"Is it Too Late For Me to Get Better?"

Ever feel like it's too late for you? (Well, it's not.)

Victoria, 29, wrote me a while ago, saying she was worried that perhaps she’s spent so long bingeing that she won’t be able to change. It’s never, ever too late, I say…

Q: I’m now 29, and the eating has overshadowed a whole decade of my life.  It makes me very sad when I look back on the past ten years, and, for each of the big landmarks (turning 21, graduating, first day of work, meeting my husband etc), I can remember:
- how much I weighed
- whether I was in the restricting or binging part of the cycle
And these thoughts actually dominate over the memories and joy of the actual event.

I’ve now finally got up the courage, and tolerance, to say to myself: You are more than your weight. Your value doesn’t change according to the reading on the scale.  Your family and husband love you for the person you are, not for the kilos you weigh, and they don’t love you less (or more) when your weight changes.  You need to love yourself and accept yourself to, not constantly fight a war against your body.

I think one of the biggest things that is motivating me to change now, is the realisation that this has gone on for ten years. T-e-n years.  So many days, so much heartbreak.  I’m not prepared to live the rest of my life like this.  I’m also tired to the bone of living my life like this.  I need a little more self-acceptance.  Perhaps that means accepting myself at a weight of 70 kg not 65kg, but if the price of not bingeing is 5 kg, then I’m prepared to do that (although that probably means I will never again fit into my ‘skinny’ jeans).

I get the feeling from you, Sunny, that your own eating challenge lasted for a while?  Is that right?  Because one of the things that scares me is the thought that, given that this has gone on for so long now, perhaps I’ll never be able to beat it? I know that my attitudes to food and eating and body are currently changing quite dramatically, and hopefully this will be enough to get me through.  I guess, no matter what the obstacle is, and no matter how long it’s been around, it’s always possible to overcome it. —Victoria, 29

A: You’re absolutely right, Victoria: My eating challenge lasted for a long while. I binged off and on, to varying degrees, for 15 years. It was right at your age, 29, that I really decided to take the final step that pushed me over the edge in recovery. I’d gone to therapy and read lots of books, but it was going to a face-to-face support group that gave me that final tools I needed to stop.

I love so many of the things you say here: That you finally believe you are more than your weight and are willing to accept your body as is I think is absolutely key. I know it was for me. Getting out of that binge-and-restrict diet mentality allowed me to focus on the inside instead of the outsides, and that’s truly where all of our food and body troubles start.

I also love that you’re recognizing that your attitudes are changing. Once we stop using the scale or some “diet” plan to measure our success and growth, we have to replace those measures with other things. Recognizing small and large changes in our thought patterns, in the amount of time we spend thinking about food and our bodies, recognizing a reduction is nasty self-talk, noting that we’re being kinder to ourselves—these are all helpful and healthy ways to measure our movement toward sanity when it comes to food and our bodies.

Now I’d especially like to hear from HealthyGirl.org readers who are 30 and up (although everyone’s welcome to chime in!): Did you ever feel like it was just too late for you to get better? How’d you snap out of it? xo…Sunny

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9 Responses to "Is it Too Late For Me to Get Better?"

  1. lyn says:

    Switching between starvation and bingeing from 14 till 21, I finally settled into a “comfortable” state of active bulimia until I became too depressed to function in my daily life. I got into volunteer treatment by 22 but never took my eating problem as seriously as the depression although my attending doctor first diagnosed the eating disorder. All i wanted was the pill to lift my moods and get on with life which i did - barely. For the next 8 years, my whole life revolved around food and weight and I did not perform at work at all. The depression never really left too. It was not till i honestly addressed the issues of self hate deeply plus truly and humbly admitted my disordered eating that i took two years off work and spent most of my time in and out of hospitals and day treatment. In those 2 years I simply had to learn to eat 3 proper complete meals and learnt what real hunger and satiety felt like. I learned to eat in public with people without breaking into a panic. It was also in those years that I made some of the closest and lasting friendships. I’ve slowly learned to fulfill my commitments, promises and responsibilities. I am beginning to regain the trust of my close family members whom I used to stand up just to spend time bingeing, purging, recovering from either or simply wallow in guilt and self disgust. At 35 now, the last 4 years, being totally symptom free, has been a slow but most freeing experience and it could never be too late.

  2. Heather says:

    Hi Victoria…
    All I can say is, “I hope not”. I don’t think that there is any such thing as too late. I’m 33, and have gone through similar thought processes over the last few years. I think that the worst thing that anyone can ever do, no matter what the goal/obstacle, is think that it is too late. To think that there is a demarcation point where it becomes impossible to change habits and patterns is a horrifying thought, because it would sentence every person to a life of monotony at a certain point in time. And to think that it happens before 30!!! (Full disclosure: before I turned 30, I was pretty sure that was the case) Anyway, it’s a pattern, like any other. Would you be afraid to change your career path if you weren’t happy with it? Would you stay with an abusive partner just because you always had? I ask these questions because in the 3 years that have followed my 30th birthday, I have made more fundamental changes (for the better, I might add) than I did from 19-30.

    Just remember, you are going to look back at this at 39 and either be able to think about that time when you were 29 and took control of things, or you will be thinking about that time when you were 29 and thought about changing, but didn’t.

