I know it’s not quite yet Tuesday, but I’m a bit anxious and nervous to share this post, so I’m posting early, if that makes any sense. I’ve been trying to find the right words for quite some time, struggling on where to start and how to share my No Fat Talk story in a way that’s both raw and uplifting. Other than my mom, Joe and a small handful of friends, I’ve kept my story to myself. Not because I am ashamed anymore (though I certainly used to be) but because it’s not exactly something you go around talking about in casual conversation. But as time has passed, I’ve started to understand that the greatest gift afforded to me by my experience is the opportunity to share it with others so that they might be able to hear and believe that they’re not alone.

During the fall of my junior year of college, I experienced a major high point when I competed on and won The Rachael Ray Show’s “Hey, Can You Cook?!” competition, trained for my first half marathon and got engaged to my college boyfriend all within the span of a couple months. I quickly fell from mountain high to valley low when just a week after getting engaged, my fiancée broke off the engagement and the relationship

I was lost, heartbroken and embarrassed. Had I been emotionally and spiritually healthy to begin with, I believe my coping mechanisms and response would have been much different than they were. But the truth is that I was already in a dangerously insecure place emotionally, and the loss of a relationship I put too much stock in was the breaking point.

Instead of focusing on the pain I was really feeling, I channeled my emotions and self-loathing onto my body. If I could make my body perfect, reach that goal weight and become more attractive, my problems would be solved. If I couldn’t control what other people did to me, I could find control in how I dealt with my body. And so began my struggle with bulimia.

Of course, being the lover of food that I am, I lacked the self-discipline to monitor what I consumed. Instead, somewhere along the road, I discovered that I could easily force myself to throw-up some of my favorite comfort foods: ice cream, chocolate, cake. Desserts in large quantities were my drug of choice.

It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about those days and it’s incredibly painful to do so. I remember sitting in my car one night, consuming an entire bag of Dove chocolates at a maddeningly quick pace, secretly knowing I wouldn’t have to keep them down for long. But the worst memory I have was how many secret helpings of my 22nd birthday cake and ice cream I had. Food that was meant to celebrate life. It made me feel dead.

After graduation, I took a part-time job with Better Homes and Gardens magazine in Des Moines. I moved into my first apartment of my own, joined the gym nearby, started grocery shopping for myself (instead of relying on what was made at our sorority) and started dating a really handsome, understanding man who would later become my husband.

{Our first picture together when we started dating in December of 2010.}

I would like to say that it was as simple as that. Things did improve somewhat, but my issues with food continued to persist. Up until that point, I had kept my secret to myself. It wasn’t until I shed light on my secret and opened up to Joe about what I was going through that things really started to get better. He provided a safe place for me to share my fears and struggles with food, and, more importantly, the underlying beliefs that drove my disordered eating. I held a deep-rooted fear that I wasn’t ever going to be enough for anyone, which stemmed from my parent’s divorce when I was four. And the mistaken belief that I needed to look perfect in order to be accepted by those around me, which was a direct result of not seeing myself as the Lord saw me.

Head knowledge came before heart knowledge, but slowly I began to make progress. I fed myself truth about who I am (beautiful, valued, the daughter of the most high) through God’s word, and Joe gave me the freedom to admit my stumbles along the way. It helped to have a safe place to share the thoughts I had kept to myself for so long and to shed light on something that felt so dark. When I did stumble, I held on to the knowledge that the missteps along the way didn’t define me, nor did my disordered eating. As I made progress, I started to realize how awful the binge/purge cycle made me feel – both emotionally and physically. And when I felt the temptation to eat something I shouldn’t, I rewarded myself with something else, like a walk outside, a girly movie, reading or giving myself a pedicure.

Eventually, I moved on to no longer just surviving but thriving. Food became my friend again as I started to see it as something that could do beautiful things for my health. Exercise became less about “not becoming fat” and more about training my body to do amazing things, like run long distances, hike, and lift heavy weights. And, most importantly, I started to celebrate the gift God had given me in having a healthy body.

