My weight gain success story: Five eating disorder survivors share the pain and triumph of the path to recovery

martial arts

Originally published in U.S. News & World Report, December 31, 2014

By Anna Medaris Miller Dec. 31, 2014 | 11:00 a.m. EST + More

New Year, new you. For most Americans, that means weight loss. But for some, it means anything but. Twenty million women and 10 million men will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some point in their lives, and many more go undiagnosed, according to the National Eating Disorder Association. For them, getting healthy often means gaining weight and almost always means eschewing the notion of weight entirely.

Below, five eating disorder survivors in different stages of recovery share their stories with U.S. News. Their responses have been edited.


Positive psychology coach and author in Bethesda, Maryland, recovered for 30 years from bulimia

martial arts
In addition to her black belt in Hapkido, Caroline is studying Tzee Wai Kuen with 9th degree Master Paul Thomas, at his Tong Leong martial arts school in Bethesda, MD.  Because of early issues with abuse, the martial arts have played a major role in empowering Caroline and others like her with skills in boundaries, confidence and strength.


Thirty years ago, I heard a woman say she was recovering from bulimia one day at a time; she inspired me to find the support system to overcome it, too, and even write two autobiographies – “My Name is Caroline” and “Positively Caroline” – about my journey.

As much as I once hated what my disease took from me, I now think it’s the greatest blessing of my life. While I’ve watched many of my middle-aged peers struggle with poor body image and excessive pregnancy and menopausal weight gain, I haven’t lost a moment to that type of insanity since hitting my last bottom in 1984.

The balanced regimen I adopted in the 1980’s is the same one I practice now: I eat and exercise moderately, avoid temptation, spend time with other healthy people and abstain from alcohol. Overcoming my addiction – not achieving a certain look – is what has allowed me to live a happy, healthy and meaningful life.

I respect the grit I developed from achieving such a tough goal at a young age; consequently, I never shrink from challenge or quit when life gets hard. I’ve raised three kids, built a career, gotten a black belt and earned my master’s degree all while maintaining my sanity. And I try to pay it forward, because it’s the hope I got from someone else in 1984 that changed my life.




Caroline Adams Miller

Caroline Adams Miller, MAPP is a pioneer with her ground-breaking work in the areas of goal-setting/accomplishment, grit, happiness and success. Caroline is the author of eight books, including Positively CarolineMy Name is Caroline,  Creating Your Best Life and Getting Grit. Live Happy Magazine named Creating Your Best Life one of the top ten goal-setting books ever published and Getting Grit one of the ten books that will change your life in 2017.  Her new book, Big Goals, is anticipated for release in the fall of 2024.  Caroline has been featured in BBC World NewsThe New York TimesThe Washington Post, USA Today, U.S. News &World Report, ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR and CNN.  She is a graduate of Harvard University and holds a Master’s degree in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania.

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