The Truth about Age & Eating Disorders

I need to be honest with you about something. Come clean, if you will…

I joined a gym.

Now I know, that may not seem like a big deal or anything, but when it comes to recovery from anorexia, the gym is one of those…treacherous areas.

Since I have been fully recovered, I haven’t belonged to a gym. Having seriously abused exercise – and actually had become addicted to it – during my disease, and much of the early years of my recovery, I have always been a strong component of a “no gym” lifestyle for myself. Just too dangerous of a mine field for my recovery. Kind of like how I don’t own a full length mirror.

But, truth be told, when I was home with my mom for those eight months during her stroke recovery, we would take walks on the indoor track at her gym, where we’d talk and do speech exercises.

Fast forward to this winter, being back in NYC, I just couldn’t handle taking a walk in the bitter cold for 30 minutes like I had in the past. My tough “New Yorker exterior” had been softened by those cozy, temperature controlled, indoor walks, and well…I bit the bullet and joined a gym.

And even though I am 10 years strong in my recovery, I still have to resist the urge to stay longer than I should on my treadmill walk.

A practice in self control, if you will.

Although, I will say…I have yet to break a sweat. hahah I’m just a walker.

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ANYWHO.

New York gyms are…depressing. I’m not going to sugar coat it. With space being at a premium in Manhattan, — unless you want to shell out $350/month to belong to Equinox — all the gyms are in basements, with no windows, and are literally a cement room with as many cardio machines crammed in as they can fit. Couple that with all the meat heads who are one creatine shake away from popping a bicep, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a workout experience.

So this week, I walked in and, as per usu, there was only one treadmill left. I get on, start my walk, turn the TV to HGTV, and get settled in.

To my right, was this 80 year old woman. Extremely thin – we’re talking gaunt – and absolutely drenched in sweat. She was wearing a gray t-shirt and the entire back was completely soaked through. You know how you can tell on a gray shirt? Well it was waterlogged. She had the maximum incline all the way up and was just power walking like you wouldn’t believe. Nearly doubling my speed.

I was kind of taken aback, if I’m honest. Something just felt…off. You know how you can just feel the energy that someone is giving off? Well, there was a franticness about her.

And, unsettled, I kind of glanced over to her machine out of the corner of my eye, and sure enough, she had been going for 120 minutes. Two hours. 

I tried to lose myself in Chip and Joanna’s shiplap paradise on HGTV, but I just couldn’t escape from the constant pounding attack on the machine next to me.

After my 40 minute walk, this woman was still going. Max incline. Breakneck speed. My heart was heavy, and I needed a conclusion to this situation. So I went over to the mats to stretch. I could still see this elderly woman just absolutely hacking away at the treadmill.

And after coming up with every possible stretch I could remember from elementary school PE, I gave up after 30 minutes, and went home. At least three hours and 10 minutes in, this woman was still going.

Now, I’m not one to judge, maybe she was training for a marathon, but as someone who had a severe addiction to exercise during my anorexia…I feel that I possess a certain authority of spotting “foul play” when I see it.

My heart broke for this woman. And as I’m sitting here typing this, half wondering if I should even be talking about it, I find myself lifting her up in prayer.

Because that woman is hurting.

Not physically, although, I’m sure her muscles are too. But her spirit is hurting. That display at the gym is a symptom of what is going on inside.

Which is why I decided to share this.

Eating disorders can happen to anyone.

I think there’s a stereotype that only rich, white teenage girls develop an eating disorder, but the fact is, it is a mental illness that doesn’t discriminate. ED doesn’t care what gender, religion, race, background, public school/private school. Anyone. And as I witnessed that day, even an 80-year-old woman can have an eating disorder.

I remember at inpatient, there were one or two older women there. I was the youngest in the adult program at 18, and most were in their 20s. But there was one woman in her 40s, another in her 70s.  And I just remember seeing those women, struggling for 20 and 40+ years respectively, in and out of dozens of treatment facilities, I decided right then and there that I needed to get this thing out of my life once and for all. From the roots.

 

That is my plea. That’s why I wrote my book, Bloom. If you or a loved one is exhibiting signs of disordered eating, now is the time to get help. Not tomorrow. Not in a couple months to see if they can “snap out of it.” Now. Because like any addiction, those habits get ingrained so deeply that it becomes harder and harder to break free.

I wanted to talk to that elderly woman at the gym. Hug her sweaty back and tell her that she is enough. That she doesn’t need to strive. That her worth isn’t found at the XX-Minute-Mark on the treadmill. That she can just collapse into Jesus’ arms – the One who saved me from myself, and who will save her too.

May she – and all of us – seek out the Face of the One who wants us to rest in Him. Rest, knowing that we – broken and hurting – have worth and are loved, just as we are.

