Lake Effect Series: Your Heart Will Stop

Note from Hollie: I cannot thank each people for submitting a story and sharing. Each story has been powerful and so inspirational. It is motivating me to run hard on Sunday. Run hard for Ophelia’s Place. Run hard for all of the supporters, sharers and everyone.  So thank you. 

It’s not too late to donate and please consider it.  Donating or sharing will also enter you in the giveaway that multiple companies have participated in.  I know Ophelia’s Place will put the donations to good use.

Submitted by Karla
First off, I’d like to thank Hollie for shining a spotlight on a topic so important and near and dear to my heart. Even though about 1% of American women are affected by anorexia, there is still a lot of stigma about it and other eating disorders. That’s why I’m happy to share my experience with anyone and everyone who will listen, because:

1. There’s absolutely no shame in seeking help when you need it,
2. My story is proof that there is life after anorexia, and
3. If even one person’s affected enough to assist a friend or consider treatment as a result, being open and honest about my past struggles is well worth it!

Eleven years ago, my weight was such a struggle (I reached nearly 180 pounds), that I figured all my problems, social, physical and otherwise, would be solved if I lost weight. So at 15, I started on a healthy kick, swapping grilled chicken for my beloved fried chicken fingers and visiting the gym each day after school for 30 minutes on the elliptical. As I—and my peers, boys included (finally!)—noticed results, I began cutting portions even more and adding minutes to my sweat schedule. Forty pounds lost by 6 months became 86 one year later, and I barely recognized the skeletal 94-pound girl I saw in the mirror.

My parents were at their wits’ end. We had consulted my family doctor, dietitians, psychologists and more to try to find a solution, yet nothing seemed to stop my downward spiral. At one point, I was eating about 800 calories and exercising two hours each day. I knew I was too thin and, since I was without any energy, felt myself pulling away socially from the new friends I had gained as a result of my newfound confidence. But something inside me wanted to keep losing. I needed to prove to the kids who used to taunt me as “big tit Karla” that I was in control and was not the chubby girl they believed me to be.

Eventually, my normally non-emotional dad sat me down and said, “Look. We’re worried that your heart is going to stop because you’re so thin. If you lose one more pound, we’re putting you in an inpatient treatment facility.”

I was officially scared straight, and after a few stops and starts, and years of visits with my psychologist (because, despite what I once believed, therapy is not just for “crazy people”), I got my body back on track. It took longer to get my brain on the same wavelength and move beyond the thoughts of inferiority, but within the last year or two, I finally feel like I’m becoming confident with myself, my body and what it can do for me.

One of the best things that’s come out of my eating disorder was a passion for health—in moderation. I went to school for magazine journalism and kinesiology so I could write and help educate about the importance and power of making wellness-promoting decisions while not letting that mindset take over your world. Today, I’m honored to be able to help FITNESS magazine spotlight real women who have done just that in the “I Did It!” section and aim to inspire my group fitness class students to strengthen their bodies in each of our sessions so they’re able to live long, vital lives rather than looking smokin’ in their bathing suits this summer. Because there are way more important things in life than being completely cellulite-free!

Thank you again!


  1. Thank you for sharing your story, Karla. I don’t think a lot of people realize just how serious an eating disorder is. I had a “friend” once say to me, can’t you just switch it on and off? People are totally clueless.

    1. I agree, Nattie. “Why don’t you just go eat a cheeseburger?” is another common one. Another reason why it’s so important for Hollie to be spreading the word about the cause! Thank YOU.

    2. I agree, Nattie. “Why don’t you just eat a cheeseburger?” was another common one. Proof that it’s so important for Hollie to be spreading awareness, as she is!

      Thank YOU.

  2. It is so brave for you to share your story – and it was so brave of you to get help and stop! I’m so glad you found life after!

  3. Thanks for sharing! It’s interesting to see the patterns in all of these stories: it always starts so innocently and on the surface there’s nothing wrong. But inside there’s all this negativity that’s building and pushing you to got further. Until that’s addressed, your body doesn’t have a chance.

  4. Thank you for sharing your story. I too learned to love fitness, nutrition, and running (all in a healthy way) through my eating disorder. With as much as my 15+ years of struggling took away from me, I wouldn’t be who I am and where I am today without it. The struggle was awful, but life after is so very sweet. Thanks for sharing the hope…keep it up! You are inspiring! 🙂

    1. Wow, Jackie. I think YOU are so inspiring! Life is sweet, and I love that we’re now able to enjoy it. All of it!

  5. Thanks for sharing! It’s great that you’ve been able to turn such a challenging time in your life into a career that you love and can use to help others.

    1. Thank you, Andrea! I feel so lucky to have been given so many neat opportunities and still have to pinch myself sometimes for having such a fun, rewarding gig. 🙂

  6. I couldn’t agree more about the importance of sharing stories. There’s definitely no shame in it, and you never know who’s life you will touch by speaking out. Thank you for sharing your story, Karla.

  7. Love your stories! So great that you continue to show and share the personal stories to help others in similar situations and bring awareness!!

    1. Thanks for reading, Nikki! Good luck with your upcoming event!

  8. Thank you for sharing your story.I’m glad that you were able to get through it, and share the story- not everyone can say that. And yes, Therapy is NOT just for crazy people, in fact I think everyone could use a little therapy in their lives.

    1. I feel extremely lucky, Laura. And you are so right! That impartial third party can be invaluable.

  9. I am so touched by these stories. It takes such incredible vulnerability to put yourself out there! You were so fortunate to have parents that knew how to act in a way that made a difference for you… so glad you can now use your experience to help others!

    1. Laura, I don’t know what lottery I won when it came to parent selection! Seriously, I can’t imagine them being better or more supportive. I hope the way I live can be a testament to how awesome they are! Thank you SO much. 🙂

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