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Author faces ‘life without ED’

Mandi Stirone | Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Singer, songwriter and author of “Life Without ED” Jenni Schaefer spoke to Saint Mary’s students about her experience with an eating disorder Tuesday night in the Stapleton Lounge of LeMans Hall.

“After going through years and years and years of and eating disorder, I actually love my body today,” she said.

She explained that an “ideal body weight” is not a specific number, but the weight at which a person is strong, energetic and able to live a healthy life.

Schaefer told how her therapist had her view her eating disorder as an abusive relationship with a person named Ed, standing for “Eating Disorder.” She said this method helped her isolate the self-destructive thoughts of her eating disorder from the other underlying issues.

Schaefer said that her eating disorder started very early, showing the audience her dance costume from when she was four, and telling them that at the time, she thought she was fat. She also pointed to Barbie dolls and the media in general as contributors to her problem, but was careful to say that she doesn’t hate the media.

Schaefer also explained how her disorder progressed over the years.

She hit a whole new level of her eating disorder in high school because she became a perfectionist. By doing so, she didn’t have any fun or friends, she said.

She became clinically anorexic when she got to Texas A&M because “Ed” convinced her to lose 15 pounds before she gained the “freshman 15,” she said.

Schaefer did not hit rock bottom until after college when she moved to Nashville, Tenn., she said. While there she finally realized that she had a problem and was able to tell her boyfriend at the time.

When she finally got help, it was an uphill battle, she explained. She learned intuitive eating, where food is neither good nor bad.

“Being bad is not [eating] cheesecake,” she said. “Stealing from a grocery store is bad.”

She said the average recovery for an eating disorder takes five to seven years, and it isn’t uncommon at all for people to relapse.

“That’s why I’m here, because it gets better, completely better, full recovery,” Schaefer said.

She then handed out some pamphlets and indicated a table in the entranceway that had information on support groups, contact information for help and general information on eating disorders.

“I believe if you never, never give up you will make it,” she said.

Schaefer ended with a song she wrote entitled, “Life without Ed” and took questions from the audience before beginning a small group discussion.

The presentation was sponsored by the Residence Hall Association (RHA), the Counseling Center, the Inn at Saint Mary’s and the Freedom Revolution.