My Battle with ‘Pro-Ana’ Sites & What ‘Ana’ Did to Me

You’ve most likely heard of them, Pro-Ana and Pro-Mia sites. Pro-ana refers to the promotion of the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. It is often referred to simply as “ana” and is sometimes personified by anorexics as a girl named ‘Ana’. The lesser-used term pro-mia refers likewise to bulimia nervosa and is sometimes used interchangeably with pro-ana.

As a recovered(ing) anorexic, these sites absolutely disgust me… It is known through research that Anorexia nervosa is a VERY dangerous and serious illness, and has the highest mortality rate of any psychological disorder.  However, a majority of these sites claim that this disorder is a “lifestyle choice” that should be respected by doctors and family…

The presence of these sites is EVERYWHERE from Tumblr, Facebook, to even personal blogs. I came across a Pro-Ana site this morning and it literally made me sick to my stomach, I shook with anger and even teared up. Knowing that there are people out there promoting this disease obviously really upsets me.

The list below is what the sites/members promote – which was compiled on Wikipedia: ((Yeah, I know it’s not the most reputable resource – but all are supported by research.))

  • Endorse anorexia and/or bulimia as desirable (84% and 64% respectively in a 2010 survey).
  • Share crash dieting techniques and recipes (67% of sites in a 2006 survey, rising to 83% in a 2010 survey).
  • Coach each other on using socially acceptable pretexts for refusing food, such as veganism (which is notably more prevalent in the eating-disordered in general).
  • Compete with each other at losing weight, or fast together in displays of solidarity.
  • Commiserate with one another after breaking fast or binging.
  • Advise on how to best induce vomiting, and on using laxatives and emetics.
  • Give tips on hiding weight loss from parents and doctors.
  • Share information on reducing the side-effects of anorexia.
  • Post their weight, body measurements, details of their dietary regimen or pictures of themselves to solicit acceptance and affirmation.
  • Suggest ways to ignore or suppress hunger pangs.

And just because a site doesn’t outright call itself a Pro-Ana one, or try  to promote and eating disorder – sites and posts called “Thinspiration” or “Fitspiration” are just as dangerous. A BEAUTIFULLY written blog post was written by a man named Kevin Moore on his blog, Reembody Me, titled “The 6 Most Shockingly Irresponsible ‘Fitspiration’ Photos.” He goes through some of Fitspiration photos and dissects them and discussed how they are dangerous and irresponsible. Seriously, you NEED to read his post – just hover over the title of the blog/post and click!

Why I’m Anti-Ana – I HATE Ana, She’s a Life-Ruining Bitch: This is What Ana Did to Me

I write this blog to aid me in writing my book, “My Marathon 2 Recovery.” I also have been going through my old journal entries from 10+ years ago. And in doing so, I’ve come across some very depressing entries. I did not boast about losing weight or write down tips on how to burn more calories. I was angry, sad, and ultimately sick.

I really didn’t like what I was doing to myself, or I should say, what my disease was doing to me. I did it because I was ill, because it’s what my disease, or as the pro-ana sites name it, Ana, was telling me to do. I would have never promoted what I was happening to me among others. I wouldn’t share my “tips” – I wouldn’t wish such a disease on my worst enemy!

Now, while these pro-ana sites promote eating disorders, I’m going to share some excerpts from my own personal journals while under the cold, hard grasp of the hands of my disorder as well as an essay I wrote in high school about my struggle… Be prepared, you won’t want to be anorexic after reading these – this is what “Ana” did to me…

“I had lost over 15 lbs in a very short period of time. My Pediatrician dually diagnosed me with Anorexia Nervosa and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He wrote a note to my school making me sit out of Physical Education and made me quite soccer and softball until I had weighed gained six more pounds. This was not as easy as it sounds. I struggled with the consistent low weight from November of 1999 to March of 2000.

Hair falling out constantly. I was so weak, I could barely scrub my scalp in the shower.

One day as my mom combed my hair after a shower (too weak to do it myself), she noticed how dirty my hair still was even after a shower. I couldn’t properly clean my own hair I was so weak!

I started developing peach-like fuzz on my face – my bodies response to the lack of body fat to keep my warm.

My mom noticed a fruity smell to my breath, which was my body breaking down fat and producing acids known as ketones. This is called Starvation Ketosis, which is a natural metabolic process which helps the body survive during times of starvation.

I remember the arguments and fights with my family. Being so angry and annoyed.

My mom ended up quitting her job so she could make it to all my doctor and counseling appointments, as well as accompanying me in my 5th grade classroom during lunch to assure that I would eat. Yes, we had to eat lunch in our classroom.

I remember becoming so weak and tired. In the car, I remember not being able to hold my own head up – I had to lean it all the way against the seat.

I had stopped following my food plan and became worse than ever. I’d suffered from malnutrition, my hair would fall out in the shower and in my hair brush, my clothes appeared baggy on me, I became so weak to the point that I could barely keep my head up when I sat down.

I’d gone three days with only one cup of chocolate milk (plus the weeks of self-deprivation). I was so weak that I just lied on the couch the third day not able to move. That was when my mom took me to Rainbow’s Babies and Children’s Hospital.

