#WhatISTrue: 2018 Hungry for Hope Reflections



This past weekend, I was blessed beyond measure with the opportunity to further my connections, my knowledge, my ambitions, and above all, my faith.

I traveled to Nashville, Tennessee for the 10th Hungry for Hope Conference hosted by the Christian nonprofit for eating disorder and body image healing, Finding Balance .

To put it lightly, the whole weekend was utterly surreal. At times, I have to keep reminding myself that it actually happened. It was like I was on my own little mountaintop in Franklin, surrounded by people who think and speak like me. It was inspiring. It was motivating. It was humbling…and I want to remember it fully. Not only do I simply want to remember this incredible experience, but I want to apply it. I want to use it, take it back home with me, and expand on it. The mission of Finding Balance is so vital—a center for Christ-Centered connection, community and healing. This summit is currently the only Christ-centered conference of its kind in the nation.

My reasons for attending this conference were multifold: 

I wanted to be a part of an event that combined my two top passions of faith and eating disorder recovery. 

I wanted to connect with other like-minded professionals and survivors.

I wanted to learn from strong faithful leaders in this field. 

I wanted to get a taste of this work and see if I really could picture myself working in the field. 

And of course I wanted to escape my busyness to find the Lord there, and receive clarity and peace from him.

It is safe to say that all of these things were manifested over the course of this weekend. 

The Lord was definitely present in that small little factory in Franklin. A few years ago, I never would have traveled all the way to another state to walk into a room full of strangers and purposely immerse myself in a subject area that was once so painfully personal. But that just goes to show how powerful God’s grace is and how capable His healing is. Never once was I triggered by listening to the difficult stories of other ED warriors or from receiving teachings about mental health treatment. Instead, I was overcome with empathy and compassion. I observed and listened from a redeemed soul as if I were already a licensed professional. I know deep down that this is indeed my mission field, and God has persistently strengthened me and brought me to a place mentally, emotionally and physically where I am ready: I am ready to serve on the other side and not just share my story, but continue it. 

I had a deep conversation with God during the worship concert Friday night led by Rita Springer. I began by asking God why I was there. There was of course an obvious excitement of having my niche of people all in one place and intriguing chance to learn more, but originally I was supposed to be on a mission trip in Nicaragua this weekend. That trip ended up being cancelled due to unpredictable civil unrest in the country, which is a tragic occurrence I am placing in the hands of the Lord. Yet even before this official cancellation, I faithfully made the decision to attend this conference after receiving a call from the Lord pulling me to an opportunity within the states. I knew God had opened up this door, but why? Why did He want me there aside from my own interests? And so, God proceeded to speak. 

God gave me several answers to my question, which was somewhat unexpected. He revealed the reasons one by one before inviting me into His Word:

I am here to be reminded of the truth.

I am here to receive His love.

I am here to be reminded of how He pursued me and how He saved me. I was reminded of how He shook me with his spirit in high school so I could carry Him with me to college—where He lit a spark inside of me to burst in flame for Him.

I am here because He planted a seed for a lifetime of growing.

“God, you found me…” I cried. “You found me amidst my confusion and darkness.”

“Of course I did,” He answered. “Now, what are you going to do with Me?”

At this moment, I honestly didn’t know how to respond to God’s question. That was the answer I hoped He would blatantly put before me. A little disappointed in my lack of spiritual discernment, I remembered a piece of advice that a keynote speaker had made that morning: “Steward the words of God,” she encouraged. In other words, go back to the truth.

Realizing I had this truthful blueprint right at my disposal, I reached into my backpack and pulled out my bible; my small travel bible I carried on-hand in college and that has been with me to Nicaragua and back. I decided to look up the verse printed on the Finding Balance bookmark that was waiting for me on the table that morning. Galatians 5:1 was the scripture, which I admittedly did not have memorized. 

Then the word of God spoke:


“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm…and no longer submit to the yoke of slavery…” (Gal 5:1)





I underlined this powerful verse which began my reading quest through each underlined verse in my bible through the book of Ephesians.

“What am I going to do with You, Lord?” I stuttered. “What am I going to do in response to Your reckless pursuit for me? This…this is what I will do, Lord…

I will stand FIRM in freedom. 

I will no longer submit to the yoke of slavery. My eating disorder enslaved me God, but YOU have set me free. I will live freely for You, Lord.”

So why else am I here?

I am here to celebrate freedom.

I am here because I can feel God here.

I am here because I am Hungry for Hope. 

I hope for a life of freedom for others.

I hope for a future for me somewhere in this field.

I hope in a GOD who heals.

I hope in HIS divine plan.

I hope for healing for others.

I am here so that my empty cup would be filled with the fullness of God.


At this moment I glanced up at the worship lyrics projected on the screen:

“Make me your vessel,

Make me an offering,

Make me whatever You want me to be…”


I kept expressing that word “want” to God. I have been telling Him that I want to work in the field of eating disorders someday. I just have been scared that my wants may not be His wants. But in that moment, God reminded me that He lives inside of me. He reminded me that I am free, and therefore free to make decisions and go after what I want. I am no longer conformed to the yoke of slavery. Because of Christ, I am free to want. And with Him within me forever, I don’t need to be afraid of wanting the wrong things.

“Lord, please let my desires match your desires, because you live inside of me. I am yours, Lord, living in a new life of freedom. I am free now … free to be whatever YOU want me to be. I’m free to choose, free to want, and free to dream. I choose YOU, Lord, each and every day. I want to make you proud and I dream of an abundant life with you. Because of you, I will NEVER return to a yoke of slavery. Even if I pursue your work in this field, God, I need not fear of falling behind bars again. I know you will take my burden, Lord. I know the challenges come after the vision, but that You are greater. I know that wherever I go, Lord, I am YOURS.”

And so, I continue this walk as He shines the lamp for my feet. Slowly but surely lighting up my path. I may be hesitant about my next steps but God is always sure. 

With this light, I have highlighted several points which I hope to take away from this incredible weekend and use in my life back home. It is my honor to share these reflections with you. My prayer is that the Lord would open your hearts to what He wants you to see, hear, and feel.


