This is How You Can Become the CEO of Your Body (and Life)

This is How You Can Become the CEO of Your Body (and Life)

Reframing is an important part of therapy and can help one to look past what the eating disorder has shaped in terms of nutrition, body image, and exercise.

If I'm Detaching From My Eating Disorder Identity, Then Who Am I?

jennifer kreatsoulas angie viets identity eating disorder recovery

If I'm Detaching From My Eating Disorder Identity, Then Who Am I?

Jennifer Kreatsoulas, PhD, RYT 500

Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

When a diagnosis becomes our identity and our identity a diagnosis, we unknowingly become walking, talking containers of illness, pain, and even hopelessness. 

We separate ourselves from others in the belief we are different or broken. As we embody the disease we believe precedes us, we disconnect from our unique gifts and passions. Our bodies hurt, our minds become one dimensional, and our spirits wither. Our world narrows to a single dark point chained to the fear of not knowing who we are without our diagnosis identity. 

It's only having lived to come out the other side of shedding the diagnosis identity of an eating disorder that I can say with conviction that you have permission to detach from yours too. I understand the fear, anxiety, confusion, and uncertainty that accompanies even the smallest of steps to let go of that which you believe keeps you safe, in control, and put together. For decades I fiercely resisted detaching from the diagnosis of anorexia. From my hair style to how my clothes hung on my body to the bags under my eyes to the food on (or not on) my plate, I dedicated my every action, word, and thought to fulfilling my identity as an anorexic. That diagnosis was the lens through which I viewed the world and my place in it, and it was a dead end.   

With time, persistence, willingness, and a whole lot of support, my eyes opened to the shadow I was living in, the shadow of my diagnosis identity. Once I spotted this identity as a menacing shadow and not the entirety of who I was, I realized I had the power to walk out into the light.

As I inched away from the shadow, new possibilities for healing came into my life as did new relationships and opportunities. 

Slowly but surely, I began to resent the shadow for holding me back from embracing more and more of the world around me and the food, people, and sensations in it. The stronger my resentment grew, the more willing I became to detach from the diagnosis identity and replace it with the gifts, talents, and passions that were buried but by no means dead. 


It took practice giving myself permission to detach from the eating disorder identity. Every morning for months I asked myself Who are you? until the words anorexia, anorexic, and eating disorder were not my first answer. Little by little, more answers surfaced in my mind, like mother, daughter, wife, yogini, writer, creative soul, kind person, etc. I did this exercise over and over until the words related to my diagnosis identity moved down the list and one day slid right off it. Getting to this point took perseverance, and it wasn't a straight line, just as recovery is not.

With the help of a therapist, other supports, and my Yoga practice, I was able to arrive at complete permission to detach from the diagnosis identity. Now the words anorexia and eating disorder do not define me, nor do I strive to embody them. Rather, I respect and honor these words for the profound experiences in my life they represent and the gifts they provided: self-awareness, empathy, resilience, compassion, and ultimately my life's purpose to support others healing from eating disorders through yoga. 

My friend, you are capable of detaching from any identity that keeps you trapped in shadows. Once you give yourself permission to do so, the possibilities for goodness to fill your life are endless. Take a few moments and reflect on these questions: 

How would your life change if you shed your diagnosis identity?
What dreams would become possible?
How much more fulfilled would you be?
How much more connected would you be?
How much more whole would you be?

Don't be afraid to ask yourself who you are. Let the answers come as they are in this very moment. Ask again tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that until new words bubble up. With permission, they will. Be patient and gentle with yourself as you step away from the shadow, but trust you can do it. I fiercely believe you are more than a diagnosis. You have permission to detach from your diagnosis identity. You have permission to explore who you are without it. You have permission to move through this world as a whole, vital individual. 

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Jennifer Kreatsoulas, PhD, RYT 500 is the founder of Chime Yoga Therapy and specializes in eating disorders and body image. In addition to her private yoga therapy practice, Jennifer leads yoga therapy groups at the Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Philadelphia, is cofounder of the Body Kindness Project, and a partner with both the Yoga and Body Image Coalition and the Transformation Yoga Project. She is the creator of the home video series Yoga to Strengthen Body Image and Support Eating Disorder Recovery. Her writing on the topics of yoga, body image, motherhood, and eating disorder recovery can be found on her blog as well as several influential online publications. Connect with Jennifer.


