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Lauren’s Victory Over Her Eating Disorder

43 Comments

Written by: Lauryn Lax

 

 

 

 

The Paleo Solution, by Robb Wolf.

Hmm..this looks interesting.

It doesn’t have the word “diet” on it…but Solution?

And so about a year ago, I picked up Robb Wolf’s bestseller.

It is important to note, prior to my encounter with this publication in Barnes & Noble, I had read (and lived off) nearly every diet book and philosophy under the sun since I was 10-years old.

The “cut back on sodas, chips and cookies” diet.

The low-fat, no fat-diet.

The eat-only-lowfat breads diet.

The standard “healthy-American-diet-kick” diet (Special K, 100 calorie packs, Diet Cokes and Crystal Light, Snackwells, Nutrigrain bars, Teddy Grahams, Yoplait yogurt, Lean Cuisines).

The “eat 3 apples per day diet.”

The South Beach diet.

The Zone diet.

The 3-turkey-patties-and-steamed-vegetables diet.

The whey-protein diet.

Diet.

I was always on a diet.

Four score and seven years ago…it all started the summer after my 4th grade year, when I decided my goal for my big upcoming middle-school launch was to be “pretty, popular, and skinny.”

I wanted all the boys to like me, and all the other little girls to be me. I wanted to be the “Queen Bee” and weigh 69-pounds like Shea Gibbs, the most popular girl in school at the time.

I realized I was not “everything” I wanted to be after one day at recess when Shea asked me how much I weighed. Even though I was only a healthy, average 80-pounds, I thought I was fat in comparison to the “it” girl.

And so began what would turn out to be a 14-year battle with an eating disorder.

Before I knew it, the eating disorder took hold of my mind and life, and thus began the fight for my life–and battle in my mind.

For those 14 long years, I struggled deeply with anorexia, and then orthorexia.

In and out of hospitals, treatment centers, feeding tubes, IV fluids, therapist offices, nutritionists. The works.

My parents first caught on that something was “up” the winter of my 5th grade year—about 6-months into my restrictive diet and building obsession with working out (running laps at 10 pm at night in my neighborhood, doing squats in the shower, calf raises on the stair case, running everywhere I went).

They took me to my pediatrician as they had noticed my hair had started falling out, I had developed a rash on my legs (malnourishment side effect), lost about 10 pounds and nearly passed out once or twice at home.

Mono. Anemia. The flu.

The doc ran blood tests…anemic for sure (low iron count).

However, he referred me to a local therapist for some clarification if there was anything else going on, and she diagnosed me with some disease I had never heard of before (except of on an infomercial for a Karen Carpenter CD a few years earlier, when my father had mentioned she died from starving herself):

Anorexia.

Treatment first ensued with weekly visits to an eating disorder specialist, counselor, Registered Dietitian and group therapy…all of which didn’t help much at all.

About a month later, I was hospitalized with a heart rate in the 40s and weight of 70-pounds—one pound above my “ideal” goal weight.

“You could die from this sweetie,” my doctor said, but I didn’t believe it.

All I wanted to be was thin, pretty and popular. Why were they trying to take my goals away from me?

In the hospital, I was placed on 24-hours of bed rest and only allowed to watch TV, see my family, make one 15-minute phone call or take a shower, ONLY if I ate all my food I was served.

The dietitian prescribed a steady diet of Poptarts and bagels with jelly for breakfast, chicken nuggets, French fries and Coca Cola for lunch, and spaghetti with meatsauce, buttered bread and canned green beans for dinner. Along with Teddy Grahams, Fig Newtons, Oreos, peanut butter crackers, fruited yogurt and juice for snacks.

“Good, hearty” nourishment.

I spent about 4-weeks in the hospital that first time, and about 10-pounds and food-in-my-system later…I was better, right?

Wrong.

Low and behold, that was only the beginning of what would be a battle for true health versus eating disorder clinical recovery health.

In and out, in and out of treatment.

Up and down, up and down, my weight and health continued to cycle as well.

In treatment, to be forced to gain weight by overweight and/or out of shape clinicians, on foods that I questioned enjoying and left me feeling awful both inside and outside my body…

Then, out of treatment, only to go running back to my “old ways” out of fear and hatred about the treatment my body had been put through.

My parents surprisedme at the beginning of my 7th grade year, and sent me to treatment at Remuda Ranch in Arizona for two months for my first inpatient facility experience.

Same story, different place.

Buttered bran muffins. Apple crisp and peach cobbler.Little Debbie snack cakes and Twinkies. Ice cream and granola bars for snacks. Turkey and double-Swiss cheese sandwiches with chips for lunch. Sausage pizza or seafood pasta Alfredo for dinner.

Sick.

I felt sick, bloated, nauseous, tired, sad, throughout that whole treatment.

