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Thriving After Bulimia: From Patient to Recovery Coach


The following story was written exclusively for by Polly Mertens. Polly is a recovery coach and founder of, a resource and support site for people struggling with bulimia.

Telling my bulimia story is sort of like recalling a movie I once watched, but don’t remember all of the scenes. I guess that’s how our memory works. We remember moments.

A few moments that stand out for me are:

  • Age 14: Reading a magazine about Olympic athletes who were binging and purging so they could stay in great shape, but enjoy forbidden foods. Sounded like a great idea at the time.
  • Age 15: My Mom finding out about my purging and confronting me (with compassion and concern). My response: thanks, but leave me alone!
  • Age 16: Attending my first Overeater’s Anonymous meeting and listening to someone talk about their food obsessions. Finally, I thought, people like me!
  • Age 23: Feeling the physical and emotional exhaustion of weekend after weekend of binging and purging sometimes 10 times a day. Not leaving the house except to buy more food.
  • Age 34: Attending a seminar and declaring I would never be bulimic again. Then telling people I was non-bulimic - when in my heart I was afraid to death that I wasn’t really, really over it. What if I relapsed like all those other times before?!
  • Age 39: Deciding I was ready to start sharing recovery and helping others, too. I began exploring the web to find out how I could start teaching what I knew about how to have lasting recovery.
  • Age 40: Launching and starting to blog about recovery while inspiring people around the world with my words (and eventually videos and coaching).

In between these seven steps there was a whole lotta livin’.

A lot of learning.

A lot of growing.

A lot of new beginnings.

I learned to trust that I would be all right without letting food be my master. Better, I began to understand that I was here to enjoy my life, not just struggle my way through it.

Today, I consider myself a student of life and learn every day from many great teachers – and in each moment. I’m now able to make a difference as a teacher of the steps to recovery. Being a recovery coach is the most important work I’ve ever done.

Where I stand now as I share my recovery story is confidently understanding what it takes for women to overcome bulimia. I know in my heart EVERY one with an eating disorder has the capacity and potential to do beat it.

I’m just one woman taking small steps each day to play full out – on the court or in the arena of life. Enjoying the evolution of me that comes from making mistakes and still loving myself unconditionally along the way.

If you resonate with my story and are interested in exploring releasing yourself from eating disordered thinking and to step powerfully into a life you love, let’s connect!

With love and light,

Polly Mertens