Before + After

450 comments

I hesitate to call this page my “Before and after” because I really don’t think there is an after. My journey to health is just that – a journey – and each year has its ups and downs and different challenges along the way. One thing I do know for sure is that I’m at a much better place than I used to be. From the age of 11 or 12, I struggled with an eating disorder until my mid-twenties. I would restrict my intake too low, over-exercise, and engage in binge eating. As a result, my weight – and mood – went up and down over the years. I had amenorrhea for a couple years because my body fat was too low to function. It’s a common misconception that you have to be deathly thin to have an eating disorder. If you saw me, you probably wouldn’t have thought that I was suffering as much as I was. Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes and much of the grief is mental.

After entering recovery and getting professional help, I’m now at a place where I don’t count calories or restrict my intake. I eat a plant-based diet that makes me feel amazing and I do activities that I enjoy, not to burn calories. I’ve experienced a huge shift in my perspective over the past 4 years and I finally love life again. Food used to be the enemy, but now’s it’s a huge source of pleasure in my life. I no longer feel the desire to binge eat like I used to because my body doesn’t feel deprived. I still struggle with a negative mindset at times, but I’m better at dismissing those thoughts and sticking on this healthy & happier path.

Here are some pictures that document my journey over the past 10+ years:

Last year of high school:

My weight was steady around 125 pounds. I met Eric, my highschool sweetheart, when I moved to Ontario from New Brunswick with my mom.

We started dating just a month after I began at my new school. It was puppy love that blossomed into a real, beautiful, can’t-be-without-each other- love. I always say the reason I moved to Ontario was to meet my soul-mate. :)

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2003 (2nd year university):

I had gained about 20-25 pounds since 1st year university. My highest weight was 148 pounds.

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My eating disorder, something I had been struggling with since 12 years old, surfaced a lot in 1st and second year university. Exam stress, living in a dorm, and new social opportunities led to late-night binges, alcohol, and unhealthy cafeteria food.

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I was trapped in a starve-binge cycle.

2004:

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I lost a bit of weight, but I was still struggling and going up and down on the scale.

2005:

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2006:

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I went through lots of hair changes! Eric’s did not. ;)

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I also graduated university with an undergrad degree in social psychology.

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We moved to Toronto because I got accepted into graduate school for psychology. I lost a lot of weight- but not in a healthy way- due to the stress of grad school and the demands that it brought.

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2007:

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2007 was a tough year due to the pressures of grad school. I dropped more weight and was really struggling on the inside.

However, it ended on a great note- we got engaged in December 2007 in Mexico.

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2008:

2008 was a year of ups and downs like no other I have ever experienced. I was stressed to the max and my weight kept dropping. My lowest weight was around 114 pounds.  I was juggling being a full-time Master’s student, writing a thesis, part-time teaching assistant, working at a new FT research job, and planning my wedding. I defended my thesis at the end of July 2008 and we got married just one month later- all while working a stressful new position.

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I looked happy on the outside, but was really struggling on the inside. Everyone told me I looked great, but they had no idea how I truly felt.

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The summer of 2008 was when I first dabbled with running. However, I did it mostly to burn calories and did not appreciate fitness for fun.

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Then I finally graduated, passed my oral defense, and got married. I had so much pressure lifted off my shoulders and we had such a great wedding and honeymoon.

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2009:

2009 was a monumental marker in my life. I finally got the courage to leave my job after being miserable for a year. We also moved out of the city to a town that was a better fit for our love of nature and peaceful surroundings. Things were starting to come together.

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I learned to have FUN with food and I fell in love with cooking! This is when my mindset about food started to shift.

In 2009, I started up my own business and started being good to my body again. I stopped obsessing about my body and weight. I worked out for fun and not to burn calories. I decided to ditch the scale and to go by how my clothes fit instead. It was the best thing I have ever done. I did things that made me feel happy. I also switched to a vegan diet after many years of experimenting on and off with a vegetarian diet. I felt amazing eating plant-based foods.

After battling back from a pelvic injury from Jan- march, I ran my first race ever in June- a 10k- and got hooked on running! This time not to burn calories, but to enjoy it.

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We also celebrated our first wedding anniversary! What a year it had been.