The highlights were the 15-minute walk we got twice per week and horseback riding once per week around barrels in the center of the treatment campus.

I made another trip back to Remudathe following spring for three months after relapsing right after getting out, as well as more hospitalizations and tube-feedings at home in the next two or three years following that.

Then, come age 16, I was at the “end of my rope” and a family friend suggested I meet a personal trainer who he said had changed his life.

My parents were reluctant to letting me try anything related to exercise, but were also at the “end of their rope.”

So I started weight training with the trainer three days per week, then progressing to five, and not only started feeling better, but started eating better.

My trainer came from a body-building and boxing background, and he taught me basic gym techniques and workouts (supersets, squats, deadlifts, presses), as well as proper eating with 5-6 small whole foods meals per day.

No more Slim Fast shakes or Boosts, Nutrigrain bars or Teddy Grahams for me.

Gradually I began to gain healthy weight and muscle and went from 85-pounds to 110-pounds over the course of about 8-months—and felt great!

I’d like to say it was a happy ending from there…but low and behold, that little obsessive eating disorder voice was still tucked away in there—longing to be a perfectionist, still not 100% accepting of me.

I moved to New York the summer before my senior year of highschool to study journalism at Columbia University—and made it my goal to be the “fittest I had ever been” that summer while away from my trainer, my home gym, my healthy food (surrounded by gross college dorm food), and also immersed in New York City “culture” (a lot of thin, beautiful model-like girls around me at Columbia).

I lived off canned protein drinks and dry roasted unsalted peanuts that summer, and began working out 3-4 hours per day.

By the end of the summer, I was down 10-pounds, and more than that, had developed a new dependence and coping mechanism to feeling achievement and allowing myself to eat: Training—a lot.

Chained to Stairmasters, treadmills, and weights for hours on end…the cycle continued for about a year until the first 3-weeks of my college experience at the University of Texas-Austin.

After going through sorority rush and being cut from every sorority (I was very thin and flat-out scary sick), I fell on my face…

Forced to re-enter treatment by an eating disorder specialist doc after my first appointment with him—heart rate in the 40s, weight in the low 80s.

Treatment ensued for the third time inpatient…and same story, different place.

An overweight Russian nutritionist, who told me she wanted to “plump me up and give me big breasts like hers”, sitting around on couches and bean bags in therapy and groups for hours on end, and being forced to eat food delivered from a catering truck. Breakfast cereals, bagels and soy-protein shakes for breakfasts. Slimy salmon, pasta, wraps and sandwiches, gelato and cakes, macaroni and cheese. Yogurt covered raisins, prunes, yogurt, gummy bears, Oreos for snacks. I was told I was disordered when I requested almonds and hard boiled eggs from the snack list, or that I wanted to learn how to make physical activity a part of my life in a healthy way.

Three months into it, I had put on about 25-pounds, feeling bloated and inflamed yet again.

Skin breakouts. Nausea. Sluggish. Poor digestion. And still obsessed with overexercise and under-eating—I wanted anything but what that treatment was teaching me.

I held on and maintained subpar health through the remainder of my college years, although I was dying on the inside.

Unhappy. Wanting more out of life. Inspired by those truly living healthy lives.

Which leads me to graduate school in the fall of 2010 after graduating from UT the prior spring with a degree in broadcast journalism.

I decided, I wanted to make it a life-goal, a career goal to help girls recover from their eating disorders—and to improve the flawed treatment system for helping girls do so.

Up to 50% of girls who enter treatment NEVER recover—and many professionals, families and centers scratch their heads and wonder why?

Many of the treatment centers out there operate from the same food philosophies and treatment structures.

Even though I was not on top of my own “A-game” yet, I definitely wanted to help girls to beat ED.

I entered Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. to pursue my doctorate in occupational therapy.

Low and behold, I hit rock-bottom after my first year.

The stress of school, student loans, and my lingering already poor health, ate away at me-literally-and I whittled down to a mere 79-pounds.

Out of control, ED almost won. Almost won my life.

Six-hours of workouts dealing with stress. Eating only turkey patties shipped in from my hometown Little Rock, Ark. from the only place I would eat from. Little fuel. Dead tired. I was hanging on by a thread, barely functioning. I had low self-confidence and wanted to be well—truly well—so badly, but really didn’t know how to do it. Didn’t know what recovery and health could really look like after such a skewed view from the treatments and hospitals I had been in and out of.

A group of about 6 fellow gym goers intervened in my life last August 2011, at 4 am when I was about to go inside for my first 2 ½ hour workout for the day at the YMCA.

They said, “Lauryn we can’t keep watching you do this to yourself” and they drove me to Vanderbilt Hospital.

Hospitalized with a feeding tube, IV fluids and heart monitors, I wondered just why—just why—my life had brought me back down this road again.

