Home » Blogging, Fitness, Life, Motivation, Uncategorized » Back When I Ate the “HLB” Way: Blogger Responsibility and Disordered Eating

Back When I Ate the “HLB” Way: Blogger Responsibility and Disordered Eating

[Edited to add: WHY on earth did none of you tell me the title of this said "Blogger Responsibly". I hate my life right now. I guess I muddled Blogging Responsibly and Blogger Responsibility. I am so good at making new phrases, right? Okay, off to crawl in a hole. I'm surprised I didn't write whole there...]

I’ve been wanting to post this for a while. I’ve alluded to how I feel about my eating history, but I’ve never really delved right in. I pretended to be something I wasn’t, I ate things I didn’t really want to eat, I skipped things I did want to eat, and I agonized over every second of it. Looking back, someone should have slapped me square in the face. Luckily, Ryne isn’t much of a fighter. He used his words (<- can you tell I teach small children?) to tell me that I was being an asshat. That’s one of my favorite words, by the way. I’ve never used it on the blog, because it’s immature. But, hey, when the shoe fits.

This photo is still in my “Who’s Who” page, and I need to take it down or crop my disordered self out. Technically, by many standards, I was still healthy at this weight. My body was still functioning and I wasn’t feeling any ill effects of my choices. However, I was at a terrible place mentally. My decisions were not made from a viewpoint that I consider stable or even freaking sane. I forced myself to run that morning at the lake, because I was going to put a bathing suit on. Ridiculous.

Lake Trip

Whether or not my body agreed, my mind was sick. I wasn’t myself. The one catalyst for this turn in my life was discovering the HLB world. Healthy Living Bloggers are a special breed, my friends. There is a lot of emphasis placed on food: what you should eat, what you shouldn’t eat, and what you did eat.  That being said, some HLBs do a great job of displaying a balanced attitude about food and fitness. I love and respect many of them. I think I just happened to find a few disordered blogger friends in beginning. I won’t go naming names, but I definitely still worry about some of those girls.

I guess my blog could be considered a healthy living blog, too. I like some healthy things. I’m decent at living (I mean, I am alive). I blog about that. So, no, I’m not going to freak out if I am placed in that category at all. And I really do want to stress that I think blogging, reading blogs, and connecting with others can be very beneficial. I’ve mentioned this time and time again, but there is also a very dark side to blogging.  At the time that I found “healthy living blogs”, I wasn’t in a frame of mind where they were beneficial to me. They did more harm than good, but I wasn’t in a place where I could see that. I saw the number on the scale drop, and that was good enough for me.

It started innocently enough. I picked up a few things at the grocery store that I saw them mention. Hey, whatever. New food. No big deal. Then I started only eating meals that other HLBs had deemed “healthy”. I’m going to come right out and say that I got effing sick of Greek yogurt, egg whites, smoothie bowls, juices, protein powder, and oats. I started viewing meals as numbers and rules instead of food. Y’all. You should see the dessert abominations I recreated. It’s so gross to think back to that. I like frosting. Real frosting. Without protein. I’m seriously sad about the desserts I skipped during my journey to “health”. Anyway, I digress. For some people, I suppose that’s a totally sustainable lifestyle. For me, it was restrictive and harmful to my actual health. My body thrives off of a decent chunk of calories and a large amount of fat.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, I don’t want this to keep happening to other people. It sucks that it is even a topic of discussion, but it seems to be an all too common issue. Girl meets blogs. Girl gets confused. Girl eats bird food. Girl gets sick. Sick girl starts her own damn blog. It’s a vicious cycle.

I really didn’t come on here in order to point fingers or to place blame. At the end of the day, I was the one who was making myself sick. At the same time, though, I do feel that bloggers have a tiny bit of responsibility, ya know? I think the most glaring examples are people who promote unhealthy behaviors to young girls. If you are facing your own challenges, more power to you. You deserve to get to a healthy place, and I sincerely hope you put forth the effort to get there. Until you do, get the hell off the internet. Call me a jerk, but I would be afraid to let my daughter surf the web these days.  It’s just too easy to confuse fact with fiction when someone is preaching from the “healthy living” pulpit.


