100 Things I Learned in Recovery

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James Rose, Actor, fitness professional, podcaster, and Instagram educator

It was only once I recovered from my eating disorder that I began to understand its gravity. I kept some journal entries, various gems left to be uncovered in the margins of my planner, nuggets of wisdom to be siphoned from my notes app of those years. I was in college, but it probably started before that. It’s no coincidence that I don’t actually know what came first: my eating disorder or my queer awakening. I revisited those archives: the journal entries, notes, nuggets, and scrawls, and tied them together into this list. They are not in chronological order; they are not in order of importance. They are simply what it feels like to excise the part of my brain where my eating disorder once reigned. Like a massive word search, here’s what I find when I look closely enough. There is so much about queerness, transness, and how they intersect with fat phobia that I have yet to learn. Here’s what I’ve found so far. 


100 Things I Learned Recovering from an Eating Disorder


1. It can happen to anyone.

2. It isn’t your fault.

3. More people have an unhealthy relationship with food than you realize.

4. More people have an unhealthy relationship with food than they realize

5. Recovery is possible.

6. Recovery never looks like what you think. You have to actively change the way your brain sees food, fuel, your body, the world around you. It’s a reprogramming of your internal hardware.

7. If you think it’s time for a hardware update I promise you it is.

8. Diet culture affects everyone.

9. Do you think Jason will still like me if I’m no longer skinny?

10. Maybe I should go vegan.

11. Can we collectively burn down every weight loss ad?

12. Especially that one in Times Square – my god may it rot.

13. Did you know Anorexia Nervosa is the deadliest diagnosis in the DSM for women aged 16-24?

14. This means anti-fatness literally kills people.

15. Diets don’t work.

16. Intentional weight loss doesn’t work.

17. Keto doesn’t work and neither does intermittent fasting or Adkins or WW or counting macros or any of that.

18. If one more person comments on my body, I am going to scream.

19. You can’t tell if someone has an ED by looking at them.

20. Diets lead to disordered eating.

21. Disordered eating leads to an eating disorder.

22. I developed an eating disorder between the age of 16-24. Does this also make me a woman?

23. So turns out what I was calling “being vegan” was actually orthorexia

24. BMI isn’t reliable. It was literally created by a race scientist.

25. Some of the diagnostic criteria for eating disorders is not built to scale for marginalized communities and now it makes sense as to why we could never pinpoint which one I had.

26. Restriction leads to binge.

27. Turns out every gay man I’ve ever talked to has an odd relationship with food.

28. Upon further research, Binge Eating DIsorder is under diagnosed in men.

29. Do you think Jason thinks about food as much as I do?

30. Our bodies are smarter than we give them credit for.

31. I think I only wanted to be vegan because all the hot girls were doing it.

32. (Evidence for the whole me-being-a-woman thing? Unclear.)

33. My friend who works at one of the premiere ED treatment centers in New York says there are more men with Anorexia on the waitlist than there are women, and that breaks my heart.

34. Food can be emotional.

35. Food is more than fuel.

36. There are no “good” foods.

37. There are no “bad” foods.

38. Yes, different foods offer different nutritional value.

39. Nutritional value ≠ moral worth.

40. Do you think any of my friends are on that treatment center waitlist?

41. Before & After pictures are oppressive; I’m so embarrassed I ever did them.

42. Nutrition is both art & science. 

43. EDs are completely preventable.

44. Isn’t that ironic? We’re all walking around with mental illnesses that we literally could have avoided if society didn’t absolutely suck!!!!!!!!

45. We are all responsible for demolishing diet culture.

46. If I had to go to in-patient treatment, do you think Jason would visit me?

47. Is vegan cheesecake ever gonna taste good?!

48. No, you are not what you eat. You are a person.

49. Speaking of being a person, I think I might be a non-binary person. Huh. 

50. No one on a diet is at peace with food.

51. Being thin comes with privilege & responsibility because even though many thin people are ill, society is still structured in our favor.