It took time, my friends, but the struggle was worth it to see the view from the other side. Sure, I still have my days. There are still times when I feel inadequate, or when my first response to an emotional situation is to eat instead of face the circumstance head-on. I still have a lot to learn about finding my identity in the Lord instead of the things of this world, but I think realizing it, and talking with others about our struggles, is a huge step toward finding lasting peace and security.

Madison

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  • http://www.poiresauchocolat.net/ Emma @ Poires au Chocolat

    As I said on twitter – you’re beautiful and strong and I’m so proud of you for coming out and posting this. I truly hope you find peace with your body – this is such a big step. Even though we’ve never met, it feels like we’re friends and I really do hope things go brilliantly for you!

    • MadisonMayberry

      Emma, I feel as if we are friends as well! It’s amazing how blogs and words, even across oceans, can give such insight into people. When Joe and I make our trip to England next summer, we really must find a chance to meet up!

  • Katherine Kelly

    Madison,

    Though we were never really friends (only aquaintences) during college, I’m inspired by your story, your passion to make changes and your faith to carry through a tough season of life. I believe true joy comes in sharing – even some of our most painful memories – to those around us. I hope and pray that by sharing YOUR story on this wonderful blog, that you’ll feel uplifted, encouraged, surrounded with love, celebrated and admired. Because, my friend, you are.

    Celebrate tonight – knowing you are beautiful & courageous!
    xoxo,
    Katherine

    • MadisonMayberry

      Katherine, your words brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and share. I do feel so very uplifted and feel an incredible freedom from sharing and shedding light on a dark period of time, especially when I hear that so many women have had similar experiences. Sending lots of love your way, my dear!
      madison

  • Shanna

    I love what you wrote about feeding yourself truth. Oh, how I need that. More and more of it to wash my mind.

    • MadisonMayberry

      Oh I think we all do! Truth is so important and so easily forgotten when we go about our daily lives, isn’t it?

  • Asulliv9

    Madison – this post really hits home hard for me. I am currently seeking treatment for my disordered eating. I too struggle with poor body image and self-worth. Desserts are my comfort food, but eating them makes me feel incredibly guilty. I can relate to the secret extra helpings. It’s really scary. The binge/purge cycle is so difficult to get out of and makes me feel ashamed. Hopefully, I will find a way to better manage my emotions. Thank you for sharing this. It’s good to know I’m not alone and that there is hope for recovery.

  • http://twitter.com/monicaoc Monica O’Connell

    Thank you for sharing this! I love your vulnerability and naming your ongoing struggle as well as how you combat it. Thanks for the braveness!!!!

  • UrbanWife

    Madison, you are such a brave, beautiful woman! Thank you for sharing your story.
    Hugs,
    Iradis

    • MadisonMayberry

      Thank you, Iradis! And thank you for having the courage to share your story before I did!

  • http://www.SlowLikeHoney.net/ Amanda B

    Hi Madison, you are so brave to share your own story. Such an honest post and one that touches your readers, me included. We all have our paths and struggles and while they are challenging, it’s good to know that time, love and support can heal it. love you lots lady and hope to chat soon! xo

    • MadisonMayberry

      Thank you, Amanda, for your kind words and for your friendship. You are such a blessing! Sending lots of love your way.

  • http://www.foodsnobstl.com/ Laura

    i just wanted to say thanks for sharing! it takes guts to put yourself out there like that, and i am sure many woman can relate to your story.

    • Laura

      *women* not woman! gah, I need to proofread better!

  • MeganRay

    Loved this! God can do great things in our lives when we open ourselves to it :)

  • ShannonLC

    Beautifully written.

  • http://londonbakes.blogspot.com Kathryn

    Thank you for sharing your story so honestly and openly, I’m sure that lots of people can relate and will draw strength from your words.

  • http://www.girlwithateacup.wordpress.com/ Tessa

    Madison, I admire you for sharing your story. You are a wonderful inspiration! I only found your blog about a month ago and love it! Thank you for opening up like you do.

