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11 Reasons Why Recovery is Worth It

By Jeanette Suros, Amanda Jones and Stephanie Virbitsky--In the mess of recovery, it is so easy to get disheartened and forget why it even matters at all. Recovery is not easy, but it is worth it.

Here are our top eleven reasons why recovery is worth it:

1. You live with freedom.

Jeanette: Living with an eating disorder is like living in a cage. You aren’t free to live by your own rules and you are too fearful to face the underlying issues responsible for your disorder. When you choose recovery, you choose to gain control of your fears and anxieties. Managing your thoughts and avoiding triggers takes time, effort and oftentimes the help of professionals. But in time, you’ll learn to gain control and see all of the beautiful things in life.

Amanda: Recovery means having the opportunity to find who you are, outside of the constraints of an eating disorder. It means being self-aware and able to try new things, and maybe even re-visiting things the eating disorder made you give up. As your recovery continues to build, you find that people begin to trust you again, and you’re able to have better relationships with others because the eating disorder is no longer getting in the way. You find that you begin to identify yourself as a friend, and not “the burden” that you once believed yourself to be. You find yourself filling new roles, and feeling adequate in the ones you already held. You find that you are and always will be enough, and that no thing or person can ever take that away from you.

2. You become whole with yourself.

Jeanette: You learn how to become one with your body and mind. You realize the strength and goodness that lies within your body. Your body is the vehicle to your soul. You put yourself first and do things that are going to better your soul. You learn how precious life is and become your body’s friend rather than its enemy. As with any friend, you may have arguments, but in the end you make the right choice to keep that friendship intact. Your happiness comes from the things you enjoy and the people you are around, not the number on the scale.

Amanda: Whether it’s feeling good in the outfits you buy, wearing a bathing suit proudly for the first time in who knows how long, or exercising for fun and health, recovery means being comfortable in your own skin. It means appreciating your body for all that it can do, rather than solely for its appearance. It means accepting your body as it is, and finding a home within yourself.

3. You stop fearing food.

Jeanette: Eating disorders are not about food or weight. However, we use food and weight as a way to mask our emotions and past traumas. Food becomes like an enemy to us, even though food is our sustenance. Food should be neither feared nor glorified, and in recovery you come to really understand and believe that. When you challenge yourself in recovery, the negative thoughts attached to food begin to diminish. Food becomes enjoyable rather than fearful.

Amanda: While food shouldn’t become the focus of your life, being able to enjoy food and food-related activities is a big part of recovery. Recovery means finding joy during the holidays, diving into your birthday cake, going on late-night Taco Bell runs with your roommate, and getting your favorite dessert when you’re in the mood. It means being able to go out with your friends or out on a date night, without fear and anxiety over eating. Recovery means sitting at the table and being able to focus on what matters the most: the people you are with. And sometimes recovery simply means not having to think about food at all.

4. You reclaim your future.

Jeanette: With an eating disorder, there really is no future. Eating disorders hold you back from your present and keep you trapped in your past. When you’re living in the past, you can’t plan for your future. In recovery, you have the potential and ability to do whatever it is you want to do for yourself and your future.

Amanda: Recovery means that you get the opportunity to choose your future, after a period of feeling like you may never have one. You are able to go after the career you want, get married, take a vacation, become a parent, write that book or whatever other goals you might have—without the eating disorder holding you back.

5. You take the world by storm!

Stephanie: It’s so much easier (and a million times more fun) to travel in recovery. It was downright terrifying for me to consider travel when I had an eating disorder because there were too many unknowns associated with travel. In recovery, travel has become one of my passions. There’s so much world to see and so little time to see it. Recovery truly allows you to be daring enough to get out there and experience it.

6. You define happiness for yourself.

Jeanette: The eating disorder takes away your happiness. At first, it makes you believe that to be happy, you need to follow its rules. In recovery, you learn that happiness is not a number—and that you can define what happiness looks like for yourself.

Stephanie: Eating disorder thinking essentially tells you that you are inherently worthless because of what you’ve done in the past, and sets you up for failure in the future through intense worry and anxiety. It’s so easy to get caught up in this cycle of anxiety and regret, but recovery allows you to “just be,” if even for a moment.

7. Your emotions and interests become more satisfying.

Amanda: Brene Brown’s work tells us that we can’t selectively numb emotions; when we numb painful emotions like sadness and fear, we also numb out the emotions we may want to feel, like excitement and happiness. While feeling a difficult emotion isn’t always fun, recovery is being able to get your needs met through voicing them, rather than using your body to try to say it for you. Recovery also gives you deeper empathy and compassion for others because you can say “I’ve been in that really dark place, but I’ve also experienced the absolute joy that comes in finding the light, and I want that for you too.”

Stephanie: Not to say that people with eating disorders are all robots, but, in my own experience, I was a dull human being when I had anorexia. All I could think and talk about were food and exercise, because those two things occupied most of my brain space. I had no plans for my life other than things related to food and exercise. In recovery, since food and exercise don’t rule your life, you have so much more room in your brain to think about the world, other people, ideas—anything and everything!

8. You gain energy and strength.

Jeanette: I don’t just mean physical energy, but mental strength and energy too. Eating disorders cause weakness and a lack of focus. In recovery, you can finally think straight and be able to exert your energy on all the important things in your life. You fight for the willpower to say no to the eating disorder and put all your strength into what you want for your life. You have the energy you need to reach your goals.

Amanda: While some eating disorder-related medical complications are permanent, many will resolve over time in recovery. Aside from the happiness that follows leaving a doctor’s office with a clean bill of health, recovery also means having the energy to do what you need and want to do in your everyday life. It means being able to work your job without fear of passing out, having the strength to take the trash out, being able to think clearly, walking your dog, and, often, it can provide an end to your loved ones worrying about your wellbeing.

9. You start living the life you deserve.

Jeanette: It is such a great feeling to start counting the months of how long you have been in recovery rather than counting calories or the number on a scale. You deserve to live a full, free life. You are worth it and you are meant to be here. Every day we are moving forward. You can do great things and you are loved. The life in recovery is a much better life than the life with an eating disorder.

Amanda: Recovery means taking pride in yourself, recognizing the difficult journey and recognizing the strength and hard work you put into your recovery. It means feeling confident and owning your story, whether you never tell anyone about it again, or using your story to spread awareness and make a difference. Recovery means being able to be a mentor and source of hope for others, knowing that your story matters.

10. You give your future family the life they deserve.

Stephanie: This is relevant to anyone who plans on surrounding themselves with people they love in the future. This has been a huge motivation for my recovery. Not only so that I am able to have kids at some point in the future, but so that I can be the best daughter, friend, wife and mother that I can be to my future family. An eating disorder does not have a seat at the table in my future home. It’s not even welcome in our neighborhood. Recovery is the only option if you want to be the best you for your future family. 

11. And let’s be honest: shopping is way more fun in recovery.

Stephanie: This may seem far off (it definitely feels that way for me sometimes), but it is definitely true. When your brain is full of body-positive comments rather than eating disordered, negative thoughts, shopping is so much more fun. You can try on five pairs of jeans and choose the ones that complement your body shape and actually feel good (with no judgment), rather than choosing based on an “ideal size.”

Recovery is worth it because YOU are worth it. Recovery is possible and doable. Your life is invaluable and you are precious. It’s your time to shine! 

For recovery resources and treatment options, call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 800-931-2237.


For more on recovery, check out:

13 Lies Our Eating Disorders Told Us

6 Binge Eating Disorder Recovery Tips

4 Tips for Managing Triggers During the Holidays

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

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