Transforming Self-Criticism: Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Angie Viets, LCP, CEDS - Rebecca McConville Transforming Self-Criticism: Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Transforming Self-Criticism: Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Rebecca McConville, MS, RD, LD, CSSD

Photo by Carly Rae Hobbins

If comparison is the thief of Joy, why hand it over to thieves? In a world filled with: books, blogs, podcasts on how to get joy back into your life shouldn't we start with avoiding comparisons?

This seems most prevalent in the world of sport. Impressionable young athletes are quick to jump on the hottest bandwagon even if it is ludacris. Case in point when Tom Brady decided to go on the no nightshade diet. This diet had absolutely no scientific evidence to back it up yet athletes everywhere started inquiring about it. Was it the diet or was it Tom Brady who is a freak of nature athlete? Why can’t we acknowledge that some people are genetically gifted athletically just as others are naturally smart or have a quick wit to them that can make anyone laugh? In the world of sports, you truly are only competing against yourself and if today is going to be your day, it will be your day!

Do we suffer from the cruelness of comparisons or is it the culture in which we live in? Just as we see cultures within the world, they are even more prevalent within the world of sport. One of my dear friends has been an avid runner for 30+ years and talks about when runners showed up in cotton shirts/socks, old-school running shorts and their sports food of choice was mini-snickers. Now at races, people are fully decked in the trendiest running gear, full on makeup and accessories meanwhile huddling around their running clique discussing their pace splits (#nowatchme), clean eating efforts and what races they plan to do this month.

Cars used to have bumper stickers bragging about their child on honor roll or making fun of the child that beat up the honor roll student. Now cars are full of 13.1, 26.2, 50, 150-mile bumper stickers. Waiting for the moment we see the 1,000 numbers. My husband proudly jokes he wants a 0.0 bumper sticker!

Criticisms come as part of sport whether we want it or not, but we must consider the reason for why it is generated: constructive or jealousy? Ron Thompson shared a story at the Eating Disorder in Sports conference about when he was working with a runner who felt uncomfortable that her uniform would expose her when she was running. Ron replied, “Well if they're staring at your butt it has to be because you're in the lead!” I think most athletes agree they will take the fear of wedgie if it means winning.

Many times criticisms are internalized as self-criticism when it is meant towards their performance. I fell victim to this in college after making a horrible mistake picking up the ball once crossing half-court then double teamed resulting in a jump ball. The opposing team won the jump ball and came down to score the winning shot of the game. As I went to the locker room feeling completely defeated one of my teammates put her hand on my shoulder and said “It’s ok Bec, I know you won’t ever make that mistake again. “

You see when we aren’t busy comparing, or criticizing we have the power to change the culture and build one another up!

Angie Viets - Rebecca McConville

Rebecca McConville, MS, RD, LD, CSSD is a Master’s Level Registered Dietitian & a Board Certified Sports Specialist. She specializes in the treatment of anorexia, bulimia, compulsive overeating & exercise addiction. She also treats the female athlete triad & athlete-associated disordered eating. Becca understands that the drive for peak performance may lead to disordered eating. Her goal is to help you fuel your body, so that you can fuel your life! Visit her website.

What Genetics Have to Do With Eating Disorders

Rebecca McConville - Angie Viets - Genetics and eating disorders

Are you one of those that feel like you must go to a thousand stores to find the perfect “jeans” without taking into consideration whether it fits your “genes”?  What we generally fail to recognize is that thousands of years of genetic makeup cannot be altered by “perfect” eating, supplement taking or hours spent exercising so you can fit into your ideal “jeans”.  However, you can either: change your jeans, rock your Mom jeans (click here for a good laugh) or accept how your “genes” look in any pair of “jeans”!

A case in point was the unfortunate news when Bob Harper suffered a heart attack while exercising at his New York gym. Bob Harper has been the face of “perfectionism” with his gospel preaching of clean eating and fitness. Harper reported during his interview on Fox News, "I fainted one time in the gym, I started having these dizzy spells and I just kind of overlooked them. I just adapted which was one of the dumbest things to do. I kicked myself over and over again about that.” In another interview, it was revealed that Bob’s mother had a heart attack around the same age and upon genetic testing was found to have high levels of lipoprotein A.

When I compare genetics and how they associate with health, strangely my mind wanders to a Ron White skit at Thanksgiving dinner with his siblings (now before you panic where I am going with this-HOLD ON). While I have no siblings of my own, my husband does. His sister is a geneticist, his brother is a judge, and my husband is the funeral director. These siblings share genetics (DNA) but are vastly different in their personalities, looks, and careers, yet each brings different lenses on how to view life and health.