As a blogger myself, I realize “being responsible” is much harder than it looks. Some seemingly normal statements can become twisted in the mind of someone who is battling an eating disorder. For instance, I’ve mentioned that sometimes I still work out to look good. At the end of the day, I still do think that’s a totally reasonable motivator. It can quickly become detrimental, though. It’s all about the mental state you are in at the time.  Hell, it still happens to me and I consider myself to have a relatively healthy view on life. Can you, as a blogger, ensure that you will never utter a triggering thought or post a triggering photo? No, you can’t. But I think you can be mindful of the things you are saying and posting. I try, but I’m sure I fall short in many ways. The fact that I tracked my pregnancy weight gain and subsequent weight loss probably sent red flags flying for many people. I ultimately saw it as more of a science experiment than anything. Should I have shared the numbers and photos with everyone? I’m not sure. I don’t really know the answer to that. It’s hard for me to find the line between authenticity and sensitivity. I like telling y’all how I really feel. I don’t like BS. But at the same time, I don’t want to hurt anyone with my words. It’s tough, and I’m constantly working at it. I don’t think there is a perfect way to do it.

be you

I’ve pretty much broken down the ways I decide on what blogs to read. I always ask myself a few questions before I hit that follow button:

Is it inspiring or instigating? Does it make me feel good or bad? Unfortunately, there are so many blogs that don’t inspire me. If I start to feel like I’m questioning myself, my health, or my own motives, I simply split. I don’t return to those blogs, just like I wouldn’t keep hanging around with people who didn’t make me feel good about myself. Don’t let a blog make you feel inferior. Read the blogs that boost you up while helping you achieve your goals, if that’s what you’re looking for. Don’t read garbage, or you’ll feel like garbage.

Is the core focus qualitative or quantitative? I prefer blogs with a pretty well-rounded, balanced approach to life. I don’t mind when people track their weight, how many reps they can complete in a workout, or the miles they’ve logged. I’ve done all of those things myself. When it comes down to it, though, I want to see that the people aren’t totally driven by those things. I like to read about a person, not a running tally of accomplishments. I want to see people enjoy their lives while making whatever choices are best suited to them.

Is being lean over promoted? Is everything lean this and lean that? Every time I turn on the computer I’m faced with “fitspirational” images teaching me how to tone up and get lean. Lean is the new skinny. I’m not saying there is anything at all wrong with actually being (or promoting being) lean. I just think that it has somewhat become a new catchphrase for an old problem, ya know? I see the same restrictive tendencies and disordered thinking. Similarly, “fitspo” tends to be the exact same thing as “thinspo”. “Fitspo” to me would mean healthy, strong bodies. That isn’t always the case, and that’s terribly sad.

Do I leave feeling guilty? This has less to do with my self worth, and more about wanting to intervene for the sake of the other person. While you can never get the whole picture of person’s life from a blog, I do believe you can get glimpses into someone’s mindset. I obviously don’t think that it’s my place to decide who is actually disordered, but I can at least stay away from the people who I think have disordered tendencies. I tend to feel guilty for reading those blogs, because I feel like I should say something.

Well, crap, I didn’t realize this was going to get as wordy as it did. I’ve told y’all a million times that I get on here and just start typing. I have too many thoughts and opinions, I guess. I don’t really know how to end this, except to tell you one thing: I truly hope you read this blog for fun, and if I ever make you feel badly about yourself I give you full permission to publicly curse me out. :) But seriously, if you ever find yourself questioning your self-worth because of blogs or social media, take a break from the internet. It will do you a world of good. For those bloggers who are struggling themselves, I hope you get the help you need.

Now I’ve got to decide if I want to run my three miles tonight. The pro is that I’ll go to bed with a sense of accomplishment, the con is that I won’t get to go to bed right this minute. Decisions, decisions.

