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December 18th, 2014

From Mirasol ED Recovery Guest Blogwriter ~ Faith

I used to work in a level one trauma center, which basically means, you get EVERYTHING and anything. I was one the youngest employees there, earning early exposure to a number of things, and some shifts were just surreal. After a few years, death just became death. The end. To protect myself, my heart hardened. My sense of humor tarnished so that no one else could understand me beyond my co-workers.

I was the phone call no one wanted. “Are you Mr. Miller? Can you please come down? Your son is here in critical condition.”

Although I’m glad to have learned about life all I did, it took a number of years after leaving for the numbness to wear off. I could go into the blood and gore details of experience after experience, but what truly strikes me is the shadow of death. An emotion so often brushed under the rug, it’s easier to pretend it isn’t real.

One of my mother’s friends who had cancer fell out of remission just over a month ago.

In her sixties, a vibrant woman of all smiles, I always pictured her in a fluffy red boa, sparkly hat, silky purple dress, and jewelry with all the bling. When I heard the cancer had returned at a vicious rate, this image changed.


When I heard she had to go back to chemo, I made a fun bracelet for her to wear, complete with a ‘hope’ ribbon and pearls. Sometimes, small tokens like these give us a source of strength. She told me she’d wear it every time she got treatment. These are the little things to treasure that so many people let pass by.

For over seven years, I have been treated at various cancer centers due to an unknown blood disorder, and I have met and seen the most courageous, authentic, beautiful, humorous people living their life to the fullest.

I have dealt with depression, bipolar, eating disorders, etc. Sometimes I feared I would get overcome by life and let it pass by like so many of us do. Yet, here were these amazing people more full of life than anyone else I knew, despite the fact physically they were losing it. They were keeping it together where others of us just unravel, myself included. I have always prayed for these people and asked God, “Let them have their life, they obviously are passionate and have a thirst for life!”

I loved how the infusion centers were set up. The chairs faced one another, you became a group, you got to know everyone, and when a patient’s chemo was done, the nurses would come out with bells, kazoos, whistles, and a big birthday cake! In a cancer community, it’s about more than just medicine. Everyone knows your name. The staff get to know you so well, they even know what type of soda you always want, all the little things. That’s what medical care and treatment should be.

Memories flood me.

Last night I got a message. Beta had passed away before we could even get to the hospital.

Part of me almost longs for those post trauma center days, but I no longer feel that blank detached sense of darkness. I feel and experience the emotions of grieving and loss. The only condolence I am able to draw comfort from right now is that it was quick and it was painless.

If you have ever read Tuesday’s with Morrie, he wanted to celebrate his life and not have some sovereign funeral with crappy appetizers and people dressed in black all stoic. Beta would have celebrated, probably sucked some helium out of balloons, and sang karaoke with her high squeaky voice, and of course, glamorously dressed to the nines. So, I’m going to celebrate her too.

 How does this have anything to do with eating disorders and recovery?

 – Live your life –

Your life is precious. Live your life. Find connection when you feel lost. Do not zone out and let it pass you by!

Make a list or journal about how much the eating disorder has taken from your life: sports, hobbies, school, friends, finances, health, relationships, meaning, purpose, etc. Use this as motivation to no longer stay prisoner.

If you have a rough body image day, go pick out one of your favorite outfits you just love to wear. If you like to put on makeup and do your hair, go for it.

If you have friends and want to go out, do it. Getting out the door is the hardest part.

If it’s in the middle of the night, put on some good music and just dance away dark feelings rather than stay curled up. This can actually be very freeing and fun! Temporarily immerse yourself in the music and know you are beautiful. My level of dancing is right up there with Napoleon Dynamite. I actually got kicked out of a beginner’s tap dancing class my roommate and I took for fun in our twenties. I don’t care, though. I just let it go because it feels great!

Photo of a Psalms 23 CharmIf you have a special token from someone or something, keep it with you for frequent, uplifting reminders to take the next best step. One of my favorite nurses at the cancer center I currently live gave me this beautiful 23rd Psalm key chain and I always have it with me. (In fact, it’s what I use to scratch my lotto tickets) :)

Lastly, let emotions run their course. Things can get really, really hard.  At times, it will seem overwhelming and intense. This was me yesterday reading part of some book at Target with tears streaming down my face.  Despite what society portrays, it’s actually quite healthy to feel your emotions. The woman looking at me funny just doesn’t know that yet! After all, it took me decades to accept!


The holidays are coming, and they can be triggering for anyone. The triggers are not just centered on the food; it often goes much deeper into layers of relationships, memories, and years of old patterns that may resurface.