Hungry for Hope 2018 Takeaways:

  • This event was real. My connections were real. My encounters with God were real. My visions about future goals were real. My emotions were real. God’s truths are real. 
  • I am free to live this life in joy, in peace, and with enthusiasm. I am free to chase after my dreams.
  • Identity in Christ is the foundation of our being. Rediscovering this identity is the first step in the healing process.
  • When we re-establish our attachment to God and thus to our true self, all the other pieces will begin to re-attach
  • God is the only One who has the true power to heal. But He can use us as his vessels for healing 
  • Science and wisdom of the biological, psychological and physiological functions come from the Creator of this universe (Heb 11:2)
  • God himself is in fact a relationship in perfect union (the Trinity). He created us in His image of having a mind, a body and a spirit. We cannot neglect any one part. God wants us to be intimately connected with Him.
  • Coming into alignment with God involves you seeing yourself as worthy enough to receive His healing 
  • Sometimes behavior change is not sufficient for lasting change. We must spend time with the One who made us and who can change our hearts, and therefore our minds and our behaviors following. 
  • “What we fear determines what we trust. What we trust we glorify, and what we glorify we herald.” -Kelly Needham
  • “Hoping in the Lord is not naive, but a lifesaver. Hoping in the Lord is not weak, but brave.” -Rachel Hockett
  • Proceed with God by looking back on the truth of His word and the unforced rhythms of grace
  • The Bible does not just call us to live out of scarcity. You must first accept the fullness of God. You must first love yourself. In order for you to “deny yourself” as scripture encourages, you must first find your true sense of self. You cannot lose something you do not have. 
  • Practice discerning “description vs. prescription” when reading God’s word
  • Jesus did not come to make you nice—He came to make you NEW” -Jimmy Needham
  • Sometimes the purpose of a season is all about simply building your faith and becoming closer to God


“Then you will know the TRUTH, and the truth will set you FREE” ~John 8:32


“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for; the conviction of things not seen” ~Hebrews 11:1


Dream Big

I used to think that dreams were only for dreamers. People who spent their days daydreaming rather than doing. People who were overly optimistic and failed to be realistic. People who were always persistently positive and couldn’t see the hurdles. 

I used to think that I didn’t have time to dream. I needed to not waste a second and instead put in the work. I had to keep on pushing harder even when I was tired. I had to keep on pressing towards the goal. But my goal wasn’t my dream… there would be another goal after this one. My goals lined up without a finish line in sight. 

For a while, I didn’t think I deserved to dream. I had lost control of my life as I knew it and thought I’d never gain it back. What was the point? Besides, I didn’t have the energy. I was sick—at least that’s what the doctors told me. I was haunted—at least that’s what my enslaved brain told me. Dreams were for happy people. Dreams were for strong people. Dreams were for those who freely lived. Dreams weren’t for me.

I used to spend all my efforts pushing my limits. Aiming for nothing less than perfection. Beating myself up over small shortcomings. Shuttling almost all of my drive into manipulating my eating and exercise. Even with all the 

pounds lost and pounds gained, moods up and moods down, depression gone and returned, self-criticism accepted and rejected, I still refused to sit still. I couldn’t sacrifice all of my progress to stop and attempt to dream.

Just one more…I thought to myself. Just one more…then I will be satisfied. 

Or so I thought.

Lap after lap of falling on my face …

 Year after year of over-exerting myself …

I still didn’t feel fulfilled. Yes, I had reached all of the goals I had meticulously set for myself. I had far surpassed them, actually. But it still wasn’t enough. I still felt a hollow pain inside. 

Then one day, I had a dream. I dreamed I was speaking to a large audience about my struggles. I dreamed of a new arrival of strength. I envisioned myself confident, joyful, and strong. I saw myself as inspirational, grateful, and empowering. I saw my future from the inside out: mentally liberated and physically free. Professionally driven and relationally connected. Family-oriented and faithfully serving. I imagined myself alive and healthy, courageous and compassionate. 

I had a dream of being someone instead of just doing things. I had a dream of becoming and knowing who I was. I dreamed that I would feel and recognize a passion. I dreamed of a passion that would propel me forward. I dreamed of obtaining a forever foundation, and acquiring a true sense of my unshakable self. I had a dream of discovering who I was meant to be. 

By training myself to be present, I allowed myself to dream. By acknowledging my past, I opened up myself to the idea of a future. By facing mere brokenness, I recognized my hope. It was in this hope that I finally learned what it truly means to believe. And this believing would require faith. 

You see, it is in times when we feel lost when we are forced to find our way. There is hope in the air of even every gloomy day. Dreams aren’t just a random dance at nighttime. No… dreams are meant to wake us up. Dreams help us distinguish reality but aim for something greater. Dreams can never be won by an opponent, or snatched away by a contender. You can never fail at achieving your dreams, because your dreams are yours to choose. Uniquely crafted by your hopeful mind, your dreams belong to you.

Dreams have character. Dreams don’t simply get checked off, or conquered with a detailed program. Dreams are forever growing, but in the most rewarding way. They are yours to fathom, yours to keep, and yours to chase. Dreams take a small thought and turn it into a big opportunity. Dreams are meant to be pursued, not accomplished. They are meant to be motivators, not pressures. They are meant to bring value to your life, not destroy it.

So I decided to dream. I dreamed hard, and I dreamed big. I refused to let my eating disorder crush my dreams. And I’m still dreaming. 

I dream of a world where eating disorders are no longer stigmatized. I dream of opportunities to pay it forward, and to use my story to help other people. I dream of reaching others through speaking and writing. I dream of sharing my book with anyone who will listen. I dream of being an educational voice in the athletic department and a role model for student athletes. I dream of resounding mental health resources and of becoming a professional in the field someday. I dream of a pro-recovery movement, and impacting the lives of young women in an effort of prevention. And I dream of a fulfilled purpose here on this earth. My dream is to run after life that my Creator designed for me to experience, and to love as hard as I can. 

Dreams take risks. They take sacrifice. They take hard work. But they also require vision—a healing vision; a hopeful vision. I pray that the Lord would heal any blindness tonight. I pray that you could see your worth, recognize your value, and feel your purpose. For “He who began a great work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ.” No one knows when our days are over. But dreams keep singing even after the last sun sets. ❤ 



“Christmas is [more than] a Feeling”



The day after Christmas is always hard.

Hard to put an end to all the hype and happiness; hard to turn off the Christmas music for a whole other year; hard to hug distant relative goodbye; hard to wrap up all the holiday decor; hard to let go of the intimate gatherings and silence the belly-aching laughter. But as difficult as the bookend of Christmas is, it’s even harder to imagine a life without it.

I cannot fathom what it would be like any other way … growing up without family to visit, presents to open, a warm house to come home to, delicious dishes to devour, or a church to attend. Growing up, this was all I knew. I didn’t once take any of it for granted, but the older I now become, the more my eyes are opened to the beauty of nostalgia. The quicker the time passes, the more I wish it would just stay put. Though Christmas, even with its traditions, changes each year, there is a feeling that remains remarkably present. There is an emotion that returns each time I hear the familiar tunes playing in my head, or gaze into the lively flame in my hands at the candlelight worship service. There is one constant, one dependency, one reliable source of love each Christmas. The love of Christ in celebration of His birth, is a love that never fades.

I was the kid who believed in Santa Claus until the 6th grade. Up until that time, I had no reason to question; I had no reason to doubt. I simply knew how to trust. With this belief in a jolly old man I had never seen, I let myself become lured in by the magic of Christmas. I followed all the rules, behaved myself (especially around December), always left out the good cookies, and wrote old St. Nick letters and curious dialogue. My parents were awesome at playing the role of the mysterious gift-giver, and I was convinced that the tales were true.

