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Tag Archive for eating disorders

How I Stopped Hurting and Started Healing

Submitted by Amy Hastie 

Sometimes I forget how far I have come and how much I have progressed through my recovery from an eating disorder. I had one of those moments last week. I had slept in and as a result, I ended up hastily sprinting down the road towards my bus stop in the hope of still making it to work on time. Thankfully, I did manage to reach my place of employment in a punctual manner that morning, but that’s not the point of this story.

Amy Hastie - How I stopped hurtingI didn’t feel the physical effects of my spontaneous bus-catching jog until later that afternoon when I was enjoying a walk at the gym and started to feel a muscular pulling sensation near my groin. Here’s the amazing part ― I immediately pressed the “STOP” button on the treadmill, stepped off and went home to rest. This seemingly simple choice to stop exercising when feeling an injury coming on might seem like a logical and mundane decision for someone to make, but for me, it was an achievement.

See, I used to get injured ― a lot. I wasn’t accident-prone, clumsy or unlucky. Under the control of Anorexia and even in the later stages of my recovery, the incessant pressure to push past pain and risk my physical health for fear of gaining weight truly controlled and consumed my life. I could never risk a day without exercising. I was never allowed to alter the type of work-out, the intensity or length of time. Every session was rigid, punishing and exhausting beyond words. That’s why getting injured used to be the most terrifying thing in the world for me – it meant resting and the potential weight consequences that could follow.

Yet, the ironic thing was that over-exercising had always created injuries and physical health issues for me. If I had just listened to my body on so many occasions in the past, if I had rested for just a day or two, I could have spared my body so much pain.

During one of my anorexic relapses, I was participating in artistic in-line skating – essentially figure skating on roller blades. It was a wonderfully fun sport, but coupled with my obsessive and disordered tendencies, it was at times, unhealthy for me. I was over-exercising in addition to the skate training so my body was rapidly weakening in all its forms. One morning whilst doing my usual rigorous walk before work, I began to feel pain in the top of my foot. Of course, Anorexia told me to keep walking and disregard it, so I did. Weeks later, I was practicing at the rink when I landed a jump and suddenly felt excruciating pain in that same place in my foot. I stopped skating that evening, but the next day I was back to my grueling walk, once again ignoring all of the discomfort.

It wasn’t until I could barely stand on the foot (let alone walk), that I finally caved in and begrudgingly sought medical advice. After receiving the results of my x-rays and bone scans, it was confirmed that I had not one, not two, but three stress fractures in my foot. I was also informed that the bones in my feet were osteopenic, which can be a precursor to osteoporosis. I was devastated – not because of the severity of the injuries, but by the reality that I would not be able to exercise for weeks

What followed my stress fracture diagnosis was six months of wearing a protective boot. I was banned from any form of weight-bearing activity which in turn had Anorexia restricting my food intake once again. I was in such a dark place at a time when self-kindness and compassion should have been in full force.

A few months after my fractures had finally healed, I launched myself back into working out. Anorexia was taunting me about “lost time” and all the hard work I would need to do in order to regain its approval. As a result of this fear-inducing pressure, I ended up badly damaging my knee on the treadmill. I decided to rest, but not entirely ― that would have been “unacceptable”. Whilst sitting down and pumping weights one morning, I slipped a disc in my lower back. This injury was the most debilitated I had ever been and involved months upon months of bed-rest, pain and incapacity.

It is truly frightening how much of a hold Anorexia had on me. My body was in such danger and distress, yet the pressure to maintain an image of perfection took precedence.

As I have worked through my recovery, I have looked back and asked myself over and over – why didn’t I stop and rest as soon as I had felt that little twinge in my foot? What if I had decided to forego the treadmill and stay in bed the morning my knee gave out?

Moving forward, it’s amazing how natural it has become for me to simply listen to my body. I now stop when something feels even slightly uncomfortable or unnatural. Now that my mind is clear and healthy, I have the power to nurture and take care of myself physically. I have reduced the intensity and frequency of my workouts. If there is something fun occurring after work, I will skip exercising completely. If I am exhausted or run-down, I will simply rest, sleep and recuperate.

I now choose to move my body in a variety of ways, based on my genuine desires and needs. Sometimes if I am pumped and energized, I will turn up my favorite music and go to the gym. If I have been cooped up inside all day, I will enjoy a gentle wander around a beautiful park with my husband. Above all else, I stay in tune with what my body is asking of me. I decide on exactly what I feel like doing instead of what I am falsely obligated to.

Self-care is absolutely essential in our lives. Our bodies are all we have, so it is vital we take the very best care of them. Since embracing this mindset and lifestyle, I have been completely injury-free. It has taken me a long time to come to this peaceful, free and powerful place both physically and mentally, but I am so happy, content and proud that I made it here.

Eating Disorders Coalition Advocacy Day 2017

On April 5th, 2017 The Emily Program Foundation and scholarship recipients traveled to Washington D.C. for the Eating Disorders Coalition’s National Advocacy Day. Below are the reflections of our award recipients from their first experiences on The Hill.

