Glennon Doyle Says She Had to Share Bulimia Relapse on Her Podcast: 'It Was Hard for Me Not To'

Ahead of the one-year anniversary of We Can Do Hard Things, the author and her wife Abby Wambach explain why it's so important to be honest about their imperfections

Glennon Doyle Says She Had to Share Bulimia Relapse on Her Podcast: ‘It Was Hard for Me Not to’
Photo: Melissa Lyttle

"Why in the heck wouldn't I?"

That's what Glennon Doyle says when asked if it was difficult to tell her podcast listeners that she had a bulimia relapse at the end of last year.

The Untamed author shared the news in a February episode of her podcast, We Can Do Hard Things. With the help of her co-hosts — wife and soccer icon Abby Wambach and sister Amanda Doyle — the 46-year-old explained how she spiraled back into her eating disorder over the holidays after two decades of recovery.

"I'm not trying to be shiny. We're using this podcast — we call it We Can Do Hard Things for a reason," Doyle tells PEOPLE as part of an exclusive interview coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Month. "We're trying to actually help us all feel a little bit less alone."

May 11 will mark the one-year anniversary of Doyle's podcast, which is produced by Cadence13. Created during the pandemic, it's almost like a real-time, updated version of her New York Times bestselling memoir Untamed. But rather than just discussing the hard situations that the Doyle-Wambach family is coping with, it's a platform to openly address the life challenges that listeners are facing, too.

Glennon Doyle
Glennon Doyle with her podcast co-hosts – wife, Abby Wambach, and sister, Amanda Doyle. Allison Schott

Guests who have appeared on the show include actress Sarah Paulson, singer Brandi Carlile, author Brené Brown and even Doyle's son Chase. The women have covered sex, menopause, friendship burnout and more.

Doyle, who is a mom of three, says: "My sister, Abby and I have been talking ceaselessly about every topic on earth for five years since Abby joined our sisterhood. So, the podcast just feels like a natural extension of our life."

It's no surprise then, that Doyle — a recovering alcoholic, bulimic, and former drug abuser who got sober 20 years ago — decided to reveal her recent relapse.

"It was hard for me not to," she says about her decision to tell listeners that she had started purging and obsessively weighing herself again. The author, who is now back in recovery, adds: "I just don't do well when there's something important that I'm holding back. I think it comes from my recovery from alcoholism."

She also knows that being honest with her listeners is crucial to the podcast's success.

"In the beginning, I knew this life-out-loud thing was going to be an interesting challenge. I knew I was going to have moments of what people would call 'failure.' So, when I started, I told people this: 'My rule for myself is going to be that I do not promise to be perfect.' I don't even promise to be doing well because that's when people get stuck and start lying and creating fake selves. But I will be honest."

And she kept that promise. "When that backsliding [into bulimia] happened, I took time to make sure that I was steady enough [before sharing it]," she says. "I think there's a real important part of speaking from your scars and not gaping open wounds."

Glennon Doyle Says She Had to Share Bulimia Relapse on Her Podcast: ‘It Was Hard for Me Not to’
Abby Wambach and Glennon Doyle. Melissa Lyttle

Wambach, 41, admits she was "a bit more stressed" about her "courageous" wife revealing something so personal. But the former Olympic gold medalist adds: "The central thread that runs through our family is to not keep anything secret. Secrets are what bring us down."

Today Doyle is taking the "personal spiritual practices" that she needs to keep herself "grounded and healthy" again. That includes doing yoga, meditation and going to 12-step meetings.

"I feel like it's never going to go away," she says, admitting that she'd "loosened up on a lot of things," before her relapse.

Doyle says: "[Food stuff] is always going to be hard for me, but I also know the things that bring me back home. They always have to do with sitting with other honest people who will tell me the truth and it's usually in the basement of a church or something like that."

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For Doyle and Wambach — who will be celebrating the anniversary of their podcast with a free online event on May 11 — We Can Do Hard Things is like bringing those basement meetings to their millions of listeners.

Doyle says: "It freed me so much, those meetings. So, we try to bring a little bit of that radical honesty and shamelessness and community to the podcast."

If you or someone you know is battling an eating disorder, please contact the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) at 1-800-931-2237 or go to

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