Even with friends who did not believe, I didn’t want to follow suit. Even if Santa wasn’t real, I didn’t want to disbelieve in it all. To me, this idea robbed the joy of Christmas. I would rather believe in something that makes me hopeful, and participate in a tradition that makes me happy, rather than try and find reasons to prove all of it rubbish.

I often faced embarrassment for my gullibility, but I continued to hold my ground—until one Christmas eve I came across Santa’s handwriting on a notepad in my dad’s office. That night I heard nails being hammered into trees outside our house—definitely not reindeer hoofs—making it difficult to sleep.

The next morning my brother and I were prompted to follow a trail of yarn, leading us to the garage in the backyard, each piece of string wrapped around a nail hammered into a redbud tree. The minute I saw the string, I knew. Keeping quiet for my little brother, I held my heartbreak inside. That Christmas, I experienced the magic drift away. Yet I didn’t try and catch it. I let it go, watching it spin away into the wind, slouching in my own disappointment.

Since that Christmas morning, I have experienced something even greater than magic, which rises with each winter season. I have experienced the wondrous light of the Lord, which, unlike Santa’s sleigh, does not have to come and go. God’s light is present year round, but shines brighter on each Christmas morn. And with every Christmas eve I come to meet, I hear in my head the nails being plowed into the tree … though this time it’s the cross-shaped tree which held my Savior until his death for me.

Though it took a while, I can now replace my trust in something indescribable. I can deeply believe in something unshakable. I can choose to live for something I may never fully understand. But I can rest my head in a peaceful and thankful slumber, with a faithful assurance that the Giver of Joy does see me when I’m sleeping and knows when I’m awake. My new giver of joy loves me regardless of my gift-wrapping, decorating, or Christmas cooking. His love is what produces the feeling of Christmas. The familiar feeling that sprouts from being surrounded by love, no matter what happened during the calendar year. His love is what I believe in. His grace is always wrapped neatly under my tree. It is, with each passing season, the greatest gift there is.


” In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” ~1 John 4:9


So …

Progress. Definitely worth noting.

With this year’s Thanksgiving gathering rather pleasant, I must acknowledge the progress related to ED recovery. This progress almost slipped by unnoticed, if it hadn’t been for my current eating disorder mentees keeping their mentor in check. Reason being, my new recovered lifestyle of “freedom” has become nearly routine. Social eating situations have become much more frequent (gotta love the dating world for that), and my previous eating anxiety in anticipation of America’s national food holiday (surprisingly) was completely absent.

Instead, I keyed in on the annual road race that morning (in the bitter rain I may add), and most importantly, the family I would get to share in special fellowship with. The spark of adrenaline and familial relationships were what drove me that day. I was thankful for traditions, and their consistency whether rain or shine. Despite the disappointment in my running performance, I embraced the new physical strength of my stride.  This year, I was the first one in line to fill my plate with overflowing mounds of homemade dishes. I reminisced in cheerful childhood memories, laughing at old sayings and embarrassing stories with my cousins.

Welcoming new faces into our traditional gathering, our family expanded our soulful love that day. Fulfilled with the quality engagement and conversation, my mind never wandered to overeat. I felt calm. I felt at ease. On the one designated day of thanks, I was actually thankful. Thankful for family, thankful for friends, and thankful for peace. Finally, a Thanksgiving day spent as it should be—connected by care, and shared out of love. Food was merely the article of appreciation, not the focal point.

For nearly ten years of my life, however, this was not the case. I loved Thanksgiving like every other holiday, because of the excuse to draw family together. But at the same time, I dreaded this day because of my eating disorder. The remarks from others about exercising more and counting calories to prepare and makeup for over-indulging after their Thanksgiving meal set me on edge. I feared being forced to swallow strange foods and overeating. I was scared of gaining weight from one large dinner plate (actually two, which were custom in my family).

I was nervous about what others would say, about my eating habits or about their own. I would contemplate all week long how I would compensate for the caloric overload that day—adding extra miles, pushing through harder workouts, sneaking in bonus push-ups whenever I had a chance, and restricting food the minute the holiday was over.

Part of me knew that not everyone took these intentions to the extreme like I did. I knew that 90% of the people who complained about gaining weight from too much turkey wouldn’t even lace up their running shoes the next morning. Yet even still, I had to be the exception. I had to be the healthiest one. I had to uphold my fitness reputation and turn down the gluttonous pie. I wasn’t allowed to give in to the temptation of seconds or thirds…or if I did, I wasn’t allowed to enjoy it.

No matter what I told myself before going in to the stressful situation, I always seemed to lose. The eating disorder was having a marvelous time beating me back and forth between its rigid fists. I dreamed of a Thanksgiving where I too, could relax after lunch and watch football without my mind franticly coming up with ways to burn off each and every bite.

Some people might not consider a thankful Thanksgiving to be a big deal. After all, isn’t that what the day is supposed to be all about? Don’t get me wrong, I have always practiced gratitude on this typical holiday, and have always thanked God for the many blessings in my life. But when you have experienced a personal rescue from a bottomless pot of gravy, each following bite is even more grateful.

I guess you could say my list of thanks has grown even longer, adding a line for every meaningful year. Today, I am thankful not only for the internal healing from an enslaving mental illness. I’m thankful for the light that shines bright even through the rain. The light that peeled open my eyes so that I could see, once again, the love that was sitting at the table with me for every meal along the way. Today, I am thankful to feel, once again, the fullness of His joy, and the sureness of His peace. Smiling with my family, enjoying pieces of dessert, holding a fully satisfied belly, streaming thoughts of appreciation—all guilt-free.






This familiar date in U.S. history stirs up painful memories for everyone on American soil. The numbers echo inside our heads as the ultimate emergency coding. It was sixteen years ago this morning that our nation fell under attack by Islamic terrorists. Today, the entire state of Florida entered another battle as we were forced to surrender to treacherous winds and catastrophic waters. Yet even so, we fought back with a faithful vision of the aftermath from hurricane Irma—“the largest storm in history.” Both days, as gruesome as they played out to be, marked a new chance at resiliency.


The decision to stay put in our hometown and “hunker down” with the rest of the overly-loyal city was a decision that was not taken lightly. Our family went back and forth discussing possible alternatives for evacuation, but the route along crowded highways toward Atlanta appeared more daunting than the approaching storm. The media continued to shove petrifying video footage and warnings down our throats. With the gut-wrenching news from Houston’s recent hurricane, the bulk of Jacksonville civilians began to rush around in panic.

Gas stations had the life sucked out of them, grocery store aisles were immediately cleared, and not a single pack of water could be found anywhere within city linits. The chaos of anticipation as the monster creeped along the Caribbean was rising as quickly as the potential storm-surge.


South Florida was hit head-on by Irma, as she continued to throw everyone for a spin. The original path was projected to head west, to then be bounced northeast by a front heading towards the middle of the state. The width of the storm was so wide it would eventually cover the entirety of Florida, and Jacksonville was right in the direct path of destruction. Still, numerous natives decided to sit and ride this bad girl out.

