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Part One: Changing the Food Conversation in 2018

Monte Nido & Affiliates Director of Nutrition Anna Sweeney, MS, RD, LDN, CEDRD is an expert in the treatment of individuals presenting with eating disorders, disordered eating, and emotional eating. Anna shares a two part series about changing the food conversation in 2018. Read part one today and check back in next week for part two…

We’re in the midst of it now. The time of year when it is more common to hear people speaking about their diet, or exercise plan it is for people to be wishing each other well. I don’t know about you, but I’m bored. I want talk about something else, and starting here, let’s change the conversation.

Culturally, we are inundated by messages that tell us how to eat, what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat. Calories are labeled on everything, and if you’re not digging on the acai bowl, you’re not taking care of your “health.”

These messages couldn’t be any further from the truth. Our bodies are designed to consume and assimilate a variety of nutrients. They can handle a lot of food, both in terms of volume, variety, and energy density. One thing that I see consistently is a lack of focus on enjoyment of food, and instead, a focus on the specifics of that food: how many calories does it have? Does it contain antioxidants? Will it help my digestive tract feel or work better? Will it cure my depression or my eating disorder?

As a dietitian, I’m firmly aware of the power of food. It can be nourishing. It can be healing. And it can also just taste good. Eating both nutritious and delicious food is required for a healthy relationship with food. In the diet-obsessed culture that we live in, food is being simplified and simultaneously made more complicated. Simplified in that there are specific rules that are culturally accepted as norm, and complicated by the extraordinary body disconnection that occurs when one is following rules.

There may be comfort found in the solace of food rules. Your eating disorder might be a little bit quieter; your dieting mindset might be temporarily sated. While you may experience some relief following rules, I’d like to remind you of the age old expression that Rules are made to be broken. Any binary way of thinking, good versus bad, healthy versus unhealthy, boxes us in – and in a way that our bodies do not require. In fact, binary interaction with food results in increased body disconnection, increased fear of food, increased shame around food, and a dramatic reduction in body trust.

 

We are exited to share the opening of Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Westchester! Learn more about the program by visiting our website or calling an Admissions Specialist at 888.228.1253.

For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.


Truth or Misconception: How Debunking Myths Paves the Way for Support

Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Manhattan Assistant Clinical Director Temimah Zucker, LMSW discusses common myths about eating disorders and recovery. In this week’s blog post, Temimah helps us to debunk some of these misconceptions. 

One of the most commonplace occurrences I experience when meeting with a client, working with a family, or even describing my line of work is that I am met with myths and misconceptions. Myths about eating disorders, about recovery, and about those who struggle. These myths impact the ability to ask for help or to be given help appropriately. One mission I’ve taken upon myself, is to debunk said myths whether it be in one-on-one interactions or to a room full of people eager to hear about eating disorders and activism.

Below are listed some of the most common myths I have heard and even thought myself before experiencing my own eating disorder and entering the field:

  1. An eating disorder is a choice; it is about attention or care and if the individual is willing enough, it can “just go away.” Within this myth are a number of thoughts or ideas that when believed, perpetuate the lack of adequate care and coverage needed for mental health issues. An eating disorder is not a choice; one does not wake up one day and choose to engage in behavior use. Rather it is something that develops over time and is a conglomeration of various underlying factors including events, genetics, and chemical interactions. To develop an eating disorder is not a choice but to actively move toward recovery takes thousands of difficult choices each day. And these choices are not simply about “wanting it enough.” If it were that simple then the extent of necessary care would not exist. The process of recovery absolutely includes motivation but it also includes trial and error, integration of coping skills, exploration of the purpose of the disorder and so much more. Those struggling experience pain, grief, fear, and a plethora of other emotions and just as the underlying issues are a melting pot of factors, so too is recovery.
  2. One can tell if someone has an eating disorder by how s/he looks. An eating disorder is a mental, behavioral, and psychiatric illness. Notice how the above words did not include the words “visible” or “seeable.” An eating disorder is not to be measured by numbers in any way; calories, weights, years, pounds – none of these factors is relevant or necessary. It is about the internal experience of the individual struggling. By relying on numbers or appearance too many individuals are overlooked and their suffering is ignored. One does not need to be underweight to struggle with Anorexia Nervosa because it is a mental illness. To assume that someone is suffering when s/he “looks it” or when it is obvious that s/he is using behaviors is to also assume that when one is not using behaviors or at a certain weight, s/he is “cured.” Instead, it is vital to remember that we provide care based on experience. And that when someone stops using behaviors this is often when recovery feels hardest because the maladaptive coping mechanism is no longer in place. This myth that an eating disorder is obvious also leads those suffering to feel invalidated if they do not “look” as others would imagine one with an eating disorder “should” look or feel as if they are “not sick enough” if others don’t “see” the disorder. To understand that a disorder is based on feelings and thoughts will allow so many individuals afraid to ask for help, or who have been rejected when asking for support to know that they too deserve care.
  3. One will never truly recovery; an eating disorder will remain with the individual for life. Carolyn Costin was the absolute pioneer around the reality of full recovery. At Monte Nido, we hire many staff members – including myself – who can act as recovery role models to show that full recovery is not only possible but present. Recovery is not linear and will not take place over any particular timeline. But it is always possible and this recovery does not include eating disorder thoughts or struggles. It means that food and weight/shape/size no longer interrupt the individual’s life experience. Instead, the body is appreciated and food is enjoyed rather than being used to cope. It will be a journey but not without an ending. To be recovered is not a myth or misconception; it is attainable and requires introspection, challenges, practice, and support.