And next time I see her, Lord, give me the words to open up a conversation to show that I am a friend and someone who could be an ally.

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183 thoughts on “The Truth about Age & Eating Disorders

    1. Thanks Colleen. Glad you enjoyed the post! Have a great night! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you friend. I appreciate the encouragement. I sure hope so 🙂 Hugs to you xox

  1. This is something most of us would have a tough time comprehending. I love going to the gym to lift, but to me, cardio is incredibly boring (even though I know it’s good for me). I’d actually love to work out in a basement, stone and bricks and chains and such, but then I’ve still got enough testosterone left in my old body to like that kind of atmosphere.

    I’m actually making myself take a “deload” week, because I could feel my progression starting to wane and figured that I was probably beating up my body too much.

    All that said, you put out a terrific message that so many people need to hear, not just those who directly suffer from ED, but the friends and loved ones who might not understand.

    1. Thanks for sharing this James. Yeah i think everyone has a different relationship with exercise, that’s for sure. Thanks for your encouragement. Hugs and love xox

  2. This is absolutely beautiful, and thank you for sharing your heart. Exercise has been a double-edged sword for me over the decades. When I competed in triathlons and LONG distance cycling, friends said I did it to escape or run away from something. I thought they were nuts, but when I stopped running, I realized they were right. The pain of exercise was used to medicate other personal pain. No matter what age!!!
    God bless you always,
    Scott

    1. Thank you so much Scott. And thanks for sharing your story. Wow triathlons! Those are no joke. Yeah I think we all have to figure out our relationships with exercise. For sure. Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  3. Sad but true. BTW, just got word today that the short version of my article “Spiritual Anorexia Nervosa” was accepted for publication in November.

  4. At the height of my gym addiction i would be there 2 hours. 1 1/2 hours of that would be cardio, on the bike going full on until i and the bike were covered in sweat. I would then do 30 mins of weights. Utterly pointless since i was eating less that 500 calories a day. I would burn over 1500 on the bike alone…… I feel for this woman. How sad that at her age she feels the need to justify her looks. A sad indictment of society. I am recovering but it is a slow process. To the extent that i am still way below weight and the fact that i am still involved in disordered eating. Plus i still have to follow a workout app on my ipad. I do not think i can ever set foot in a gym again. I think with what i was doing to myself has ruined any chance of me having a “normal” relationship with exercise. Stay safe at the gym and reach out to the lady……..Peace and Love

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry that you can so personally relate. Yeah definitely treading lightly – no pun intended. Thanks for stopping by. Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you John. Gosh you are kind. 🙂 thanks for making me smile! Hugs and love xox

    1. thank you so much Deneen, I really appreciate your kind words! me too! hugs xox

  5. There could be many reasons why an elderly woman would spend so long on the treadmill, perhaps she is a long distance walker or she does it to block out life. Enjoy your treadmill walks it used to be my favourite at the gym. Though I prefer to go on an outdoor walk more healthy than the enclosed gyms.

    1. Thank you so much for this great perspective. very very true. Thanks for stopping by! hugs xo

  6. It is true that some older people have eating disorders (perhaps they have had them for many years and never tended to them) and it is also true that some people are addicted to exercise. Perhaps one strategy would be to think back to before you were in recovery and ask yourself what would have been helpful to hear from a stranger.

    1. That’s a really great idea Madeline. Thanks for stopping by:) big hugs to you xox

  7. So beautifully written. Thank you for writing such a story. I hope you do get a chance to speak to this lovely troubled soul! I recently joined a gym after nearly 20 years absence. Fortunately in Australia our gyms can be reasonably priced with plenty of room and equipment for all.

    1. Thank you friend. I appreciate your encouraging words. Sounds like Australia’s got it going on! Haha Hugs and love xox

  8. I can relate to this all too well. I can spot somebody struggling and my heart goes out to them. I so badly want them to know that recovery is possible. And as a 50 year old who is 5 years into her most recent recovery (after 3 long term hospitalizations while in my teens), I know that ED’s don’t discriminate according to age. Thank you for your insight. Hopefully someone will see this and reach out for help.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your heart, Karen. You’re so right – it doesn’t discriminate. And congrats on your recovery. Cheering for you!! Hugs and love xox

  9. When the email for your posts come through there is something of a pavlovian response to stop whatever I’m doing to savor the wisdom in the posts. “Love your neighbor as you love your self” took the lead. There is a deep sense of that here – you do love yourself and that is a beautiful gift not only to you, but to Our Lord, and to others.
    While I had a bit of an uh-oh response when you mentioned going to the gym, I get why you’re going. It makes sense, and I trust you to manage the going and the working out. While my trusting you matters precious little the saying of it matters in that hearing an affirmation and reminder of your beauty beyond the bones of you with or without going to the gym is a simple reminder, that beauty contains the love of God, the love of your self, and the care/concern for others.
    You are a gift Miss Caralyn.
    <3