Brandi, my sister-in-law (geneticist) studies how genes evolve over time and has a great understanding of what the likelihood you will have a health risk is or the probability that you'll be diagnosed with a health condition. My brother-in-law, Jim (judge), is a judge in a true sense. He excells in listening to both sides of a story as to what is uncontrollable (genetics) and what can be controlled (environment/behavior). Last but not least, my husband, the funeral director, probably has the most valuable lesson of all….. I will save that for the end!

Just as Bob Harper could not eat and exercise his way out of a heart attack, individuals cannot “willpower” their way out of an eating disorder, “eat clean” enough to control their cholesterol, think enough “positive thoughts” to overcome panic/anxiety, or simply “count their blessings” to overcome addictions. For people to accept living in the body given to them, they must consider their genetics (DNA). 

A person inherits genes from each parent, as well as the cultural /socioeconomic experiences from his/her family. Inherited genetic variation within families clearly contributes both directly and indirectly to the pathogenesis of a disease.

Here are a few examples of genetic influences:

  • The University of Iowa and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center studied single families in which eating disorders were common across generations. They found that people with mutations in two different genes – ESRRA and HDAC4 – had a 90 percent and 85 percent chance of developing an eating disorder, respectively.

  • A study published in the June 2013 issue of the Journal of Anxiety Disorders underscored that certain anxiety traits correlated with panic disorder are evident by the age of 8.

  • Many other health conditions have strong genetic links: obesity “thrifty” gene; alcoholism, breast cancer, & heart health.

So why does my husband, the funeral director, have the most to learn from? While you can’t control or change your genes, you can control how you choose to live your life. At funerals, you will hear stories of those with longevity and prosperous lives and how they didn't sweat the small stuff and accepted that there are just some things you can’t change except maybe those mom jeans. Besides, when you take that last breath you won’t, nor would you likely want to be remembered for your cholesterol number, pounds lost on diet or your perfect eating.

Angie Viets - Rebecca McConville

Rebecca McConville, MS, RD, LD, CSSD is a Master’s Level Registered Dietitian & a Board Certified Sports Specialist. She specializes in the treatment of anorexia, bulimia, compulsive overeating & exercise addiction. She also treats the female athlete triad & athlete-associated disordered eating. Becca understands that the drive for peak performance may lead to disordered eating. Her goal is to help you fuel your body, so that you can fuel your life! Visit her website.

Just Eat the Damn Cupcake

Photo Credit:  Joseph Gonzalez

Photo Credit: Joseph Gonzalez

It seems we have entered an era where eating a cupcake is either as provocative as Christian Grey or as rebellious to culture norms as Lady Gaga. When did food become so powerful that it now is assigned a moral value: bad vs good, healthy vs unhealthy, clean vs unclean?

Some have described this constraint as willpower, however, willpower is defined as control exerted to do something or restrain impulses. Impulses are a sudden strong and unreflective urge or desire to act; willpower can be disrupted by emotions and depleted over time. Does this sound like energy that should be devoted to making decisions such as whether to eat a cupcake?

I bet you're thinking, I can't get the damn cupcake out of my head now. The brain has taken over and the brain always wins! So, let’s go back to the whole Christian Grey fascination. This has been labeled the "Ironic process therapy" or, as I call it in my practice, "the bad boy effect," which is the psychological process where deliberate attempts to suppress certain thoughts make them more likely to surface. So whether you're trying to avoid thinking about a cupcake because you think it is "unhealthy" or staying away from Mr. Grey since your girlfriends tell you he is nothing but trouble, you now have ignited your brain to hyper focus on both.

This process is worsened by stress and can eventually lead one to have more immoral out-of-character thoughts. Insert a clip of Miranda on Sex & the City here – the episode where she tries to avoid eating cake she has in her apartment by pitching it into the trash, only to later be at her wit's end diving back into the trash inhaling cake in a binged manner.

Although avoiding relationships with characters such as Mr. Grey are likely in your best interests, why can't there be a healthy relationship with delights such as cupcakes? This has led me to ditch diet mentality that strives off imbalance and join the Intuitive Eating movement. Intuitive Eating believes in the power of neutralizing all foods' meaning – not assigning moral value to one food over another. Yes, this means cupcakes and quinoa should be considered equal. This does not mean they necessarily have the same nutritional value, but like many struggling with perfectionism, culture has now decided that diets are the new thing to perfect.