There are countless myths that unfortunately interfere with the help for those who need it. Sometimes clients continue to struggle with believing that these myths are true and part of the process is to continue exploring and debunking. Sometimes supporters learn and relearn the reality of these misconceptions, which happens in our Multifamily Groups and family sessions. And more often than not we have a unique opportunity to teach individuals in society whether it be professionals, friends, and other individuals who impact or are impacted by eating disorders.

I encourage advocacy when possible but above all I encourage you, as the reader, to remember and adopt the truth behind these misconceptions. Whether you are fighting a battle, supporting a loved one, or interested in learning more remember that change starts with you, within you.

 

We are exited to share the opening of Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Westchester! Learn more about the program by visiting our website or calling an Admissions Specialist at 888.228.1253.

For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.


Sea Glass Grant Recipient: Recovered Living

At Monte Nido & Affiliates, we save lives while providing the opportunity for people to realize their healthy selves. One of the ways we want to help provide opportunities for individuals to realize their healthy selves is through our Sea Glass Grants opportunity. We are excited to share our newest Sea Glass Grant recipient, Recovered Living, an organization providing coaching to those who aren’t able to obtain support in underserved locations, providing both in-person support and online. Read more about this amazing organization below! 

How did Recovered Living come about?

My own recovery experience inspired me to create a service for people who did not have access to face-to-face support.

After flying home to to New Zealand after 7 months with Monte Nido I realized the ‘Treatment Bubble’ had well and truly burst. The nearest eating disorder therapist was 6 hours drive away so I knew if I wanted to stay in recovery, I needed to get creative in finding a team.

I found a therapist and a dietician that worked online and figured out that lunchtime in New Zealand was dinnertime in California. I would Skype with my recovery friends at mealtimes and in this way created my own virtual IOP. No matter where I was in New Zealand, my entire team was at my fingertips via my laptop.  This is how I recovered.

In my recovery journey I saw many people relapse and even die as a direct result of lack of available treatment options. I became determined to bridge the gap for people who did not have access to face-to-face support and create something different that addressed the gap.

How has Recovered Living helped you in your recovery journey?

Recovered Living was a dream of mine years before it was a reality. When recovery was tough for me or the temptation to go back to my eating disorder was strong, I would remind myself that I couldn’t be a role model for others if I went back to my eating disorder. Helping others and being a leader in the recovery field was a very strong motivator for my recovery.

Who is Recovered Living? 

Recovered Living is 100% Kristie at the minute! I often refer to Recovered Living as ‘we’…because it truly has a life-force of its own. I have my Kristie life and there is another being in my life called Recovered Living that I am in relationship with.

It is getting close to the time that I need another coach to help meet demand – Recovered Living will soon be ‘us’!

What feeling do you most associate with Recovered Living?

Only one?  Hope. The most important thing in the world. Inspiration. Authenticity & Effervescence!

Walk me through the Recovered Living process, how do people currently hear about the services you provide?

Recovered Living provides two distinct services.

Transition Assistance is a 24/7 service where a Recovery Coach will move into a clients home to help them transition. This can be moving from Residential to PHP, from School to Home…or anything in between. When the Recovery Coach leaves, they can continue supporting clients via online sessions.  With such a detailed insight into Client’s lives, we have noticed people’s recovery wobbles are more like a dance move than a dive.