    1. Oh my gosh Teri you just made my day. Thank you. Yeah I definitely am keeping my gym habits in check and proceed accordingly with caution and awareness. Than you for your wonderful words of encouragement. You are a gift, my friend! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  10. This is one way God can redeem our suffering by being able to help identify and point people in the direction of healing. Good job! And you got this! One of the Fruit of the Holy Spirit is Self-control. Accountability is also a good discipline. It’s not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength.

    1. Amen to that! Thank you Michael. Yes – that is one beautiful fruit! Haha Hugs and love xox

      1. What do you think is the best day to post your blog. I posted it this past Sunday Morning and got the bets response I have ever got.

    1. Thank you so much Shannon. I really appreciate your support. No it doesn’t discriminate! Hugs and love xox

  11. You look well, and congratulations on your 10 year recovery. One would think that you have all the answers by now, but growth is an everyday process. Sometimes we must fight from within in order to continue moving forward into our best most authentic selves, and we all have to believe that we are worth our own time and growth process.

    It seems ‘funny’ that we may find our own solutions and fight our own fears when we are in the midst of helping others[as you and your mom]. Answers are everywhere. We just have to be open to them. Your insights are so real, and that is good!

    1. Thank you so much JaDonnia! I really appreciate your encouraging words. So true – it is an every day process! Love your powerful thoughts! Hugs and love xox

  12. Once again, you nailed it. To quote you, “I think there’s a stereotype that only rich, white teenage girls develop an eating disorder, but the fact is, it is a mental illness that doesn’t discriminate. ED doesn’t care what gender, religion, race, background, public school/private school. Anyone. And as I witnessed that day, even an 80-year-old woman can have an eating disorder.” In my work as a hospital chaplain, I work with mental illness a fair bit and there are some cases of ED that come through. One young girl who I saw as recently as this morning seems to fit the stereotype. A 21-year-old, pretty and loved girl who has battled this illness for years is back for at least the third time in a year.
    However, I also remember my own beautiful mother who, at 62 years old, was so concerned about her weight her entire life that even when she was diagnosed with cancer, one of the biggest concerns the doctors had was that she would be able to keep any weight on.
    Our society has convinced people that thin is necessary and healthy. Thank you for helping re-educate people to see that healthy body size and shape is different with different people.

    Love and Blessings,
    Jim

    1. Hi Jim, thank you so much for sharing your heart. Gosh I will keep that going girl in my prayers. Such a tough season. And thank you for sharing that about your mother. You’re absolutely right – we need to adjust what society dictates. Hugs and love xox

      1. Thank you. I will remind her again that there is victory for those who believe that God can deliver them. You are a true example of it.

    1. Thank you so much for your prayers, it really means a lot! I’ll definitely be keeping a close watch on my mental health!! Hugs and love xox

  13. I agree with you. There is such a stigma to being older and overweight. I am overweight,a don I think about losing weight so I can look like the more svelte older woman who seems elegant to me. But, I have just decided to exercise reasonably to help my diabetes (type 2, no medications needed) and because I have a pacemaker for my heart rhythms. But, some women, even in their 60s like me, conflate thinness with youth, and no one seems to see this as a problem, but I worry that they are killing themselves and for no good reason. Enjoy moderation and be happy.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Yeah there are such engrained ideas about body shape and culture and then throw age in there / it is a real mess. I will definitely keep your diabetes in my prayers!! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  14. Spot on! I’m 57 and recovering from anorexia.
    Part of the problem is that 50 years ago in the UK eating disorders weren’t really recognised, and because of the situation I was in, no adult took responsibility for me.
    It wasn’t until I was in my late teens I took responsibility for myself and went to a doctor to ask for help. The ‘treatment’ I received was to be told to “pull yourself together” and the door was shut on me.
    I struggled on for three more decades, until I was in my fifties, when I asked for help again.
    This time, the response was different and I have been helped – so through my faith, determination, and being able to apply self-management skills, I’m much better…

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Gosh my heart just breaks to think of your teenage self receiving such a callous message from your doctor. I’m so happy for you that you reached out again. Hear me cheering for you in your recovery! Hugs and love xox

  15. I don’t really want to bring negativity but I feel I have to add. This is the reason that people hate going to gyms, being judged! As a social long distance runner, I know lots of people who are willing to run for hours on a treadmill, purely because they enjoy it. Also I know your thoughts of concern come from a good place, I feel it was assumed that she ‘could have’ an eating disorder becasue she is a slim woman, as with all mental illnesses, eating disorders do not discriminate age, gender, race or size EVERYONE in that gym could have an ED or none of them could.