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2010:

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2010 brought an even better year. I trained for my 3rd half marathon and my first try-a-triathlon (with Eric). These challenges keep me motivated to stay on a healthy path. I need lots of food for energy to keep up!

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I am learning to be good to myself a bit more each and every day.

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Eric also experienced many healthy changes. He went from a highest weight in university of 210 pounds to 172 pounds (April 2010). He has cut down his meat and dairy consumption by about 75% and he has recently eliminated pop out of his diet for good in March 2010. You can read about his changes and see his progress pictures here.

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2011:

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As the years go by, I find myself getting stronger and more confident in who I am. I appreciate my body (most of the time, I’m not perfect though) and what it does for me each day. I try my best not to take my life for granted and worry about things that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.

December 2011:

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2012:

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(Sorry for the poor picture quality, was taken on my phone!)

The saying “life is a journey not a destination” really rings true for me as I update this post in 2012. I’m trying to appreciate each day and live in the moment. Who knows how long we have while we’re here.

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2014:

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Stay tuned for updates on my journey!

{ 450 comments… read them below or add one }

Caitlin January 22, 2013

Thank you for sharing your struggle so honestly. So many of us have struggled with eating issues in ways that are not so extreme or obvious on the outside. Because I have never had a problem that was serious enough for a diagnosis I have found it difficult to acknowledge the pain I have gone through over the years. I too am on a journey of discovering how to eat and take care of myself in a way that actually feels good, and I appreciate the work you are doing. As you share the ways you help yourself, you are offering a great resource of empathy and encouragement to women everywhere!

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Melissa N January 26, 2013

I LOVE your site! Your stories, your recipes, your words.
Whenever I am feeling down or feel like I have no one who can understand what I am trying to say or how I feel, I visit your site. You are truly inspirational and motivational.
Whenever I need a good recipe to WOW people with, I visit your site too :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 27, 2013

Thank you so much Melissa! I appreciate it :)

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chloe February 4, 2013

you’re such an inspiration to me. I’ve recently transitioned from a vegetarian to a vegan lifestyle and stumbled upon your blog while looking for recipes! I’m 17 and I’ve struggled with eating disorders for about 5 years, it feels like all my life though. I admire how you have changed your life and I wish to do the same and I will change for the better someday. It’s not easy but I can tell adopting veganism was a very smart thing to do on my part.
…I also though it was cool you’re from New Brunswick, I am as well!
I wish you the best, thank you. x

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Alex @ Delicious-Knowledge.com February 5, 2013

I love your blog! I don’t know why it took me so long to find it! Grrr. Your story speaks to so many women and I love that you had the courage to tell it. My “real job” is a RD for a University and I counsel so many students who suffer with eating disorders and disordered eating. I really enjoy reading stories of people who have overcome and now have a happy relationship with food. It helps to show that there IS light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks for sharing! And thanks for the great recipes!

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beth February 5, 2013

wow you are such an inspiring, strong and beautiful woman. i too suffer from eating disorder (anorexia and orthorexia) you have really brightened my day by finding your blog, i now can see hope for the future. thanks so much, cant wait to try your yummy and healthy recipes :)

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Sam February 16, 2013

I’ve read your website and tried + loved your recipes for a little while but never read your story, and wow I’m sorry that I hadn’t earlier. I hope things continue to get better for you. :) As someone who is fighting her own battle with anorexia, I am glad to hear not only that recovery is possible, but that a vegan lifestyle is possible after a ED.

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Nora February 19, 2013

You are a very beautiful, funny person! Do you have any pix from 2013 ?

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Reese February 25, 2013

Thank you soo much for your story, reading it has made my day,, I even text your info to my wife( hope she takes time to read it.

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Lini March 3, 2013

Wow your story is amazing! When I was looking at the pictures, I could see that you’ve always been pretty, but the picture when you said you started a plant-based diet and started to fall in love with cooking, THAT’s when I was like, “Oh my gosh she looks SO pretty and healthy!” You can tell it made a difference and it’s so inspiring!

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Lynda March 10, 2013

Just love your page thanking you sharing,.

