Category Archives: Uncategorized

I Had No Idea! Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2014

So I can cross one more thing off my bucket list: driving to and from New York City. I had a last-minute invite for a panel with the National Eating Disorders Association, and thankfully was able to make the trip.

Always happy to have an excuse to go to NYC, it was too late to get good bus or train fare. So I recruited a friend, and we drove up the day before the panel. At only 330 miles from my beloved Richmond, it’s a drive that should only take about 5 1/2 hours, but can take much longer due to traffic in and around Washington, DC. Still, we kept to our schedule so well that I was almost surprised that it all worked out. Just goes to show you, if you really want to do something, you’ll make it happen.

It’s an interesting thing, approaching NY at night. You see it all lit up in the distance, but it still feels far away. We finally passed through the Lincoln Tunnel around 10pm, and suddenly we were there.

We stayed with a friend I knew from high school but hadn’t seen in years (thanks again, Courtney!) and managed to get a short visit with my good friend Jenn Friedman. She has an awesome project that has been in the works for awhile now, but will finally be released on March 15. She’s written a book and an album about recovery with a song to accompany each chapter. Her main site has all the info on the project, and NYC folks can check out the release party happening on 3/15 (buy tickets here).

I hit up a few more favorite spots in Manhattan, and soon it was time for the panel at NEDA’s office in Times Square. It occurred to me that in less than a month, I’ve done two panels (and a research presentation) on opposite coasts, and both times I’ve had the same experience being welcomed by an organization. There’s something about the eating disorder advocacy community that cuts through the small talk and I find myself having really genuine interactions with people. Maybe it’s because we’re there to talk about really personal things? I’m not sure, but I like it. It doesn’t matter which organization you put your time into or which state (or country!) you’re in, we’re all in it for the same fight.

Also, it’s the second time in a month I’ve been really honored to share a stage with some amazing people with some powerful testimonies about how eating disorders have affected their lives, but also how they’ve worked to overcome them. The other panelists were:

Susan Maccia,who spoke about her daughter’s struggles with and recovery from an eating disorder. You can read more about Susan here.

Adam Radwan, the brother of a woman with an eating disorder. He shared a touching story about how family and sibling relationships are disrupted by an eating disorder. You can read his story here.

Stacey Sargeant, an actress and dancer who received mixed messages all her life about how her body should look. As a ballerina, she was told she was too curvy, despite being an accomplished dancer. You can see Stacey’s official site here, and here’s a segment she did on Katie.

Corazon Tierra, who developed an eating disorder at the age of 8 after immigrating from Puerto Rico. Corazon’s story sheds light on how different cultural values coincide with American beauty standards. She is now an accomplished author, speaker, and dancer, all of which she incorporates into workshops to work within women around the world to promote healthy body image. Check out her website here (and in English here!)

Temimah Zucker, who developed an eating disorder after starting college. Her experience both with anorexia and with recovery was shaped in large part by growing up an Orthodox Jew, and her faith contributed greatly to her recovery. You can read her story on NEDA’s site.

NEDA Feb 2014

(from L to R): Susan Maccia, Corazon Tierra, Dr. Brad Smith, Stacey Sargeant, Adam Radwan, myself, and Temimah Zucker

The panel was introduced and moderated by Dr. Brad E. R. Smith of the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Smith went over some of the changes to eating disorder diagnoses in the DSM-V, including Binge Eating Disorder (BED) which is finally and officially recognized as it’s own eating disorder diagnosis.

The panel was taped, so if any video makes it online, I’ll update this post with clips. Thanks again to NEDA for the invitation to participate and do something awesome for Eating Disorder Awareness Week! As we exited the Lincoln Tunnel and saw Manhattan get smaller and smaller as we drove, I could still make out the Empire State Building lit up with NEDA’s blue and green colors in recognition of awareness week:

NEDA Empire(picture via NEDA’s Twitter)

Driving to NYC and back in such a short amount of time can be a little disorienting, but it was also a lot of fun. By the way, New Jersey’s frequent gas stops and 24 hour Starbucks might be the only reason we made it back Tuesday night. Thanks, NJ.

That’s all for now. Check the front page for upcoming events, including an interview via Mental Fitness’ Facebook page (details under events) and I’m coming back to New York April 12 for a discussion/reading event at Bluestockings. Til then.

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EDRS 2014 and West Coast Adventures

IMG_20140131_061235The snow had started falling again when I started working on this write-up, and I couldn’t help but miss California all the more. It’s not that I mind the snow, in fact I rather like watching it fall, but all the same – I miss California.

For those of you who don’t know, I just got back from a ten day trip to the west coast following an invitation to present at the 2014 Eating Disorder Recovery Support, Inc. (EDRS) Conference. EDRS functions as a treatment scholarship fund for California residents who have been approved or prescribed outpatient treatment but don’t have the means to pay for it (how cool is that?!).

According to EDRS Board President Bridget Whitlow, last year they raised over $26k, providing assistance to 45 individuals. At the start of the conference, they were expecting to raise over $30k this year and already had 25 people on their waiting list. The Monday following the conference, they anticipated they would be able to respond to everyone who had applied for assistance. I can’t get over what a wonderful concept it is, and the fact that alongside organizing a conference that would probably already get a lot of attendees (because honestly, they had a wonderful line-up of presentations), the EDRS is making a real, direct difference in the lives of real people.