    I have been battling this for YEARS. My type A personality thrives on control. When things happen that I can’t control (this usually involves other personalities getting involved) I eat. And please don’t assume that I am cured. I am not. However, the binges are further apart, less intense and bizarre, and because I have become uber-aware of them, they actually have far less control over me than they have in the past. (Also, I don’t want to make this sound or suggest that it was/is easy. It wasn’t/isn’t, but anything that is worth doing usually isn’t.)

  3. Casey says:

    Victoria, I’m 31, and spent all of my teens and twenties in a hell of body loathing, anxiety, depression, and binge eating. Should have been the happiest times of my life - meeting my husband, getting married, becoming an adult - but it wasn’t. I had a moment of realization when I was 28 - it is time to stop with the self loathing. I was on a camping trip with my family, feeling very uncomfortable in my swimsuit, when I just realized that no one else cared - just me. Everyone there loved me for who I was, not what I looked like, and I should start doing the same. It was a powerful, startling, freeing moment. Don’t give up!! You are on the path to getting better.

    Sunny, I love this site and can’t wait for your book - hearing everyone’s stories so much like my own has been incredible, and it’s helped me face what I’ve gone through, how to move forward, and talk about it. A million thanks!!

  4. The tagline on Blisschick right now says “it’s never too late to embody your bliss.”

    And my life is proof of that.

    I am 41.

    I have suffered for most of my life from a variety of mental health issues, from depression to anxiety disorder to eating disorders and body dysmorphia, etc. I have worked very hard over the decades to “get better.” More writing and talking and writing and crying and writing than I can even say.

    And so many many times I said to myself and to my partner, “I am done; this is never going away…”

    But I kept trying. The human spirit is indestructible.

    And because of all of that work, when I danced for the first time in too long at the age of 40, I was able to recognize it as the opportunity for change that it was.

    Now I teach dance and I LIVE dance. My relationship with food can still be a struggle but it is completely re-framed in my desire to be healthy, my desire to be able to dance for many more decades to come.

    There is always time. Always. I don’t care how old you are; this next MINUTE could be the one.

  5. Jen says:

    NOPE. It’s not too late! I am 31 (turning 32 in August in fact) and I feel sad looking back at my years from about age 15 until this past year. So many of them were spent mired in such struggle - binging, trying to stop binging, see-sawing back & forth.

    Last spring I had my first child, a girl. It slowly dawned on me that I refuse to let her grow up seeing me hurt myself with food the way that my mom did (does). By October of last year, I was ready for action. I have since lost 67 pounds (I was extremely obese and am just now getting close to “overweight” as far as categories go) and am feeling amazing. Most importantly, my handling of food/eating is so much healthier, and just SANER. Certainly I still struggle on occasion, but mostly, I’m on the right path.

    It is never too late!! Make your 30’s what you WISH you’d have done in your 20’s! That’s what I’m doing. (-:

  6. stacy says:

    hi victoria. to answer your question, Not. At. All.

    i will be turning 34 this year and just in the past couple of months have acknowledged that i have an unhealthy relationship with food/bingeing. there are no deadlines or expiration dates when it comes to health. the path to recovery and a healthy mindset starts the day you take that first step - be it at 15, 35 or 65 .

    i’m working on my struggle every day. it’s not easy and there have been some missteps, but the determination is there. i can’t wait for the day that i can wholeheartedly say that i have a “normal” relationship with food. and that’s what keeps me going. age be damned.

  7. Angie says:

    I am 34 years old. I will be 35 in two months. A week or so ago I wrote a private journal entry about ‘my story’ and I realized that while disordered eating has been part of my life for many years (starting around age 10, I think), the eating is not the beginning or end of my story. I have decided to put the food on the shelf and focus on some other things that I need to pay attention to. When I focus on these other things, like taking care of my skin, folding the laundry, watering the plants, etc., the food has a way of working itself out.

    As for age, I realized earlier this year that a big part of my disordered eating (body image, etc.) has to do with how unhappy I am with my job. I’ve been working as a technical writer for 12 years and the job has morphed into something I don’t recognize. I really don’t enjoy the work. Of course I have bills to pay, children to raise, etc. I cannot just quit the job without some other form of income / flexible schedule.

    Around the same time I watched Julie and Julia and learned Julia Child did not start cooking until she was in her late 30s. That fact gave me faith that I could have a second act (maybe even a 3rd or 4th act) if I was just brave enough to try. I’ve worked out a plan for change and while making the change has been slow, I can tell that I’m already happier. It’s hard. I am afraid and worry that I will realize I was a fool to change. That said, I do feel happier and that lightness of being encourages me to think that the small steps I’m taking are paying off.

    Good luck. I finally feel like I’m coming into my own as I hit the mid30s. I just hope I can stay brave and fearless. A

  8. Victoria says:

    Hey girls,

    Thank you so much for all your comments. And thank you, Sunny, for the post! It’s great to hear from you all.

    I am quietly confident that I can change. I’m still having lots of ups and downs, but overall, I’m now just quietly determined that change is needed, and is going to happen. It’s very inspirational to hear from you all, to know that you’re confronting the same issues and taking your lives in your hands.

    To tell the truth, I’ve had an awful couple of weeks, food-wise, after a great few months, and it’s undermined me a little at the moment. I’m not feeling really strong! But I’m going to keep on going. And reaching out to people on this site helps so much. Sunny, someone should give you a medal for what you’re doing for us.

    Best of luck to you all, and thank you for the support

    V xx

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Sunny Sea Gold

About the Author

Sunny Sea Gold is a media-savvy advocate and commentator specializing in binge eating disorder, cultural obsessions around food and weight, and raising children who have a healthy body image.