“I am an Orthorexic.”

Cora Poage is owner and CEO of Sexy Soul Wellness. She is a Board Certified Wellness Coach and holds an MA in Spiritual Psychology. Cora’s specialty is guiding her clients in co-manifesting the body AND life of their dreams through intuitive eating, exercising, and living.  She also teaches for her alma mater, the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Cora spent her late teens and early 20s struggling with a diet and weight control addiction. Her dream and passion is assisting other people in finding freedom from weight and body concerns, freeing up their energy to live the most uplifting lives possible! Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Cora Poage - You Are Beautiful

I didn’t have the discipline to starve myself.

And vomit disgusted me, so bulimia was out.

My Eating Disorder of choice?

Orthorexia.

Not as well-known as anorexia or bulimia, Orthorexia can be defined as an extremely unhealthy obsession with healthy living.

So what did this look like for me?

“My name is Cora Poage and I am a Dietaholic.”

I attempted every trend diet under the sun; Atkins, Vegan, Raw Food, Macrobiotics, South Beach, The Zone, and more (sometimes shifting from week to week)!  Many times these plans were in almost total opposition of each other (think Vegan and Atkins).

The staff at Starbucks were perplexed. One week, I would order a latte with full cream, the next week with soy milk, and the next week . . . “Coffee (eye roll)??? Coffee is like, totally bad for me. I will have a green tea please.”  They never knew what to expect!

Further more, I turned down dates with friends and yes, even hot guys (gasp),  who wanted to go to restaurants or cafes without options that were allowed by my current Diet Craze.  I hardly ever ate dessert (total bummer).  I spent most of my waking hours thinking about food.  Where was I going to find the healthy food I could eat?  When could I eat next? And would it be too soon or too late from the last time I ate and mess with my metabolism?

“My name is Cora Poage and I am a Exercisaholic.”

My Orthorexic tendencies also encompassed activity and exercise. I worked out once, sometimes twice daily.  If I knew I had a busy day ahead of me, I woke up as early as 5 to make sure I was able to achieve the “fifty minutes or more rule” per day.  If I didn’t get my workout in, I was devastated, depressed, and in a foul mood, usually assuming that I looked awful and had blown up like a balloon over night. I prioritized working out over my social life, work deadlines, studying, and even my relationship with my husband, choosing to go to the gym rather than follow through on other commitments or quite frankly, actually ENJOY life.

“My name is Cora Poage and I am a Scaleaholic.”

My Orthorexia also involved the scale.  I had an extremely volatile, dramatic, and traumatic love affair with this small metal cube.  The scale saw more action than the men in my life. I stood on the scale as much as six times per day.  There was no way to win. If the number went down, I was anxious about how to keep the downward trend and if it stayed the same, I was disappointed.  God forbid the number go up, lest I feel DEVASTATED and most likely unable to leave the house.

As you can probably ascertain, my entire life revolved around my Pursuit of Ideal Health, and not much else.  I was a full-fledged Orthorexic.

Don’t think that sounds dangerous or detrimental?  Think again.

Orthorexia can be a gateway into diseases like anorexia and bulimia.  It can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. In fact, some researchers have linked Orthorexia to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Personally, I suffered from IBS, anxiety, depression, Social Anxiety, body dysmorphia, and a feeling of total emptiness in my life.

How did I heal?

“Growth is a Process, Not an Event.” – Ron Hulnick, President of the University of Santa Monica

I feel like this is a life long journey for me.  However, I have made GREAT strides.  I read an incredible book called How Much Does Your Soul Weigh, and began adopting the principles of Intuitive Eating, Exercising, and Living as my new UN-Diet.

I studied under numerous Coaches, Mentors, and Therapists to help support me on my Healing Journey.  I chose to repair my relationship with my body through better body image practices and Unconditional Love and Acceptance.  I even founded the We Love our Bodies Project to help other women (and men!) do the same.

I also attended the Institute of Integrative Nutrition where I experienced major healing in my own life and also learned how to Health Coach others through similar obsessions, which is SUCH an honor. I learn and heal with my Clients in every session.

Most importantly, I LIVE in The Middle Way, between the Extremes.

“Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” – Rumi

Instead of saying, “Fine, I just won’t care about Healthy Living at all”, which would not be authentic, I choose to find a balance in my life.  I work out most days,  but I don’t (usually) experience a FREAK OUT if I miss day.  I eat very healthy in general, but I don’t prescribe to ANY specific diet or weight-loss plan. I joyfully practice the 90/10 rule, where 90% of the time I eat clean and healthy, and 10 percent of the time, I let myself have the dessert at the birthday party.  And I haven’t stood on a scale in almost TWO years.

The best part of ALL of this? Living in the Middle Way with Health and Wellness has meant that I have SO much more energy and tim to bond and connect and LOVE my AMAZING husband and family, to travel, to co-manifest my ideal Business, to be of Sacred Service in this beautiful world, and to truly, truly, TRULY Live the Life of my Dreams.

Now when I go Starbucks, I order WHATEVER I feel like ordering.

And this time, don’t hold the whip cream.

Photo of Cora by Jeff Skeirik, The Rawtographer.