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Katy March 15, 2013

Wow, what a powerful blog. I, like many who have posted here, suffered from eating disoriders throughout my teenage years. My saving grace was Type 1 Diabetes. I found out I had it just before I turned 20. I was barely 90 pounds and extremely unhealthy. It’s been a long road to recovery since then but I am here now feeling better than ever and with a beautiful healthy baby girl. The body is such a wonderful thing! But being a Type 1 diabetic in grad school who is also giving all her calories to her baby through nursing is not easy! I have been really struggling lately to find healthy high calorie food, as my weight keeps dropping. Hallelujah! So far I have tried the Not Your Average Potato Soup, Happy Thanksgiving Homemade Pumpkin Butter, Homemade Raw Almond Butter, Best Chocolate Pudding, and Vegan Chocolate Macaroon Truffles (I am a huge fan of chocolate which doesn’t always go well with diabetes :). I am also a huge fan of homemade food but I struggle to find time in between writing my dissertation and running after my extremely fast crawler (I never knew how very fast babies can crawl until I had my own zipping all over the house!). I have LOVED all your recipes so far. But I am an easy sell, I have always liked healthy food. My husband, on the other hand, is a real meat and potatoes fan. I really don’t like either to be honest (I only tried your soup because I had leftover mashed potatoes in my fridge that I couldn’t stand to eat, your soup made those potatoes oh so luxuriously creamy and delicious I would almost say I love potatoes now!). So this weekend I’m going to try some recipes that I’m pretty sure are going to blow my husband’s bland meat and potatoes taste buds out of the water. I am going to try Light and Fresh Avocado Cream Verrines (apart from meat and potatoes, he does really like avocado too) with oven baked rainbow trout and Chilled Double Chocolate Torte for dessert. I already made the filling for the torte and it is delightfully delicious (and ironically much more filling than the traditional sugary torte fillings). Any advice for making this dinner even more delightful? It is my husbands birthday meal after all :) Thanks again for being AWESOME!

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Sarah Kyle March 20, 2013

Hi,
I just wanted to let you know that I just came upon your website and was truly shocked by the way you have so bravely come forward about your eating disorder and are being so public about it. It truly is an inspiration to me, I am 17 and have been battling Bulimia for 5 years now and I wish there were more people out there like you who are celebrating overcoming an eating disorder. Keep up the good work!

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Katie March 25, 2013

Angela,
I found your story very inspiring as I have begun having issues with binge eating. It actually began after I started eating low-fat plant based. My thought is I went so healthy that I feel like I am depriving myself and binge eating as a result. I lost a lot of weight when I went vegan, though I didn’t really have any to lose, so likely I am not at my ideal body weight. I am trying to put on some weight healthfully in hopes to get rid of the urge to binge, but I am definitely struggling with it mentally. Its hard to deal with your pants getting tighter and tighter. Do you have any recommendations for how to stay positive and not beat yourself up because you feel uncomfortable?

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Vanessa April 22, 2013

Hi Katie, I totally understand where you are coming from. I’ve gone through this several times where I felt I was trying to be healthy and some how that would eventually end with struggles with binging. It could be as easy as a nutrition deficiency, but it also could be more complex. I just interviewed Lorna Vanderhaeghe on my blog Aheartinhealing.com. She is a hormone expert and is a leader in the field of optimal health. In her interview we focus on recovery of eating disorders, how to get there, steps to take and we trouble shoot with common issues.

My blog, A heart In Healing ( aheartinhealing.com ) is in part a personal account of my journey in recovery; I share my own personal stories and struggles. As well as the strides I’m making in my recovery. Up until recently, I had no idea what recovery truly meant. I search for years trying to find that answer. Now looking back I want to help women to see and learn, with me what recovery is.

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Nora April 2, 2013

You’re so inspirational! Do you have any 2013 pics of your beautiful self ? :)

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Heather Chapman April 4, 2013

HI!
I love you braveness and openness! Thanks for sharing your story! I myself have a similar story and some and began my vegan journey last summer! I knew I couldn’t have been the only on out there struggling! I love your recipes and your enthusiasm!
Thanks again!

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Kyla April 13, 2013

Hi Angela. I just came across your blog… I don’t know if you’ll see this post or care to reply to it. I am 15 years old, I’m not going to post personal stuff on here but I go through something similar to you. in attempts to help myself I’m switching from vegetarian(on top of my eating disorder) to vegan. I would really appreciate if we could talk on email I would love some of your advice seeing as I’m in a similar situation.. I really am done with my eating problems I want to be happy again. please email me you are uh an inspriation.