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60 Responses to Back When I Ate the “HLB” Way: Blogger Responsibility and Disordered Eating

  1. Your honesty is amazing!! Thank you for taking the time to share your heart and your thoughts. I used to blog…but stopped. In part because of the time commitment + new baby, but also because I felt myself sticking my toe over the line of what was a normal healthy lifestyle and what was becoming a disordered cycle. Stepping away has been phenomenal for me, personally, and has allowed me to feel less guilt about being picky with which blogs I do continue to visit. Rest assured, yours nears the top of the list!

  2. Love this and you! I read your blog because you make me laugh and make me feel like there’s a way to be healthy without being HEALTHY all the time. I’m still finding my version of healthy. I just started a running blog, and I’m doing my best to keep it balanced. yeah, I’m psyched when I get in 7 servings of veggies in a day, but I also love love LOVE cookies and making easy pasta recipes with friends. So I will continue to post about ALL of those things because that’s who I am right now. Thanks for keeping it real :)
    Alexis T recently posted..Sunday Funday!My Profile

  3. I never leave your blog feeling guilty or bad about myself, which is something that I LOVE because I am currently working on getting myself back to that physically and mentally “healthy” place. Blogs like yours are encouraging and motivating :).
    Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl recently posted..My Mostly Plant-Based Thanksgiving Meal PlanMy Profile

  4. I really love this! It’s honest and it’s very true! Everyone has to know what is best for them and their body! I too have been through the vicious cycle and am JUST now coming out of it and getting it all under control. Thank you for this it does hit home a bit and helps me realize a little more about what I post.
    Sara @ LovingOnTheRun recently posted..Motivation MondayMy Profile

  5. I’ll keep it simple and straight from the 90′s: “you go girl!”

    Yes to all of this.
    Allee @ Griselda Mood recently posted..New House, Same WeekendMy Profile

  6. Loved this and couldn’t agree more!
    Erica @ For the Sake of Cake recently posted..Meal Plan Monday: 11/25My Profile

  7. Thank you for writing this! I like REAL food!
    Emily @ Perfection Isn’t Happy recently posted..Scenes from the WeekendMy Profile

  8. When I first discovere HLB’s I thought to myself: “Huh…guess you can only do this succesfully if you have body image issues and a disordered eating past…”

    Thanks for your honesty!

  9. I really appreciate this post. Having recovered from anorexia, I know all too well the pull that the “HLB” lifestyle holds. It’s hard to reconcile with yourself about even the most innocent of choices (“Why should I go to Starbucks when i can make my own frappucino at home for 1/2 the calories?” “X ran 5 miles today and only ate salad for lunch…I only ran 3 miles and ate a hamburger. I’m not good enough” etc.) So thank you. For the honesty. And for choosing to be REAL healthy, not HLB healthy.

  10. Awesome post! Thanks so much for sharing! As a personal trainer I see this all time but from the fitness end. The nutrition is super scary. I hope lots of people read this post and realize that in order to be healthy they don’t need to limit their choices :).
    Tamara @ The Workout Mama recently posted..Personalized Baby & Toddler Clothes Giveaway!My Profile

  11. You rock my freakin’ socks off, Presley. I had the same exact ill mindset a year ago. Thanksgiving was about finding the lowest-cal dessert recipes, making sure I exercised in between baking and eating and spending time with my family. Ugh. Honestly, I was almost that girl that read blogs, ate bird food, got sick, and started a blog. But thanks be to God, I started my blog after I realized how ridiculous my behavior was.
    I seriously love how genuine, real, and dang funny you are. You have one of the most unique voices of any of the blogs I read.
    Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves recently posted..First Dance Performance of the Year {MIMM #13}My Profile

  12. AMEN SISTER! Love this so much, and I couldn’t agree more with you. Thank you for addressing it!
    Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries recently posted..My First Crossfit WorkoutMy Profile

  13. Thank you for addressing this! I hope that those struggling do find inspiration and healing. I offer FREE resources on my blog and would love to have others connect with my FREE online support chat.