Since I don’t make it out to California very often Continue reading

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Eating Disorders: Not Just a Woman Thing – Huffington Post Live 7/31/13

The only way we’re going to change the landscape of mental health and eating disorders is to keep talking about it, which is why I’m so thrilled that The Huffington Post covers this topic fairly regularly. I joined their live segment on 7/31 along with Dr. Ted Weltzin, and eating disorder survivors Bryan Piperno and Brian Cuban (who’s first book is about to come out – congrats Brian!)

Here’s the full segment:

I took the opportunity to talk about the most important avenues to create change  - policy reform. Men aren’t always included in eating disorder studies for a variety of reasons. Men are less likely to seek help, to be diagnosed with an eating disorder, and most inpatient facilities don’t accept male patients. All of these factors make it harder to actually identify and locate patients to participate in research. That, and most large studies are funded through public money, and currently there are very little research dollars available for eating disorder research.

That’s one of the reasons I’ve been working and volunteering with the Eating Disorders Coalition for the past 7 years. The EDC advocates on Capitol Hill for mental health policy reform, and we always need more people to come and share their stories. If you’ve been  personally impacted by an eating disorder, whether suffering from one personally, watching a loved one struggle, or in your professional life, we want you to join us! Check out http://www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org for more info.

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Striving For Perfection: Boys & Body Image

I had another great opportunity to take part in a segment on body image and males. This segment was especially interesting to me because it had a broader focus, particularly due to the contributions of Alan Aragon. Alan is a nutrition and fitness expert, getting his start in the gym as a personal trainer. Nowadays he finds himself writing, blogging, and fairly well-known online on the fitness forums he helps moderate. I’m so detached from body-building and gym culture that I forget how many men are wrapped up in that stuff, so I got a lot out of the discussion too.

Here’s the full list of panelists:

Claire Mysko @ClaireMysko
Author, “Does This Pregnancy Make Me Look Fat?”
clairemysko.com

Niobe Way @youthresistance
Professor of Applied Psychology, New York University
niobeway.com

Ryan Salonen
Actor
IMDB credits

Alan Aragon
Nutrition guru
alanaragon.com

Simon Metin @smetin92
Medical Student, King’s College, Cambridge
Simon Metin on YouTube

I want to thank everyone at The Stream for covering this topic, asking good questions, and staying away from shock value media like lowest weights or the like. Also, it was great to be on Claire, whom I’ve had a few Twitter exchanges with but never anything like this.

Alright, I’m off to prepare for next week with the Eating Disorders Coalition. Maybe I’ll see you on Capitol Hill?

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April 10, 2013 · 12:13 pm

Anorexia in Men on the Rise – Huffington Post Live Interview

Happy Eating Disorder Awareness Week! I had the pleasure of participating in a discussion on Huffington Post Live on eating disorders in men this past Thursday. I’m excited that they chose to highlight this subject during awareness week, and appreciate the thoughtful questions they had for everyone on the segment.

You can watch the full segment below, which includes a young man named Alberto De Leon in Chicago who is currently in recovery from an eating disorder; Margaret Johnson, the editor for HuffPost Women; Amanda Webster, an Australian mother who’s son developed anorexia in childhood; and Dr. Gregory Jantz, an eating disorder specialist in Seattle. You can watch the full video below:

You may notice that the title on the video says, “Manorexia on the Rise.” Well, I don’t care for that term one bit, and I’m happy to report that when I emailed my contact on the production team, they changed it on the main video page and wherever else it was possible. Unfortunately, it’s much harder to edit out of the video stream, but I want to extend my gratitude for the quick response they had in changing it where they could.

I’ve written about my disdain for that term in the past:

If you’ve been keeping up with me on here, you have probably heard me talk about “gender inclusivity.” I believe for ED treatment, research, and prevention to advance, it has to be fully inclusive and not just catered to the majority. I almost slipped through the cracks of the resources available to me during my own recovery because it was all designed for women, and I mourn for other boys and men who find themselves in similar circumstances.

I grimaced at the original title because taking a word like “anorexia” and altering it to reference EDs in men carries the implication that men experience it differently in some way – otherwise, they would just call it anorexia, right? …In short, it by default is not gender inclusive.

It won’t do us any good to take notice of how our recovery culture is feminized if we just turn around and make it gendered in the opposite direction. Eating disorders are, more than anything, a matter of public health concern.

Thanks again to Huffington Post Live for having me, and for responding to my request regarding the segment title so quickly. If more media outlets handled this issue with the same level of care, we’d all be the better for it.

Like this post? Stay up to date by ‘Liking’ my blog on Facebook, following me on Twitter or Tumblr, subscribe via email, or just leave me a comment to let me know what you think!

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Filed under Activism, Eating Disorder Awareness Week, eating disorders, Interview, Recovery, Uncategorized

Just What the Heck Is Weight Stigma?


Stream this post by pressing ‘Play’ or download the podcast here.

Maybe the term ‘weight stigma’ isn’t in your vocabulary yet, but it needs to be. Even if it isn’t, I anticipate that the concept is not f0reign to anyone if you think hard enough about it. In fact, I’m sure that basically everyone, at some point in their lives, has been engaged in it.

Truthfully, it’s a hard set of shackles to break free of. It’s a form of prejudice that most people probably don’t realize they are engaging in, because the stereotypes about people who aren’t thin are usually accepted as truths and are not questioned. Well, I invite you to join me to start questioning them, along with the Binge Eating Disorder Association. As part of their National Weight Stigma Awareness Week (the last week in September), they’re encouraging writers to blog en masse on the subject in what is apparently known as a blog carnival. So long as it doesn’t involve clowns, I’m in. Continue reading

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First Post!

Ok, starting things off but this is still very much a work in progress. I’ll be adding links and other pages as I have the time and find things I feel are worth sharing. Happy reading!

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