    1. Thank you Angela. I appreciate you bringing up this point. I thought someone might. I completely agree. I try to live judgement free – goodness knows i know the pain of judgement from when I was anorexic. I will keep this in mind. Thanks. Hugs and love xox

      1. Absolutely!! 🙂 thanks again, and have a wonderful afternoon! Hugs and love xox

  16. I just pray you aren’t sucked back down into ED as you relate to her. There were a couple hints that you were perhaps starting to. At the start you mentioned your 30 minute walks in the city. Then came “After my FORTY minute walk…” Then another 30 minutes of stretches.

    Maybe you extended your time there due to that woman and wondering how to help her, but you went longer than normal, yes? It was for a non-personal ED reason – her – but you went long.

    My daughter had to learn to be careful helping her friends who were depressed like her. It would damage her. Please be careful not to let an altruistic motivation be the door to trouble for yourself!

    1. Thank you Jeff, for your concern. Yeah I am definitely being diligent and cautious. If I feel it sneaking up on me I will nip it in the bud. I never want to return to that place. Ever. Just to clarify, the only reason i was stretching was to see when the woman finished her workout. Which sounds super creepy typing out haha But yeah, we’re good 🙂 I appreciate your support my friend. Hope you and Julie are having s great week so far! Hugs and love xox

      1. OK. I know I’ve slipped up on things that I fell to from a different direction, so I’m just checking to be sure! And not at all creepy. Concerned! Julie and I are well and looking forward to NYC next month! Hope you’ll be around!

      2. Oh gosh, not to worry Jeff! 🙂 I know it was coming from a good place! And yes!! I’m so sorry I haven’t gotten back to your email! Yes! I look forward to finally getting to meet Julie! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  17. Thanks for sharing this! I am definitely praying for the woman at the gym. You have a great writing style that really brings the reader into the depths of the situation. Keep up the great work on your blog, Caralyn! It’s a great ministry!

    1. Thank you so much friend. I will join you in that prayer. so glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  18. It’s sad and unfortunate that some in their 70’s still isn’t comfortable in their own skin. The longer I longer I live the more I realize that’s others option of me is nothing compared to my option of myself. Great post.

  19. Good point, I think most people tend to assume body dysphoria, eating disorders, etc only affect the young but it can happen to or continue well into adulthood. Hopefully, the woman you saw was training for a marathon or something.

    Yes exercise can be a slippery slope for some, but seems like you are self-aware enough and can judge if the time/frequency you spend there is safe or you. Pity the weather hasn’t been very spring-like yet on the East Coast.

    1. Thank you so much, yeah that is so true. I appreciate your kind words. Yeah, I can’t wait for warm weather! Hugs and love xox

  20. The gym obsession is also a North American feature. I loved when we worked a lot outdoors, went for skiing and running and swimming outdoors in Europe. I’m 60 this summer, I never spent any time in the gym, never was overweight and never exhausted myself with useless exercising. I simply do not have time for this. Health-related issues due to fractures all over do not allow being that flexible, 11 surgeries because of these fractures in the accident does not make one the best walker or runner. In fact, lots of people who have suffered car accidents or lots of fractures cannot walk, not to mention run that well.
    The newest research actually suggests that obsessive gym attendance causes wear and tear of joints, tendons and bad effects on muscles. Well, our heart and lungs are muscles, too.
    Places like NY probably do not provide one with fresh and clean air also outdoors. They also tested gyms for germs and found lots of issues even in those high level ones.
    Working in the garden and taking a daily swim or run might be way better option for most people. We have, yes, gym addicts already when people become so obsessed with exercising that they need a cure. I supposed, it is possible to turn bad any good idea when not observing balance.

    1. Thank you so much for this thoughtful response. Yeah, there really is such a beautiful connection when we’re outside. I can’t wait for warm weather. Thanks for sharing your story. Hugs and love xox

  21. What a story. I pray that God guides you to have a heartfelt conversation with her. I belong to a Planet Fitness near my house, and their motto is the “judgement-free zone.” Easier said than done. There’s at least one woman who does the bike and then the treadmill when we’re there in the mornings, usually a longer workout than our typical 45-60 minutes. She looks thin, almost unhealthily so. But, I haven’t gotten the courage to say anything.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Laura Beth. I will join you in that prayer. Yeah – judgement free zone – wouldn’t that be something. I hesitated to post this post because i didn’t want to seem judgmental, because truly, I try not to be. But this woman literally next to me, who was emaciated and exhibiting those behaviors, it was staring me in the face. And I felt it wasn’t judgement, but concern as someone who suffered for years from the same thing. So I hope I didn’t come across as judgmental. But all that to say, I appreciate your heart of compassion for this woman. You are a blessing to me, girlie! have a great Tuesday! xoxo

      1. I don’t believe that you were being judgmental at all. It’s a tough balancing act between judgement and genuine concern. Reading your post – I felt you were truly concerned, but maybe afraid of coming across as judgmental. I struggle with that so much! You’re such a blessing, as well. I look forward to all your posts!!