And then, on my bedside in the hospital, I re-read the book I had picked up in Barnes and Noble—just months before.

The Paleo Solution.

And determined to make a change. To pray about a change.And to fight for that change.

While I was forced to enter treatment once again by the doctors…I knew I had a knowledge I had never had before—a knowledge on how to truly take care, love and accept my body when I got out of treatment—no matter what foods they forced me to eat, non-movement they didn’t allow me to do, or how long I spent in treatment.

I had a secret I had never had before to re-writing history: The Paleo Solution.

Eating real, whole, God-given-to-the-earth foods, plenty of fats, meats, fresh produce. Resting my body well. Working out hard, but appropriately.

Balance.

Treatment was tough—spent a total of 8 ½ months in treatment that time around.

Endured a lot of takeout pizza nights, Egg McMuffin biscuit sandwich breakfasts, Eggo waffles, peanut butter Graham crackers, pancakes with syrup, 9 cheese slices per day some days (I am lactose intolerant), soy protein shakes, ice cream, Chinese food takeout, pasta 2-3 nights per week, bagels every Wednesday, and on and on…

But coming out, no matter how awful or awkward I felt in my body, I was determined to NEVER EVER go back down that old road again.

Rewrite history I did, thanks to Robb Wolf’s inspiration and the CrossFit community I found post-treatment.

Living and leading a CrossFit lifestyle, and nourishing my body well with real foods, I radiate, I glow and am a new person, from the inside out.

I was blessed upon leaving to treatment to have met Games’ competitor Guido Trinidad and his wife Virginia, who invited me to come to work with them at their box Peak 360.

I recently got my Level 1 CrossFit certification, and a hope and goal of mine is to inspire and help others—particularly women—find true health, healing and happiness through self-care, exercise and nutrition.

I am currently in the debate of what to do now—whether go back to grad school, or launch my career full on now.

I know if there is one thing I know for sure—it’s that I want to change the way treatment is done and introduce girls struggling with eating disorders to the “secret” I found for leading a healthy lifestyle.

I finally have found a lifestyle that works for me, makes sense, and truly represents recovery—freedom from calorie counting, exchange counting, label memorizing, weight obsession, overtraining—freedom to LIVE!

Living for today.

 

Lauren before

Lauren after recovery

 

If you like, you can follow my journey I have kept from the beginning of this last treatment in Miami, FL up until the present on my blog:

http://livingfortoday365.blogspot.com.

 

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  1. Nikhil Hogan
    July 16, 2012 at 5:39 am

    Great story, she looks so healthy and happy now! :)

  2. Sarah
    July 16, 2012 at 5:44 am

    What an amazing story! Thank you for sharing it Lauryn!

  3. Ariana
    July 16, 2012 at 6:42 am

    Wow, Lauren– what an intense story! So happy for you, and proud of you for facing something so difficult and scary, especially after such a long road of relapses. You look gorgeous, and we do need more women like you who have made it their goal to help as many women with eating disorders as possible– you are right that the current model is absolutely not working. I wish you well!

  4. Crunchy Pickle
    July 16, 2012 at 7:03 am

    Wow! What a story! Great work dealing with the emotional aspects of weight. :)

  5. Bill
    July 16, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Thanks for sharing, and glad to hear you finally found what works best for you!

  6. Robb Wolf
    July 16, 2012 at 10:58 am

    I wanted to thank Lauren again for sharing her story. This took a lot of courage to not just dig back through the past but to share all this with us. I also wanted to comment on a few things:

    Eating disorders, Orthorexia and Paleo
    If you are not familiar with the term, Orthorexia means believing in strict guidelines of “right and wrong foods” usually with certain foods being “forbidden.” Paleo recommends no: grains, legumes dairy etc. Hmmm…it would seem to fit the orthorexia definition perfectly! This situation is one of the most frustrating things I have enecountered in almost 15 years of tinkering with the whole paleo concept. From the eating disorder communities perspective eating anything, anything at all from your local 7-11 is a sign of “health”, but avoiding gluten is a neurosis. Even when we are pretty certain gluten is a factor in a host of neurological issues.

    See the complexity here? Even arguing for food quality makes one look like an orthorexic. It’s a bit of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation which I’ve done my best to navigate by simply asking “can we try this for 30 days? If things get out of control we can always default to conventional methods.” I have not worked with a large number of folks with ED’s but this method has so far worked well. It takes open-minded MD’s and RD’s who are willing to experiment a little and to admittedly, do something that seems a little fishy in light of the orthorexia framework.