  • Anne

    Wow! What a brave story to write and share! I found your site through recipes on Pinterest and have gotten so much more. Thank you for sharing with the world, today and everyday.

    • Madison Mayberry

      Thank you, Anne. I really appreciate the kind words and the feedback. :)

  • Marcia

    Thanks for your honesty and transparency!! The Lord is faithful!!! You are loved Madison!!

    • Madison Mayberry

      Thank you, Marcia! The Lord is faithful, indeed! It’s amazing what he can do through us when we allow him to work.

  • http://chipchiphooray.wordpress.com/ Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray

    This is beautifully written, and so inspiring to all your readers–whether we have been part of No Fat Talk Tuesdays or just readers. I know just how much of a day-to-day struggle this can be, and the Madison I met in March is someone who radiates confidence to the people around her–I hope that you feel like that inside, too. Thank you for sharing your own story and showing how we really all are together in this. :)

    • Madison Mayberry

      Tara, thank you for the kind words! It’s been so great getting to know you, both in person and online. Thanks for having the courage to share your own story. The courage that so many other women had in sharing their stories was a huge part of why I wanted to share mine.

  • http://twitter.com/moxie_marmalade Paige Weaver

    Thanks for sharing your story, this is beautifully written.

    • Madison Mayberry

      Thank you, Paige. I appreciate it!

    • MadisonMayberry

      Thank you, Paige! I LOVED your Twitter post, by the way. It really made me think twice about how I’ve been using Twitter, especially when I use it in a way that prevents me from just connecting with those around me

  • Emilie

    thanks for sharing Madison. Glad you are in a better place.

    • MadisonMayberry

      Thank you, Emilie!

    • MadisonMayberry

      Thank you, Emilie!

  • http://www.mylessseriouslife.blogspot.com/ Sara @my less serious life

    this story is so inspiring, dear madison. i can certainly relate to different pieces of this. first off – about 2 years ago i was engaged for about 2 months to a guy i had dated for more than 6 years. 2 months in and it fell to pieces. i was devastated and remember sitting on the kitchen floor just crying and crying. not being able to do much. feeling alone and abandoned and lost. it was so hard to find direction after that – i totally get your spin out of control. it is a hard place to be, certainly.

    overcoming your challenges with food and finding a man who loves you for who you are is so fantastic. we all have our issues with food (or at least many of us, do) and to be able to share your struggle with your man is so important. i’m so glad that you have re-connected with the joy of food and exercise. they are both truly beautiful things when done with the right perspective! <3..

    • MadisonMayberry

      Sara, than you so much for sharing your experience. When I was going through that period in time, I felt like I was the only person who had ever felt the heartbreak of a broken engagement, or that those around me didn’t know how much it impacted me. It’s no small thing! And I’m happy to hear that you are on the other side and better for it, too.

    • MadisonMayberry

      Sara, than you so much for sharing your experience. When I was going through that period in time, I felt like I was the only person who had ever felt the heartbreak of a broken engagement, or that those around me didn’t know how much it impacted me. It’s no small thing! And I’m happy to hear that you are on the other side and better for it, too.

  • http://natalieborton.com/ Natalie Lynn Borton

    Madison! I’m so glad you decided to share your story, and so encouraged and inspired by the journey you’ve had.

    I completely relate to your last sentence: “I still have a lot to learn about finding my identity in the Lord instead of the things of this world, but I think realizing it, and talking with others about our struggles, is a huge step toward finding lasting peace and security.”

    Amen, girl! It’s never easy to share our pain, but it’s always good for the sake of others (as well as to show the power of God in redeeming what’s broken).

    • MadisonMayberry

      Thanks, Natalie! I’m not sure we ever fully get there, being as flawed as we all are, but it’s a fight worth fighting, that’s for sure. There is so much freedom available to us when we define ourselves in the way that Christ sees us. Amen!

    • MadisonMayberry

      Thanks, Natalie! I’m not sure we ever fully get there, being as flawed as we all are, but it’s a fight worth fighting, that’s for sure. There is so much freedom available to us when we define ourselves in the way that Christ sees us. Amen!