Christmas used to be my favorite time of year as a kid. The decorations, the smells, and the traditions were almost magical. Now, I am grieving and trying to use my wise mind no matter what the situation.

Be proactive and work out a plan for your holiday triggers. You are stronger than you think. Do what’s best and supportive of your recovery. This is a season of love and giving, self included! Be gentle. Be kind. Be wise.

Try not to let this be just another holiday season that passes you by. A woman in her sixties once to told me, “Honey! You might as well go for it!” Smiling, I know Beta did just that. She took life by the horns.

“If I only had a cape and tiara, I could change the world.” Beta had one; she definitely left a mark. We are hanging an angel in honor of her this year, and I know she is flying over us right now.

If you, too, are grieving this holiday season, I recommend trying to create a new tradition to honor and celebrate those you miss. A small token can make big waves.

And a mantra for you:


Keep Being Brave

Trust your Strength

Surrender your Fear

Sing Out Loud

Believe in Healing

Unleash you Joy

Celebrate the gift of Today

Never Give Up


Compulsive Overeating Disorder

November 18th, 2014

Compulsive Overeating


As we go through our lives, stress from daily routines and other factors can play a part in the development of eating disorders and other conditions. Compulsive overeating is one such condition and is also known as Binge Eating Disorder (BED). It is categorized by frequent binge eating without the consistent use of purging, laxatives, or excessive exercise to counter the eating. Often it is hard to tell if someone has an eating disorder, and it can be extremely difficult for the person to recognize what is happening to his or her body and seek assistance. Symptoms of compulsive overeating include:


  • Frequently eating huge amounts of food
  • Eating alone
  • Hiding empty food containers and trash from others
  • Vulnerability about weight or body image
  • Feeling guilty after meals


While the exact cause of BED is unknown, there are biological, psychological, and social influencers that may trigger the development of the condition. If you feel that you may be overeating, there are many things you can do to help regain control. Make sure to eat three meals each day, along with healthy snacks, instead of junk food and sweets. Discontinuing a diet, and getting enough rest and exercise can help manage stress and get your body back to its natural healthy ways. If these do not work, seeking help and treatment from your doctor or a therapist who specializes in eating disorders are the best courses of action.

Compulsive Overeating Disorder

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Coping with Weight Restoration

October 26th, 2014

From Mirasol ED Recovery Guest Blogwriter ~ Hope

101_gratitudesFor a majority of people with eating disorders, weight gain is the greatest fear, challenge, and roadblock to recovery. I get it. It’s been my hardest battle, too. I hope some of these tips help you cope with weight restoration regardless of what stage of change you may find yourself, whether just considering recovery or actually maintaining progress after treatment.

To lift some pressure to help you get started, you could try approaching your recovery as an experiment. A gain doesn’t have to be forever, but at least give yourself some time to work with the differentness of being in a weight-restored body with a nourished brain before you write it off. Hopefully, you will stick recovery through long enough to find relief. But, in a worst case scenario, you can always go back to your eating disorder. First, though, give yourself a chance.

If your body image is still making you miserable, remember that an overwhelming majority of those who recover agree that healing body image is the longest step of recovery. Be gentle with yourself as it may very well take more time for the mind to catch up than for the body to heal.

Here are 8 suggestions to help you along your way.

1. Remind yourself of why you began recovery in the first place. As time passes, it can be easy to begin glamorizing the aspects of the eating disorder that you liked. Do you want to find yourself in the same pain that motivated you to start recovery in the first place? I don’t think so! If you ever reminisce about the good old days of your eating disorder, you have to complete the picture by reconsidering the awful ones too. Dig deep and get to the ugly. What has your eating disorder taken away from you (hobbies, career, relationships, money, energy, hope, etc.)? What complications have you endured? How does having an eating disorder impact your daily life? Also, ask yourself what you are looking forward to by healing. I once made a gratitude list of 101 things I loved about life. From fresh cut fruit to freedom, what are some of your own gratitudes? Together, these are all motivators for your healing.