Suddenly, the scheming Irma changed her mind. Instead of aggressively veering east, she continued to crawl west. Cities near Tampa and Fort Myers were issued a state of evacuation. While our prayers for a change of direction were answered, the wishful winds blew in the opposite direction towards our innocent West-Florida neighbors. Irma was still creeping along strong.

As she made her way busting through neighborhoods upon landfall, the wind speed decreased and rate of travel diminished. Everyone in Jacksonville expected a mere category 1 or tropical storm to finally reach our territory. Sunday night was a rough one as Irma made her visit: winds howled and whistled through the waving trees. The rain smacked houses every which way, limbs falling all over the place. The forces were strong enough to split trees in half, and uproot them entirely. Trees fell on power lines blowing electric power transformers. Waking up to ghostly winds and explosive bangs did not make for a peaceful sleep.


I’m sure everyone in Jax lost sleep that night. Probably even the entire week. With continuous praying for our brothers and sisters south of us and for our own families and friends, we had finally come to the moment of anxious dreading. The morning following our weather attack was no doubt an alarming one. But a thankful one nonetheless.

For those of us who rose out of bed that morning, hopefully we said a prayer gratefulness before we opened the curtains to the storm-stricken streets. Though alive and well, lots of homes and landmarks were not. The category 1 storm experience had blasted its way right on through… but the massive category 3 storm surge had only begun. The “River City” upheld its title that day, with gushing waters from the St. Johns streaming into the roads and yards in near proximity. Downtown was unrecognizable and undistinguishable from the river itself; the river that now resembled the ocean. Evacuation flood zones kept their reputation, with the shops of San Marco becoming comparable to the streets of Venice. First responders worked diligently with rescue missions, pulling people out of cars and water with boats and rafts. Local churches became Red Cross relief stations and JSO command centers. We had witnessed an impeccable natural disaster. Now it was time for the clean-up.


Hand-in-hand, the city of Jacksonville fought back. Neighbors helped, families scrambled, and strangers shared amenities. Just like 9/11 in 2001, Americans jumped right out of the rubble and survivors began emerging from the dust. People flocked the streets, some forced to leave their flooded homes. Others remained trapped in condo’s and flood-crafted islands. Those with power breathed a sigh of relief. Those less fortunate busted out the flashlights and ripped open the snack stash.




It is in times like these that we are forced to draw together. In times of devastation, all we can cling to is hope. We have perishable resources here on this planet, and man-made resources to help us bounce back into civilized society. But what is so easy to forget sometimes is the ultimate source of life that has always been and will always will be. God loves his people just as much as He loves the rest of His creation. I bet it hurt Him to watch all that He made huddle in fear and brace such a beating. But His mercy is greater than any form of destruction. His love is more powerful than any monstrous storm.


In this time of trial we had a chance at creating more than compatible community. Sharing food and water; opening up homes to family; clearing debris from front lawns; checking in on relatives; lending a working hand; bonding over candlelight; bearing the image of Christ.

We can, and will, get through this recovery together. We can, and will, walk out of these deep waters as stronger swimmers than when we began. We can, and will, grow closer to one another as a nation and as a city. We can, and will, with God’s help.


Human Days

I remember what it felt like to have “bad” days.

It’s not that I don’t have them anymore, but something in my mind is different:

I guess I have finally accepted the fact that I’m human.

I remember what it felt like, just trying to get by. Pressing on throughout the day, trying to keep busy to distract myself from looking down with disgust or disappointment. Feeling sluggish, bloated, discouraged and disillusioned. Punishing myself with double extra-long workouts, or restricting food until I couldn’t stand it anymore.

Yes, there were indeed “bad” days. Poor body image days, hopeless days, weak days, and frustrating days. Anxious days, angry days, and annoying days. Regretful days, resentful days, and rebellious days.

But there were also good days. Motivating days, exciting days, strengthening days and empowering days. Thankful days, thoughtful days, and transforming days. Victorious days, vocational days, and vibrant days. Each and every day soon became my choice.

I could choose recovery, or I could choose relapse. Yes, sometimes the eating disorder seemed more powerful than my will. Sometimes it won over my voice of reason. But there was always an opportunity for a second chance. There was always that short moment of free will. A moment with a fate that spoke the difference between slavery and freedom; isolation and community; pressure and peace.

I know what it feels like to dislike yourself. But what I have realized over the years while in healthy eating disorder recovery is that when I may not have liked myself on the outside, I still secretly loved myself on the inside. While at my lowest, yes, there were times when I couldn’t recognize my own thoughts anymore. In those days I was incapable of making rational decisions on my own. There were times when I pondered the true meaning of life, because I could’t truly feel it.

But after years of slowly getting better, I began to feel again. I began to laugh again and love again. I even began to love myself again. I may not have been happy with how my body looked every day, but I was in love with the person I was becoming. I knew I wasn’t done becoming her yet. So I pledged to keep on going.

I now recognize that this girl will never be done growing. I know I may not ever have everything figured out. But the self-knowledge and self-contentment that I have acquired by allowing myself to heal makes all of that okay. I guess I have acknowledged that we all make mistakes. I guess I have finally realized that no one is perfect. I guess I’ve learned that life is not meant to be wasted while wishing the day away. I guess I have accepted the fact that I’m only human.

Each and every day is a gift from above. There is no room for shame.




Entrepreneur Expression



No need to dance around the subject, I’ll just go ahead and say it:


I don’t know why I thought it would all of a sudden get easier. I mean, let’s be real, I truly have come a looonnng way in all of my personal and professional endeavors. But the human side of me is ready for some pieces to finally start fitting together. I thought I would be flying by now.

Reality is, these past six months have been one heck of a whirlwind …

In February I sought out to improve my own health through holistic functional medicine.
I then managed to survive 40 straight days vegan.
I concocted dozens of different smoothies, mush bowls, and veggie dishes on a daily basis. Nutritional background gratefully served in my favor.
Through a consistent effort, I dramatically improved my blood work profile and successfully balanced my hormones (with supervised guidance).

In my “spare time” I conducted loads of research, put together 24 chapters, and self-published an autobiography. (Not to mention the endless drafts and countless editing checks.)
I learned the ins and outs of digital formatting and online marketing. Somehow I’ve even kept up with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

I officially launched FitPeaceByPeace, LLC, accompanied by all the required filings, regulations, and processing fees.
I invested a chunk of my savings to get the ball rolling, dealt with tax information and opened a business bank account.
Hours and hours have been spent brainstorming, networking, writing programs and proposals.

Yet there is still seems to be no time to simply sit and twiddle my thumbs. (Even though I find myself doing this on a daily basis.)

The work is never done. There is always something I could be doing. But then I deliberately stopped to look at my situation– I don’t really wish for the work to be done.

You see, while I sit here and complain about all of the hard work, someone is still constantly at work. God is continuing the good work that He began in me. I don’t ever want to wish for His work to be over.

As I contemplate the next step, God is already waiting. While I spit out all the things that I have accomplished, He is still accomplishing a fine masterpiece in me. It’s not about all the things I do, the brands I make, or the stats I create. His work is all that matters. Who am I to rush the will of the Lord?