For those of you not familiar with Intuitive Eating, following are the key principles:

  • Reject the Diet Mentality
  • Honor your Hunger
  • Make Peace with Food
  • Challenge the Food Police
  • Respect your Fullness
  • Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  • Honor Your Feelings without Using Food
  • Respect your Body

These principles incorporate choosing foods – not only by taste – but also by prioritizing how it nourishes your body. I love a great cupcake (personal favorite is Gigi cookie dough), yet if I had it daily it would not provide the same satisfaction and likely not appease my hunger.

So, the next time you really want a cupcake, put the children to bed, take a deep breath, put Fifty Shades on the screen and ENJOY!

Angie Viets - Rebecca McConville

Rebecca McConville, MS, RD, LD, CSSD is a Master’s Level Registered Dietitian & a Board Certified Sports Specialist. She specializes in the treatment of anorexia, bulimia, compulsive overeating & exercise addiction. She also treats the female athlete triad & athlete-associated disordered eating. Becca understands that the drive for peak performance may lead to disordered eating. Her goal is to help you fuel your body, so that you can fuel your life! Visit her website.

Beyond the Scale: How to Focus on More Important Things in Life

Photo Credit:  Braden Barwich

Photo Credit: Braden Barwich

As many people with an eating disorder or weight issues will tell you, we tend towards the obsessive in one way or another. That’s part of the reason we’re facing this challenge in the first place—we obsess about food and then obsess about hiding our issues with food, at the very least. So any discussion about someone facing an issue with food such as Binge Eating Disorder, like me, has to start with the understanding that it all starts with obsession. It’s important for people to know that eating disorders are NOT about the food, they’re about fixation and control.

Such was the case in my life until very recently. Obsession is what fueled my day, my week, my month and led to my battle with BED, from the time I woke up to the time I went to sleep. I was forever focused on what I was going to eat in five minutes, five hours and five days, as well as how I was going to cover my tracks and do all this without anyone knowing about it.

I obsessed about my weight as well. As if a number can tell you how much you are worth! I reduced everything down to that three digit number after I binged. The high number fueled the shame I felt, and it fueled me when I was starving myself in between binges.

I spent a lot of time on that emotional tightrope, but I am taking big steps toward conquering my eating disorder. That’s why for 2017 and beyond I have made a decision: No more looking to a scale for validation. I am NOT going to weigh myself ever again.

I simply don’t give space to it in my life. I can’t. It offers nothing—not validation or comfort or a sense of accomplishment. It knows nothing about me and how awesome I am in other ways. So, instead, I concern myself with larger issues, like being healthy, eating healthy, exercising, avoiding triggering situations--like late-night eating after drinking--and surrounding myself with people who won’t let me get away with abusing my body or being mean to myself.

I know now that I am much more than a number, and when my weight fluctuates, whether for bad or good, I know that I am worthy and strong and built for the long race. Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and I am getting better and better at looking further into the distance while never breaking stride. That’s the way it’s been for me, and I recommend finding that inner strength in you. It’s the only way for us to get through while pursuing health, happiness, and real substance in our lives.

Taking that weight—no pun intended—off of my shoulders has freed me to live in the moment, to concentrate on being the best version of myself without worrying about meaningless, short-term details. I am free now from the shame and worry and guilt, and free to be positive and understand that I am a pretty resilient, substantial person who has shortcomings and talents.

I can live with all of that.

Ryan Sheldon - Angie Viets

Ryan Sheldon is founder of Confessions of a Binge Eater, a blog he created to share about his journey with Binge Eating Disorder (BED). Ryan hopes his story will help others suffering from BED overcome shame and embarrassment, as well as gain back control over food. In particular, Ryan provides a voice for the many men struggling eating disorders while encouraging them to get help. Ryan is not your run-of-the-mill life coach. With an infectious personality, he uses both humor and education to help others facing adversary. Ryan finds when you add humor to a tough situation, it empowers you to stop feeling ashamed and start taking action. Join him on his journey through life with BED. For more information on Ryan, please visit his website.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Sickest of Them All?

 Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Sickest of Them All?

There is a disturbing tendency amongst individuals with eating disorders to compare their illness to another’s.  It’s the worst kind of competition ‘of them all’ and sounds like this:   “What’s your lowest weight?  How many hospitalizations have you had?  How many calories do you consume?  How often do you workout and for how long?”  The most pressing question in this game of who is the most sick: “What type of eating disorder do you have?