The other service Recovered Living provides is online Meal and Snack Support, Recovery Coaching and At-Home Cooking Sessions. This means we have clients all across America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Europe.

We recently started a free online ‘Support Space’ group for family and friends of Recovered Living clients. An eating disorder does not just affect one person in the family, it affects every person in the family. We believe families deserve support too!

People have found Recovered Living from all over – we get lots of people from Google searches, word of mouth referrals or from our social media platforms. Something we always offer clients is the opportunity to talk with us first, before making any commitments. We will connect via video call with any new client to hear their story and to talk about how we can help them move forward in recovery. If we seem like a good fit and you want to move ahead – we will design a support schedule that works for your individual needs. We are available nights AND weekends – we get that recovery operates outside office hours – so do we!

What is your favorite part of the day-to-day start up process?

It is not one moment that is my favorite so much as the feeling of a driving and vibrant passion inside me. Sometimes I get so excited I don’t want to close my eyes at night!!

How can people get involved?

If you think Recovered Living is a service that could help someone you know, please spread the word!  We have a Facebook and Instagram account, as well as a monthly blog (you can sign up for our newsletter on the website).

Have spare time on your hands? We currently have volunteer opportunities available to help get an upcoming project off the ground. We always welcome support!!!

What advice would you give to someone in their recovery who has a dream?

Do it!  Something that helped me in recovery was the mantra, ‘bigger jeans, bigger life’…now I say ‘bigger dreams, bigger life’!   

What are your hopes and dreams for Recovered Living?

I hope Recovered Living reaches every corner of the world that has access to the internet.

I dream of a time where treatment for people will be affordable, help is available and support is practical.  No matter where you live.

I hope Recovered Living helps to promote the benefits of telemedicine, giving rise to the critical mass that is creating a change in treatment options.

I dream of the client that will one day become a Coach. The client that follows their calling and becomes the person they wish they had in their recovery – themselves.

 

We are exited to share the opening of Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Westchester on January 30th. Learn more about the program by visiting our website or calling an Admissions Specialist at 888.228.1253.

For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.


Part Three: Group Therapy

Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Philadelphia Primary Therapist Kate Funk, MS, MFT shares the final part of her series focused on group therapy. Kate shares part of her journey in eating disorder treatment in her writing, as well as, some of the experiences of Monte Nido alumni. We are thankful to Kate and all of our alumni who offered some of their personal recovery journey in the hopes of helping others. 

S explained the unparalleled bonds that she formed in treatment. S writes, “Monte Nido opened my eyes to a new family that I formed throughout my time there. The friends that I met there carried me through when I forgot how to put one foot in front of the other. They saw me at my darkest and lowest points and did not turn their backs on me. They supported me, cared for me, even loved me when I couldn’t love myself and that might be the most powerful transition that I experienced through having a milieu. To say that I gained new friends while at Monte Nido does not do justice to the depth of the relationship that is formed when you are in groups and in a milieu together for an extended amount of time. It’s more than that. When you are fighting for your life every day alongside the brave warriors next to you, you form a bond deeper than friendship. When you fight a war together, no one else can truly understand what the war was like if you weren’t there, and that is something that is like a hidden secret among those that went to battle with you. Having that depth of understanding and compassion for one another is what has helped me to grow and continue to grow in my recovery”.

While the benefit of group treatment is undeniable, having treatment friends can be tricky. L writes, “Having friends from treatment can be tricky, especially when you worry for them if they are struggling. But in some ways, it’s no different than supporting any other friend going through a period of illness, as long as doing so does not interfere with one’s own recovery process. So besides being a source of mutual support throughout recovery, treatment friendships have also taught me to set healthy boundaries in relationships”. Eating disorders can certainly be triggered by those around us especially in early recovery; and I love how L reminds us that setting healthy boundaries is incredibly important in life, not just recovery. Regardless of the support circle you surround yourself with protecting your recovery is vital!

No matter the term you use; treatment friends, treatment family, peers, milieu all of these define the same powerful and healing connection. At Monte Nido we work to wean people off their unhealthy relationship with food and body and onto healthy relationships with others. In treatment we start by modeling healthy relationships among staff and help our clients create those deep connections with one another. Connections forged in treatment can be life changing and ultimately help clients build the confidence and support they need to do so in their world!