    CrossFit Prevents Eating Disorders in Women (likely men too)
    I’m occasionally labeled a crossfit “hater” because of criticism I’ve leveled at some programming issues, QA/QC of affiliates etc. Nothing in fact could be further from the truth. I LOVE CrossFit and so much so that I had to goofy idea that I might make it better in some ways, particularly where food is concerned. Well let me know if this sounds like hate:
    “CrossFit Prevents Eating Disorders in Women” could and should be the title of a scientific paper. Where the media and most fitness modalities fail is putting aesthetics before fitness. CrossFit by contrast, puts fitness first and this diffuses most of the eED triggers before they even start. If you have an impressionable young woman who enters a gym and see’s beautiful, strong women doing pull-ups, Olympic lifts etc, she is likely to wonder “how do I do that? How do I look like they do?” and although there is variability in how folks will ultimately look, the focus on performance prevents meal skipping and bulimia because if one is not well fueled, one will NOT perform well. The hypothetical young woman who has a few pull-ups on Monday will have none on Friday if she makes squirrely food decisions. The only time I have seen some ED behavior emerge in clients was when we recommended the Zone. That level of scrutiny, the weighing and measuring pushed a few girls over the edge. With Paleo, I’ve never seen that.

    I’ll close by reminding the ED community that there may in fact be some foods that are not that great for us to eat, that may in fact be contributing to the problems which folks are facing. Also, I’d remind folks running gyms that a focus on performance + smart food can not only transform, but literally save lives.

    • Tracy Seman
      July 16, 2012 at 2:52 pm

      Robb-

      Thank you for sharing a positive comment regarding CrossFit. Most of the people I know found and fell in love with CrossFit, then found The Paleo Solution by you because of the owners of their gym. I found out about you, then CrossFit. Been almost two years for both and my life has changed forever and thankfully my husband and children’s lives as well.

      Over the past few months I’ve been seeing more and more “CrossFit hater” type posts on Facebook from you and it makes me so sad. Especially when your followers also bash CrossFit and most likely they’ve never even tried it. The CrossFit community supports and embraces you and what you are doing. I realize the management doesn’t support you anymore, but the people on my level do.

      Maybe more CrossFit management “hater” posts and less CrossFit as a whole comments.

      I just recommended your book again today to another client. There are many books coming out, but yours is always the first one I recommend to beginners. Great read, great information and life changing for sure. Thank you for writing it!!!

      T.

    • Ashley
      July 19, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      Thank you for sharing your story Lauren “strong is beautiful” and you my friend, are a beautiful person.

      Robb, your post script is spot on! Paleo and CrossFit, and the communities they gather, have been a huge influence in my own recovery from EDs. I sing praises about the mental benefits I’ve experienced in eating this way- yet, the ED community is wary of evening exploring why this might be so, and it is incredible frustrating. I understand that the idea of therapy is to change irrational thoughts about food- but how about using what we know about food and the interplay of hormones, amino acids, etc. to help manage irrational thoughts?

      Food for thought. :)

    • annonymous
      July 30, 2012 at 9:37 pm

      Hello Robb,

      I initially wrote this in response to your post about Lauren and her anorexia recovery on facebook and was going to post it but didn’t.  I am a physician and although I am quite open about my life and past I have to be careful of what I publically post.  This is just a few thoughts on the topic (if I could post as annonymous I would!). Well done though.  Here is my post:

      I like this post Robb and I think you have a great grasp on the ED issue. My one thought as an individual who has battled and successfuly “beat” AN and the associated compulsive exercise, calorie counting etc is this: ED start for a deeper reason than just body disatisfaction – if this were the case then the prevalence of ED would be exponentially greater. EDs start as a way of dealing with something greater that one feels powerless over. The ED acts as a bandaid if you will, something that you can control. This brings great relief to you when you feel so out of control in other areas, which is funny because as you fall into your illness and become more rigid and restrictive you are getting more out of control. The only way to recovery is to “drop the rope”, an analogy of the push/pull battle with your ED like a game of tug-o-war. The only real way to stop the game is to drop the rope – give up control, walk away, and resolve the underlying issues that pushed you into an ED. This takes years – one ED specialist told me once that if a person with AN recovers fully (no obsessive thoughts, odd eating rituals, calorie counting) it takes at least 7 years. Now you can’t put a time constraint on anything in medicine, but it is a long battle.

      The concern one might have with someone using the Paleo diet in recovery is it is still controlled, so it really depends on where the person is in their recovery. Personally, I love the principles of the Paleo diet. During my recovery the professionals who helped me focused on the Canada Food Guide. They were wonderful people but would always be in battle with me for not following the guide…. I didn’t even know what Paleo was but I was pretty much living it. So I think Paleo is great, you just have to be sure that you are far enough along in your recovery to not be rigid and be ok if you slip up. Allowing yourself to go against that voice is the only way to freedom, so I would say that if someone is still battling that ED voice in their head on a daily basis then they may not be at a place where they can truly be Paleo and not think of fat and calories and then begin to spiral downward.