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Vanessa April 22, 2013

Hi Katie, I totally understand where you are coming from. I’ve gone through this several times where I felt I was trying to be healthy and some how that would eventually end with struggles with binging. It could be as easy as a nutrition deficiency, but it also could be more complex. I just interviewed Lorna Vanderhaeghe on my blog Aheartinhealing.com. She is a hormone expert and is a leader in the field of optimal health. In her interview we focus on recovery of eating disorders, how to get there, steps to take and we trouble shoot with common issues.
My blog, A heart In Healing ( aheartinhealing.com ) is in part a personal account of my journey in recovery; I share my own personal stories and struggles. As well as the strides I’m making in my recovery. Up until recently, I had no idea what recovery truly meant. I search for years trying to find that answer. Now looking back I want to help women to see and learn, with me what recovery is

Read more: http://ohsheglows.com/before-after/#ixzz2RCseWklw

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Chantelle April 22, 2013

Angela I came across your website by accident and I am so glad I did! I think I am in the same place as you used to be- I have been a yoyo dieter for the last 3 years and it really has affected me. As of last week I decided to stop worrying so much on the stupid calories and the ‘carbs.’ Its funny when you take the focus off things actually start to fall into place. I look forward to reading more about you and looking at your amazing recipes. I am getting married this November and all I want is to feel good about myself inside and out, I hope your website will help me get there. Thank you for being so honest and open to the world.

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Vanessa April 22, 2013

You are a beautiful women inside and out! Your journey is so close to my own and so so many others out there. Thank you for sharing.

If any of your readers need help or just want an idea of what it is like to begin your own journey to a place of recovery please visit my blog aheartinhealing.com.

My blog is in part a personal account of my journey in recovery; I share my own personal stories and struggles. As well as the strides I’m making in my recovery. Up until recently, I had no idea what recovery truly meant. I search for years trying to find that answer. Now looking back I want to help women to see and learn, with me what recovery is.

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Frank Edgar April 23, 2013

Great post and great pictures! This is truly an inspirational for everyone! I love the pics along your journey! Eating disorders are one of the toughest things to face and beat and you have done both, congratulations!

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Kaitlyn Regts April 23, 2013

Hi Angela!
I came across your blog.. and LOVE it!
Thank you for sharing your story – I can relate SO much to your testimony.
I too, struggled greatly with an eating disorder, and by the grace of God, have recovered totally. We now have 4 kids, and I enjoy seeking great recipes (I’m in love with baking!)

Keep it up! Great site!
~ Kait

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Heidi April 24, 2013

What an inspiring story, Angela. I think your struggles mimic so many women. Body image issues have been such a demon in my life…one that I have probably passed on to my teenage daughter. I love your recipes..and I have been incorporating them…and hopefully, over time, will get to that happy place where you are. Thank you.

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Caitlin May 1, 2013

Angela!
I’ve used several amazing recipes from your site, and they’ve all been truly incredible. That’s what lead me here! But now, this site is so much more for me. It’s very inspirational to hear your story, and know that many women go through very similar things in life. I’ve struggled with eating disorders, etc., as well (as do many people!), and I believe in sharing these “challenging” experiences with others so it might be easier for them to move on in a positive way (like you’ve done here!). So, well done! I’ve been vegan for almost two years, and find your site really rewarding and educational, even with all the knowledge I’ve already accrued! Thank you very much for sharing :)

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Danielle May 4, 2013

My story is similar to yours and I am currently still struggling through my journey. Your story has given me hope that one day I will also find happiness and self-acceptance. You are beautiful both inside and out, thank you for being my inspiration.

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Megan May 5, 2013

Thank you so much for sharing this story.