    1. thank you so much Melanie! I”m so glad it hit home with you 🙂 hope you’ve had a great day so far! Hugs and love xox

  22. That’s quite a powerful story. Only you would notice this but there are other things we all come across in life and are we brave enough to step up and give that love?
    Great post as always 😀 xox

    1. Thank you so much Simon, that is such a great point. Sometimes God places us in certain situations for a very specific reason. Hugs and love xox

  23. The age thing. Boy, it takes its toll. I was bulimic for much of my 20’s and early 30’s. I am nearing 50 and I KNOW it contributed to the way my body has aged. It ruins you from the inside out and until you “get right” with gift of the body you were given, there is little relief. We ARE souls – we HAVE bodies. I love reading your blog because I see someone who started out like me with the same insecurities and tools for coping. But YOU took those tools – faith, information, support – and got a handle on this. It’s encouraging. Even now, I struggle with self-image. Not all 50 year olds are content to be MATRONLY or dumpy. I want to be healthy, but we all want to be foxy. Thanks again for your insight! HUGS!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Holly. Gosh you speak so much truth. We ARE souls, we HAVE bodies. Amen amen amen. That’s why I am so “wishy washy” on the whole “body positivity” movement that is so prevalent in the eating disorder recovery communities. Because i feel it misses that point. It places hyper focus on the later: our bodies. Because the fact is, ONLY when our souls are healthy, will our bodies be too. If that makes sense. Thankyou so much for this beautiful response. Know that I’m am cheering for you in your recovery. You’re an inspiration! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much Claudette! I appreciate you taking the time to read! Hugs and love xox

  24. Lovely post. Breaking down stereotypes plays a huge role in making our society into one where everyone feels comfortable in talking about their mental health <3

    1. Thank you so much! Amen to that – stereotypes do nothing but hurt people! Hugs and love xox

  25. Wow, that is so heartbreaking! I wish you had said something to the woman, even just an “Are you okay?” Sometimes it helps to know that somebody cares <3

    1. Thank you so much for this respose. that’s so true – just knowing that you’re not alone. Hugs and love xox

  26. God could be asking you to pray for her. God brings people into your life you may nothing of, but can still pray about. This could be one of those God moments. She might be needing somebody who will pray for her. To start it of, today before my sleep, i will pray for her. God can work miracles!!

  27. I know this story well..my best friend does this..shes survived anorexia and almost death from it , shes does this mad kind of workout non stop…hours and hours..shes had hip replacement and much else…some parts healed the inner deepest parts not so much…your doing amazing and thank you for your work and sharing candidly..

    1. Gosh, thank you for sharing that. Breaks my heart to think of what she went through. Thanks for your kind words. You’re a good friend. I will definitely keep her in my prayers. Hugs and love xox

      1. Thanks sweetie..shes doing well now except the exercise part..their moving to Thailand…shes married to a Thai man that keeps her eating perfectly and makes all shes loves..she just now fights the mirror which reflects the hours of exercise..you seem to have all the avenues pretty balanced and know what are triggers and not..I know its a journey…hugs right back!

      2. I’m glad she’s doing well! sounds like she’s got a great support system 🙂 and yes – a long journey indeed. xox

  28. I’m echoing your prayer for this woman, all the way in SC. May the Lord grant you the opportunity and courage to talk to her. Thank you for sharing this!

  29. And unfortunately, men suffer from body dysmorphia and its cousin, muscle dysmorphia, too. Weightlifting and cardio, if not taken to an extreme, can be great for your well-being; but, in our culture, too many misuse them in their quest for perfection.

    You seem like a really lovely person. And, I’m grateful for your readership on my blog. Thank you for your insights.