 

Click to read PART ONE and PART TWO of Kate’s series.

 

We are exited to share the opening of Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Westchester on January 30th. Learn more about the program by visiting our website or calling an Admissions Specialist at 888.228.1253.

For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.


Part One: But I Don’t Want To Accept This Body…A Shoe Story

Monte Nido & Affiliates Director of Nutrition Anna Sweeney, MS, RD, LDN, CEDRD is an expert in the treatment of individuals presenting with eating disorders, disordered eating, and emotional eating. In this week’s blog post, Anna begins her three part series sharing her unique perspective and personal experience on body acceptance. 

I’d like to start this post by stating that in all the ways that matter, I am a sane person. I’ll circle back to this, but want you to feel comfortable knowing that I am sane. (This will come into question later.)

“But I don’t want to accept this body.”

How many times have you said those words? To yourself? About yourself? How many times have you heard someone else use these words about their body?

When I think about body acceptance, and all that it allows for, I am deeply relieved. And I haven’t always been. As I hear often from my clients, body acceptance gets confused with complacency. It gets confused with liking one’s body. And now, because it is a buzz-worthy expression, it has kind of moved to the cool kids table. If you’re not accepting, you’re not in the club.

When I think about body acceptance, I am thrilled to know that it is possible. I am thrilled because I know that it can happen after years of having complicated, tumultuous relationship with one’s body.  I am thrilled to say confidently that body acceptance is one step to healing one of our most important relationships: that with our own bodies.  For humans who feel at home in their own bodies, some degree of body acceptance is possible. This is not to suggest that body acceptance is simple, but for most, it is possible.

From this place of acceptance, we can be gentle. We can be kind. And we can be curious.

Over last 10 years, I have treated many hundreds of clients, at all levels of eating disorder care.  I have heard my clients talk negatively about their bodies. I have observed how damaging body comparison can be.  And I have encouraged my clients to speak kindly of their bodies. ‘Comparison is the Thief of Joy’ is one of my favorite expressions.

In that same time, I have also lived with multiple sclerosis. And over the last five years, I have become a disabled woman. Living the body with changing abilities is rather extraordinary…It’s a little bit like having the rug pulled out from under you when you least expect it. You continue to operate from a place of not expecting the rug to be pulled at all. And you know that it will.

I am not going to make any grand ovations that I have been consistently graceful in the acceptance of my body. That would be a lie. But I have learned a lot about body acceptance, and the good that can come from it.

 

We are exited to share the opening of Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Westchester, opening in early 2018.  Learn more about the program by visiting our website or calling an Admissions Specialist at 888.228.1253.

For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.

 


Finding Space for Play in Recovery

Monte Nido River Towns Clinical Director Gillian Tanz, MSW, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker with over 10 years of experience treating a variety of mental health disorders in multiple treatment settings. In this week’s blog post, Gillian discusses the importance of play in eating disorder recovery. 

As adults, and even adolescents, our society tells us that there is no room in our lives for play. We must work, be productive, be goal-driven, and get that A+ (or else why bother?). I’m here to tell you that, especially in recovery from an eating disorder, making space for creative play can be an enormous asset. And productivity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Below, I’ll explain some of the reasons why.

This is your brain on ED:

Scientific research has shown that people with eating disorders tend to have some cognitive traits that can be unhelpful to recovery. These include cognitive rigidity, a preference for rigid rules, attentional difficulties, perfectionism, seeing details but not the big picture, impulsivity and compulsivity. How do these traits interfere with recovery?

  • Rules, like food rules, diets or exercise rules, can make you feel safe. But the more you stick with them, the scarier it can become to try something new (like all the changes you have to make in recovery). Once you’re hooked on rules, it can be tempting to make them more and more strict, with one’s world becoming smaller and smaller.
  • Perfectionism is a trait that, when applied to certain aspects of life, can be an asset. However, perfectionism truly is a double-edged sword. Perfectionists often become so afraid of failing that they become paralyzed by fear. This makes it very difficult to consider trying new things, whether it’s foods, meeting new people, engaging in treatment, or any other kind of risk.
  • Impulsivity and compulsivity can be seen as opposites, but both can be detrimental to recovery from an eating disorder. People who jump into situations without thinking are more likely to put themselves at risk. And those who are afraid to do so (we also call them “harm-avoidant”) may miss out on important opportunities for growth or human connection. Both traits can get in the way of treatment and recovery in their extreme forms.