Award Recipient Jamie Margetta:

This past week I was given the privilege to attend the Eating Disorders Coalition Day on the Hill. I was graciously awarded a scholarship from the Emily Program Foundation to fund my travels to Washington, D.C. to advocate alongside EDC members who are as passionate as I am about eating disorder advocacy. I expected to walk away with a new experience and a sense of accomplishment from advocating, but I ended up walking away with so much more. My experience at EDC’s Advocacy Day was eye opening, exciting, educating, and overall an experience I won’t soon forget. I was given the Jamie, Jillian and Molly opportunity to meet with House and Senate representatives and express my passion to eating disorder research, early intervention, and education. It was very empowering to be able to express not only my passion on this subject, but why others should care. Presenting fact sheets, personal stories, and evidence that eating disorders matter and they need help was very gratifying. I am so thankful the Emily Program Foundation gave me the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. and truly express my concerns and needs for the eating disorder community. I met the most amazing group of people and learned so much from the advocates. This is definitely an experience I will not forget, and I am so grateful I was able to advocate on behalf of friends, family, and loved ones who have experienced the challenges of an eating disorder. Your voice matters!

 

Award Recipient Molly Britt:

As a university undergrad, I did not believe that I could make a difference in the political world without any experience. My experience at the 2017 EDC Advocacy Day completely changed my view of that. While working alongside women and men of all ages, I got to meet with congressional staffers and spread the word about the importance of eating disorders and how the political Molly Britt and Emilyworld could help. It was the first Advocacy Day since the passing of the 21st Century Cures Act which was the first time in history that specific language regarding eating disorders was written into policy. Our mission was to prompt the members of congress to put this policy into action. I was overwhelmed by the support that so many of these staffers conveyed toward our cause and felt as though I was really making a difference. To top of the great day, I got to hear Amy Klobuchar – one of Minnesota’s senators and a driving force for eating disorder policy – speak and thank us for all our hard work. This day has motivated me to participate more in policy change surrounding eating disorders and all other mental health causes.

VANTAGE Student Experience – A Blog Series

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Background Information –

Between October – December, 2016 The Emily Program Foundation worked with two student groups enrolled in an advanced professional studies program called VANTAGE through Minnetonka Public Schools. This partnership aimed to create a meaningful and professional learning opportunity for the students in VANTAGE as they completed quality, useable products for the Foundation. The Digital Journalism group created an educational video on eating disorders for teens while the Health Sciences team created a research report with a data analysis on teen’s experiences with their own body image, media influences and knowledge of eating disorders. This team also shared their learning experiences through a three-series blog posting, please see their reflections on what they learned through this process.

We have come to part three in the VANTAGE Student’s three-part blog series. You have now learned about the students and their research experience. Now is the time where you get to learn what they found in their research.

Data Analysis

Now that our data collection was complete it was time to analyze the results and compile our findings into our final presentation. From our research, we discovered that the majority of teenagers with eating disorders are female. However, this was not surprising to us due to our knowledge prior to this project. 9.1% of teenagers surveyed were unsure if they had an eating disorder. This is interesting because this suggests that they were not educated on the matter. Overall this statistic makes it seem as though teenagers need to have more education in school so that they can know if they suffer from an eating disorder. When asked if appearance was important to them, almost 50% of the participants chose a 4 on a scale of 1-5 (5 being very important); this tells us that body image is what these teenagers are constantly thinking about. Social media isn’t helping this cause; we found that 62.2% agreed that social media influences the way they think about themselves. From that, the ones who spend 3 or more hours on social media per day compare themselves to models, who do not portray the average American body. When asked which social media outlet was the most influential, Instagram and Snapchat won by a longshot. This tells us that there needs to be specific posts on these two applications that show positivity about body image. Social media should be a motivating and positive atmosphere that doesn’t make teenagers question their body image.

VANTAGE Student Experience – A Blog Series

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Background Information –

Between October – December, 2016 The Emily Program Foundation worked with two student groups enrolled in an advanced professional studies program called VANTAGE through Minnetonka Public Schools. This partnership aimed to create a meaningful and professional learning opportunity for the students in VANTAGE as they completed quality, useable products for the Foundation. The Digital Journalism group created an educational video on eating disorders for teens while the Health Sciences team created a research report with a data analysis on teen’s experiences with their own body image, media influences and knowledge of eating disorders. This team also shared their learning experiences through a three-series blog posting, please see their reflections on what they learned through this process.

Survey Collection

Now that you have met the VANTAGE Health Sciences team in our post last week, the students share their research report experience.

