This Is the Thought That Got Me to My Eating Disorder

These five words led me down a path of restrictive eating, excessive exercise and perfectionist tendencies. Here’s a practice that can transform negative self-talk into a guiding light.

What seeds are you planting with your thoughts?

“I could be doing more,” was the constant thought that coursed through my every cell that eventually led me down the path of extremely restrictive eating and excessive exercise. I was 19. A college student with straight As, perfect attendance, a heavy book bag and perfectionist tendencies. This was how I operated my life for many months. It was if someone was holding their finger down on the repeat button with these five words. I. Could. Be. Doing. More.


And when I examined this thought, when I really tried to understand it, underlying this thought was another thought—the root of the planted seed that had already matured: “I am not enough.”


I was shrinking by the day in my baggy size 0 jeans, my body and mind barely getting by on enough energy to get through the day. I was always in motion yet didn’t have the energy or strength to keep up with it. I was exhausted from walking, exhausted from talking, exhausted from exercising, exhausted from working, exhausted from life. I was constantly on the cusp of fainting because of lack of adequate nourishment.


This description is far removed from the health and wellness I was seeking.

Somewhere, somehow along the way up until that point, I had acquired the mentality of “I need to be more than I am.”

My undiagnosed eating disorder went on for about a year.


What happened between now and then, where I was able to shift my mindset? An accumulation of everything. School, writing, work, family, babies, change, yoga, self-care, growth.


After more than a decade of working to understand the root of this thought and really truly learning to love myself unconditionally through a cornucopia of self-care practices, including yoga, exercise, meditation, breath work and journaling, I have arrived. I have arrived at new thought patterns. A refreshing understanding.


I am more than a bathing suit size. I am more than a number on a scale. I am more than someone with hypothyroidism. I am more than this body. I am more than this mind. I am more than a label.


When someone asks or tells an overachiever (recovering or not) to do more, we hear, “You’re not enough—good enough, smart enough, whatever enough.” Don’t let their expectations get in the way of your values and the gifts you have to offer this world. Because, beautiful person reading this right now, you're enough. We all are. We’re all doing our very best with what we have where we are in this particular moment on our journey.


Repeat after me:

I am here. I am doing the best I can. I am enough. I have always been enough.


So let that be enough.


Practice It: What Is Your Trigger Thought?

Journal about a time when a specific thought or phrase catapulted you down a path far removed from self-love and where you wanted to be. Write about where the thought stemmed from and who planted the seed. Lovingly ask yourself: What is behind that thought?


Then write about the flip side of the thought. For example, if the seed that was planted led you to the thought “I am not enough” like in my case, replace it with “I am always enough” and see where that leads you.

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© 2020 by Julie M. Gentile. All Rights Reserved.