    Keep your thoughts flowing…love the honesty!
    Jenn@ Be ME recently posted..#BeYouNOTaNumberMy Profile

  14. Wonderfully written Presley! You make so many great points here and I would have to agree that a lot of what’s out in the blog world nowadays is total BS. It’s actually hard to come across a blog that is fully authentic and genuine. Yours is definitely one of those blogs though :)

    PS: Since you mentioned how you don’t like the fitspo thats’s out there, you should definitely consider ‘correcting’ some for my #ChangeOurFitspo project!! I’d love to have you participate! http://healthyhelperblog.com/2013/11/08/lend-a-healthy-hand-39/
    Kaila @healthyhelperblog! recently posted..Perfect TimingMy Profile

  15. Yes yes yes! I love your honesty.. I read every word shaking my head “yes” the whole time. Thank you for sharing.. definitely something I needed to hear!

  16. For me – it was when I got pregnant tht I was able to snap myself out of the “HLB eating”…I ate (and continue to eat) what I wanted and when I wanted it. I definitely think I go overboard sometimes and make some choices that I shouldn’t (and too often)…but for now I am okay with it because I need these two little babies to grow! After I have them< I plan I cleaning up my diet a litte (aka..not eating an entire batch of cookies in 48 hours..alone)…but never want to go back to the way I Was eating before. I hope to find a balance between two extremes.

  17. Amen. You could not have said it better. As someone who struggled with depression/exercise addiction/disordered eating, this post hit home. It’s SO easy to be swayed by what other people are SAYING they’re doing. But if there’s one thing I learned in life it’s this: don’t assume anything. And that’s how I approach everything I hear, see and read.
    Katie M. recently posted..There’s a First Time for EverythingMy Profile

  18. […] chat for a minute about being healthy in your own way. Last night Presley from Run Pretty posted an amazing piece on something that I have been thinking about for a long time. There are a lot of blogs out there […]

  19. This is a great post, and thanks for sharing it! I always leave your blog having had a laugh and, for that, I thank you. I definitely understand what you’re talking about.
    Courtney @ Don’t Blink. Just Run. recently posted..The Day Of The Doctor and a Cat CaveMy Profile

  20. Thanks for speaking out! It’s great to read your thoughts on this because it IS an issue. Keep up the good work!

    p.s. your blog is adorable and I love reading it!


  21. I enjoyed this post and totally agreed with you. Your blog is one of my faves!
    Tammy recently posted..First HBBC Week Done!My Profile

  22. Great post!

  23. You are able to be so nice and polite while being honest! Do you give lessons?

    The freaky food thing with some HLBs is so baffling to me, but I’ve dabbled in my own sorts of non-food-related disorders so I guess it’s all from similar places. Good for you for figuring it out and taking a stand for true health :)
    MILF Runner recently posted..Some questions answered and finding solutionsMy Profile

  24. Great post. Though I’ve never had an eating disorder myself I did work with individuals with eating disorders and there are a lot of similarities. I think a lot of HLB’s are very disordered but because there is so much pressure and stress of what is healthy it is overlooked. It’s certainly a much different world then “real life”.
    Hollie recently posted..The Lazy SeasonMy Profile

  25. Just found your blog – this is like my life! I actually used to buy chia seeds and now I wish I could go back in time and bitch slap that annoying little jerk I used to be. Ditto on the missed desserts and wacko creations. I just enjoyed some (real) dark chocolate after a butter filled dinner and….I’m the same size as I was then. Go figure. Great post!
    Alyssa recently posted..Life keeps me humbleMy Profile

  26. Great post Presley and I totally get where you’re coming from – because I’ve been there too! In life in general it’s hard not to compare yourself, or your habits, or your body, or your anything, to others. But the older and wiser I get (I’m still working on this, btw!) the more I am realizing that the only person I need to compare myself to is me! The old me, that is! We are all a work-in-progress but one can hope the the person they are today is a ‘better version’ of who they were last week, or month, or year. You have to find out…What works for me? What makes me feel good? What makes me happy? And try to just DO THAT!! For yourself :)
    Sammy @ Peace Love and Ice Cream recently posted..8 Days of Healthy Tips Before Thanksgiving…TIP #7My Profile

