“I am an Orthorexic.”
Oct 19, 2012, Updated Aug 21, 2014
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.
I didn’t have the discipline to starve myself.
And vomit disgusted me, so bulimia was out.
My Eating Disorder of choice?
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.