I got this note from a 51-year-old reader and wanted to share. The “age” question is one I’ve gotten more than once:
Q: Is this site only for young women, and if so is there one for older ones? I am 51. I have struggled with binge eating all my life, until I went into therapy in 2005 (only because my son was, I didn’t think I needed it … ha ha). I subsequently lost about 112 pounds and felt as if I had completely conquered it. I ate like a normal person, was happy with who I was and liked myself for the first time in my life. I got a job, a boyfriend and a life! I was so happy and energetic. I could have taken over the world. Then last year I had a heart attack. I was furious! After all that work to make myself healthier my body had played a really nasty joke on me. I was OK for a few months, still maintained the healthy eating, went to the gym and back to work. And a couple of months after that (4 months after the heart attack) I broke down. I was put on antidepressants and eventually retired from work on health grounds. And since then I have put on 40 pounds and am binge eating like the old days. I feel like I am trying to self destruct. Drowning in a vat of blubber. I’m disappearing under a mound of fat. It never occurred to me when I lost the weight that I would put it back on. Even though, every time I had lost weight before I had put it all back on again, with interest. This time it was different. I maintained for 3 years, which I had never managed before. I was SO proud of myself. I am back seeing the therapist and just feel such a failure. I am ashamed to leave the house. Won’t undress in front of my fiance. And loathe myself even more than I did before, because I have failed. —Lola
A: Oh, Lola! First, you—and women and girls of any age—are welcome here, anytime. It’s true that I founded HealthyGirl with young women in mind, but as you’ve no doubt noticed, the struggles and the principles of getting better are the same no matter how old you are.
Now, to what you’re going through right now: I feel like we’ve been talking about relapse a lot on the site lately. And why not? It’s an important step in recovery for many of us, and something that I have come to think of as a normal part of the path. Nearly everyone runs into bumps in the road, big or small, on their journey to getting sane about food. (Need proof? Check out Trish’s latest post, this Q&A with reader Carly, and this Q&A with reader Jessica.) But it sounds to me like you have done the right (and smart) thing for yourself already: you went back to one of the tools that helped you start to get better in the first place.
Please let us know how you’re doing. It sounds like you’ve hit a tough bump in the road, but it doesn’t mean you’re failing at recovery or that you are doomed to be a binge eater. Ups and downs are normal as we get better—what’s most important is that we never stop moving forward. You’ll be free, you’ll see! xo…Sunny