    1. that is so true Leon. You’re so right, especially in the age of IG and social media, that quest for perfection is extreme! Hugs and love xox

  30. Caralyn, you are such a loving, kind, sensitive, compassionate person, I thank you, and love you.
    As you continue to pray for that lady at the gym, and watch for her, I believe Holy Spirit will arrange another Divine appointment for the two of you.
    You are also right that Jesus loves her, and she needs Jesus in her life. It may be that you are the special person Holy Spirit has selected to talk to that lady, sharing our Lord Jesus. This first encounter allows you to pray and prepare for the next gym meet.
    I will be praying for Holy Spirit to set the time, and for you to seize the opportunity for the Glory of God, and the benefit of that lady.
    God Bless you Caralyn,
    Luv. 😀❤️🌹😘

    1. gosh, thank you so much George, what kind words. I pray that happens as well. Yes! That would be such an honor to be able to talk to her about Jesus. SO glad you stopped by, and thanks again for the prayers! oxox

  31. Very easy to become addicted to walking, I could literally walk all day, fixed it by setting destinations, like the long way to work or the stables to see to the horses, now I’m just to busy to walk as much not enough hours in the day

  32. I’m proud how you can openly admit about your worries about being in the gym, 10 years is a fantastic achievement I am so proud of you that my heart just burst with happiness and love ❤️ I love that image of you and mum, her recovery sounds amazing in this short period of time, (but then we know why her recovery been so progressive 😜) I brought myself a little notepad to write peoples names in so I remember to pray for them cos I’m terrible at remember plus unless my heart is really stirred about someone my prayers feel a bit selfish. Would love to add you and your mum onto the list ❤️

    1. Thank you Benny, I seriously cannot express how much your encouragement mean to me. Espeiallly today 🙂 i needed that. i would be so honored 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  33. I have seen it too at gyms. All kinds of battles with appearance is really obvious … I heard it in the locker room. Some athletic women were actually making comments about my body as I was changing. They said they wished they could be curvy. I was shocked. The slim athletic body is what most of us are going to the gym for! These women all agreed that they wanted opposite. You never know what battles people are fighting.

    1. That’s so true. I’m sorry you had to experience that, Stiina. Sending you so much love and hugs xo

  34. I don’t know if this will help, but: “Wow. You’re really amazing. I used to be able to do that, but I can’t any more.”

    “Oh, I think you could if you tried.”

    “Maybe, but I decided that I was happier being loved by Jesus.”

      1. You never know what kind of a response you’ll get. As you know, realizing that you’re loved can open a flood-gate to long-repressed pain.

  35. very well written and yes so true about age is no barrier i have a friend in her early 8os and she goes on a bout her fat stomach which is bloated but i reckon that is something to do with her eating habits does not eat then eats loads just before bed and her legs and arms very skinny also when very cold dresses very skimply and then wonders why full of cold thanks for pointing this out

    1. Thank you for sharing that, I’m sorry to hear that about your friend. yeah it doesn’t discriminate! Hugs and love xox

  36. Yeah exercise can be one of the traps to try and fit something into that God sized hole in our hearts.

    I like the gym…I like exercise and I’ve done it for many years…but it doesn’t bring peace or contement. The body goes through ups and downs even if you have be doing it for years. It’s better to make sure it is a temple of the Holy Spirit first rather than trying to build it into some muscular or beautiful mythological figure.

  37. Wow I never thought of an eating disorder for anyone over 20 something… I learn a lot from you. But I am glad you are going to the gym. I know its a struggle for you, but I also know you can do it. And getting the heart pumping makes us healthier!

    Had no idea you were a Chip and JoJo fan! We were at the silos and Magnolia store in March. my wife is a huge fan!

    1. Thanks Tony, glad this was something new for you! Yes! Being healthy is definitely good! And there’s nothing wrong with going to the gym! It’s just when you’re abusing exercise. That’s all 🙂 how awesome about Magnolia! So cool!! Hugs and love xox

  38. Another great post! How sad is it that we can become slaves to things like food, exercise, and self image. I know because I’ve been there. Though my body has never been hardy enough for extreme exercise, I still had an unbalanced relationship with working out. I pray this woman finds the Lord. Though it’s hard to say for sure, she may have struggled with this her whole life. But our true freedom can only be found in Him! And yay to walking!! Definitely my favorite exercise 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Emily, I really appreciate your thoughtful response. And thank you for sharing your story. Yes – I will join you in that prayer! Sending big big hugs girlie xox

  39. I echo what many have said about being able to relate although not suffering from an eating disorder. Because of my chronic health issues I’ve developed a fear of foods and what my bodies response will be. I know my body is in starvation mode because there are times when I literally can not eat for days. The struggle is real! I have to force myself to eat even when I’m not hungry because I’m tired of suffering with my body’s reaction to being hungry. Bloating is a common problem and I never thought of this being a symptom of starvation mode as well. Thank you for your real and raw honesty. It’s helped many and even encourages me to write on my struggle with eating.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m so sorry that you’re going through that. Sending prayers for you 🙂 thanks again for stopping by. Hang in there friend xox

