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Life Without Ed: How One Woman Declared Independence from Her Eating Disorder and How You Can Too [Paperback]

Jenni Schaefer
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 12 2004

The 10th Anniversary Edition of the book that has given hope and inspiration to thousands who are dealing with eating disorders
"If you or someone you love has an eating disorder, this is the book to read."
—Dr. Phil

Jenni had been in an abusive relationship with Ed for far too long. He controlled Jenni’s life, distorted her self-image, and tried to physically harm her throughout their long affair. Then, in therapy, Jenni learned to treat her eating disorder as a relationship, not a condition. By thinking of her eating disorder as a unique personality separate from her own, Jenni was able to break up with Ed once and for all.

Inspiring, compassionate, and filled with practical exercises to help you break up with your own personal E.D., Life Without Ed provides hope to the millions of people plagued by eating disorders. Beginning with Jenni’s “divorce” from Ed, this supportive, lifesaving book combines a patient’s insights and experiences with a therapist’s prescriptions for success to help you live a healthier, happier life without Ed.

This 10th anniversary edition features a new afterword as well as sections devoted to family, friends, and supporters; how treatment professionals can use the book with their patients; and men with eating disorders.

"Of all the great books written on eating disorders, none has had a wider reach than Life Without Ed. Those suffering have found connection and hope, family members have found understanding and empathy, professionals have learned from it and praised it. It will remain a classic for decades to come."
—Michael E. Berrett, PhD, psychologist; CEO and cofounder of the Center for Change; coauthor of Spiritual Approaches in the Treatment of Women with Eating Disorders

"[Life Without Ed] was the first [book] to teach readers that they can not only separate from their eating disorder, but also disagree with and disobey it. I wholeheartedly recommend this witty, hopeful guide to patients, carers, professionals, and anyone else who wants to understand what it's really like to live with an eating disorder and ultimately triumph over it."
—Jennifer J. Thomas, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at the Harvard Medical School; co-director of the Eating Disorders Clinical and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital

"This uplifting book’s intimate inner dialogue has energized countless young women—and men—in their own recoveries from eating disorders."
—Leigh Cohn, MAT, CEDS, coauthor of Making Weight: Men’s Conflicts with Food, Weight, Shape & Recovery

"Jenni is truly a remarkable woman. She unselfishly shares her struggles and triumphs in something that will probably affect all of us in one way or another in our lifetime. Her candid and inspiring story will truly help those suffering from their own "Ed." I feel privileged to know her and her story."
—Jamie-Lynn Sigler, actress

Frequently Bought Together

Life Without Ed: How One Woman Declared Independence from Her Eating Disorder and How You Can Too + Goodbye Ed, Hello Me: Recover from Your Eating Disorder and Fall in Love with Life + The Body Image Workbook: An Eight-Step Program for Learning to Like Your Looks
Price For All Three: CDN$ 45.45

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Product Details

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

"The truth is we all talk to ourselves. We just need to get better at it," counsels psychotherapist Rutledge in this self-help book for women with eating disorders, which he wrote with one of his patients, Schaefer, a singer/songwriter and media personality in Nashville, who both binges and purges. As might be expected in a book that draws from both psychotherapy and country western music, the story concerns a fine woman and the no good man she's stuck with. In this case, the evil, controlling character is a non-person Schaefer names Ed, from the initials E.D. (as in eating disorder). Whether Schaefer is alone in her kitchen or dining with friends, she "hears" Ed telling her she resembles a "barnyard animal," that all the girls in her eating disorder therapy group are thinner than she is, or that it would feel good to go to bed on an empty stomach. "There is something inside me... that has chained itself to Ed with a heavy-duty lock and thrown away the key," she writes. With the help of therapist Rutledge, who shares his professional observations in sections entitled "Thom's Turn," Schaefer finally gains the strength to keep Ed at bay. Schaefer's literary construct of an interior voice will delight some readers and annoy others, but if it helps any readers overcome their own disorders, it's been effective.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Jenni Schaefer is an internationally known writer and speaker whose work has helped change the face of recovery from eating disorders. Appearing regularly on national radio and television, she is the bestselling author of Goodbye Ed, Hello Me. Recently she has collaborated with Harvard Medical School to coauthor Almost Anorexic. She is also the chair of the Ambassadors Council of the National Eating Disorders Association. An accomplished singer/songwriter, Jenni lives in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit

Thom Rutledge is a psychotherapist and the author of Embracing Fear: How to Turn What Scares Us into Our Greatest Gift. For more information, visit