After meeting with the Emily Program Foundation for the first time, our group was extremely excited to begin working with them. We first took a tour of one of the treatment facilities and received an information session on eating disorders. We all learned a lot more about how the Emily Program structures treatment and how it differs from other treatment facilities. In taking the tour, we got to see lots of different rooms including those dedicated to yoga therapy and to group therapy. Our favorite room was the vault room, as this particular space showed the history of the building and how The Emily Program tries to keep little historical pieces of the buildings they renovate to continue the connection with their communities. After visiting the treatment center, we began to design our survey which is going to be used to collect data on the influence of social media on body image and eating disorders. We talked with Emily Monson, who is our project contact within the Foundation, to make sure that we were respectful of the emotional aspect of the topic and so that we could obtain the correct information. After perfecting our survey, we sent it out to everyone we knew from teachers, other students and even to other schools to make sure that we had a large amount responses and a large demographic. It was so exciting to see all of the responses roll in and to see all of the pie charts of the data change. I think we all sat watching them roll in during our entire project work time, fascinated by watching our work come to fruition.

 

 

 

 

VANTAGE Student Experience – A Blog Series

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Between October – December, 2016 The Emily Program Foundation worked with two student groups enrolled in an advanced professional studies program called VANTAGE through Minnetonka Public Schools. This partnership aimed to create a meaningful and professional learning opportunity for the students in VANTAGE as they completed quality, useable products for the Foundation. The Digital Journalism group created an educational video on eating disorders for teens while the Health Sciences team created a research report with a data analysis on teen’s experiences with their own body image, media influences and knowledge of eating disorders. This team also shared their learning experiences through a three-series blog posting, please see their reflections on what they learned through this process.

Meet the VANTAGE Health Sciences Team

 

We are five students from the Minnetonka Healthcare Sports and Science Vantage Program. As a part of our curriculum, we chose a project that interested us and we all decided to work with the Emily Program Foundation. One of the reasons we chose this particular project was because we interact with and see peers, friends, and family who suffer from eating disorders everyday. To get a basic understanding of eating disorders, we all wrote a research paper on eating disorders, as well as the way society influences them. After doing our research, we presented what we learned to the Emily Program Foundation. We met with staff from the Emily Program Foundation who educated us on eating disorders to make sure we were all knowledgeable with every aspect of eating disorders. From that, we learned a lot more about eating disorders and how to approach/talk about them appropriately as we conducted our research.

 

Hello, my name is Jaclyn. I am a junior at Minnetonka High School. This year, I decided to take a class that was very different from a typical class at my Jaclyn Rebertusschool through a program called VANTAGE. Since I am interested in pursuing a career in the medical sciences, I chose the strand that focused on healthcare and sports science. Through this program, I have the ability to gain real-world knowledge from site visits and guest instructors. For this class, we got to choose an organization to work with for our semester project, and when the opportunity to work with the Emily Program came up, I leaped at the opportunity. This project appealed to me personally, as I know people who have struggled with eating disorders.

 

 

Hello, I’m Carson. I am junior at Minnetonka High School and am currently enrolled in the Vantage program. I chose to go into the Vantage program Carson Lennonbecause I wanted something different than the typically classroom experience. My parents were also big pushers on the program because they had heard how successful it had been to other students. I am very interested in going into the healthcare field for my profession after school. I am the current team leader for the Emily Program project. I decided that the Emily Program was the best choice for me because it’s the closest to home. I have a couple friends that have struggled with eating disorders, so when this came up as a project choice I jumped on it. I am very interested in psychology and I knew that eating disorders correlated with that as well. I had previously heard of the Emily Program through advertisements and had heard of what a great organization it was, I knew that this was the right fit for me.

 

Hi, I’m Zainab. I’m a junior at Minnetonka High School, and I participate in a program called Vantage offered here at my school. I chose to enroll in the Zainab AbdiHealth and Sports Exercise strand of the program because I am interested in pursuing a career in the Healthcare field and this program will really broaden my knowledge of different career options. For this particular strand we have semester projects, and I chose to work on the Emily Program project team because I, like my other team members, have close friends that have suffered from eating disorders, so I am interested in learning more about how eating disorders affect people, and how to make a difference in how other people view eating disorders.

 

Hi, my name is Katey Brattland. I am a junior at Minnetonka High School and participate in the Vantage Program. I chose to do Vantage because I wanted Katy Brattlandmore of a hands on real world experience and wanted to get out of the typical high school setting. I chose this particular vantage program, Healthcare and Sports Science, because my main interest is going into the medical field. The Emily Program Project interested me because I have friends who have suffered from eating disorders so I really wanted to learn more about them. I thought for this project we could actually make a change and discover useful information about teen’s experiences with eating disorders.

 

 

Hi, my name is Katie Grow. I am a senior at Minnetonka High School and I am currently enrolled in the Vantage Program. I chose to do Vantage because of Katie Growthe different real-world experiences that vantage has to offer. I have always been interested in healthcare and I was hoping that by joining Vantage, I would learn what field I want to go into. The Emily Program Project interested me because I have always been interested in mental health and psychology and I have had friends that have struggled with eating disorders.