  40. That is heartbreaking! Even if she was training for a marathon, that amount of time seems like overkill. Hopefully you’ll get to see her again and possibly speak truth into her (and perhaps even others), Thank you for sharing!
    -Alyx

  41. I was diagnosed with anorexia nervous at age 13 but I knew a 65 year old who likely died of anorexia. She was so thin and a smoker. She died so young, and this was recently. What triggered me into a downwards spiral of self loathing was bullying not only by female students but also my mother. It never really goes away as you age but I have learned to deal with it by learning to love myself more. Blogging is my way of self-expression since I feel like my thoughts are so washed-up on other social media platforms, where they barely even get noticed or nobody cares. I feel like blogging gives me a sense of control, and perhaps elderly people who are struggling to cope could really benefit from blogging too. Just a thought. Exercise can definitely turn into an obsession, and anorexia is known to affect several athletes.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Hilary. I’m sorry this hits so close to home. I’m so glad you’ve found blogging as a healing outlet for you!! Sending so much love to you friend xox

  42. So brave of you to put yourself near temptation, I really hope you succeed in this new endeavor! A 10 year recovery process is not something to throw away, I know how hard it is since I’ve been struggling to get better from my depression and anxiety also after a little bit more than 10 years, and having previously thought I was cured and free from that, relapsing hard in 2016 was a deep lesson. Cheers!!

    1. Thank you so much Eduardo. I appreciate your kind words of encouragement. And thank you for sharing your story. big hugs x

  43. […] Monday’s post last week (about the 80 year old woman at the gym), it was a vulnerable piece for me. I opened up about my past struggles with extreme exercise addiction during my anorexia, and in having concern for that elderly woman, hinted at how far I have actually come since those dark days of pummeling myself up at the gym. […]

  44. This post really touched me and especially now since I am currently struggling with my own “body issues”. It was a gentle reminder to me to rein in the obsessive impulses, as anyone, at any age, is capable of going over that edge…
    PS: I sooo love this blog! It’s chic, sleek and inspiring!
    Lots of love from London xxx

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m glad this hit home with you. I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through a rough patch. Hang in there. You’ve got this, and know that I’m in your corner, cheering for you! Hugs and love xox

  45. In your post, I am not seeing the controversy. I understand you spotted what you felt was an older woman using exercise as a means to settle something of a conflict within herself. Could be, I’d say, the next time, if you do, see her, see if you can engage her in a conversation. Maybe it’s what is keeping her alive, maybe she has been doing it for so long, she just does it by habit, maybe she runs in a masters program? But your point is relevant and I did not see anything which would want others to send you anything but positive comments, but that is us, right! 🙂

    Did you know, the title of your article: “A Light up the Sky” reminded me of this song almost the same title : “Light the Sky”, here are the Lyrics, thought you’s appreciate them – God Bless You.

    Lyrics
    Stars, they got nothing on us
    I don’t think you understand

    Let’s go out and do something we’d never do
    ‘Cause I feel like I can do anything when
    My head is spinning and my feet off the ground
    When I can’t stop dancing like no one’s around
    And yeah, I think we were born to shine

    ‘Cause the stars are dull when they’re compared to you and I
    And if people don’t like it then they can close their eyes
    ‘Cause we’re not the same and we don’t have to try
    We’re brighter than fireflies, we’re gonna light the sky

    Ooh, oh, oh
    Ooh, oh, oh oh
    Ooh, oh, oh
    Ooh, oh, oh oh

    Light the sky
    You and me, we stand out of the crowd
    ‘Cause we are not afraid to let our light out
    So trust in me and just have no doubt
    ‘Cause we will be tearing through the clouds

    ‘Cause my head is spinning
    And my feet off the ground
    And I can’t stop dancing
    Like no one’s around
    And yeah I think we were born to shine

    ‘Cause the stars are dull when they’re compared to you and I
    And if people don’t like it then they can close their eyes
    ‘Cause we’re not the same and we don’t have to try
    ‘Cause we’re brighter than fireflies, we’re gonna light the sky

    Ooh, oh, oh
    Ooh, oh, oh oh
    Ooh, oh, oh
    Ooh, oh, oh oh
    Light the sky

    You and me, me and you
    We will shine through
    You and me, me and you
    We will shine

    ‘Cause my head is spinning
    And my feet off the ground
    And I can’t stop dancing
    Like no one’s around
    And yeah I think we were born to shine

    ‘Cause the stars are dull when they’re compared to you and I
    And if people don’t like it then they can close their eyes
    ‘Cause we’re not the same and we don’t have to try
    ‘Cause we’re brighter than fireflies, we’re gonna light the sky