2. Come up with a food is fuel mantra that works for YOU, such as, “Food is my medicine right now.” Nourishment is a form of medicine, self-respect, and love. Appreciate the foods you DO enjoy. As I learned more about the medicinal values of various whole foods, I began conversing with food on a whole new level. For example, changing my use of food language allowed me to transform my relationship with healthy fats. When I learned walnuts are shaped like the brain and are a healthy brain food thanks to their Omega-3 essential fatty acid content, I changed my internal conversation from, “OMG, these walnuts are fattening and going straight to my bottom half,” to, “This is fueling my brain to help with clear thinking and stable mood. The fats are vital for my nervous system to function at optimum levels.” When I eat avocados, I still think, “Oh yeah. This is going straight to…the shine in my hair, skin, and nails.” ;)

3. Be prepared to deal with body shape, weight, and appearance comments.  Be prepared that many well intended people will want to compliment you on your accomplishment of “filling out a bit” and looking so much “better”, so much “healthier”! Some people will not know better and others may not be able to help themselves because they are so relieved and thankful. For someone still ambivalent about weight restoration, a seemingly innocent word like “healthy” can become a tossed grenade that explodes upon our recovery parade. If this happens, it helps to remind yourself that your eating disorder is confusing enough to you. Imagine how confusing it is to the general population. A little compassion can go a long way as a distress tolerance skill with these unwanted comments. In more valued relationships, you may decide to engage in conversation about how you actually interpret appearance-based comments. In all fairness, what we think at times hardly makes sense. PS. Healthy does not mean fat.

4. Just say no to “Thinspiration!” I know; it’s everywhere. The longer you have had an eating disorder, the more likely it is deeply embedded into your life. You don’t always even have to be looking for it. And it goes way beyond magazines and websites. I’ve been sidetracked on Facebook by someone’s alarming new profile picture, where they have clearly lost weight. Catching the interest of my eating disorder thoughts and with just a few clicks later, I could be perusing through photo albums of others with eating disorders –sucked into the abyss looking for thinspiration. Don’t let your social media support become a weapon of destruction against your hard earned progress. If you find yourself caught in a web of thinspiration, whether online or offline, remind yourself of why you began recovery in the first place. These people likely have very painful struggles they are dealing with, too. Every eating disorder has a shadow. Try not to torture yourself with thinspiration. Instead, fill up your newsfeed with pro-recovery outlets! 

5. Avoid excessive body checking. There are so many ways we do this without realizing it. The most obvious way is probably the use of a scale, but some things are more discreet such as seeking your reflection in reflective surfaces or measuring body parts by wrapping around your fingers. Some of us might have certain clothing items we use to reference our body in space, such as a certain pair of “skinny jeans” that we taunt ourselves with. Consider donating or consigning these items. While body checking is often intended to provide some level of comfort or relief, conflict ensues when we are not happy with the number, size, or measurement. There are schools of thought that we shouldn’t know our weight at all and others that suggest using blind weigh-ins at the beginning of recovery and gradual weight exposure over time. If there is no way you are giving up your scale, at least consider putting this quote up on a post-it note nearby, “This scale can only give you a numerical reflection of your relationship with gravity. It cannot measure beauty, talent, purpose, possibility, strength, or love.”

6. Spend time with encouraging social supports. Reduce your exposure to people who are weight or appearance obsessed. Set the tone and ditch the “fat talk” mania. Encourage your social supports to follow suit. Surround yourself with people who are uplifting and encouraging of others. You probably have enough trouble with criticizing yourself. You do not need further exposure to negative chitter chatter! Positive people will more likely help you appreciate both your inner and outer beauty. It’s also helpful to have a body image role model, whether someone who has recovered for an eating disorder or simply owns body confidence.

7. Adopt doable distraction techniques.  Distraction techniques will not cure underlying issues, but they will help you avoid behavior use, which is incredibly empowering. You also deserve a break from the eating disorder thoughts and behaviors. Urges are temporary and will pass. While they may return, it lifts one’s spirits to be able to conquer urges when they present. I have used whatever works in the moment when I need a shift in focus away from negative body image. I may choose to read, watch TV, or color a mandala. I often use essential oils as a grounding distraction. Listening to music can change my train of thought quite easily as well. You may wish to call, text, or IM a friend. Snuggle up with your furbabies. Don’t be afraid to spend some time day dreaming about a goal you’ve had. Mental rehearsing plants the seed of success. Or maybe you are a list maker. Do anything other than accept mental torment from ED. J

8.       Practice joyous exercise. Exercise can be a touchy subject with regards to eating disorders. If you have a history of excessive exercise, please consider exploring this in a therapeutic relationship, especially before reintroducing exercise into your life. Always seek medical clearance before engaging in exercise. In some cases, you may need a physical therapist to begin physical activity once cleared by your team. Exercise can have incredible benefits when practiced in moderation, including antidepressant benefits. Healthy exercise can also encourage a nourishing appetite, increased energy, and sound sleep – all elements of a balanced lifestyle. When possible, choose joy filled activities such as yoga, gardening, and surfing, where the focus is more likely to be on the activity than the eating disorder. Warning signs of excessive or abusive exercise may include: skipping social opportunities to work out, distress when a workout is missed, unwilling to allow rest days, being driving by obsessive thoughts, using exercise to purge calories, and exercising despite injury.

