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NEDA

Welcome to NEDA week! NEDA stands for National Eating Disorder Awareness. This is a cause near and dear to my heart, given I have recovered from anorexia and bulimia. In the past, I have made a post or two on social media trying to raise awareness, and worn a NEDA pin every day. But this year, I wanted to do more. Share stories with even more people. So, several weeks ago I met with the crisis counselor at the high school I work at, and brainstormed ideas with her on what I could do school-wide to raise awareness. She suggested I speak with all the health classes. This is a required course for students, and there is at least one health class every period throughout the day, therefore would be reaching out to a large population of students. I spoke with all four health teachers in the school and now am meeting with all of their classes next week! My speech to them will coincide with their nutrition unit.

I struggled with an eating disorder for about 7 years. It’s difficult to share every detail here, but here it is in a nutshell. When I was 14, I started over-exercising and purging my meals, which quickly became bulimia. At the time, I felt like I wasn’t losing weight fast enough, so I started starving myself while continuing to over-exercise, and the bulimia morphed into anorexia. I had lost an alarming amount of weight in such a short amount of time, my doctor ordered me to participate in zero physical activities. And the first treatment program I was in was an Intensive Outpatient Program. I didn’t have to spend the night, but I was there all day, every day, six days a week. I was also placed with a dietician and psychologists for myself and for my immediate family members. Throughout high school, I ended up in three different programs. When I went to college, I was no longer seeking any form of treatment. It wasn’t easy, but I finally started to live normally again. I was age 21 when I truly felt healthy again, and my body was back to much healthier numbers (in terms of weight, heart rate, blood levels, etc.). There were many times that I felt like I was never going to beat this monster that had become a part of me. But now, I am so proud to say that I continued to fight and won.

At first, it wasn’t easy for me to share my story. I felt a bit ashamed and embarrassed about what I had done to myself and my body for 7 years. But now, I feel it is important for me to speak out. Thousands of eating disorders never get reported because they are never talked about in the first place. The truth is that it is a hard thing to talk about. Any mental disorder is. But it needs to be talked about, and known that no one is alone in this. That’s why I am now making it my goal to educated people on the warning signs, causes, and symptoms. And if you or someone you know is struggling, please seek help. The following website will provide you with great information and resources. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

And always remember: “Your weight is not your worth.”

Me with the eating disorder vs. healthy me Me with the eating disorder vs. healthy me

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NEDAwareness_2015_Shareable_Illusions_Monday

“I had no idea that the ‘perfect’ images I see every day are digital illusions.”

“I had no idea that my passion became my problem.”

“I had no idea that bullying can trigger an eating disorder.”

“I had no idea that my quest for health was making me sick.”

“I had no idea that eating disorders don’t discriminate.”

“I had no idea…” This is the theme for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which is February 22-28 (this week!)

I have gone through most of my life being fairly thin. But that does not mean my weight has never been an issue, at least not in a traditional sense… I’ve heard the words “You’re so thin, you need to eat!” probably more times in my life than I care to count. I know those saying this to me had good intentions (and for the record, I always ate just fine…), however the underlying connotation of hearing this so often drilled it into my brain that I had to be thin!

By the time I got to college, however, that thin frame I had always had started to get more “womenly” curves.  Jeans I’d always worn didn’t fit the same. Shirts began feeling a little too small. My size was changing, and this was a very tough pill to swallow.

I began feeling very self-conscious in a body I had always felt so comfortable in. I began blaming my bad days on my physical appearance. I even convinced myself that getting into better shape could save my near-the-end relationship of 6 years.  So I began following a strict diet plan, committed to intense workout routines, and took fat burning supplements.

Looking at me, would you have thought I needed to loose weight? Most likely not! I was a healthy weight for my height (honestly, probably underweight according to BMI standards.) In fact, I was still hearing that “You’re so thin!” spiel. But to me, the way my body looked was not acceptable. To me, I was no longer “thin,” as I had always been.

I was constantly comparing myself to pictures I saw it the health and fitness magazines I religiously read (because I was on a journey towards “health” after all.) But just as that first quote demonstrates, these pictures of “perfect” bodies were just setting me up for more self-criticism.

Then one day I realized that this journey I had been on towards “health” had been completely skewed! I stopped taking all those supplements, got out of that toxic relationship, traded in my dumbbells for a yoga mat, and stopped shaming myself whenever I “overate.”

Today, I am thankful for my health, and I love my body for all of the incredible things it does for me! I have learned that it really is my best friend, not my worst enemy! Are there still times I feel a little insecure? Do those thoughts come crawling through my mind every now and then? Sure, but not for long!

Now, my case would have be more “disordered eating” than an eating disorder, and thankfully I had an amazing support system to help it from escalating any further. Nonetheless, disordered eating is just as significant as an eating disorder, and it is important that we are aware of the signs for both cases!

Which is why there is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week! So we can bring awareness to help the millions of people struggling with issues of body image. To help the “20 million women and 10 million men that suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life.” And according to the ANAD, 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 19 and 25!!

95% of these people are college-aged! Not adolescents. Not dealing with the trials and tribulations of high school. College-aged, young adults. Just like I was when I began feeling so insecure and developing a negative relationship with food!

Although, this is not to say you shouldn’t be on the lookout for signs of eating disorders at any age. As the quote above says, “eating disorders do not discriminate.” Any person, any size, any social class, any age, any background. We are all susceptible. I was even a nutrition major, so you would’ve thought I’d known better! But none of us are immune to poor body image.

So what can you do? 

For You: Feeling crumby about your body right now? Write down the top 10 things you love about yourself, that are not related to how you look! Keep it by your desk or tape it to your mirror so it is always there to remind you how much you rock!

For Your Friends: Become a voice of positivism among your friends, and put a stop to group body shaming (you know that scene in Mean Girls..)

For Others: Visit NEDAwareness.org for ways to get involved in National Eating Disordered Awareness Week!

Also be sure check out the James S. McDonnell Planetarium in Forest Park! It will be lit in green and blue in honor of NEDAwareness week!!

Think you may be suffering from an eating disorder or disordered eating? Take this survey!

Also be sure to check out my personal health blog, The Wholey Trinity, or follow me on Instagram or Twitter!

What will you be doing to help promote awareness for NEDAwareness Week?

-XOXO Hannah

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Hello Everyone,
NEDA week is coming to Fontbonne this week!! What is it? It is National Eating Disorder Awareness. A group of dedicated students set up various events throughout Fontbonne to bring to light the tragedy that an eating disorder can bring to a person’s life, how to help someone with an eating disorder, and more. Posters are everywhere and a Facebook event has been listed. Keep your eyes out!!
So Far the lineup includes:
MONDAY: LIBBY LYONS presents an interactive session on eating disorders from 12-1pm in the Lewis Room.
WEDNESDAY: What do you know about eating disorders? Find out in the DSAC from 11am-1pm and win a HOMEMADE COOKIE!
Something St. Joseph Hall on the 3rd Floor is Operation Beautiful. It is an inspirational post-it note program from a Blog called Operation Beautiful. The Girls floor of St. Joseph Hall helps this blog by posting positive post-it notes!! Hopefully you can see some of the ones I am and will be posting throughout the semester! This blog is especially good for NEDA week and anyone can do it! Just go to www.operationbeautiful.com !!

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Students writing for Real Life at Fontbonne are paid a small fee for each post by the university.