52. Body positivity is different from positive body image.

53. Body positivity is a movement centering around fat people and isn’t for thin people to co-opt.

54. There is a difference between body dysmorphia and gender dysphoria, and the more I talk about it the more I realize how little trans competency there is in this field. 

55. Diet culture is a symptom of white supremacy (Sabrina Strings knows a lot about this).

56. Exercise is not a punishment.

57. The fitness industry is a diet culture trap.

58. Am I a hypocrite for teaching anti-weight loss fitness at a gym that promotes weight loss or am I doing the right thing?

59. Peace with fitness is possible!

60. Mindful movement is key. 

61. Why do you want to move? How can you celebrate your body today? Can you be where your feet are?

62. Reaching neutrality with fear foods is possible!!!

63. One day you’re gonna eat your fear foods every day, I promise.

64. Does Jason think I look unhealthy?

65. Health comes at every size.

66. Worth ≠ weight.

67. Weight ≠ health.

68. Health cannot be a moral obligation for everyone; some people are chronically ill.

69. Respecting your body means nourishing it adequately.

70. Turns out veganism really wasn’t doing that for me.

71. “Forgetting to eat” is a symptom of something deeper.

72. (Like, just spitballing here….an eating disorder).

73. I don’t have to conform to gender-based body expectations. As a matter of fact, gender-based body expectations harm LITERALLY EVERYONE.

74. If my gender had been affirmed earlier, I might not have developed an ED because then maybe I wouldn’t have wanted to go vegan like the hot girls and wouldn’t have slipped down into the seventh circle of hell alternatively known as Restricting my Foods.

75. Will Jason use my correct pronouns?

76. Why do I feel like I’m on the verge of relapse in quarantine?

77. And if I relapse does that invalidate all the work I did to recover?

78. I can’t believe I have to do a food journal again; I thought we were past this

79. Maybe if Jason and I cooked together on a date I would want to eat it 🙁

80. The cul-de-sac ladies are doing a bake-off.

81. ……ok I’m gonna bake something.

82. Something NOT vegan. 

83. We are anti-diet around here, not anti-dieter.

84. Why? Go re-read #2

85. This whole diet culture thing would be more convenient if there were someone to blame.

86. Motion to make diet culture a person so we can pin the blame on someone.

87. I nominate Jillian Michaels.

88. I swear the worst part of cooking for yourself is doing the dishes.

89. It’s been a week, and I’ve eaten every single meal I was supposed to every single day.

90. Maybe that’s why I have more energy???

91. Make that a month. Every! Single! Day! This! Month!

92. My cheesecake took 6 hours to bake and I’m making all my neighbors eat a slice, and I am NOT gonna let any diet talk enter this cul-de-sac.

93. Update Cheryl is mad at me because my cheesecake outdid her vegan pumpkin pie (I love this for me).

94. (Aren’t pumpkins vegan anyway???)

95. HA remember how being vegan was the tipping point for my eating disorder to start & look at me now!!!! I’ve forgotten the rules 🙂

96. I have no idea where Jason is or what he’s doing because I’m busy planning my next cheesecake.

97. Guilt needs empathy to heal.

98. Shame needs self-compassion to heal.

99. Just about everyone is struggling with this too.

100. Life after recovery is full of colors I’d never seen, joy I’d never felt, and peace I’d never imagined. Keep going. 

James Rose
 (They/Them) is an actor, fitness professional, podcaster, and Instagram educator. James holds degrees from NYU in Music Theatre and Child & Adolescent Mental Health Studies, and their work on stage and screen includes The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and roles in regional theaters across the country. In response to the diet culture and body shaming in the entertainment industry, they also became a Health at Every Size personal trainer and a trauma-informed Yoga teacher, specializing in accessible fitness that creates space for all people to make peace with movement and their bodies. They co-host the Full SoulNutrition Podcast with their best friend Caitie Corradino (MS, RD), and reach an audience of 10k+ on Instagram & TikTok (@jamesissmiling), writing about gender, queerness, sex, mental health, and joy. After unearthing the connection between their non-binary gender and their eating disorder, they are passionate about educating on this intersectiont.  You are not alone, your healing is deserved, and full recovery is possible!