  27. […] really appreciate all of the feedback on yesterday’s post about blogging and eating disorders. I was pretty nervous to post it, but I’m not sure why. I guess it’s embarrassing to […]

  28. I really respect your ability to own up to all of this and move past it!
    Kara recently posted..Thanksgiving Themed RantsMy Profile

  29. Love this and your honesty. I’m so sad when I see people getting caught up drinking the HLB juice. Protein powder instead of real food? Egg white everything? Really? That’s not how I want to live my life.
    Lauren @ Chocolate, Cheese and Wine recently posted..Wedding Recap: Things I Don’t Want To ForgetMy Profile

  30. I adore you.

  31. […] + Back When I Ate the “HLB” Way: Blogger Responsibility and Disordered Eating […]

  32. More bloggers need to be talking about this! I went through a very similar experience – to the point that ‘healthy’ eating was taking over my life! I’m in a much better place now and have stopped following many of the blogs I used to read.

    Thank you for writing this! Honest and so well written.
    Danielle @ LabelsAreForTinCans recently posted..Food Lately: Thai Squash Soup + Cranberry Vanilla CompoteMy Profile

  33. Thank you so much for posting this. I get so sick of this fitspo stuff. I think it impacts perspective in the most insidious of ways. Being inundated with it constantly starts to effect your psyche without you even realizing it, altering what is considered “normal” and healthy. I have gotten where I immediately click off anything that promotes an unhealthy lifestyle so that I won’t be led down that slippery path. Thanks again for posting this!
    Ashley @ Power, Love, and Self-Discipline recently posted..Sunday Sentiments: Graced Us and Saved Us and Showed Us LoveMy Profile

  34. Having a history of an eating disorder myself (and having been blogging for sex years now, even as I was recovering), I couldn’t agree more with this very candid post. Keep up the great work.
    The Candid RD recently posted..Cheese and Vegetable Panini (Meatless Monday)My Profile

  35. I love this post! It’s so true- while I try to make healthy choices now and again, life is too short to worry all the time. Make healthy choices but enjoy the good part of life- frosting is the bst!
    Meaghan @ New York Views and Nike Shoes recently posted..Back to NYCMy Profile

  36. Just came across your blog after seeing this post in Lindsay’s Bean Bytes, and I wanted to let you know that you’ve got yourself a new blog follower. LOVE your views on healthy eating and couldn’t agree more with basically everything you said here. I went through a similar journey myself, and it’s honestly hard for me to look back at the things I used to choke down in the name of health without cringing big time. Looking forward to reading more of your posts!
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted... chocolate chip pumpkin mug cake .My Profile

  37. Love it! great message. i fell into the same exact trap last year! I literally read one girl’s blog who said she NEVER takes a day off, then I started doing it. And then…. i hurt myself. Lesson learned!
    Andrea @Pencils and Pancakes recently posted..Holiday Baking Wish ListMy Profile

  38. I could not agree more about the food rules. I am an avid runner (but write a lifestyle blog) and met lots of running bloggers. I had to stop reading a bunch because I was comparing myself and questioning my decisions. I have been running for more than 25 years. I know what works for me.

    Thank you for your honesty and perspective. Also glad you realized this pretty quickly! It’s a slippery slope!
    Erica @ Erica Finds recently posted..Celebrating Giving Tuesday And My #GivingTuesday Giveaway!My Profile

  39. […] best, you are doing enough. Remember that, and don’t get too tripped up in all the “fitspo” stuff telling you otherwise. Oh, and if you need a healthy dose of inspiration or […]

  40. I LOVE YOUR BLOG. I feel like we’re a lot alike and I like that I can relate to you. I hope people can relate to me too – I like to go out, have some cocktails, try new restaurants, occasionally sleep in instead of working out (like today), eat Thanksgiving leftovers for a week (dessert included). I can’t restrict and I can’t count calories – it quite honestly seems like way too much work. I eat what I want, when I want it… just ideally not too much. (Funny how that works about half the time.) Anyway – thanks for another fabulous post.
    Kristine recently posted..I LISTENED.My Profile