You’ve made it way too far and worked way too hard to give up now! I cannot emphasize enough that glamorizing the eating disorder only opens the gateway to relapse. Sure, the eating disorder served a purpose for you for a long time, but don’t forget it stopped working, which is why you decided to start your healing. If you find yourself wishing you were thinner or that you had not gained weight, know you are also wishing for all of the pain, struggle, and misery the eating disorder left you. And, you certainly don’t need all of that! You are worth a life worth living.

Let yourself fly and face your fears!

September 12th, 2014

 From Mirasol ED Recovery Guest Blogwriter ~ Faith

Photograph of a lap poolRecovery from an eating disorder is complex. It’s full of rollercoasters, intense emotions, radical acceptance, willingness over willfulness, courage, and perseverance. It’s easy to go back to negative behaviors where the eating disorder can calm anxiety and make you feel like you have control. But, in actuality, you are only locking yourself back in the box while the ED destroys your life. Bottom line: Recovery can be very scary. As you continue your recovery journey, you will have to face both old and new fears. By gaining a new perspective of how to conquer those fears, you will build more strength and courage every time you step out of the box and face that fear.

If you have read my other posts, you know that I used to be very athletic triathlete and cyclist. As I move further into my recovery and have begun to work towards reclaiming those passions, I have had to look fear straight in the face. It’s not a perfect road…Some days I can do it; other days I might hang back a little and tip toe outside the box. I have a hard time being patient with myself and remembering that my body is still healing, thus when it comes to biking and swimming, I need to learn to be more forgiving without letting fear take over and quitting completely.

I have recently joined a community center that I can both bike to and swim once I’m there. I felt like a small child holding my mom’s hand when I went to try swimming. Luckily, I chose to face this fear by choosing to go with someone from my support system. It was my first time there actually using the facilities, and I didn’t understand how the locker rooms worked. A swim team was starting, and I hate being cold, which all lap pools are kept at a cooler temperature. I had anxiety just thinking about going. Seeing the swim team was intimidating and brought up old emotions of when I swam on a team. I knew my stamina was definitely not up to par, and fear immediately took over telling me, “You can’t swim, look at those girls, they are in the best shape and can swim forever.” I hovered over the lane edge, knowing the cold rush I would feel as soon as I dove. Half of me was saying, “no, no, no!” The wise mind other half was telling me, “at least jump in, you love swimming and you have to start somewhere.”

With a deep breath I took the dive and immediately began sprinting down the lane trying to warm myself up. I could feel my body maxing out, which was a bit frustrating, but I accomplished a small step towards my larger goal. I may have only done two laps but I didn’t quit, I tried it, and I can prepare myself better the next time. I was a bit discouraged, yet at the same time, I was trying to turn my mind and use it for more motivation.

Now, I could get down on myself and compare doing two laps to two miles. However, the initial goal was breaking the box, and I at least jumped in and tried. The next time, I knew what to expect a little more, and although there is still a bit of anxiety, I try to keep pushing myself and not have any expectations other than getting in the pool and swimming. In time, I hope it becomes therapeutic as it used to be.

Another example of overcoming recovery related fears centers around social situations. After isolating for so long, it’s easy to decline the party invitations, going out for meals, returning to work, etc. This may sound silly, but I was invited to see a movie with my neighbor about a book we’ve been discussing. I tend to experience a panic state going to theatres, so I seldom ever go. I don’t think I’ve been to a movie since Harry Potter. Everything inside of me was screaming no! Then, I took into consideration that this was a social event, very few that I ever have, and I needed to push myself instead of hiding in my apartment or avoiding with other tasks. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face….we must do that which we think we cannot.” I tried using my wise mind, and made the goal that every day I will push myself to face at least one fear, big or small.

Tess Marshall, M.A., who specializes in learning how to live a bold life, has created nine tips to face fear in the face so it no longer rules our lives:


Try and do one thing each day that might cause fear and invite it into your life. Let yourself feel it and breathe through it. Every time you conquer a fear, it builds courage and opens up new doors in your life. Such examples I’ve had this week: actually going to the pool, going to a movie, cycling more and building up a commuter bike, and facing strong anxiety that seems to build in the evening with some yoga.


