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‘Almost anorexic,’ Schaefer now has a passion for life

— For Jenni Schaefer, denial was a way of life.

For years, she thought of herself as “almost anorexic.”

Eventually, after studying biochemistry at Texas A&M University before moving to Nashville to play music, she was suffering the effects of a full-blown eating disorder, which she called Ed. That “almost anorexic” label was just a dodge, she realized, a devious self-sabotage.

Her courageous chronicle of her journey, “Life Without Ed: How One Woman Declared Independence from Her Eating Disorder and How You Can Too,” became a breakthrough best-seller. Schaefer emerged as a leading light in the recovery movement.

‘Okay to be Happy’

The author and songwriter will help kick off the second annual National Eating Disorders Association Walk sponsored by Ophelia’s Place from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 24, at Long Branch Park. Schaefer will sing her compositions, such as the uplifting “It’s Okay to be Happy,” at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23, at Café at 407, at Ophelia’s Place, 407 Tulip St., in the village.

“I want people who struggle with eating disorders to know it is possible to move from being ‘in recovery’ to being ‘fully recovered,’” Schaefer says. “I want them to get into life and follow their dreams, not be stuck in or defined by an eating disorder.”

In her latest book, Jenni teams with Harvard Medical School clinical psychologist Jennifer J. Thomas to address the millions of people who struggle with disordered eating while not meeting the diagnostic criteria for a full-blown eating disorder. With “Almost Anorexic: Is My (or My Loved One’s) Relationship with Food a Problem?” the co-authors bridge the gaps between cutting-edge research and personal experience to provide insight and hope.

An avid biker, hiker and guitar player, Schaefer lives in Austin, where she was recently engaged.

Admission to Schaefer’s Friday evening performance is free. On-site registration for Saturday’s one-mile walk begins at 9 a.m. Participants can also register online at opheliasplace.org. For information, contact Jodie Wilson-Dougherty at 451-5544, ext. 10, or director@opheliasplace.org.

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