  41. […] Back When I Ate The “HLB” Way […]

  42. This post was so well-written and thought provoking! When I first started reading hlb, I was definitely at a low pointin my health decisions. Although there were some things HLB taught me that were great (strength training and not all cardio / peanut butter galore is okay/ etc.), there are definitely areas like only choosing organic, healthy foods etc that can be bad. Thankfully, I found my balance and I am the happiest now that I have been in a long time, but it took time to get to this point! :)
    Jana @ Happy Wife Healthy Life recently posted..Friday Favorites Week #2: Fluff & TuffMy Profile

  43. This post speaks to me! Thank you for sharing your story. I remember when I started reading the blogs of HLBs and copying their food habits and feeling bad if I wasn’t eating what they were eating. I did not know what I know now. Whenever I blog I try to remember that there are plenty of people out there who are in that place I was then, so I need to be clear and honest. I used to not ever mention my ED, but I began to get uncomfortable about blogging about fun foodie events but never the aftermath of restriction, over exercising, etc. I wasn’t telling the whole story and felt irresponsible. Other bloggers being honest about their own struggles inspired me to be honest about my own. I really think the more we make it an open, truthful community then the more people will benefit because more truth will be out there. Thank you for helping that process with this post.
    Caitlin recently posted..Fashion Black Friday 2013My Profile

  44. This is such a pure and inspiring message! As a HLB, I completely agree with you. It is so essential to remain humans and enjoy food, allowing us to set a good example for our readers. I always make sure I include real, delicious recipes, not all healthy (I had a polka dot cupcake post on my blogiversary). :) It’s about time someone spoke about the important of making HLB an honest and open forum in order to be positive role models and inspirers. Thank you for doing this!

    Lisa @ TSOH
    Lisa @ The Skinny on Health recently posted..Why I’m not Against all Cleanses: Reason #1My Profile

  45. You are awesome and I love this. I was actually struggling with this recently. I feel like some of the blogs I read are so in my face about healthy eating that they make me feel guilty for enjoying chocolate every night (which I do) or for ever straying from a veggie-heavy diet. When I see people eating just a banana and peanut butter for breakfast when I consider that a snack, it makes me really question how beneficial some blogs are for people. I started my own blog because I truly love the blogging community, but sometimes I feel like I’m not a true “healthy living” blogger because I don’t live on egg whites, chicken and protein powder.
    Claire @ Keeping Up With Claire recently posted..The Best Turkey Burger Recipe EverMy Profile

  46. Thank you for writing this. I went down that rabbit hole a couple of years ago and only recently have gotten to the point where I feel comfortable eating what I want, not what is right. The frustrating thing is the level of denial from these bloggers- if you are mixing cocoa powder, stevia, and NF yogurt, you are not eating what you want. Go get a pudding cup for crying out loud. Cookies made of peanut butter and protein powder? WTF? The funniest thing is that some of the worst “HLB” perps are linking to this post…

  47. I just discovered your blog today and absolutely love this post. I feel like I am currently in the middle of the slippery slope you describe– constantly comparing myself to the healthy living blogs I read and the people I follow on instagram. Cutting myself off for good!! Thank you!

  48. […] world of health/food/fitness blogging. I’ve come across a lot of great posts this week, but this one on disordered eating and blogger responsibility from Run Pretty made the strongest […]

  49. […] Back When I Ate The HLB Way via Run Pretty. Oh the things I used to choke down in the name of “health”… it makes me cringe. […]

  50. AMAZING post. I 100% agree! HLB honestly seems like another fad diet that so many people follow and get trapped in. A lot of that stuff is so fake and tasteless (nutritional yeast as “cheese” on everything?) and it’s not being an authentic, balanced, healthy individual. Excellent post on this!!!
    Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope recently posted..Guest Post: Jobs for the Organization-SavvyMy Profile

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