The Million Dollar Body Image Question

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When did you first begin to obsess about your body?  Can you identify what event or events sprung you into yo-yo dieting, starving yourself, purging, binge eating, and/or excessive exercising?

Once you can do that, you’ve identified a major contributor that prevents you from developing healthy relationships with food and exercise.  Draw a time line of your life and place markers at the most eventful times.

Also other changes, such as getting married, divorced, moving, having a friend move, starting or ending jobs, etc.  Remember, any major change is stress, whether it’s experienced as positive or negative.  No wonder brides gain an average of 18 pounds during the first year of marriage!

During these difficult times of your time line, you probably began to obsess about your body.


You attempted to self-medicate by dieting, bingeing, purging away your true feelings, and/or overexercising.  This offered you what we call the illusion of control in the 12-step programs.

In other words, your life felt out of control by your parents’ divorce, a move to another city, a difficult break-up, etc. You knew that you were powerless over the situation, so you obsessed about your body and attempted to control it instead.


Eventually your new, dysfunctional way of coping took on a life of its own.  Whether it’s obsessive overeating, bingeing, compulsive dieting, purging, or overexercising you’re struggling with, you’ve probably been looking for a solution for years. It became a beast in your life, and you have desperately tried to tackle it.  And now you’re wondering what really works in the long-term sense, not quick fixes that help you change for a small chunk of time.

“How do people recover?
We   believe an eating disorder is a mechanism for coping with stress. We binge,   purge and/or starve to feel better about our shame, anger, fear, loneliness,   tiredness and ordinary human needs. As we learn to address stress through other   mechanisms, the symptoms of the eating disorder tend to fade away. It is a   process, not an event. In EDA, we share our experience, strength and hope with   each other to help one another come to terms with and change how we deal with   life.

Recovery means living life on life’s terms, facing pains and fears   without obsessing on food, weight and body image. In our eating disorders, we   sometimes felt like helpless victims. Recovery means gaining or regaining the   power to see our options, to make careful choices in our lives. Recovery means rebuilding trust with ourselves, a gradual process that requires much motivation  and support. There are bound to be setbacks and moments of fear and frustration.   Support – professional, group and family – helps us get through such trials   safely, when we are honest about them. Support groups such as EDA provide   inspiration and opportunity for turning the most deeply painful and humbling   experiences to useful purpose. As we learn and practice careful self-honesty,   self-care, and self-expression, we gain authenticity, perspective, peace and   empowerment.”

That is an excerpt from Eating Disorders Anonymous, which provides great results for many people.  I truly believe in 12-step programs ,and have been in Al-Anon (a 12-step program for friends and families of alcoholics) on and off since 1999.

Next to my salvation, my husband, the gifts of attending Multnomah Seminary and Mars Hill Graduate School (now called Seattle School of Psychology and Theology), Al-Anon has been one of the most beautiful gifts God has provided.  (The 12 step programs are not affiliated with any religion.) A true life saver. 

They say to try 6 meetings of a 12-step before deciding if the program works for you.  (Like life itself, you can find groups like people.  Some of them you really click with, and others you think, “holy moly, I feel so sorry for their mothers!”  So don’t give up.  Try different meetings.  Also, find a good therapist who is knowledgeable about your issues.


Another great resource, also a 12-step: (Overeaters Anonymous) (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!)

Also (for Christians)

body image

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Merry says:

    Loved it, especially your pictures!!!


    1. Thanks, but I didn’t take the pictures. Thanks for the encouragement!


  2. nicole says:

    i’ve written over 350 pages of data about my “old bulimic life,” (not published yet) and i don’t feel that pinpointing “that moment” of when it all started was very helpful in overcoming my bulimia. rather, i feel that talking about my bulimia was the helpful piece. i know that each person will have their own strategies at recovery, but the remembering factor definitely was not helpful to me. in fact, it made me sad. x


    1. Nicole, you’re right in that there are many factors and pieces to our stories. Many people have reported through therapy that working through their stories have been invaluable. And yes, it is often sad to work through our stories, but the glory at the end is freeing. I’m so glad you have discovered what is working well for you.


    2. nicole says:

      yes yes yes! learning about the recovery stories of others is so amazing to me. everyone is so different. i think it’s very interesting that mainstream statistics and recovery processes do not seem to directly apply to me. i think that’s why i’m so intrigued by all of your posts. keep ’em coming, friend! x


  3. says:

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    you’re a great author. I will be sure to bookmark your blog and may
    come back from now on. I want to encourage you to continue your great posts,
    have a nice afternoon!


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