      I think a Paleo diet may in fact be a great recovery tool for those who are at the end of their battle and have dealt with their underlying issues and have new coping strategies. It just makes scientific sense and is backed by quality research. Those with ED can take comfort in the science and feel as though they can give up control – the outcomes are more predictive and lead to healthy lives. Paleo is not a weight loss tool, it is a way of eating and living to optimize your health. Those far enough along in their ED recovery will see this and embrace it.

      Thanks again for sharing this topic – a great one that can easily be misinterpretted.

  7. Stephanie Greunke
    July 16, 2012 at 11:15 am

    I am so incredibly proud of you for getting to the place you are today and sharing your story. This story will be an inspiration for so many women. Bless you for your bravery and best of luck living the rest of your life as the new healthy you!

  8. Shannon
    July 16, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Congratulations on your impressive recovery and determination to find your way through. You look radiant. Sounds like we need some menu-reform at ED treatment centers. Forcing patients to eat foods that make them feel awful is probably not the way to get them find a healthy relationship with food!

    • sharona
      April 11, 2014 at 6:10 pm

      I’m a recovering anorexic and I can really relate to Lauren’s struggle. I looked at different treatment centers and was so frustrated with their meal plans. I was really lucky and found a very special, small residential treatment facility in Vancouver. They had whole, organic food and their meals were focused on keeping blood sugar level. They weren’t Paleo, but they were dedicated to giving us whole nutritious food. I swear it’s because of that that I was able to eat.

      I like where the whole Paleo moment is going, more flexible and focused on individual needs(black and white diet rules are so last century). Some people eat dairy, some people don’t, others have more carbs.

      Because of my excessive yoyo dieting and eating disorders in my twenties, I’ve now been diagnosed as pre-diabetic. Going Paleo and knowing I can test and feel my way around the different perimeters to see what fits for my health is a great relief :)

  9. Cortney
    July 16, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Thank you, Lauren for sharing your story.

    And yes, I know many ways of eating that get put into the orthorexia/restricting category. However, I believe there is a GREAT difference between obsessing over a food because of calories/fat/color/type etc. because you are either doing it out of control or because of a desire to drop to an unhealthy weight and CHOOSING not to eat a food because you don’t like the way you feel after you eat it. Or how you (don’t ) perform physically.

    Lauren mentioned it several times and I could not agree more. When they were pumping her full of conventional, processed food in the name of gaining weight and getting healthly, she felt like CRAP. With that mentality, even the facility is being “restricting” as they are not exposing patients to health REAL food!

    I have a very close family member who has been haunted by anorexia and every treatment facility they have even been in assumed that as soon they gained the weight, they would be fine. Sadly, that was not the case. They had a similar story in that they found out that processed food (esp. carbs) were fueling their depression which was fueling their anorexia. As soon as they made the change to real food (albeit what some would consider restrictive but really is more along the paleo lines) they got healthy for the first time in their life.

    Again, thank you Lauren for being brave and sharing your story. I am sure you will help a lot of people with this! Best of luck to you.

  10. K.L.
    July 16, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Amazing story, will definitely keep an eye on the blog.
    I never knew that it’s the norm to feed that kind of crappy food (not even talking about paleo, but twinkies and fast food, really?) to people trying to recover from EDs. How can you try to convince someone to eat properly, if your solution/idea of a healthy diet is completely at the other end of the scale from theirs? No wonder most have relapses, once they get out of the hospital environment.
    But I guess those kind of foods are calorie-dense (but then again so are butter, coconuts and bacon), and the addictive quality of frankenfoods comes in handy there.

    And I agree with Robb about the CF being a major influence for the shift from aesthetics to performance (among women). While there are some things wrong with the ideology/HQ/community, no one can deny the good things that it has achieved. Most people just don’t seem to realise that there is middle ground between the devout kool-aid drinker and the hating powerlifter, a place where most crossfitters fall; they love the sport and the community and want to improve it in any way they can, even if that might include dishing out some honest and harsh critique. Robb just happens to be well-known, so his criticism is widely read.

  11. Kate
    July 16, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Hello. This is my first time posting, but I just wanted to comment that Robb, you make some very good points. At least from my perspective.

    I am 22, and have been in recovery from an eating disorder for 5 years. I was in and out of different hospitals for 3 years, and also went to Remuda Ranch, as Lauren did. While I disagree with her view that the food was all completely unhealthy and not aiding in recovery, it WAS based on the traditional food pyramid, which has its faults. But, the main lesson I got from Remuda is that every body is unique and you need to tailor your lifestyle to your personal needs. Furthermore, I learned an acceptance of all foods, in moderation. They saved my life.