I am here, open, and willing. I dream of doing big things. But I want these things to be for God’s kingdom.

As I try so very hard to figure everything out, God already has my life figured out. He’s the boss with the plan. It’s my job to trust and to listen.

It is so easy to get caught up in trying to keep up in this world. But I think the lesson to remember is that this life is not a race. We each have a purpose while here for a short while, and only God knows when that purpose has been fulfilled.

Even still, this doesn’t mean that God cannot continue to use us. It doesn’t mean that once we complete a “task” given by the Lord that we are done with business here in this life. We are forever constantly growing, just like a business must constantly grow to survive. The growth and maturity and life lessons to be learned, are all a part of the process. And as an advocate of the phrase “just trust the process,” I need to remember that God isn’t done here yet. Therefore, my work isn’t done here either.

Sometimes, I think we try too hard. I think that we create this image for ourselves of what life is supposed to look like. But oftentimes, it still seems like we are running in the dark. Yes it is great to set goals. Yes, it is awesome to have time-management. But at the end of the day, if you worked whole-heartedly for the Lord, then all of your efforts that day were worthwhile, regardless of the outcome.

When we chase the Lord, our wildest dreams will fall into place. When our focus is in the right place, we won’t have to try so hard.

God notices our persistence. He sees our dedication. God feels our passion. Some days, with frustration and stumbling road blocks, all we want to do is make our Daddy proud. All we want is attention, affection, and commendable affirmation. But the truth is, we already have them. We have been enough all along…

So to all who have ever had their heart set on an impossible dream:


“The only thing impossible for God is to be impossible.”




Image source: conversations4change

Speak Up!

There was a time in my life when I felt suffocated within my own self-perceived existence. Each day I scrambled under exhausting mental battles taking place inside my head. I felt confused, isolated, and numb even to my own feelings. Life’s direction was a mystery, and I didn’t have anyone to look up to, who had walked in my weathered shoes. I didn’t know anyone who I considered to be “like me.” Throughout my struggles, I thought I was a rare case and that my condition was such a horrid thing, and thus, something to be ashamed of. Yet despite all of this, a source of courage somehow managed to make its way through my rugged defensive walls, which then instigated the daring decision to open up about my past to others—a chance which was painful, nerve-wracking, and relieving all at the same time. I found freedom in sharing who I truly am (or once was, once upon a time.) Thus began a ripple effect of invigorating possibilities, potential, and purpose. I was finally able to come to terms with my real self, and I came to believe that I no longer had to grant control to a vicious power:

I no longer had to allow my past eating disorder diagnosis to continue to define me.

Just like the initial inkling to explore the roads of a restrictive lifestyle, true eating disorder recovery, or “stable remission,” stems from the same curious desire for a daunting, yet oddly intriguing change…

Rooted in that strong urge to constantly prove yourself, is a humming call to climb for escape. Chiseled within your heart of stone, is the determined will to survive. There comes a time when hovering logic finally clicks. Reality becomes clearer, and negative consequences become inevitable. Unless of course the will to climb overpowers the will to surrender to that tempting devious echo whipping at your ears. You see, only when we surrender to the demands of the eating disorder, do we remain buried beneath the rubble. It is when we surrender to our inner selves—our valiant soldiers for life—and to a higher power of truth and forgiveness, that we find the strength to climb. These inner soldiers will stand on defense until they die, bracing against resistance until their very last breath. Yet when these life-fighters are fueled with hope, the battle field gracefully glows…

A radiant light seeps into the shadowy tunnel, and our eyes wince at the brightness. Out of the hollows we reach our trembling hands, tearing down the faulty safety net of instability and shallow promises. The light has never been so bright…and the brightness has never felt so right.


When speaking about stable recovery, the truthful golden thread is that you have to want it for yourself. This must be a real heart-felt desire, recognized by the very person who was victimized into accidentally tripping or adventurously nosediving in the beginning. You must first pinpoint the “why” behind taking such a leap of faith into the recovery zone. You must find the bravery to stare change face-to-face, and accept and genuinely desire not only the idea of recovery, but the actual physical, emotional, and mental state of recovery. You have to admit to yourself that you do want to get better. You must listen to your inner being that screams to you every day for freedom, and honestly ask yourself…

Are you fed up with the condition ruling your each and every day?
Why do you suppose you are in your current state?
Why do you wish to be free?
What will you gain from this decision?
Are you presently, truly happy?

Using the power of your senses and structured personality, now is the time to use your predisposed abounding determination to win back your life—the purposeful life you are meant to live.

As with any sort of anxious conception, we are the ones who ultimately give any sort of overpowering thoughts and fearful feelings any control at all. Without our own over-analyzing of these apprehensive thoughts, they remain simply meaningless thoughts—feelings which we often grant too much emphasis, and merely ideas in which we dwell to the extreme. It’s time to stand up against such fears. It’s time to join forces with that little soldier inside, and together, fight for the voice of reason. It’s time to speak up, stand tall, and march out triumphantly.

It’s time for your voice to be heard—by your eating disorder, by your family, and most importantly, by YOU.


The fact of the matter is, eating disorders are a deadly illness that often tends to trickle on silently—when frankly, such conditions belong right up there next to serious mental sicknesses such as alcohol abuse and drug addictions. Usually, the initial downfall is not a deliberate conscious choice to participate in harmful behavior, but it doesn’t take long for that choice to spiral into a state of lost sanity and misery—you can quickly become your own largest critic, and your own worst enemy.

Yes, eating disorders are a debilitating disease, which require scrutinizing attention and professional treatment care. It is also true that I did let the shame of this condition overpower me for nearly twelve years of my life. I had found my identity in the eating disorder and it’s nasty little lies. I thought I would be trapped behind those cold skeletal bars for life, and as a result, I was easily lured back into the tempting restrictive mindset. I was programmed to believe that what had happened to me was a terrible misfortunate circumstance that needed to be suppressed, and that it would only stir up painful memories if mentioned publicly in conversation. To escape this stabbing confrontation, I typically chose to avoid the topic altogether. But in doing so, and in strictly reserving my raw memories for my diaries, I realized that I was, in a sense, still living in secret. Slowly but surely I finally started to believe in the power behind overcoming the past through words, just as now I believe that sacred healing is indeed possible.


Every time I tell my story it becomes easier. I can even tell it without crying now, which I perceive to be monumental, for this step is necessary in order to use my newly discovered strength to help others and pay it forward. As a matter of fact, opening up to my closest friends about my condition were major milestones in my personal recovery journey. It is often still emotionally difficult to discuss the topic around my closest family, who was there by my side through the darkest of years. But over time, it has even become easier to openly converse within this area ever since I began publicly writing about my story through blogging. The emotional rewards from opening up my heart have been exceedingly worthy, and I value every opportunity to share the mercy which has filled my heart to its rim.

Friends, it is finally time to break the silence. In honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness week this year, I choose to honor this year’s theme of “Just talk about it!” by using this moment to share with you words of promising hope.