The good news is, your brain has the amazing ability to grow, change, and physically rewire itself through intentional practice. Who knew!? This phenomenon is called “neuroplasticity.”

The Role of Play:

Creative play challenges the above traits by encouraging flexibility, spontaneity, concentration and attention. It also has the added bonus of being fun, fostering connection and relieving stress. Creativity is a trait valued by many educators and employers because it is related to problem-solving, novel ideas and invention. Clients of mine who engage in creative play report decreased anxiety, increased positive feelings and decreased obsessive thoughts.

So, what now? There are many ways to engage your playful, creative side. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Take an improv or acting class
  • Make a collage
  • Learn to play an instrument
  • Take up a creative hobby like wood-working, photography or painting
  • Write a poem or story (be as far-fetched as you can!)
  • Play make-believe with a child

Whatever you decide to do, make mistakes, learn from them, and have compassion for yourself. And above all, have fun! You deserve it.

 

We are exited to share the opening of Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Westchester, opening in early 2018.  Learn more about the program by visiting our website or calling an Admissions Specialist at 888.228.1253.

For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.


Articles for the Soul

Join us in reading soulful articles we have cultivated from across the web. If you have found an article you feel is inspirational, explores current research, or is a knowledgeable piece of literature and would like to share with us please send an e-mail here.

 

5 New Year’s Resolutions that Have Nothing to Do With Changing Your Body Angie Viets

5 Resolutions to Bust Mental Health Stigma in 2018 The Mighty

7 Ways to Boost Self-Love As You Move into a New Year Mind Body Green 

This New Year, Change the Way You Think About Your Body NEDA 

Things to Focus on Instead of Weight Loss or Dieting this New Year Huffington Post

5 Brain Savvy Resolutions for the New Year Psychology Today

 

We are exited to share the opening of Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Westchester, opening in early 2018.  Learn more about the program by visiting our website or calling an Admissions Specialist at 888.228.1253.

For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.

 

 


Sea Glass Grant: JOY’d

At Monte Nido & Affiliates, we save lives while providing the opportunity for people to realize their healthy selves. One of the ways we want to help provide opportunities for individuals to realize their healthy selves is through our Sea Glass Grants opportunity. A Sea Glass Grant aims to support small projects that create, develop or communicate a project that supports eating disorder recovery and healthy self-image. The latest recipient of the Sea Glass Grant is JOY’d: Joy Over Your Destination, an organization that provides earrings and encouragement for women in eating disorder treatment. Read on to learn more from founder Amy Sullivan about this amazing organization in this week’s blog post…

How did Joy’d come about?

JOY’d started with a simple question, what is my purpose? When I entered treatment for my eating disorder I didn’t fully believe that recovery was possible.  I was blessed during this time to hear stories of women who were living proof that recovery was not only possible, but oh so worth it.  I vowed that if I made it through the storm I would give back and tell my story like these brave women had done for me.  A year into my recovery I created JOY’d: Joy Over Your Destination to encourage men and women in eating disorder treatment. JOY’d sends out earrings along with encouragement cards to warriors in treatment {earrings are substituted for silly putty if a center has male clients} to try and bring them JOY. On the back of each card is the simple phrase, “Wear these earrings as a reminder that recovery is possible” because that is what I want these brave men and women to believe: that recovery is possible. I fully believe that my purpose is to spread joy and encourage those seeking recovery.

How has Joy’d helped you in your recovery journey?

JOY’d has given me a purpose for the pain I went through.  I can now look back at the darkest times of my journey and know that they happened for a reason.  Every moment, tear, person and struggle brought me to where I am now and this is exactly where I am supposed to be. Even if I just help one person to believe that recovery is possible, everything that I went through would be worth it.

Who is JOY’d?   

JOY’d is me, Amy.  I’m a personal stylist, coffee drinker, dog mom and Auntie to the most adorable little girl. My perfect summer day involves sitting by the pool with a good book and I will use any excuse I can to travel! More importantly, I am in recovery from an eating disorder after struggling for six years.  JOY’d is my mom, Jill, who is not only my best friend, but also helps me to make and package the earrings.  JOY’d is for  all of the amazing people who helped me to get to this point in my recovery; friends, family and of course my rock star treatment team.

What feeling do you most associate with JOY’d?

