National Eating Disorder Assocation

Lessons From NEDA Awareness Week 2018

Each year I participate in the National Eating Disorder Association’s (NEDA) Awareness Week. I have done something for it every year since I began recovery, roughly six years ago-I honestly can’t remember. Is that bad? Each year I have done more and more to raise awareness and try to make each year bigger, better, and more impactful. I am passionate about NEDA Awareness Week because to me it reminds me so much of the 12th Step, “having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we carry this message to other(s) {insert addiction} and practice these principles in all our affairs”.  I use this to educate others, draw awareness to this deadly disease, and also use this week to focus on full support for others who have been through this. Even providing them a platform to share their stories and perspectives. This year I took the last step and took twelve ginormous steps and went all out for this week.

 

 

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What did I do? One of the many things I did was host an Instagram challenge. I partnered with my recovery and yoga soul sister in Tulsa, Cassandra McCoy, to start a challenge. Then Cassandra and I got a sponsor (who turned out to be a new friend!), Jamie at Evolve Fitness OKC. We wanted a challenge that was accessible to everyone and be more than crazy yoga poses. Our challenge was, Spread ED Awareness. Each day we would provide either a statistic or blurb about eating disorders. Then we had a word that was inspired by the post with a corresponding challenge. Challenges were:

  1. A yoga pose that makes you feel confident
  2. What activity did you do that you “failed ” at? Did you try it again?
  3. How have you been resourceful in your workout(s)/Got creative with them
  4. What activity or life event has made you feel strong?
  5. What is something that you have done that made you feel uneasy and vulnerable?
  6. Who supported you during recovery? Maybe you supported someone, who were they?
  7. Last but not least, share your story!

 

 

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I’m not going to lie, I thought this would be “successful” (you’ll see why I use quotes around that). I thought people would be down to participate, especially since we had some cool prizes lined up and it was for a cause. However, I came to realize this wasn’t the case. People “liked” the idea but only a handful of people participated. I was hurt. I was sad. I was disappointed. Cassandra, Jamie, and myself had put so much time into these posts, deciding what to present, etc…and the turn out was low. Somedays I didn’t want to participate in my own challenge. I thought to myself, “if this was a handstand IG challenge or an inversion challenge more people would do this“.

 

Then I saw a post from someone I follow on IG (Justin Wolfer) talking about how it doesn’t matter the size of your following or audience, it’s what you do with it. Talk about a perspective change! I realized my ego was in the way and it was hidden by good intentions. I lost sight of the twelfth step. I told myself, ” It’s not about participants its about spreading awareness and educating”. I then began to focus on all the engagements my posts were getting, the people who were commenting on them, or reaching out to me. That right there is what #NEDAAwarenessWeek is all about.

 

 

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My donation class at Evolve Fitness

 

 

In addition to this challenge I wanted to host a clothing drive. Clothing drives are a great way to practice yoga because it is yoga. Donating clothes is a practice of:

  1. Brahmacharya (non-excess)
  2. Aparigraha (non-greed, non-possessiveness)
  3. Saucha (purity, cleanliness)
  4. Karma (action, generating)

 

I didn’t want just one clothing drive and for me to be the only one participating (which would have a limited reach). I wanted the whole community to get involved. So I decided to reach out to all the fellow yoga teachers and ask if anyone wanted to host a clothing drive for our local YWCA. Much to my surprise I got three other studios involved! Cycle 3Sixty wanted to host a clothing drive/free class AND they did a #WearYourPurple day-every tag/person who wore purple they matched one dollar and donated to NEDA. My pals at Hidden Dragon Yoga in Edmond wanted to have a box for a week. Evolve Fitness, the sponsor for the IG challenge, had a day of free classes for clothes. Then I had my class at Core Nutrition.  When the week had come to a close I counted over 50 bags of clothes!

 

 

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It touched my heart to see so many people come together and do something for other people. To clean out their closets and their hearts, to make space for love. To build community and unite for a cause–being close to Spring and the itch to spring clean doesn’t hurt either….Sometimes it is hard to see the goodness in people, especially in our social media and headline driven world.

 

In addition to having my faith restored in people, seeing the light, and changing my perspective about Instagram (for the one billionth time hah!) this was the biggest thing I learned: Something Small Can Have a Big Impact. I guess I always knew that but it wasn’t till this week and reflecting upon these lessons did I really see it/understand it.  Not only is this shown through the clothing drives–these clothes will go to our local chapter of the YWCA– but I saw it through my friend, recovery warrior,  only participant, and winner: Nikki. Nikki pledged to do this challenge about a month ago then her son died. She almost didn’t participate but decided to anyway. I told her I hoped she found some healing and used this as a way to deal with her grief. Nikki told me that it did help her. That right there is more than enough. That statement is why I did what did and made it all worth it. She got what she needed to go on and live life.

 

What did you do for NEDA Awareness Week? Share below!

 

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Exercise

There once was a time that I was addicted to exercise. Even though I was dancing five days a week, teaching group fitness classes five days a week, I ran plenty, and did Olympic lifting, I couldn’t get enough. I was working out, or moving my body, seven days a week. There was no such thing as a rest day. To me a rest day was for the weak. Resting meant that I would get fat, lazy, and lose all my gains. Even though-and here is the BIG part-I knew I was wrong.

In college I spent my time battling an ED, exercise addiction, all while studying Exercise and Sport Science. I knew everything about training and exercise. I knew that I had to take a day off because it makes you stronger…but try and tell my disordered self that. Also, spending time in a major that puts emphasis on exercise, weight lifting (Olympic style) it is hard to not to want to do more. Part of our major was to get in the gym and work out, all while building our own periodized training program.

I remember every time I was forced to take days off, be it due to injury or I had other things to do. I literally remember twitching, having anxiety, and all withdrawal symptoms. When I was injured and couldn’t work out I thought I was gonna die, or get fat. Then my anorexic mind would take over and I would eat nothing but fruit and soup. After all this I never thought that I was addicted. Until I took a sport psychology class and we studied exercise addiction. BAM! It was as if they were writing about me. I had all those symptoms. I scheduled life around my workout. I had the withdrawal symptoms. I exercised for more than just health reasons. I would do extra sets of squats or other exercises before I would put on certain clothes.

While I had all this, I never thought about changing it till I went into recovery. In recovery I had to use my knowledge of exercise and learn to use it properly. I had to make a program and stick with it. I had to do a program with set exercises on certain days. I scheduled in rest days, or active recovery days. People had to hold me accountable. It was tough. It has taken me quite some time to get use to it. It probably wasn’t till a year ago that I become fully ok with taking days off. And taking off more than one day in a row (but I never go more than two, I will at least walk). And now I workout for health sake not just to look good and burn calories (though sometimes that is great motivation to get through a tough workout).  But I don’t beat myself up for missing a day or quitting a workout early because my body tells me too. I don’t crave exercise anymore. I crave being injury free. I LOVE not being over trained. I can actually sleep at night! 

All of this is was inspired by a post I saw on the NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association) Facebook page. It was about exercise addiction. It is great to see exercise addiction being written about and taking seriously as an addiction. The link below is a really honest and true statement. Now, there were things we did differently, but like any recovery, we are all different. I do suggest that if this is you  or someone you know PLEASE get help.

 

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-14650/12-signs-youre-exercising-too-much.html

Peace and Namaste.