During this process, I have had ups and downs and had to learn to be patient and compassionate towards myself. The perfectionist in me wants everything to go according to plan and to happen how I envision it in my head. Over time, I have learned that this is not the case and sometimes, what God has planned for us is even better.

When I left for Remuda with my mom and grandma, I was still very naive and somewhat in denial of my problem. I feel like I am opposite from most individuals with eating disorders, in that I was pretty aware of my small size. It had become what defined me and what I took pride in. I was terrified to lose that identity and sense of feeling like I was finally good at something. And since my eating disorder had become part of my identity, I needed to find who I was in order to learn to love my body.

During my stay, I met SO many amazing women, and in them, I saw pieces of myself. They inspired me and gave me courage and confidence, and not only while I was there—they continue to everyday. While at Remuda, I did things that were way out of my comfort zone, like being mayor twice, horseback riding, climbing a rock wall, and sharing my life story. Through those experiences, I saw a side of myself that had gone missing since ED had been in my life. I saw my silly side, my adventurous side, and my brave side, and I really liked those parts of myself.

It’s been 11 years since I’ve been home and since then I have challenged myself to continue to show the real me. I have started writing my life story, shared my story with a church youth group, graduated from college and graduate school, had several jobs, and been through layoffs and many transitions. I have taken ballet and other dance classes, which was a dream of mine for a long time. And not only have I taken classes, but I have performed on stage and been a part of an adult Christian dance company! I rode a motorcycle with a dear friend that I met at Remuda, which was a fear of mine. I have hiked into and out of the Grand Canyon, which is one of the most memorable (and difficult) things I have ever done. I have done things I never thought I would or could do and every day I learn to appreciate all that my body does for me and allows me to do for others.

Psalm 45:11 says, “Let the King be enthralled by your beauty; honor him for he is your Lord.”

When I read this verse for the first time, I burst into tears. But, I believe that this verse is not just talking about physical beauty, but inner beauty as well. God not only calls us beautiful on the outside, but He calls our soul beautiful too. There are still days when loving my body is a struggle, but I remember this verse and all that I have been through and remember that my body has been with me through ups and downs, highs and lows, pain and joy. It is part of what makes me, me and the more I learn to love myself (on the inside), the more I learn to love my body as well.