  • jesnydr

    This is a really inspiring story and I’m sure it will hit close to home with a lot of people. I know it did with me. I would love it if you could post some books/resources you used to help you through this time. I know personally I’m struggling to feel a connection with God and I’m really not sure where to begin my search. I would love some advise on where you began. I know I’m having similar struggles that you mentioned in this post, I just don’t know where to look to start healing.

    • MadisonMayberry

      I will most certainly share some resources that I used! Shoot me an e-mail and I can pass them along to you if you would like! (madisonjanemayberry@gmail.com)

  • Rachel Buckingham

    Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your story. Your courage and honesty is encouraging and inspiring.

    • MadisonMayberry

      Thank you, Rachel!

  • http://happypenguinpress.com/ Ashley / Happy Penguin Press

    I know it wasn’t easy to be this honest about something so private, but I’m so glad you did. Imagine the young people struggling with similar issues that can be inspired because of your bravery! As a ballet dancer growing up, I was always around pressure involving food and self image. I thank my parents for giving me a strong enough sense of self to overcome such things. Thank you for sharing, and good luck with the journey ahead!

    • MadisonMayberry

      Ashley, what a blessing to have forces in your life who helped you overcome any disordered thinking about food. I can’t imagine the pressure that ballet dancing would put on someone to look a certain way. Thanks for sharing!

  • Emily Holland

    Thank you so much for sharing. It’s never fun to talk honestly about ourselves, and I really appreciate your honesty. I love your No Fat Talk series, since it is something I continually struggle with and fight. Thank you so much.

    • MadisonMayberry

      Goodness, you’re right, Emily. It’s always much easier (especially from behind a blog) to make our lives look so perfect and put together. And while there is a place and a time for that, it’s refreshing to be able to share honestly at times. Thanks for the kind words! Remember, you are strong and beautiful!

  • http://twitter.com/justinelorelle justinelorelle

    I really, really love this post. I completely understand your fear about sharing what sounds like the darkest point in your life, but hopefully you felt the same freedom as I did when you finally let it out. I feel so blessed to know you and SO happy to see how much joy you have about life now. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • MadisonMayberry

      Oh I do, Justine! It’s amazing how much freedom comes from sharing your story and shedding light on a time in your life that felt so dark, isn’t it? Thank YOU for having the courage to share your story before me, and for being such an encouragement!

  • http://keepitsweetdesserts.com/blog/ Lauren at Keep It Sweet

    So glad you felt comfortable enough to share this… that was so brave and honest of you. I think this and your no fat series will truly help some people who are struggling. xo

    • MadisonMayberry

      Thank you, Lauren. That’s really the hope, that someone will be positively impacted by all the women who have shared their amazing stories! :)

  • http://www.ohshineon.com/ Ohshineon

    This is a wonderful post. I’m so incredibly thankful that I wandered over to your site for the first time and read this. You are a beautiful girl with a big heart for Jesus — you’ll keep shining with God, even on your “off days”.

    Now I just have to make my way on over to your recipes!

    Katie

    • MadisonMayberry

      Thank you, Katie! I hope you find some encouragement for your soul and nourishment for your body, too. :)

  • Megan Mitchell

    this post meant a lot to me….you’re awesome. good for you! it’s hard enough to come face-to-face with our struggles, let alone overcome them. I could relate especially well with the constant feeling of inadequacy I have with my boyfriend… my parents divorced when I was the same age, so that was a surprising revelation to discover those two things might be related. anyway, keep on keepin on- I LOVE your blog, especially wonderful posts like these.

    • MadisonMayberry

      Megan, isn’t it crazy how something like divorce (especially when it happened so young for both of us) can impact our beliefs about ourselves so deeply? When I came to the realization that it was shaping how I saw myself and interacted with those around me, it really helped me to start to put the pieces together.

  • Bridgetalisem

    madison! (hi!!!) I commend you for writing this. you are remarkable and I admire your courage and honesty!

    • MadisonMayberry

      Bridget, hi! (I miss you!) Thank you so much for your comment and kind words. You have no idea how much I appreciate it!