    Alas, after I left Remuda, I began to struggle with binge-eating. And the usual culprit? Cereal, bagels, bread, cookies, etc. I exercised constantly to counter my intake of food, but had to battle intense cravings all day. I dreamed of a day when I would not think about what I would eat next, or how I would work it off.

    Now enter Paleo. A friend of mine at college introduced me to the concept and I have watched him learn and grow in the Paleo community for the past 2 years. At first I was extremely hesitant and suspicious of the whole idea. I was balancing delicately on a tightrope trying not to fall back in to an eating disorder…so why should I trust all this talk about a diet? I was so certain that this was just another passing fad. And I was nervous to try it, for fear that I would fall into another extremely limiting diet and take it overboard. Still, gradually I tried it, and lo and behold, I have noticed a great change.

    Before, I was frightened of all fats, especially saturated fats. Before, I would starve myself all day and then cave at dinner time and eat one huge meal that left me bloated and feeling guilty. I was bingeing and hating myself all the time because I couldn’t fight the cravings.

    I thought I would never try a Paleo lifestyle. I can’t say that I eat completely Paleo all the time, because I feel that part of my recovery is being able to let myself eat a piece of cake at a birthday party, or grad an occasional sandwich when I am in a rush. It is my opinion that moderation and a little leniency is needed in life. I do understand the 30-day challenge though; gluten has such a strong hold on us, and if we are to break through the bad habits and the cravings to see the benefits, you might need to go all or nothing!

    Anyway, I commend the Paleo lifestyle, and I think it is a great idea to include it in eating disorder recovery. I am not afraid of fats anymore! I am satisfied after meals (I eat at least 3 meals a day now) and the amount and intensity of my cravings has decreased to almost nothing. I feel stronger in my workouts, and like you said, I try to focus on food as going hand-in-hand with my performance–if I don’t nourish my body correctly, how will I improve? That said, I rarely skip meals anymore. It is still a process; I have a long way to go. Skinny girls still get to me, but I’m hoping that a revolution will take place and strong, healthy bodies and minds will become the status quo. In the end, I can say that Paleo has aided so much in my continuing recovery. Paleo just makes sense. It just feels right. And I feel great, physically and mentally. I attribute much ofthat change to what I eat. So thank you.

  12. Martha
    July 16, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Lauren,
    In commend you for your hard work and recovery.
    I’m with you. My story is in my new book:
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Oxygen-Mask-Rule-Anorexia/dp/146647727X/ref=sr_1_1?
    I just wanted to share it with you as you shared your story with us.
    Brava! Martha

  13. dave
    July 16, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Wow Lauren, you’re a beautiful person for everything you have shared and have gone through.
    It took me some time to realize but I had body image issues from the demand in the gym and the standard lifting world to be big or have mass, and as a naturally skinny person I became neurotic trying to gain mass. For me, the diet portion was easy. But it took some time as many paleo folks questioned my need to get mass, to realize that I have an ideal body and the whole get big thing was implanted into me by the standard fitness world.

  14. Rena
    July 17, 2012 at 2:12 am

    I too am a recovered anorexic. When I first started Paleo a yr ago my husband stressed over what he perceived as another OCD moment I was having…he has been able to see that this is a healthy lifestyle and no longer worries that I am restricting myself in order to lose weight but to be healthy. I quit crossfit about a year and a half ago do to several injuries one after another. While I loved CF I can say its difficult when you aren’t fueling your body the right way. Even after 15+ years since ED recovery started I hadn’t truly figured out healthy eating until Paleo. I am 8 months pregnant and plan to use CF as work out of choice after baby arrives to get back in shape. Thanks for all you do. I am excited to see how CF and Paleo work together this time. Anorexia is something that is always in the back of my mind but I fully remember the horrible way I felt (sick so much) and being that skinny girl is no longer appealing to me. I want to be a strong, fit and healthy example for my baby girl.

  15. Emily Deans MD
    July 17, 2012 at 7:21 am

    Thanks so much for sharing your story, Lauren. I’m of course extremely interested in this topic, and I can’t help but think that the food pyramid and the necessary and recommended counting and measuring and serving sizes (for many) feeds into eating disorders for those who have the vulnerability. I do fail to see how recommending wholesome and healthy food the vast majority of the time is a neurosis or orthorexia, but I’ve definitely seen that scared look from clinicans who work with eating disorders when I talk about what kinds of things I eat (or don’t typically eat). The key is to be able to loosen up when times are appropriate and enjoy food for its nourishing and, at times, entertainment value, and, ultimately, the goal is *not to live thinking about what you are going to eat or not eat all the time.* Everyone has to structure their eating in some way! The way that brings into balance healthy and nutritious meals and being able to be relaxed and happy seems to be a reasonable path to me.