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The first step in breaking free from Ed was learning how to distinguish between the two of us. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for all recovering perfectionists Feb. 26 2004
Jenni Schaefer has accurately captured the life and feelings of a perfectionist in her book Life Without Ed. Although I have never experienced an eating disorder, I obsess about calorie intake on a daily basis and am bound by the chains of physical appearance. I found the exercises at the end of each section helpful in confronting the voices and negative criticisms that my own abusive SuperEgo (Ed) throws my way.
Jenni Schaefer does not discount the seriousness of eating disorders nor does she try to convince you that divorce from ED is easy. She provides practical ways to distinguish between what is healthy and what is ED. The awarness that I gained from this book (especially section 1) has enabled me to start the separation process from my own abusive self criticism.
This book applies to all recovering perfectionists. The exercises, personal experiences, strength, and weakness that the author shared make it a real and valuable resource on my path to recovery. I highly recommend this book to anyone enduring self criticism and abuse.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars life-changing Jan. 22 2004
This book is already life-changing for me, and I'm only half way through it. I have battled an eating disorder for over 30 years, and my eating disorder finally has a name. For me, I have to be totally focused on my diet - now named ED - to lose weight, or I'm totally blowing it - now who is finally named Counter-ED.
I always thought that my problem was lack of will-power, or focus, and have noticed I eat when I'm upset and stressed. My weight has varied up and down 50 pounds numerous times over those thirty years(size 18 down to size 4 at 5'9"), and I was afraid that a doctor would laugh at me if I asked for help.
Dr. Thom and Jenni gave me great exercises that I was able to start last weekend. I have started purging my size 4's and 6's out of my wardrobe that were previously THE measure of success by ED. Wow! How liberating that exercise alone feels.
Another exercise with a cassette tape is one my husband and I are going to use to get past some old stuff that we've had a hard time getting past.
I scoffed when I read Dr. Thom's suggestion to begin reading the book in small portions to allow proper digestion. After all, I've probably read more self-help books than number of days he's been alive, but he was right. I can't wait to finish this awesome book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative Easy Read Feb. 3 2004
I found Jenni Schaefer's "Life Without Ed" extremely informative, helpful and friendly. Her honest humor brings a personal touch to such a difficult personal problem. She quite simply, and expressively, puts it all out there, confronts readers with the nitty gritty truth about their experiences and decisions, and comprehensively presents the means to stand up to E.D. Schaefer's book also serves to inspire and encourage, as she's been there, too. And her book provides the same practical exercises that have helped her to regain herself. I highly recommend this book to those who've not net left ED, and to those who are trying to support someone in recovery.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing campy here. This is the real deal. Feb. 25 2004
I just looked up the word "campy," and there is nothing campy about Life without Ed. As a woman recovering from an eating disorder and as a clinician treating eating disorders, I find this book to be a refreshing change from the staus quo of tortuous memoirs and over-intellectualized material that tends to occupy this market.
The recovery work described in this book is undoubtedly the real deal. Jenni Schaefer has obviously worked hard to overcome her eating disorder and she is to be congratulated for that. And while we're at it, let's congratulate her for the willingness to share her story so candidly, and for being creative enough to bring such a delightful sense of humor to this very serious subject matter. She no doubt gets some of the humor from her therapist and co-author Thom Rutledge. His writing (the best of which is Embracing Fear) always manages to bring together serious self-help and the kind of humor that offers a perspective that is in and of itself healing.
If you have even the slightest interest in understanding the inner-workings of eating disorders, buy this book. If you are a therapist or counselor who works with eating disorders, buy this book. If you love someone with an eating disorder, buy this book. And if you have an eating disorder --- definitely buy this book.
Who says medicine has to taste bad to be good? Learn, grow and enjoy Life without Ed.
Sarah Wiley, Ph.D.
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5.0 out of 5 stars WOW !!!Talking back to ED Jan. 10 2004
By Heather
This is a fantastic book!! Jenni Schaefer gives us a very realistic look at living and winning against our eating disorders but adds enough humor to make this an enjoyable read. She also lets you know that you are not alone in this fight and at times it seems she's fighting ED right there with you.The book helps you come to understand what and who you are up against with your eating disorder. The chapters are short(easy to get thru before your attention wanders). However,the chapters are filled with so much information that you find yourself rereading them and picking up more info each time. The exercises in the book truly work. This whole book teaches you to Separate, Disagree and Disobey ED(eating disorder). I especially liked learning how to talk back to ED -I feel ED's power comes from the mental warefare he launches inside your head 24/7. The book provides steps to combat and end this constant emotional abuse. I feel you will really benefit from reading this book. I highly recommend it!!!
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice theory, did zip all for me
Nice theory, did zip all for me. I might not be in the right stage of recovery for it though.
Published 11 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
As a parent, I had no idea what my daughter was going through. This book was recommended by a friend and it helped me visualize my own daughter's disorder in a way I could... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Janice Haakons
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book!
This book is an amazing read, and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in eating disorders! and it came quickly in the mail.
Published 8 months ago by Samantha Lewis
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful
A very good read for anyone experiencing disorded eating and struggling with it. Could be helpful for the right person.
Published 14 months ago by Lady Di
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Without Ed
Great book again by Jenni Schaefer! Best to hear it from those who have recovered and are able to regain there life again. She is truly and inspiration to many. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Chelsea Clake
1.0 out of 5 stars far too campy
I'm sure she's a nice woman and I appreciate the strength it takes to write about such embarassing personal things BUT as someone who has been living with eating disorders for 17... Read more
Published on Feb. 25 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars I carry this book with me everywhere
This adorable little book is jampacked with wisdom, encouragement, enlightenment and advice on how I can rid myself of ED, so I carry it everywhere I go. Read more
Published on Feb. 13 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars ED sucks
I agree wtih jenni's entire philosophy (along with Thom Rutledge) on separating the eating disorder from the self. I really enjoyed this book and related to most of her stories. Read more
Published on Feb. 8 2004 by mary wood
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved the book!
"Life Without Ed" is wonderful! I was so happy to find an eating disorder book filled with humor and optimism, and I couldn't help smiling as I read through each unique... Read more
Published on Feb. 3 2004 by Emily Thornell
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Helpful at all
This book goes beyond campy. I'm all for cheesey humor, but come on. Her attempts at funny clutter an otherwise empty account. Read more
Published on Feb. 3 2004
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