How Recovering From An Eating Disorder Made Me Strong

Written by Brynn Johnson

Fighting my way through an eating disorder is something for which I'm grateful. It wore down my layers of perfectionism and Midwestern-girl appropriateness.

I’m a better version of myself: a secret Minnesota hippie who is finally showing herself. I get sensitive when words are too sharp, I laugh like a kid when things are funny and, like a fourth grader, I ask for a hug when I need my boyfriend to put his heavy arms around me. (PS: my boyfriend looks like John Mayer with lots of muscles. Miracles do happen.)

The reason I’m so soft and sensitive now is because I've recovered from living in a way that was a low-grade ache.

During those overachieving, over-perfecting years, I trained myself to have just the right posture. I knew the exact way to nod my head when my boss spoke. I knew how to stop any emotional moment with a witty comment. I was all wound up and tense—eating specific things, working out in specific ways. All regimen, no vibrancy. Life all around me was happening in colorful ways, and I was black and white, the excellent candidate for life, on paper.

And now that I find myself living in a way that is obnoxiously happy—it makes me tear up. I'll catch myself doing something so normal—like going for a walk downtown over lunch. When the sunlight pours over me, I feel like I’m in a movie’s happy ending. Like a Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy or something. Happiness and simplicity are really available? It makes me weak with joy and my mascara runs down my face.

One of my coaching taglines is “Be that girl.” I used to think every other girl was that girl. The happy fit girl with an Instagram stream that looks like it's out of a magazine. I used to think that life wasn’t available to me. So now that I'm walking around feeling like Kate Hudson, all light on my feet, sunshiny and free, I get choked up and sometimes forget that it wasn’t always this good.

And if someone were to ask me, Brynn, what's the deal? Why are you crying? What would I say? That I feel like a hero in my own life sometimes? That would sound a little much. I mean, it’s not like I survived a plane crash or cancer.

But I do feel like I survived something. My own self-hatred and life-numbing fear—that’s painful. Even if the pain was like 10 years of relentless paper cuts. It was exhausting.

I acknowledge what I’ve gone through was mostly self-inflicted. My life in high school was like a Hollister campaign. My parents are the funniest, most loving people on the planet. I am smart, talented, and attractive. I have nothing legitimate to complain about.

But the girl-brain is a tricky and terrible thing. You can have it all and still wake up face-down on your mattress with no hope. Depression and body hate make no sense.

But pain is pain, even if it's from a paper cut.

So I think it’s really important to look back and be really impressed with yourself. Remember those moments when you were down on your luck. Your story was more tradgedy than romantic comedy. You felt so heavy and hopeless. Regardless of whether that tale is “tragic” on paper, pain is pain. We’ve all been through some tough stuff.

Take a look at yourself today and marvel at how far you've come. It’s amazing. Don’t apologize for your sadness or pain. Just use it to make tears of joy. I give you permission to feel satisfied with how far you've come. Your journey is just as impressive as anyone else’s if you used your strong little heart.

Ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE web class with nutrition expert Kelly LeVeque.

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