I realize that many people may shy away from approaching this tragic topic, simply because they don’t know how. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to be a trained professional to be able to make a difference in someone’s life. All you have to do is listen…

…really, truly listen.

Listen with the intention to understand, even though you may never truly be able to relate firsthand. Listen with a caring heart, and listen out of love. Encourage your loved one to talk this out, and give them the safe space to do so. Do not listen to correct or to scold; do not listen with judgmental, or even “expert” ears. Instead, educate yourself on where you can seek help and assistance when necessary, and act upon this knowledge accordingly. Simply be there, fully present with your loved one, or even perhaps, with yourself. Be patient…with others and with yourself. Be kind…to others and to yourself. True healing takes time. But the time that you spend today, truly matters.

No one is in this journey alone…no victim or helper ever has to walk these arduous trails silent.

It is time to SPEAK UP.

Speak up on behalf of your loved one struggling; your friend who once fell; your teammate who sat on the bench; your daughter who resents herself; your classmate who never came to lunch; speak up for yourself. I promise, there is always someone out there who is listening, or who would take the time to listen if you asked. Talking about our troubles is not weakness, but strength. To be able to come clean about your past, and to make peace with yourself while accepting your transformation along the way, is the bravest thing you could ever do.

Together, we must learn to simply “trust the process”…

and to “strive for progress, rather than perfection.”


Keeping this deadly condition underneath the table only gives it more power. Little piercing glass pieces constantly being swept beneath the carpet are exactly how diseases like this spread. It is a cumulative effect which fires the bullet—nothing ever happens overnight. By ignoring small thoughts and feelings surrounding damaging behavior only fuels the satanic scheme. Put a cap on the muzzle before shaky fingers can wrap themselves around the trigger. Try to listen before you speak, and when you do speak, take note of which voice cries out first.

In situations like these, we must stand firm for what we believe to be true. Not what other people have told you to be true, but what your spirit tells you to be true. Pinned beneath the tight strangle of the eating disorder, your spirit is still fighting. Fuel this spirit with living fire, and it will ignite the whole rest of your being with the light of life. This is a different flame from the false energy that the eating disorder promises—this new flame reins forever. This invigorating flame brings hopeful heat, and displays a beautiful brightness.

It is time to unite powers of living flames, to overthrow the fiery deceiving tongue. We must stand together, hand-in-hand in advocacy and education, if we desire to make a difference in this overlooked corner. We must extend efforts by teaming up against misinformation, miscommunication, timidness, and false-accusations, and begin speaking out in truth and transparency. Knowledge and awareness are vital stepping stones to joyous victory. We all deserve a chance at life and freedom in this world. The dynamic movement of self-acceptance and transformation can start here with you.

Speaking to you today from a position of vibrant vulnerability, my conscience has never been so clear. The remarkable truth is that bold confidence and solid faith can be contagious. The spirit of hope and self-love can be unconquerable. Words of wisdom and compassion can save a life. And in my book, these humbling words of truth are words worth spreading. ❤


If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237, or visit

“Pep Talk”


I often get asked the question:

“How did you find recovery?” or

“How did you finally reach a place of safe rest and reflection?”

As Jenni Schaefer would say, “Recovery is like a jigsaw puzzle. The pieces are different for everyone” (paraphrased.) While the pieces of the puzzle do vary for each individual circumstance, the bottom line is you have to want it. Strong recovery is a choice which occurs deeply and internally, and stable living cannot be attained through force alone. It has to be a personal decision as a result of a new perspective, mental breakthroughs, and personal emotional commitment and maturity. It isn’t a smooth road either…yet each stumbling block has the potential of creating an even stronger soldier. Such individuals like myself already have the type A personality…we are already intrinsically motivated and extremely determined. It’s just a matter of shuttling this drive into a positive energy towards healing.




There will be fear of losing that control—that security blanket of meticulously counting, measuring, recording and obsessing. We get so trapped and convinced that we cannot exist without it—that we will always be different, and always have to be alert so the evil voice won’t creep back in. In a way, we let this feed us. Deep down we want an escape, but for so long this has been “comfortable” —a sense of grip over our constant climb while trying to keep up in this world.

If you want to gain the trust and respect and self control over your own life again you have to be adamant about true recovery, and outwardly show your serious effort to change in order to regain your friends’ and family’s trust. Even with my respectful degree in Exercise Science, my family probably feared that I would use this new knowledge in the wrong ways. Despite popular belief, this knowledge assisted in extensive intellectual understanding about what exactly was taking place inside my frail body, and everything else associated with the illness from a physiological standpoint.

Today, I use this knowledge to my own health advantage, seeking opportunities to apply the practical information to myself and to others. And I’m still learning. But that is the glory of becoming one with yourself…it makes you feel so alive.

With that said, I’d like to offer a little pep talk—[the inner coach in me can’t help herself ;)] Below is a message directed to anyone who feels this sense of trapped identity and confusion. May this huddle empower you to take a stand, on behalf of yourself, or on behalf of a life you care about:


~A message from your Coach…

“Instead of viewing this step towards healing as relinquishing the sense of control that you have idolized for so long, redirect your perspective to a control GAINED. By surrendering your old strangling ways and obsessive habits, you gain a brand new freedom, and a brand new peace. Break free of the shackles of restriction and lies of stagnancy. You were born a free spirit with influencing outside circumstances. Everyone deals with the same stressors differently, which determines the prognosis of our unique journeys.

Your identity does not lie within your eating disorder. Yes, it is a part of who you are, and contributes to your story, but only to reveal just how far you’ve come with your newly acquired strength. In the beginning, self-discipline and desire for control simply got out of hand. Take back your life with this same discipline and desire. Don’t let this disease control you. By remaining enslaved to the familiar behaviors, you are simply fueling the fire for disaster.


You have to forgive yourself in order to love yourself. You have to stop making excuses for your suffering. You must stop trying to convince yourself that you were meant to suffer and that you don’t deserve to be well. You must preach to yourself the truth that your suppressed spirit knows so well…while trapped behind your ED voice, you are not truly well.

Once you admit you do want to get better, you then have to allow yourself to get better. You must be patient with yourself, and allow your body to figure itself out, piece by piece. You have to spiritually realize that God did not create you with the intention of living a life of pain—He created you with purpose. You must conceptually come to terms with the fact that it is “ok to be ok”…it is ok for you to be healthy, and it is ok for you to be happy.

No more feeling guilty about the past, and no more feeling guilty when you give your body the quality care that it needs to survive. Enough of this “But I’m different” business—everyone is unique in their needs, including you—but this doesn’t mean a life of deprivation, isolation, and slavery. I believe that God envisioned you in your best version when He formed you in his hands. He had wonderful intentions and dreams for you—so much that He saved you, and placed this book in front of your tired face.

God wants to be your center. He wants all of you, including the piece of your heart which was deceived so long ago. Give Him all of your guilty filth. Give Him all of your secret thoughts. Surrender to Him all of your mess-ups and give-ups. Present to Him all of your shameful fears and regretful tears.

