How I Conquered My Eating Disorder and Discovered Self-Love Through Body Positivity

Having had an eating disorder for 30 years, body positivity was never a part of my life, let alone self-love.

how i recovered from an eating disorder using self-love and body positivity

At the age of 9 in a dysfunctional home, I turned to food for love, comfort and nurturing.  Thus, my eating disorder began in 1977. Because I was so active, I grew only a little chubby. But the compulsive overeating kicked in with the numbers on the scale when I was in high school.  I graduated weighing 152 pounds on my 5’3″ frame. I then quickly put on 20 pounds before Thanksgiving break of freshman year of college. My repulsion of my body grew as I hit the highest weight of my life.

On top of that, in my late 20’s, I finally faced the reality that I would not become a 5’9″ leggy blonde. (I’m a 5’3″ brunette)

For most of my teenage and adult life, I rarely looked at my naked body in a mirror.  It was depressing and too big of a reality check to see what I was doing to myself.

I became a runner in 1996, so that kept my weight in check throughout the binges. Through one crappy marriage and one wonderful marriage, dimly lit sex was frequently the norm.  I was uncomfortable in my own skin and I didn’t want my husband to see the body that I corrupted and scorned.

I remember all too well how agonizing it was to pull up a pair of jeans and find that they wouldn’t make it over my thighs. If I was only able to not button them, that was a victory. That could be fixed easily with a rubber band.

My cleavage spilled out of the top of my bra from weight gain, not from a push-up bra.  Somehow you don’t feel sexy when you are spilling out of your bra from every angle.

It wasn’t until 2008 when I finally realized that this obsession with food was a mental health problem, an eating disorder. Once I became abstinent, or sober, my weight leveled out at a healthy place, and I’ve been there, give or take a few pounds, for 11 years.

In 2010, I discovered triathlon, which was the game changer for me.  Swimming, biking and running worked just about every muscle group in my body.  I lifted weights, as well. When I dared to look in the mirror, I started to feel good about what I saw. I began to see lean muscle. I felt strong and empowered. My body shape changed.  

Love, and maybe even some pride, slowly replaced the feelings that I felt for decades of revulsion in both myself and my body. I bore two children, and had numerous surgeries that left scars. Despite all of that, I finally became comfortable in my own skin. I even wore bikinis for the first time when I was in my 40’s!

When I began to love my body—all that it had been through and all that it could do—I felt differently about myself as a person.  I realized I was capable of athletic accomplishments, such as becoming an Ironman three times. I took pride in achieving recovery from the eating disorder.  I learned that other things in my life were, literally and figuratively, so much bigger than my body and weight. I gained a confidence that had been missing for over 30 years, more than half my life!

Three decades of abusing food to cure my mental health issues severely damaged my body image.  I disliked myself for what I was doing to my body, and I felt negative about what my body had become through my eating disorder.  It wasn’t until I conquered my addiction that a positive body image slowly emerged. Now, I am able to love myself despite all that I have been through.


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About Ronni Robinson

Ronni is a member of the Sandwich Generation; she's the tired lunch meat layered between two children and aging parents. She is an eating disorder recovery coach, a 3-time Ironman finisher, and is a certified spin instructor. Her first book, Out of the Pantry: A Disordered Eating Journey, can be found on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. You can find more of her professional writing and coaching info on her website (

2 thoughts on “How I Conquered My Eating Disorder and Discovered Self-Love Through Body Positivity

    1. Thanks, Emily! There was always some level of fitness in my life, but the eating disorder recovery and fitness was the dream team to finally feeling good in my own skin.

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