Give yourself positive mantras, thoughts, and positive energy that generate success, whereas more fearful thoughts will just attract more fear. I have my apartment posted with random quotes and affirmations. Sometimes they get stuck in my head which helps me turn my negative thoughts around.


Take action towards fear and don’t let opportunities continue to pass you by. This can be difficult, but if you continue to be consistent, prepared, focusing on solutions, that energy will further motivate you to conquer what’s ahead. This is a perfect example of facing my movie theater fear. I could decline and lose the opportunity to get to know my neighbor better (and possibly seeing a good movie), but I’m tired of letting fear and anxiety keep me imprisoned and losing out on opportunities to grow. If I don’t like theatres still after, then I don’t really have to ever go again. (Isn’t that what Redbox is for?) :)


Focus your attention on being ready, willing, and prepared for the beauty, wonder, connections, good fortune and favorable circumstances that are yours if you are willing to work and be open to it.”


Every time you conquer a fear, don’t brush it under the rug. Celebrate it and use it to continue building courage, motivation, and strength. For example, I rode the community center once, I can ride again. I got in the pool, and even though I didn’t last long, I got in and tried to swim a few more laps as well as tried out their therapeutic pool – which is a bit warmer!


Read or learn about inspiring people, events, things that have occurred when people have faced fear in the face and overcome all obstacles to achieve their dream. Some examples are Walt Disney, Oprah, Robin Williams, etc. Maybe it’s not a famous person or event; maybe it’s a special person in your life. My mom may not be famous, but she is one of the most perseverant, compassionate, and courageous people I know. Do you have anyone you look up to? Why?


Use your support team to help you overcome fearful moments. The first time when I just wanted to try the pool (after changing about 10 times because I was letting anxiety take over and not wanting to go), my mom came with me and just said, “Jump in and see how it goes.” It was a small step, but one more step of courage I can build upon to do it again.


Having a strong support team helps build that foundation of trust and more willingness to overcome the fear. Supporting each other can make tough moments easier, and possibly even more fun.


Create a list of your goals and conquer them. Use the SMART goal setting technique so you can celebrate even the tiniest step. The power is within you to overcome obstacles, and let your dreams and happiness re-enter your life. .

No longer do we have to let doubt, fear, and anxiety dominate our lives. Don’t let the ED or fear steal anymore joy, sleep, dreams, and goals. DO NOT let FEAR define your life. You are all strong and courageous! Sometimes we just need to dust ourselves off and remember that “I CAN” reach my goals and dreams.

A few quotes to fight fear with:

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt

“Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.”


“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt


Inspiration Quotes & Love

September 5th, 2014

From Mirasol ED Recovery Guest Blogwriter ~ Joanna Poppink, MFT

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” – Rumi

When you are feeling alone, depressed, scared, frustrated and bingeing away or running on the treadmill as if you were running from a pack of wolves, when you feel you have no place to turn and you reject all options, you still have an option.

Inspirational quotes come through your Twitter and Facebook pages on a regular basis, even if you are not looking for them.  You can use them, not just for a momentary glimpse into a different way of thinking, but as a practical way to get back into recovery mode.

How?  Do a google search on inspirational quotes.  You’ll find many sites with long lists of wise and profound words from people across time.  Pay attention to how you feel as you read them.

When you find one that seems to speak to you or expresses what you wish you had or opens a window of perception for you, linger with it.

Write it down.

Break it down into daily tasks you can do to make that inspirational quote truly your own.

For example, if Rumi’s quote above feels like it is wise guidance to having love in your life, then

  • keep it.
  • write it down.
  • journal about what barriers you have within      you that block love.

This is not a time for self criticism. This is your looking at what those obstacles within might be.

Once you have a list, then you can journal about what you can do to dissemble those obstacles.

  •  When you do this you are increasing your awareness of your way of being in the world.
  • You are learning how you affect responses around you.
  • Best, you are learning how to make many subtle changes that eventually erode your barriers and allow love to enter your life.

Many of your interior obstacles are strengthened by your eating disorder thinking and behaviors.  As you follow your own ways of dissolving your obstacles in order to allow love in your life you discover that you are weakening your eating disorder.

Inspirational quotes can be wonderful guides and support for you.

Here are a few inspirational quote sites to get you started.

Brainy Quotes

Motivational and Inspirational Quotes

100 Top Inspirational Quotes – Forbes

101 Inspirational Quotes from Super Successful People

And more on this subject:

 Inspirational Quotes as Recovery Assignments

Use Inspirational Quotes as Recovery Tools


Joanna Poppink, MFT, Los Angeles eating disorder recovery psychotherapist in private practice, author of Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder. Website