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Dawn
Dawn
November 14, 2019 2:33 pm

This is so Me! I was just “diagnosed” with Orthorexia this week. Came out during trauma therapy and I have Just stared working with a dietician. Very scared and in shock that I have this disorder. But now that I know, it is so obvious! I have used this way of life as a coping strategy. Thanks for sharing!

Cora
December 10, 2013 4:09 pm

Dear Emmalee….thank you for your message and for sharing your voice with me here!! I really appreciate it!!! And yes, when it comes to this topic it is hard to be able to cover it all and be able to express all different aspects of it ~and as you felt and noticed, my intention with the writing of it was to mainly bring awareness in a loving way through sharing my learnings found through my own personal journey. I am happy to hear that you were able to receive the light I was intending to spread within my message…Blessings to you Emmalee xoxo

emmalee
emmalee
December 8, 2013 10:37 am

thank you for your bravery and eloquence in discussing EDs. you are really a beacon of light for awareness and recovery. congratulations on your hard work and progress 🙂

the only thing i would caution against is presenting EDs as choices, as per the beginning of your post. anorexia isn’t about being disciplined. and bulimics don’t LOVE throwing up or think it isn’t distasteful.

i don’t mean for this criticism to detract from the fact that i really think your message is important and valuable and i know you were aiming to be candid and light with the intro. i just wanted to point out that EDs such as AN and BN aren’t just diet tricks that require self control or a serviceable gag reflex (and again i know you know that).

<3 thank you for your post and all of your work!

Heather @TheSoulfulSpoon
December 6, 2013 10:55 am

I suffer from orthorexia as well, and though I consider myself recovered now, it took 10 years of my life, and it’s hard to escape those old thoughts. I don’t act on them anymore, but I do still think in the mindset of an orthorexic woman. It isn’t easy, but I just want to say how much I commend you on your efforts to promote honesty, awareness, and advocacy. Thank yoU! I can’t wait to keep in touch with you.

Cora
December 8, 2013 10:15 am

My pleasure Heather…It warms my heart to see that this message speaks to so many. Congratulations to you in finding your balance and loving home inside. YOU ROCK!!! Cora xo

Grace
Grace
November 27, 2013 12:28 am

Very touching, inspiring post! Thank you for sharing. I can totally identify with you having struggled with anorexia, orthorexia, social anxiety, bdd and possibly ocd. There has also been a link between girls with anorexia and autism spectrum disorders. Anyways, I am scared of becoming orthorexic again. I just started college this year and I’ve been more obsessed with eating clean, restricting processed food/animal products and going to the gym regularly. I’ve been getting bad test grades, isolating from the few friends I had and been stressed out with my new job, which is great, but stressful. I feel happier when I work out and eat healthy but I don’t want to become obsessive and depressed! When do you think you know you’re actually sick again, compared to when you’re trying to balance life? Thank you!

Cora
November 30, 2013 2:12 pm
Reply to  Grace

My pleasure Grace, and thank you for bringing up such an important question…How do we know when we go off balance and fall back into old patterns?? I feel that whenever we are doing something, or investing our time in something that we believe we SHOULD be doing, because if we don’t, something bad is going to happen to us, or that we are going to be punished with weight gain, an illness, be abandoned, judged, etc….we have gone off track. And I would like to also emphasize that the opportunity for growth and healing here is to gently re-direct this part that is feeling challenged back to remembering that this process of Self-Care is all about Love, not perfection. We can consciously ask ourselves: Am I doing what I do out of love for myself? If our answer is no, then we can re-asses, and choose wisely and lovingly… Read more »

Natalie
Natalie
March 17, 2013 11:47 am

Cora, you are such an inspiration!! I have been struggling with orthorexia and anorexia for years, currently in the orthorexic phase and trying to recover; it’s miserable! Thank you for sharing your story, as orthorexia often gets little press and is not really regarded as a full
-fledged disease by most people. Again, thanks for sharing!!!

Cora
March 19, 2013 10:48 am
Reply to  Natalie

Hi Natalie!!!

I hear you!! BIG TIME!

You are so welcome. How can I best support you. Feel free to email me. [email protected]

I would love to hear from you! I so acknowledge you for your devotion to your healing.

With light,
Coach Cora

Keysie
Keysie
January 4, 2013 3:00 pm

This is an awesome post. Very accurate. I am on the recovery side of this orthorexic issue; my disease collides that with anorexia. There is so much more to life!!
So many women and men struggle with restrictive eating and need to be aware of what they could be getting themselves into.

Cora
January 6, 2013 5:28 pm
Reply to  Keysie

Beautiful ladies!!

It sounds like you are now on the side of FREEDOM from all of these games!! So much more fulfilling, right??

Sending so much Light to your journey and please stay in touch!

xxCoach Cora

Tanya
October 22, 2012 7:41 pm

I so agree! I used to work out for an hour to an hour and a half when I first lost weight but I see now that was unrealistic…how could I keep that up for a lifetime?!?! I was just like you skipping important events and still obsessing over food and not enjoying life! Now I enjoy what I eat. Thanks!