In this inspiring memoir, a former female Marine platoon leader recalls the wars she has fought—on the playing field, the battlefield, and inside her own soul—revealing how overcoming the harrowing circumstances in her life helped her ultimately redefine what it means to be strong and what “perfect” really is.
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Theresa Larson has lived multiple lives. At ten she was a caregiver to her dying mother. As an adolescent, an All-Star high school, college, and professional softball player. As a young adult, a fitness competition winner, beauty pageant contestant, and model. And as a grown woman, a high-achieving Lieutenant in the Marines, in charge of an entire platoon while deployed in Iraq.
Meanwhile, Theresa was battling bulimia nervosa, an internal struggle which ultimately cut short her military service when she was voluntarily evacuated from combat. Theresa’s journey to wellness required the bravery to ask for help, to take care of herself first, and abandon the idea of “perfect.” In Warrior, she lays bare all of these lives in intimate and vivid detail, examining extremely personal and sometime painful moments and how, by finally accepting the help of others, she learned to make herself whole. From growing up in a log cabin outside Seattle to facing down the enemy in Iraq, Theresa’s journey demonstrates that good health and happiness is a daily, intentional act that requires persistence and commitment.
Theresa hopes that through sharing her story, she will help inspire others to empower themselves, embrace their inner warrior and re-define strength. Startling and funny, terrifying and triumphant, heartbreaking and inspirational, Warrior is at heart a story of perseverance and success—of a determined woman who is model for everyone struggling to conquer their own demons. Theresa shows that asking for help can be an act of courage, and that we are stronger than we think when faced with seemingly impossible odds.
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 also "ask for help" in times of crisis. A courageous and inspiring memoir.
- Kirkus Reviews
Warrior is a vivid and intensely personal account of Dr. Theresa Larson's extraordinary life as caregiver, high-level athlete, combat veteran, and bulimia survivor. The book is powerful, inspirational, and underscores how we can all be both strong and vulnerable at the same time. Theresa opens her heart and soul on every page and we closed the book feeling uplifted by her amazing spirit.
- Kelly and Juliet Starrett, CEOs, MobilityWOD & SanFrancisco Crossfit, co-founders of Stand Up Kids
I have always believed that being vulnerable does not imply weakness, but rather the courage to be authentic, to live as who you are, not as the person others expect you to be. Theresa Larson walks us through her journey to get to authenticity. She shows us what it means to be a warrior and anyone will identify with her struggles and learn from her, learn that they too can be resilient, healthy and a true warrior. Bravo Theresa Larson. A must read!
- Eva Selhub, MD
Theresa Larson's memoir reveals the complex self-savagery of surviving bulimia in a war zone. The conflict may have looked like Iraq on the outside, but the real enemy was her own mind. This book is a rare glimpse into the secret world of a bulimic and exposes the multiple traumas that coalesced into this disease as a means of coping. As a former bulimic, I was at once repulsed, enthralled and redeemed by Theresa’s willingness to be so vulnerable on every page. A must-read for those in mental health, armed services and health & fitness fields.
- Jill Miller, author of
The Roll Model: A Step by Step Guide to Erase Pain, Improve Mobility and Live Better in Your Body
Raw. Real. Rousing. Warrior will challenge your beliefs about real strength.
Theresa Larson has crafted a memoir that will leave readers finding parallels to their own lives. From the pain of losing a loved one to struggles with food and self-esteem, Larson dives deep and looks back to get at the 'why'.
Warrior is a story of hope and transformation, of calling on the strength that already lives inside. You'll put it down and ask, 'What's possible for me?' It’s that good.
- Stephanie Gaudreau, Author of
Stupid Easy Paleo
and Founder of Women in Strength Summit
Marines are tough. Marines are hard core. Marines cannot fail. Warrior reveals the struggles that come along with this desire for perfection. Theresa shows that real strength happens when you summon the courage to conquer these addictive and doomed expectations. Theresa's willingness to share her journey makes her a true hero and one of the bravest Marines I know.
- Mike Burgener, former Marine Captain, USAW Senior International Weightlifting Coach, CrossFit Weightlifting
As a Marine officer, I feel sad at the collective failure in our responsibility to take care of and be faithful to one of our own. So many times, we have said and heard ‘Suck it up Marine.’ This story reminds me to look through strength and beauty, realize a person’s struggles, and dedicate time to take care of them.
Semper Fi, Theresa.
- Alyce Fernebok, Former Marine Captain
In her darkest moment Theresa "radioed in" to her father and received the light. The disease of addiction relies on secrecy and isolation to kill its prey. It is a tortured conflict between the "delusion of strength in secrecy" vs. "strength in disclosure". As the successful warrior, Theresa defeated the enemy by overcoming her shame, embarrassment and condemnation by coming out of the dark closet of her disease. The essential paradox of addiction is admitting defeat for victory, having the humility to be discipled toward the Light of recovery by others. Sadly, the disease has its body count to document it's power and success. All of us are engaged in spiritual warfare, the battles that shape our souls. Hopefully, Theresa's story will reach others who will find the warrior within themselves and have the courage to "radio in" for help. There is a solution: Light always defeats darkness. Thank you Theresa for being a light
- Ron Gellis, Ph.D, Clinical, Forensic and Sports Psychologist for Veterans