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ramin May 18, 2013

you’re stunning

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Jessica June 4, 2013

Ya know, in looking at these pictures, you have always been beautiful and “glowed”. It has radiated from you regardless of what your weight was doing at the time. You just had to sweep aside the crazy b.s. about food/diet/etc. to really let it shine–to be how magical you truly are. :)

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Sara June 4, 2013

I have stumbled upon your site in searching for healthy vegan and gluten-free recipes as I am lactose intolerant and have a sensitivity to wheat. I just finished reading your section about your weight loss journey throughout the years. I SO appreciate the honesty and transparency in this section! I have personally struggled with many of the same weight issues you have talked about. I think the more women that talk about it in an open and honest environment and through accessible avenues like the internet and blogs, are truly helping many women change the way the see themselves. Women and girls realize that they are not alone in this struggle with food, weight and body issues! Thank you for sharing your story. It has touched my life. I pray you are doing well today. Keep the yummy & healthy recipes coming!

God bless!

Sara

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Patsy June 8, 2013

Angela,
You are an inspiration. Congratulations on your wisdom and happiness. I just turned 70, and after seeing the movie “Forks over Knives”, I decided to become vegan, just 8 weeks ago. I’ll never look back. Like you, I’ve always had food issues and obsessions, although no one thought I was overweight. Now, since eating plant-based foods, I don’t experience cravings and am rarely hungry. For the first time in my life I feel like I’ve finally found the “answer” on how to let go of negativity around food and just enjoy eating healthy food that supports my body and allows me to be the best I can. This has been a long process. I’m just grateful that I’ve come this far. Life is wonderful! Now, I’m going to give away my scale.
Patsy
ps. How do I subscribe to your blog?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 8, 2013

Hi Patsy! Thank you so much for your kind words. :) You can subscribe by email or RSS on the top right-hand side bar of my page (see the icons) Hope this helps!

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Kate June 18, 2013

Hi Angela,
I got hooked on your blog a little over a year ago and I am always anticipating new posts! In the past I struggled with an eating disorder much like yours. It was such a dark part in my life, but your blog inspired me to try eating a vegan diet. I have learned that it is not about what I weigh,but about my overall health and well being. Thank you for sharing your story. You have no idea how much you have helped and inspired me! Keep up the good work!:)

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Jordyn July 12, 2013

I have to say, our stories parallel quite a bit. I too struggled with an eating disorder since the age of 12. Throughout the years off and on I would exercise to burn calories,restrict my calories, or eat ONLY apples, bananas, and watermelon. Than I would be so hungry after a couple weeks I would eat anything in sight. NOW I am in school for life coaching/ holistic nutrition and have found my passion for food again as well as a balance and love for exercise. I love all your recipes and you are another inspiration for me to continue the journey I am on.
Love & Light
Jordyn

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Jennifer July 19, 2013

I just started getting into your blog and I can’t get enough and when I read you moved to Ontario it made me excited! It’s not often I find someone from Ontario while looking for recipes!:)

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Aynn July 28, 2013

ok so here it goes. First of all (TW). I’m a 29 year old women who is 5’3.5 and around 125-130 give or take. I have had every eating disorder out there, and have been 260lbs to 79lbs at my lowest. I have been battling ED for about 9 years now. When i reached 79lbs i was forced to gain weight and it was like a flood gate, i eneded gaining weight and ended up over 200lbs. I originally lost most of my weight through eating intuitively though never near 2000 cal. I went down to 140 then started becoming more obessed with getting thinner and the restricting and bingeing started again. I recently have been restricting more and more and eat around 1200-1400 calories and workout 5-6 days a week 30-60 min. at a time. People around me started to notice my weight lose and my bones being more prominent. I still feel not fat but not at a really thin weight. I’m terrified to eat more. I don’t know what to do i feel lost. I recently have been extra tired and will have nights i can’t sleep and feel extremely hungry. I also have been feeling weaker and have some heart palpitations. I never had these symptoms unless i was really skinny however i have gained a lot more muscle. So i don’t no if i am actually smaller but just weigh more. I need some advice. Do I just start eating intuitavley and have more fun foods and not so restricvley healthy or do i truly try and up my calories to repair the damage I’ve done? I’m sorry for rambling , but I needed to reach out to someone who will undersatnd more of what I’m going through.

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Kit Baumann August 7, 2013

I love your blog and I love how well you’ve shared your journey thus far with everyone. I can’t wait to try some of your recipes and other DIY tidbits. Thanks so much and keep the blogs coming!