      • Bridgetalisem

        I miss you! I hope your time at MXM is still going well :) I wish we were able to bop in and out as we pleased like we used to! Thinking of you!

  • http://twitter.com/DessertForTwo Christina

    Oh gosh, Madison. Thank you so much for sharing your story. When I read the line about that guy breaking off the engagement 1 week later, my heart sank. I can’t imagine the pain of that moment. But I hope now that you’re so happy, it’s a distant memory.

    Much love,
    xox
    Christina

  • http://www.realhomeliving.com/ Laura

    Madison- this was so beautifully written! Thank you for being willing to share your struggle. Your words have been so encouraging! I’m so glad you are now in a healthy place with the help and love of the Lord, as well as that wonderful hubby of yours! What a great post!

  • http://www.honeyandsalt.com/ Joanna

    Head knowledge comes before heart knowledge. That is so so true and a good reminder for me today. I’m so glad you clung to the Lord (and still do!). It’s a huge encouragement.

  • Natty McGlynn

    Madison, it sounds as though we’ve been through (almost) the exact same struggle. Congrats on finally putting your experience out there for others to read and connect to. I’m still not at that point, but I have shared my full story with my husband – that’s always been a safe place.

    It’s a daily struggle with myself to feel strong and proud, when those little nagging comments come surfacing, which I’m sure you still sometimes experience. It’s something that doesn’t just disappear, like the flick of a switch. But we’re both beautiful young women, and need to focus on the countless blessings in our lives like wonderful husbands, family and friends to lean on, and most importantly our health.

    So cheers to you, and stay strong!
    Natty McGlynn from Toronto :)

  • http://www.thesweetslife.com/ natalie@thesweetslife

    Madison thank you so much for this—I think every woman struggles in one way or another with fat talk and while my story isn’t the same, I definitely fight the urge to discredit the body God has blessed me with. Your story is raw and powerful and undoubtedly going to help others–thank you for sharing!

  • Amanda Van Wechel

    Madison, I started following your blog because we were from the same hometown, but I found myself being drawn in with your constant heartfelt posts. I have especially enjoyed your No Fat Talk series. The posts in this series have helped me to overcome some of my own body struggles. While I am still struggling, your story has given me hope that I, too, can overcome my issues with food. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s been a huge encouragement to me!

  • Clara Artschwager

    Madison- I’m so proud of you for coming forward with this story, that’s no easy feat. It’s heartbreaking how rampant problems with food are for girls, and I feel like the high school/ college phase can be just the worst. I dipped a little into bulimia in high school and looking back on it, I just can’t believe I reached that point. I’m so focused on eating well, exercising, and really nourishing my body nowadays- I can’t believe I would ever be able to torture it in the ways I did. Bravo again for being so honest and brave. Lots of love from NYC!! xoxo

  • karla522

    Thank you for being so open with us, Madison! This is so beautifully written and it makes me very happy that you’ve found such a happy place! Your smile in every one of those pictures with Joe is so genuine—you truly glow. :)

    I’ve had my own issues with anorexia and I found that sharing my struggles was one of the most helpful things as I’ve worked through recovery. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to call myself “recovered” but I’ve found other ways to cope and realized that there is so much more to life than calories.

  • http://twitter.com/cmariec11 Courtney M. Cross

    Madison -

    I enjoyed reading your story! You’re a brave, beautiful woman. Our pasts have much in common and my heart goes out to those who struggle with eating disorders. I’m so happy to hear you’re in a better place now! I will share my mantra with you, as it is the only thing that keeps me grounded at times! “Be kind, be compassionate.” I truly believe if you’re kind to your body and kind to your mind… the rest will come :)

    Hope all is well and if you’re ever in need of a running buddy, I’m in Des Moines now, too!

  • Marge Perry

    Madison, It has been nearly a month since I read this post and I have thought of it often. I have thought of your courage in writing it and the enormous act of compassion that sharing your story truly is.
    It was beautifully and movingly written, and I hope that it inspires women (and men) who have issues to move toward wellness.

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