A doctor of physical therapy and former Marine lieutenant tells the story of her painful struggle with bulimia.
Born the only girl in a family of boys, Larson drew close to her mother, Mary Ann. But when Mary Ann died of cancer, a 10-year-old Larson was suddenly left without her main confidante. She disassociated herself from “girly” behaviors, friends, and activities and immersed herself in sports. She became a star softball pitcher who earned a full scholarship to Villanova, where she also became involved in the Marine Corps ROTC program. A high achiever, Larson also became involved in a program called Fit Forever to help her stop a pattern of “yo-yoing between salads, fruits, and healthy snacks and burgers, pizzas, and desserts, often late at night.” While the program earned the author a second-place finish in a Fit Forever competition and a reputation as the “campus fitness queen,” it also—inadvertently—reinforced the yo-yoing habits she had been trying to eliminate. Once she graduated from Villanova, she continued her military career with the Marines by going through basic training and, later, military engineering school. Though one of the top trainees, Larson still faced a sexual double standard that made her push herself even harder. The demands of her work and of the fitness competitions she entered drove her to regurgitate the unhealthy food she often ate. In Iraq, she became a highly respected Marine platoon leader, but the stress worsened the cycle of bingeing and purging. She eventually resigned and sought treatment for bulimia and became a physical therapist for other “wounded warriors.” By turns honest and heartbreaking, Larson’s book is a celebration of inner strength. It is also a poignant reminder that the mark of a true warrior is not just someone who fights wars, but who also knows how to “ask for help” in times of crisis.
A courageous and inspiring memoir.