control and power to do what you are doing. It just needs to be redirected and focused on other things. You have developed a "habit" and habits are hard to break, especially those that have lasted for many years, but it is possible. People can help, but only you have the ability to change you. Are you with me? Every time negative thoughts and feelings enter your mind, it is a battle between "good" and "evil". Satan wants to destroy you and God wants to free you. Just like ever decision we face in life, we have a choice. Sometimes we make the wrong one and learn a lesson. Sometimes we have to repeat the same mistake a few times to really get a handle on it. With an eating disorder, it really is no different. Just like any other addiction, you must make up your mind to stop. Focusing on the goal of health and balance, instead of fixating on the thing that you are obsessing about. What must you do to change your focus? Remove the scale from the hours. Take down mirrors. Catch yourself in the act and STOP! You will slip up, but don't feel defeated, just start again. You will take it one moment at a time, each day, as you retrain your brain. Don't think, 'oh, tomorrow I will do better'. Think in the next hour, I will do better. And then the next hour. When I find myself thinking about food between meals, I get something to drink, and get busy. Then the time passes and before I know it, it's time to eat again. I eat a fixed amount and walk away. No seconds, or returning to the refrigerator. I think "balance," "self control," "remember the goal". Yes, I still have moments of weakness, but as soon as I start to beat myself up and feel defeated (the enemy is whispering in my ear "you have failed", "you can't do this"), I catch myself and train my mind to erase those thoughts, replacing them with positive truth. I have not failed, because I keep trying and I can do this.

I have turned to food when I felt lonely, bored or stressed. I overate out of compulsion, and couldn't stop, even after the food was gone. However, I couldn't stand making myself throw up, so I stopped. I kept overeating, which wore my digestive system out and made me just as sick as if I had Bulimia and Anorexia. All I could think about was food, and thought I probably always will, but not anymore. I possessed all the emotional and self-esteem issues, but God helped me learn to develop healthy and positive attitudes about myself. It was a moment by moment struggle, but that is behind me. I can relate, probably more than most people, to what it is like, because I had an eating disorder that resulted in all the same physical consequences. I had to let go of how I felt in my clothes, how I looked and realize that I am more than the number on a garment tag or on the scale. Today I am at my ideal weight, but more importantly, I am experiencing for the first time the authentic, real me and enjoying better health than I have ever known. I wish that for you too.