Best,
Kit

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Amber August 7, 2013

I was so inspired by your website and felt compelled to leave a note, because I can really relate to your past unhealthy relationship with food. I became anorexic at nine years old. I didn’t even know what an eating disorder was, I just knew that people liked skinny girls and I resolved to become one. I weighed 48 lbs before my frantic parents dragged me to a psychiatrist. It’s been a long journey for me as well (I’m 35 years old now), and I can’t say that I have competely risen above my constant need for control, but I am certainly in a better place than I was then. I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your delicious, healthy recipes and your experiences with the rest of us.

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Jen September 8, 2013

thanks for all the recipes, I love most of them.

Keep them coming.

Jen

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Megan September 18, 2013

I teared up after reading this, I have to be honest. I’ve struggled with weight and body image issues since college when I gained about 25 pounds in four months. It’s been a struggle ever since and I finally feel like I am in a better place, on a path to being nicer to my body and loving what it does for me. I have a renewed since of faith that everything will be okay and I CAN learn to love my body and treat it well. So glad I stumbled upon your blog today on Pinterest!
xoxo
Megan

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Amy October 10, 2013

Thank you so much for sharing your story and wonderful recipes! You are such an inspiration as I work on improving my cooking skills.

I think I read before on your website that you are from Riverview NB? I live in and recently started a holistic nutrition business in Moncton. If you are ever in the area I highly recommend you have lunch or dinner at Calactus, a fantastic vegetarian/vegan restaurant. Let me know if you ever go :)

-Amy

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Sarah October 11, 2013

You are so inspiring to me! I have been really struggling with my weight lately, having gained over 20 pounds in the past year. I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember, when I was in middle school I weighed my highest weight, about 145, then I lost it and went down to my lowest weight at 99 pounds as a junior/senior in high school. Horribly unhealthy for my 5’4″ height. I was starving myself… I was miserable. I’m now about 120-130, I stopped weighing myself because it depressed me, but I have been trying to get back down to 115. That is my goal weight. I usually eat a pretty vegetarian diet, but I am really looking into going full vegan to help. I just want to live a healthy and happy lifestyle… Thank you for sharing this! You are beautiful, and you and your husband look so happy together :)

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Becky October 16, 2013

I didn’t know you live in Ontario! How local! And my husband is from New Brunswick! What a connection! Good for you! I look forward to reading more, and I love your recipes already! Thanks!

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Amy Pillar October 28, 2013

Hello Angela, I dont know really where to begin. My life 5 years ago was an unhappy one with my weight at 204. I went home for a couple of weeks to help my father who had just had back surgery (home-Colorado, unhappy life-Arizona). I decided to go hiking around my parents place…..a beautiful monument with hiking trails galore only minutes frbom the place i grew up….and never really noticed before. I felt enlightenedand upon returning to Arizona decided to clean up my life and look forward to a healthier lifestyle. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening.

I decided to try a different eating style while bumping up my hiking skills. I started out slow…tried mediterranean style eating for a while and lost about 40 pounds in the process. I really loved cooking fresh meals every night and my 2 kids loved the food. I was happy hiking alone but really wanted someone to share it with.

I met my husband, Jim, about 3 1/2 years ago, online. He is the perfect husband and so supportive of my efforts. We went for physicals in January (2013) and the doctor showed some concern about his cholesterol levels, not high but not low either. She suggested us try a plant-based diet for a while so I bought the book she suggested and tried it. We started out with a cleanse first, wipe the slate clean so to speak. The recipes were bland and redundant, but we did it. My daughter (15) saw us forcing down the unappetizing food, shes in a culinary arts class this year, so guess what she did…..she found your blog site during a search for a class project. She shared it with me and i have been hooked ever since.

I am not one of those people that does things part way then gives up….i went totally vegan when our doctor suggested it…..many people at work laughed at me at first, but now…..i am down to 149 pounds and hiking and biking for fun and to keep myself healthy. My coworkers now look at my vegan meals and drool….thanks to your blog site.

I am sharing some of your recipes with my friends at work….they dont have to know its good for them…..right?

Thanks again for all you do! We love it!

Amy and Jim Pillar

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 29, 2013

Hey Amy!

Thanks for your lovely comment! I’m so happy to hear about your transformation. :) So awesome. I’m so happy your daughter found my site and passed it along to you! Thanks for letting me know and good luck with everything.

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