  16. Lori
    July 17, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us…. It is so unfortunate that the standard treatments don’t seem to work very well for a lot of the ED patients. I applaud you for wanting to help other people going through these same life-threatening issues.

    As a woman in her mid-40’s, a life-long confirmed “striver” only now just beginning to re-evaluate what it means to “have it all” and the stress that comes with it and what it does to your body/health/piece o’mind … I just wanted to share that I know a lot of women my age and many younger who want to help others but also put a tremendous amount of pressure on themselves to always be ‘achieving’ and ‘perfecting’. This extends beyond diet and exercise! It can be ‘over-parenting’ helicopter mom’s or being a perpetual student getting advanced degrees and extra letters to put behind your name as a ‘signifier’ of achievement (and yes, also I realize it is the certification that allows you to ‘help’ others in a “professional”/clinical capacity.) I just wanted to offer completely unsolicited advice and I hope you will take it in the generous spirit its offered: Attend to and make yourself more comfortable with the ambiguity and discomfort of stepping off the stress/gerbil wheel for awhile longer. Focus on continuing to healing your own self, sharing with others what you know, but maybe not immediately getting back right away into another advanced degree program which can be VERY stressful. JUST LIVE and enjoy helping the people you are already helping at your new job! Your life and your story are a testament to the power of healing. People WILL listen to you and also be healed with the skills and education you have already learned/earned. Good Luck Lauren! and again thanks for sharing.

  17. Lamplighter
    July 17, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    Lauren, MANY congratulations to you and your recovery! You’re a brave soul, and so strong. I wish you all the best of luck in helping others with eating disorders recover as well. It’s really amazing how a paleo diet can help people with eating disorders recover, like the success stories here (just one website’s example) :
    http://tinyurl.com/7fst8es

    That’s really sick what they fed you in the treatment center. (Why they’d give food that would make a HEALTHY person throw up to someone with an eating disorder is beyond me).

    Sadly, when the “hey, maybe good nutrition can HELP one recover from an eating disorder” topic is brought up in circles that need it the most- like ED websites- it’s more often than not shot down, like here: http://tinyurl.com/clyg5cu

    I can understand the pull of “conventional wisdom,” or “Eating disorders are purely emotional and have nothing to do with the brain/nutrition,” or “Not eating grains or sugar? That’s orthorexia!” mentality, but still.

    Lauren, godspeed to you.

  18. Luke
    July 18, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Wow! You are SO beautiful!!! :)

  19. Ian Braden
    July 20, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I think all the sentimental things I can possibly write are best summarized in a simple “wow, you’re gorgeous.” Unbelievable job.

  20. Stephanie
    July 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story. Anorexia is the most deadly mental health disease and it is truly sad how ineffective current treatment is. So many women and now men dying and losing their health and spending their whole lives in a self-hating mental state is just terrible! I hope you can use what you’ve learned to help others beat anorexia. Already this post will be helpful for many I am sure. You look so healthy and alive now!

  21. ValerieH
    July 22, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    very interesting story. I suggest reading The Diet Cure and The Mood Cure by Julia Ross. She has been working with drug addicts and food addicts for 20 years at her clinic in California. Her use of amino acids helps feed the brain and break the cycle. The diet is all real food.

  22. Johns Cook
    September 7, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Sharing is caring. I like your story. So many women or men are dying because of losing their health, even though they tried to gain their health back. But it’s already in your body, so you can not get back as it was before.

  23. Rachel @ Rediscovering the Kitchen
    September 29, 2012 at 7:17 am

    Thank you for sharing your story Lauryn! It was very insightful into why we have eating disorders and why the therapy doesn’t work so many times. I hope that can change.

  24. Shannon
    November 27, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    A great recovery story indeed! I’m shocked that the ED ‘professionals’ out there are recommending a ‘healing’ diet of twinkies, soda, and homogenized dairy/ice cream. You haven’t cured your disorder until you can eat these without guilt. Well I tried that and even though the guilt was subsiding, my well being and health was deteriorating. Eating healthy is NOT a disorder, but I do see orthorexic tendencies in some of the paleo crowd. My first attempt with paleo landed me in deep trouble with orthorexia and borderline anorexia. Lost too much weight, losing hair, stressed, hormones all over, etc. Paleo did not cause this, the tendencies were always there. I just took it too far. I became TERRIFIED of carbs. Tried ED recovery and quickly realized that those ‘healthy’ foods were only making me weaker, depressed, a lil crazy in the head. I know their intentions are good. They want to help us stop obsessing about food constantly and have a healthy relationship with it. Unfortunately the gluten (for most) will really mess w your gut and head to the point of relapse. Back to paleo w a few tweaks. This time I don’t fear carbs. In fact, I make it a point to eat plenty with each meal. Added some whole goat milk and thrive on it. Forget cow’s milk. It’s just as bad as gluten in my body. Kept the good, nourishing fats, animals, and veggies. Life is good. Crazy, but good. Thanks for sharing, Lauryn <3 xo