As cliché as it sounds, JOY!  While the eating disorder stole so much from me, what I felt like it stole the most from me was joy. My favorite part of this process is when someone who received my earrings reaches out to me and tells me what they meant to them.  What started as trying to bring others joy, has actually brought more joy back to me than I could have ever dreamed.

Walk me through the JOY’d process, how do people hear about you and your project?

Since launching JOY’d I have been working on spreading the word and connecting with treatment centers! Once I get in contact with a treatment center, the only info I need from them is how many clients they have {how many male and how many female} and an address to send the package to! I always try to include a few extra pairs of earrings for some of the staff because they are truly saving lives every day.

How and where do you get your materials?

We find most of our materials at local craft stores and some on Etsy.  We have also been blessed with amazing leather donations from La-Z-Boy and Underwood Boot Company!

What is your favorite part of the day-to-day start up process?

My favorite part of the start up process has been working with my mom.  Our relationship was so strained when I was in the midst of my eating disorder, but it is better than ever now.  My mom is my biggest fan.  I love sitting around with her brainstorming new ideas for JOY’d and of course, making earrings!

How can people get involved?

People can get involved by following @JoyOverYourDestination on Instagram.  If you feel called to support JOY’d, I also sell earrings with encouragement cards on Etsy. For every pair sold a pair is donated to women in treatment and $5 is donated to Southern Smash, an incredible non-profit that raises awareness for eating disorders and promotes positive body image by hosting scale smashes across the country.

What advice would you give to someone in their recovery who has a dream?

Fight for your dreams!  People in recovery from an eating disorder are the strongest and most determined people I’ve come across.  Take that leap of faith. If your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough!

What are your hopes and dreams for Joy’d?

Since July 2017, JOY’d has sent out over 300 pairs of earrings to treatment centers across the United States! My dream is to one day be able to travel to treatment centers to share my story, hand deliver earrings and let the clients craft their own encouragement cards! I hope that one day JOY’d will become a household name in the eating disorder recovery world.

 

We are exited to share the opening of Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Westchester, opening in early 2018.  Learn more about the program by visiting our website or calling an Admissions Specialist at 888.228.1253.

For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.


Lessons From The Mat: Doing Versus Receiving Yoga

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. In this week’s post, Jennifer discusses the idea of receiving yoga practice.

Half asleep at 5 AM, I walk across the hall to my teal yoga mat, light blue yoga block, a journal with the word “Balance” on the cover, and my favorite pencil. If you ignore the guest bed in the background (usually covered with random books, bags, adapters, kids clothing, and who knows what else!), or the crib mattress in the corner I was supposed to donate 2 years ago, or the haphazard stacks of books and papers on my desk, the space is a sweet invitation to move, breathe, and just be.

Mostly I embrace the invitation; other times, at that hour in the morning, I begrudgingly accept, and sure enough, I am always glad I did by the end of my practice.

For years, I resisted a home practice. Home just didn’t feel “calm enough.” I also preferred the social benefits of a community class. Even if I didn’t speak a word to another person, being in a group class satisfied my need to feel connected to others. Arriving at the yoga studio was like a giant exhale, a complete letting go that I believed was impossible to experience at home.

If you are like me—a planner who is a little too attached to routine—it’s frustrating when you can’t consistently get to the several weekly yoga classes you scheduled on your mental calendar. Slowly but surely, the “new routine” is not organized around practice; instead you live by a long list of all the “doing” that must get done. Other responsibilities squeeze out your precious mat time, and on those occasions when you do make it to class, that giant exhale never comes. The blissful letting go is replaced with a fierce holding on—holding on to your seat, so to speak, for fear if you let go, you won’t be able to keep up. You will come undone.

Fast forward to my newfound home practice, which was born out of both inspiration from my YogaLife Comprehensive Yoga Therapy peers and the realization that I needed to adjust my attitude toward my practice. Initially, the shift in perspective was related to my inflexibility around practicing at home. If it was “calm” I needed, then it was on me to create it. This meant finding a space and time that was quiet but also did not disrupt household routines, like getting my children ready for school. Even though I had to warm up to the idea of waking at 5 AM, this time of the morning offers the ultimate calm in my home and the world outside my widow. Calm is everywhere I can hear and see.

The next and most profound shift came to me during a morning meditation, after an asana practice. I was seated in a supported hero’s (Virasana) pose. I felt calm and connected to my breath and the ground. All was going according to planned (there’s those plans again!) until the word “doing” (and forms of it) just kept coming: “You’re doing meditation. You’re doing asana. You’re doing this, doing that. You’re doing x, doing y, doing z.” The refrain kept coming. It was like a thunderstorm in my head.

