Here’s How Trading Cardio for Strength Training Helped My Eating Disorder Recovery

Morgan Dowd, who is now a personal trainer in Philly, shares her eight-year transformation and eating disorder recovery story.

eating disorder recovery

Discovering strength training made a huge difference in Morgan Dowd’s mindset and health during her eating disorder recovery. Photographs courtesy Morgan Dowd.

Changing your body takes hard work, persistence, and dedication. Here’s one local’s story. Want to share your Transformation Story? Email

Who: Megan Dowd, 28, a personal trainer from Graduate Hospital

Why I wanted to make a change: “At 19 years old, I almost lost my life to anorexia nervosa and exercise bulimia. I always knew I had to make a change, but what made me want to change was my first experience was strength training. As a girl who had once been obsessed with cardio machines and calorie burn, I was now learning how empowering strength training was.”

How long this transformation has been going on: Eight years

What changed: “My appreciation for life, my mood, my energy — everything changed.”

How I changed my eating: “I stopped focusing on the numbers and am learning how to eat intuitively! I learned how to be in tune with hunger cues and cravings. I eat to fuel my body to be the strongest it can be — mentally and physically.”

How I changed my exercise plan: “I added strength training! I keep my workouts short (30 to 45 minutes) with three days of HIIT training or a run plus two to three days of functional strength training.”

“I have learned that self-love is a priority above all else and your worth is not defined by a number on a scale.

The hardest part: “The hardest part of the transformation was controlling my mind and not comparing myself to others.  I got through it by unfollowing all IG accounts that were negatively affecting my mindset. I write out my gratitudes every morning and remember that my journey is much different, and I can only be better than I was yesterday.”

What I’m most proud of: “I am most proud of the mental transformation I have gone through over the past eight years. I have learned that self-love is a priority above all else and your worth is not defined by a number on a scale.”

What I want everyone to know: Exercise because you love your body, not because you hate it! I want people to take away the importance of mental health awareness. One day I was a straight-A collegiate cheerleader, the next I was lying in a hospital bed, days away from losing my life to anorexia. If you think someone is struggling, please interrupt their life and reach out.” 

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