The truth is, you are already forgiven, my friend. Live with the knowledge of this truth. The past is written, but the next pages are clean. It’s time to forgive yourself. It’s time to free yourself. It’s time to love yourself, and to love yourself without feeling selfish about it.

Consider for a moment who or what it is that you worship. Don’t grant evil rules and fretful lies more attention than they deserve. Instead, direct your attention to the one sustaining source of life, who has stuck it out through it all. It’s time to get better…truly better; selflessly better; holistically better. It’s time to draw near, reach inside and march out victoriously while lifting up your roughly-beaten soul. It’s time to reverse the curse, grab the reins, and believe in a better tomorrow. Though scars may be lingering, nestled within them lie badges of courage. The fears of change are minuscule compared to the joys of recovery.

I promise…

Your identity is not tied to the strings of your past. In untying your knots to the present, hope is set free. Reciprocating through the doors of faith, new life will return.

Imagine a meal with no regrets. A family dinner without fighting. An evening run with powerful strides, a smile that reflects a healthy glow. Laughing with pure joy…engaging with real intention…living in harmonic peace. A freedom which surpasses all understanding, and a new chapter to your survivor story.

Together, we are strong. Together, we are survivor strong.”

Man and woman couple help silhouette in mountains

Words of Wisdom

I am no doubt an introvert by nature. Quiet-time is a sacred gem that I store securely for a special moment in each day. Specifically, quiet moments alone with my words. Words have always created a “safe space” for me, and have served as a wonderful outlet for self-expression and reflection. I received my first journal when I was in the first grade, and ever since then I have made an attempt to recollect my thoughts and feelings around every pivotal event in my lifetime thus far. While in grade school, I discovered a love for writing short stories and memoirs. Every Christmas, I would write a new adventurous tale or thoughtful poem for my parents in lieu of the money required for a tangible gift.

Words always seemed to flow easily into my curious little mind, sometimes so feasibly that my writing hand couldn’t keep up with the sentences forming rapidly inside my head. I never enjoyed being pressured to write, though. In fact, it was mere torture trying to force the words to flow, while adhering to a random writing prompt posted on the classroom blackboard. Yet even so, I viewed writing as a gift. I saw words as a gift. It was because of this significance what words held in my own heart, that I sought to give to others this magical gift of words.

In Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages, “Words of Affirmation” ranked right next to “Quality Time,” as my two best methods for giving and receiving love. In today’s world of fast-paced work life, tight deadlines, and a continuous mantra screaming “go-go-go”—words act as a clever vessel that force us slow down. It takes time to stop our frantic running around to read a collection of meaningful letters, yet the resulting words can be so meaningful, empowering, encouraging, and majestic. Even on the loneliest of days, words almost always seem to evoke a feeling of comfort (if applied in the right manner.)

Beautiful words can be precious as they make their way into our hearts. But words can also be harmful; they can bite, scathe, and scar. Choosing the right words when communicating with others, and with ourselves, can be crucial for our relationships, self-development, and well-being. And for someone who is stepping out onto the fringes of eating disorder recovery, words can either assist in the pulling towards a liberating life of renewal, or in the pushing backwards into the fiery pit of hell.

I will quickly note that I am currently speaking from a position of stable eating disorder recovery, therefore, my ability to passively discern and dismiss certain words or phrases has indeed grown stronger over time. Yet, even so, there are some thoughts and words which still make me cringe, even to this day. The following words and phrases are particular ones which I consider to be “curse words” for those who have ever severely struggled with such a severely dominating mental disorder. I am asking that as a reader, you would please take each of these notices to heart, especially when communicating with anyone whom you suspect may be struggling, or who has previously struggled with any kind of eating disorder or poor body image. My hopes are that you would be able to carefully consider your individual circumstance when interacting with your loved one who may be riding the recovery seesaw, and you would become empowered to pause and think before you speak. Your words matter, and your words can also heal. Make your communication thoughtful, and make it a priority.

1. Weight. Inches. Pounds. Size—[or any quantifying measurable words of any kind.]

This includes talking about yourself, your own body, and your own eating habits. Words like “calories, dress size, grams of protein, hours of exercise, etc,” are all words which dictate a specific number, and can actually serve as motivation to fall back underneath the eating disorder voice of betrayal; they are what therapists refer to as “trigger words.” Essentially, these words pull the trigger for a pre-existing perfectionist and obsessive nature. They trigger comparison and tempting thoughts. They can cause the individual to compare themselves to a previous version of themselves, or to compare their current habits to the habits of someone who holds a physique which they admire. These words place a value behind a specific numerical figure; they hint that our own value lies behind a symbol or number.

During my own treatment, the worst part of each session was the required weigh-in. I dreaded stepping up on that rocky metal scale, watching anxiously as the vile numbers climbed to reveal my new weight. I remember that when I was approaching the end of professional care with my treatment team, I was ordered to turn around and face away from the device, while they weighed me standing backwards (preventing me from seeing the number of pounds displayed.) Even the trained team of professionals understood that the numbers game was a mental battle, and that seeing them could send me physically spiraling backwards. Yet even still, so much of my treatment progress was centered around the scale.

From then on, that was where I found my worth. I still didn’t want to gain “weight”—that dreaded word that really no female ever wants to hear. I soon became very good at manipulating my awful relationship with that cold device of numbers. I knew where every single scale was in every gym and public restroom. Even though I hated the action of weighing in, the lying box still managed to temptingly call my name. I still found a sense of pride by standing up on the deceiving balance device and seeing a lower number. Yet, while I thought I was the one in control of all the numbers, the scale was the one that had gained control of me.

I remember the day I graduated to a shirt-size ‘Medium.’ For the last twelve years of my life, I had always been complimented by my petite size. “How do you stay so skinny??” People would ask. I will admit that even this politely-intended question is the wrong use of words for a recovering anorexic, because it places the emphasis on an outward perception of size and figure. I remember when even size XS was sagging on my poor emaciated little body, even though I preferred the snug fit of clothing around my malnourished bony frame. Now I shudder even thinking about those times, as I can proudly lift the tag titled “M” from the clothing wrack; allowing my new muscular back and naturally broad shoulders to finally settle in.

The fact is, numbers and sizes are all relative. One scale may be 5-10 pounds off from another. A size 6 dress in one brand of clothing may be a size 2 in a competitor’s style. One person’s nutritional needs and daily caloric intake may be different from their own identical twin. It just depends. But one thing is for certain: our value does not depend on a number, size, or quantifiable figure. We are so much more than a measurement on a screen.

2. “You look so healthy!”

I will say that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE these words now. But take me back 5-10 years ago, and these words would have pierced my ears. I understand that this type of comment only comes with good intentions, but lurking behind the complementing words themselves come the lying words of “you’ve gained weight.” While under professional care, it was all about getting to that “goal weight”— that “healthy” weight. Thus, the newly-recovering eating disorder victim associates this word “healthy” (when referring to themselves) as looking “heavier.”