  25. Natajshia
    May 9, 2013 at 4:32 am

    This is exactly what i was looking for and am currently going through with treatement foods like ice cream, cakes, chocolate are made to be eaten because its feared foods. That crap is not food! I have been on Dukan diet and am researching changing over to Paleo

  26. Rachel
    October 10, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Hey Lauren, thought you might find this interesting http://www.youreatopia.com/blog/2011/9/14/i-need-how-many-calories.html

  27. Rachel
    October 10, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    And well done on getting your health and strength back on track! All the best :)

  28. Ashley
    November 30, 2013 at 9:21 am

    You look amazing, Lauren! Healthy, happy, and beautiful :)

  29. Meme
    February 14, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Honestly, this story truly bothered me. I’m extremely proud of Lauren and her recovery, and I truly wish her nothing but the best. However, the tone here was quite upsetting.

    First, one of the main things about recovery is that you don’t talk numbers. I don’t think it really benefitted anyone to go on and on about how sick Lauren was. We get it. She was extraordinarily ill. Do we really need to list weights over and over?

    Second, bashing recovery techniques is not necessary. There’s no need to list all the “terrible” foods that treatment centers give. When you’re dying from an eating disorder, it just doesn’t matter. You need calories and you need nutrition. More than that, you need to be able to eat anything. Just because you eat Oreos for a snack in treatment doesn’t mean you’re expected to eat them every day. You just need to be mentally capable of it. The reason only 50% of sufferers (small note: not girls, boys too) relapse is because this is a serious mental illness. The food in treatment is merely a tool to restore body weight and challenge eating disordered mindsets. Feeling awful because of it? To start with, your mind is fighting you, making stomaching any food difficult. And more basically, your body has been deprived of what it needs. You’re teaching it how to work properly again. It is sick and dying. Refeeding is not going to be a comfortable process.

    Frankly, I would argue that turning to Paleo is a eating disordered choice, but I do not know everything about the situation. It has worked for Lauren, and I’m very glad to see that. I do not feel comfortable with many of the statements in this testimonial, but I wish her all the best.

  30. Rebecca
    March 6, 2014 at 10:54 am

    You and I had very similar paths. The first treatment center I had gone to just wanted to load up the patients with food and teach them to DEAL with it. I can understand that to an extent, because one should never “fear” food (btw the fear comes from lack of education about food!!). However, so many treatment facilities know nothing of true nutrition. Sure, you can teach someone to eat a pizza, meanwhile their body is saying, “hey, I need real nutrition, not this crap”, so they will never feel satisfied.

    I digress…

    I wanted to say, that Paleo has absolutely been a huge piece of my own recovery. I went 3 years post-treatment without paleo, trying to keep the right mindset about food, struggling some days more than others. But once I found paleo, I found that I FELT amazing, energized, no longer sick or bloated or depressed. And I embraced good quality foods as a past time! Crossfit also became an addition to my life that has helped me to feel strong and independent. Now more than ever, I understand that my body NEEDS to be truly nourished to be able to engage in such taxing movements.

    I think your story is so powerful and love that you’ve overcome your eating disorder. I’d love to see true nutritional treatment in these recovery facilities, because its necessary. I got lucky with my inpatient clinic, because they provide several “nutritious” options as to overcome fears of food, but it wasn’t ever over the top. I would be curious if treating directly with a paleolithic diet could be somewhat detrimental only for the types that have obsessions “rules”, as I’ve never been 100% clear of that myself, but I have learned to break the rules from time to time :)

  31. Lori
    June 16, 2014 at 6:01 am

    Wow! What an amazing story..However, I was a little bit shocked that right under this inspirational story was a weight loss/diet advertisement..How crappy!!

    • Squatchy
      June 16, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      We don’t have any advertising like that on our blog. Was this maybe a popup from something on your computer?

  32. Macky
    July 7, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Lauryn’s story hits close to home- very similar to my story. I also developed an eating disorder at 9 years old and I have battled with it until now, age 28. Restriction- therapy- recovery-binging/purging- restriction- binging/purging- therapy- repeat over and over and over. Every day is a different struggle. Unfortunately, not a lot of people truly understand the daily struggle, pain, and shame that one goes through when you have an eating disorder. So thank you for sharing your story, Lauryn. It’s nice to know that I am not alone.

    I recently read Robb Wolfe’s book and I am so thankful that there is finally a lifestyle that makes perfect, natural, and scientific sense. I totally agree with Rebecca’s comment above- the “fear” of food comes from lack of education!! Thank you to all of those who continue to educate us on the science and about the false advertisements that we have all fallen “victims” to.

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