Agitated, I grabbed my journal. What’s all this “doing” I am hearing in my head about? And why now? Interestingly, this exercise in self-study led me to the word “receive.” For years and years, I’ve said: “I do yoga,” or “I’m doing yoga” or “I have to do my practice.” These are common ways to state that you are yoga practitioner, right? Inherently, there’s nothing wrong with these statements or the meaning behind them. However, as I experienced in hero’s pose during meditation, if our practice is one more thing we must do, then it might get lumped on an already lengthy to-do list. As one more thing to check off, our yoga practice becomes rote and we miss out on receiving its gifts.

I journaled about this idea, asking: What would it feel like to come to my mat or cushion to receive instead of do? How would my outlook on my practices shift if I opened to receiving and let go of doing? What if instead of doing yoga, I receive yoga?

As I named the gifts I receive from my yoga practices, I was filled with a renewed sense of purpose for sitting in hero’s pose on my teal mat at the break of dawn in the first place. I also felt a surge of curiosity about what gifts are yet to reveal themselves as I continue to “receive yoga.”

Tomorrow morning, I will receive my practice so that, to the best of my ability, I can do my life with grace, strength, and patience. What gifts will come to you when you receive yoga?

 

We are exited to share the opening of Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Westchester, opening in early 2018.  Learn more about the program by visiting our website or calling an Admissions Specialist at 888.228.1253.

For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.


Part Two: Group Therapy in Eating Disorder Treatment

Monte Nido Philadelphia Primary Therapist Kate Funk shares part two of a three part series opening up about some of her journey in eating disorder treatment. In the series, not only does Kate share her personal experience, Monte Nido alumni contribute as well. We are thankful to Kate and all of our alumni who offered some of their personal recovery journey in the hopes of helping others. 

I shared with our alumni how I felt that treatment was the first time in my life where I felt truly understood and many of them agreed. L explained, “I think instead of the milieu being the first place where I felt understood, it was, rather, the first place where I had the opportunity to be understood in a deeper way. It was the first time I was open about some very difficult subjects and the first time I could do that without fear of rejection or neglect. The milieu helped me feel safe enough to allow others to enter into my story.”. Al discussed the misunderstanding that often accompanies an eating disorder. Al writes, “Before Monte Nido, I felt alone in my disorder and not connected with other people. None of my friends or family understood what I was going through, so it was hard to communicate with them. When I got to Monte Nido, I was amazed at how some of the other women literally took the words out of my mouth… For once in my life I felt understood and somewhat normal”. Like Al, An had a similar experience. An explains, “When I am surrounded by people who know what it’s like, a weight is almost lifted off my back and I can find peace and security in my surroundings.”.

Support can mean so many different things and each of our supports can offer a different approach and perspective that can be invaluable. The support offered among clients can provide an extra level of understanding and accountability. L writes, “While in treatment my peers and I supported each other in various ways, chief among them, I would say, by sharing our stories. By being honest and opening up to one another, we encouraged each other to talk about the deeper issues and created a safe, non-judgmental environment in which to do so. Beyond that, we supported each other in non-verbal ways, with hugs, with expressions of understanding, with shared tears and shared laughter. Outside of treatment we kept in touch over text, and on occasion we met for coffee, or for a walk in nature, or for a painting project in the park, all things that supported my recovery by reinforcing my sense of connection to others”. H agreed writing, “loneliness plays a large role in my disorder. While going through this hard journey, I needed support more than ever. That’s where my friends (family) from treatment have come in. I have been able to call them when I am not ok to be on my own. We have gone out to dinner, held each other accountable, and challenged ourselves together.”. H also mentioned that working with a group of clients “has been able to make my own darkness a little bit lighter”. Al also expressed the importance of being supported by her treatment peers “…we expressed our struggles and celebrated our successes in recovery…While in treatment, we were there to comfort each other, give advice and lend support after rough sessions or meals. It meant the world to me that I had a group of women behind me ready to catch me if I fell… My treatment friends helped me realize that I am worth recovery and deserve a life outside of my eating disorder. Even though I knew that deep down, I didn’t truly believe it until I had other women there to remind me of it”.

To read part one of Kate’s group therapy series, click HERE.

 

For more information about Monte Nido please call 888.228.1253, visit our website and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.