Again, I will explain that with recovery, eyes and perceptions do change. Therefore, I now embrace this comment with wide open arms. “Healthy” is now my desired resting place, but it wasn’t always this way. In the past, I thought I was already healthy, though my eyes were sickly skewed. I thought my body could function in its starving brittle state, and I didn’t believe anyone else could rightfully judge whether I looked healthy or not. Though I was aware of the good intentions when others would say something like this, back when I was a new explorer along the recovery road, these words would actually serve as another backsliding trigger.

Even the words “You look so good!” were perceived as backwards motivation in my eating disorder brain—at least when I heard this from people who knew my history. Sometimes, when I would hear these words from a stranger who I knew admired thinness, this served as a compliment. But it is still a compliment which only feeds the little distorted thinking, creating an incentive to return to a restrictive lifestyle.

As I said before, I now take all of these associated words as genuinely positive compliments. In fact, I highly appreciate it when people notice the progress I’ve intentionally made in my personal health journey. So please, do tell me I look healthy. Please tell me I look “good.” Take the time to notice my new strength—it sincerely means the world to me. I am mentally in a place where I recognize these words for their true meaning, and I would agree with you about my own transformation. But when communicating with someone who has a recovery status of which you are uncertain, be respectful and sensitive to your observant language. Instead, try and use words which focus on other deeper qualities, rather than merely “looks”—use lines such as:

“I love your smile!”
“You seem so happy!”
“You sound so passionate!”
“You ARE so pretty!”


3. “Go eat a cheeseburger!!”

Just so we are clear, to this day I do not particularly enjoy cheeseburgers. Nor do I really enjoy sandwiches for the exact same reason. While scrambling in the initial treatment phase, both of these food types were considered “dense” foods, and perhaps easier forms of getting ‘more for your buck’, so to speak. The layered ingredients packed together are also mentally easier to accept, over an intimidating plate full of multiple separate menu items.

However, there was a time when I did choose to consume cheeseburgers while under strict supervision with my meal plans. But it was still my choice; I actually wanted the variety in my diet. The difference was simply this: I chose to order a bacon cheddar burger because the taste sounded appealing. I didn’t order it because my pediatrician (who was extremely uneducated on how to properly communicate to an anorexic teenager, I might add) told me I should, along with a ‘big chocolate milkshake.’

I didn’t order it because “everyone else was doing it”—frankly, “everyone else’s habits” were exactly what I was initially trying to avoid. Ignorant (and often inconsiderate) comments about why we are unable to “just eat a cheeseburger!” is utterly insulting. It makes the victim feel properly victimized. It makes them feel misunderstood. I never chose to be taken over by an eating disorder. It’s not simply a matter of fixing by “just going and eating something.”

When I finally comprehended the fact that my family and the doctors actually were trying to help me, I agreed to their care when I made them promise to help me by a healthy means. One of my motives for increasing my exercise in the first place was to improve my athletic ability—I had absolutely no concept of nutrition and calories. In my mind, I had given foods a label as either “good” or “bad,” and a cheeseburger was put on the “bad” list. In my weakest state physically and mentally, chained by my eating disorder mindset, I agreed to try and gain weight back the healthy way—through adequate and wholesome nutrition.

I’m not saying that I wouldn’t eat a cheeseburger today if it were placed in front of me as the only menu option, but it’s just not something I would choose over so many other healthy dishes I consider to be fabulously delicious. I LOVE food, truly, I do!!! But I love it even more when it makes me feel good, and when it makes my body and mind thrive. Being forced to eat something that doesn’t necessarily satisfy my taste buds ruins the whole food experience. And unfortunately, the sly suggestion from my doctor to “go eat a cheeseburger,” sadly ruined my entire experience with the precious patty.

Instead, try understanding the difficulty of allowing certain formally “forbidden” foods back onto your plate. Invite us to lunch, but don’t be offended if we turn you down. Share a meal with us, but don’t make judgmental remarks if we decide to order a grilled chicken breast (which may be, to us, just as tasty as a juicy double whopper, if prepared appropriately.)

4. Eating Disorders. Anorexia Nervosa. Bulimia Nervosa. Binge Eating Disorder. OSFED.

You might be thinking, why did the specific diagnosis titles make this list? Weren’t these particular words used in this very same document? You are correct, my friend. But what some souls may fail to realize is that these words are quite debilitating. For years, these words filled our intuitive ears. These words were permanently printed on all of our medical records, and embedded into our suffocating brains as the essence of our existence. There was a time when these labels became our reality; they became our identity. These words soon took the place of our own very names. They were not names that we chose for ourselves, but somehow had woven their way into our monograms, while overpowering our individual sense of self.

Ever since my diagnosis, I have hated the word “anorexia.” Maybe it’s the deadly letter “X” boldly beaming in the middle, or maybe it’s the fact that the word also begins with the same letter as my first name. Regardless, I rarely use the word unless I have to. Heck, I still have trouble saying it out loud. This is one reason why writing is so much easier sometimes, because it takes the stabbing audible pain away. I remember when I first recognized this inner sensitivity: I was driving in the car, and as painful as it was, I began saying the crippling word out loud, repeating it over and over again.
“Anorexia”… “An-or-ex-ia…” Louder each time……”ANOREXIA…”

After saying this diagnosis label over and over to myself, I realized just how silly it was. Any word can be played off that way…try it sometime. Pick one word and repeat it out loud to yourself until it starts to sound…well, funny. It’s oddly hilarious and will force you to abruptly stop verbally repeating it. I share this exercise, because I am trying to make an important point here…yes, I was diagnosed with anorexia. As a matter of fact, I was diagnosed with anorexia, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder when I was a mere 12-years old. But for the next decade of my life, I let these words rule me. They manipulated my being, and told me I couldn’t have a life of freedom. They spoke false promises to me, yet I still fell for their trap— Every. Single. Time.

I understand that these words are necessary for a clinical diagnosis, and for intervention purposes. However, these words are just a cluster of letters, which are given way more power than they deserve. This simply highlights my point in the beginning, about how words can hold exceptional meaning. Choose them wisely, and think of other descriptions when describing the point you are trying to make.

“…My past mental condition does not define who I am today”

When referring to my past, I often like to resort, instead, to the following collection of words, creating possible sentences such as: “Yes, I suffered from extremely poor body image and fell into unhealthy behaviors as a teen, which then led to a difficult cycle of health complications. But now, I am FREE”—(or something along those lines.)

The bottom line is simply this: my past mental condition does not define who I am today. I no longer have an ‘eating disorder.’ I am no longer ‘anorexic.’ I am no longer ‘depressed.’ Sure, I still experience difficult moments, anxious thoughts, lonely days, and need to keep an extra eye on my nutrition. But none of those things define who I am inside.

Recovery is a journey, just like life is a journey. I no longer travel these roads alone as “Amanda, the anorexic.” Instead, I now hike these mountains with fellow veterans as “Amanda, a daughter of the King.


“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”
~1 John 3:1