    Ooh, oh, oh
    Ooh, oh, oh oh
    Ooh, oh, oh
    Ooh, oh, oh oh
    Light the sky

    1. Thank you friend. Yeah I was confused at the outrage too. Thanks for sharing those lyrics. So beautiful. Hugs and love xox

  46. This post touched me, as my mom had anorexia in her late 40s/early 50s. At the time, I was a teenager and thought it was strange that my mom had an eating disorder. It was hard for me to understand because I thought that just happened to girls my age. Now I know that any mental disorder can affect ANYONE at ANY AGE. Doesn’t matter if you’re a boy, girl, rich, poor, ethnicity, etc… it can affect anyone. I hope you get a chance to see that woman again and maybe start a conversation. Hugs! Jenny

  47. People have an issue with you writing this? *Confused.

    I see why you shared, and honestly, I think it’s good you shared. You weren’t accusing the woman, but I can’t blame you, the signs are there. The fact she is able to go so strong shows that this woman knows what she is doing. With your own experience, like you shared, you know what concerns to look for.

    I really hope you have the opportunity to speak to her and get to know her. <3 <3 I'd love to hear about how the conversation would go, cause I'm curious and nosey if I'm honest, not my best trait. But honestly, it doesn't matter if you wrote that post or not. What matters is if you are able to connect, and help this woman, if anything, at least know someone cars. That's what really matters 🙂

    1. Thanks TR, I appreciate your kind feedback on this. Yeah Same here – I haven’t seen her since but when I do, I’m going to try to open up a convo with her:) Hugs and love xox

  48. I’m sorry you’ve caught flack for this–you rrally, really shouldn’t have. I love the heart and the truth you speak in this post. I wish more people would be open and honest about the hurt they see around them, like you are. Please, please keep it up.

    1. Thanks for the prayers, Tammy! I will definitely join you in that! Hugs and love xox

  49. I understand this. I have a habit of exercising to much when I do go, and my job is also physical. I get a free gym membership through my work and I actually had to stop going for a long time because I found I would just keep going, even though I am constantly going at work.

    I have always struggled with the idea of having a eating disorder/disordered eating. I know I am small, I have no distortion of that. But I have no ability to recognize when I am or not hungry and will not eat until I am super light headed, dizzy or feel faint. That is due to not paying attention to myself, which is linked to my past. So it is hard to think of it as an eating issue, when I know in reality it is.

    I was one or am one of the few dancers I know that does not constantly worry about my weight or think about it, I don’t own a full length mirror but I don’t look in mirrors. Not because of weight but because I just don’t like them.

    Having a membership is hard when you have used it as an addiction in the past. I understand where you come from with that.

    Happy recovery.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m glad this resonated with you. Yeah everyone’s relationship with food is always so personal. Thanks for stopping by. Hugs and love xox

  50. Thanks for sharing! I was one of those who suffered for 20+ years, but the line ended there, praise God. I still have a heavy heart for all the hurting people who suffer with eating disorders. I have been completely healed, as in no ED thoughts at all, since 2012. However, my one personal thing I still stick to as a safeguard is not having a scale in my home. Glad you are healed and I’m looking forward to seeing more blogs!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story Callie. Praise God indeed. I’m so glad that you are healed! I am cheering for you!! Same here. I still only do blind weigh ins at the doctor. I’m done with numbers forever!! Thanks again for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  51. Hey hun! I totally understand how exercise becomes something we do as a compulsion. Something that forces us to run miles upon miles daily and as much as we hate pounding away excessively it feels like a burning need. I recently quit exercise in my journey through ED recovery since I’ve gone from running to walking to lifting without any break. And each one had become its own compulsion- past the point of employment. It’s so twisted that the ED will latch onto ANYTHING.

    When I was still active at the gym, I would see skin and bones girls working away at the treadmill in jackets and sweaters. It breaks my heart because you can just tell even if no one else gives them a second thought. What do you do in those situations? Do you go up and talk to them? Do you push forward with your day? It doesn’t matter the age or the individual- eating disorders can happen to anyone and it’s all the more reason to choose recovery. I too have gone to treatment and seeing someone who has been struggling all their life into their 40s, 50s, etc. both depresses me about 1) the reality of EDs and 2) motivates me to keep trying

    Love this post and will be keeping up on your blog more – best, Carly xx

    1. Thanks Carly for this thoughtful response. I know, it’s so hard to know what to do in those situations. I do think that – as hard and potentially awkward as it is – I think there may be a graceful way to approach the girl. Because a lot of times they are crying for help. And people don’t ever know how to address it. Oh it’s tough. Thanks for sharing your heart and your story. Cheering for you in your recovery!! Sending big big hugs to you xox

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