I was so weak, that I didn’t even fight my mom as she drove me to the hospital.

Drawings from my journals(sorry they’re a little blurry):

RIP drawing

“Here lies Colleen Beth Fitzgibbons. The girl who wouldn’t eat.”


to eat or not to eat


At the hospital the doctors weren’t as lenient as my past doctors I’ve dealt with. I had to eat according to their meal plan, three full coarse meals and two snacks a day, other wise they would feed me through a Nasogastric Tube – Gastric incubation via the nasal passage. They would have to stick the feeding tube up my nose through my sinuses and into my stomach. Not wanting the painful way, I ate as they told me and stayed overnight for three days. Those three horrid days really got me thinking. I decided that I wanted to get better and be healthy. I didn’t want to suffer like this my whole life. But, it wasn’t easy…

I relapsed.

Looking back at the age of 15. I started menstruating at 12, but had suddenly stopped for a whole 6 months. When I saw my Pediatrician, he said I had Amenorrhea due to the lack of proper nutrition (starving myself) and over-exercising. I thought to myself, “Eh, whatever.”

It was when he told me that if I don’t start taking care of myself, eating, and listening to my body I would not be able to have kids one day.

That’s when it hit me. I felt like someone had just punched me in the stomach. I burst into tears.

What Ana was doing to me was about to ruin my future. I would not be able to conceive, to raise children of my own.

That was the biggest slap in the face and what motivated me to evict Ana out of my life.

After a while, and struggling with eating, I began to menstruate again and still do to this day. But, I’m still fearful that I may never be able to have kids for what that bitch, Ana, had done to my body and organs.

Know the Red Flags and DO SOMETHING

As a public health professional, I know that prevention is the best possible method. So, please, please please, if you or someone you know/love and notice any of these red flags, please seek help – IMMEDIATELY!

If you’re concerned that a loved one may have anorexia, watch for these possible red flags:

  • Skipping meals
  • Making excuses for not eating
  • Eating only a few certain “safe” foods, usually those low in fat and calories
  • Adopting rigid meal or eating rituals, such as cutting food into tiny pieces or spitting food out after chewing
  • Cooking elaborate meals for others but refusing to eat
  • Repeated weighing of themselves
  • Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws
  • Complaining about being fat
  • Not wanting to eat in public

Unfortunately, many people with anorexia don’t want treatment, at least initially. Their desire to remain thin overrides concerns about their health. If you have a loved one you’re worried about, urge her or him to talk to a doctor.

Visit the National Eating Disorders Association’s site for Help & Support.


And if you come across a Pro-Ana/Mia site or Thin/Fitspiration post on social media, SPEAK OUT! Report the site or image to administrators and help put an end to this “trend” that is killing millions… Become an Anti-Ana/Mia Activist!


Running, Biking & Swimming to a Healthy Body AND Mind

I try to keep my blog posts as raw and to the point as possible. I blog a lot about overcoming two eating disorders and how much I love running. How running has helped me through the years become more clear-minded and realize that in order for my body to be healthy, I need to nourish it, take care of it. But, I really don’t touch on how running, as well as biking and swimming, continue to help me on an everyday basis from my other mental illnesses. DEPRESSION & ANXIETY.

I’ve been on anti-depressants since I was 12 years old, so for 13 years now. I’ve also been on medications for my anxiety as well. Taking a pill or two before bedtime is just a regular part of my routine, since I have so many with my OCD.

Running, biking, and newly, swimming, has helped me become more at ease by not obsessing as much and helps my mood, tremendously. Though I’m on the highest dosage of my anti-depressant (Celexa) healthily possible, I still feel the symptoms of depression every once in a while… Especially lately since I’m still on the job search after graduating with my masters. The denial letters from potential employers and lack of income coming in has played its toll on me. I’m very open about my feelings and am able to share them with my family, friends, and my partner. But, sharing and medication just sometimes isn’t enough… So, I turn to exercise.

Currently I’m training for an Olympic triathlon AND a marathon. So yeah, I get PLENTY of exercise. Not only is all this exercise good on my body (well most of it anyway), but also on my mind.

Just the other day I felt especially down and not feeling so worthy of anything. I woke up late, ate, fell back to sleep, and just laid around, feeling down. I knew I had a swim that day, so I got up, drove to the Recreation Center and jumped into the pool. The cool, chlorinated water was not only refreshing, but invigorating. The first couple of laps were OK, but the rest of them felt amazing. I seriously felt like a whole new person. I started pushing myself to stretch my arms out longer, faster and kick my legs; my adrenaline immediately kicked in.

It’s amazing what some laps of swimming can do. Or a run or bike.

It’s true though, exercise can help ease depression and anxiety.

According to a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School, “Understanding Depression,” 

“A study published in 2005 found that walking fast for about 35 minutes a day five times a week or 60 minutes a day three times a week had a significant influence on mild to moderate depression symptoms. Walking fast for only 15 minutes a day five times a week or doing stretching exercises three times a week did not help as much. (These exercise lengths were calculated for someone who weighs about 150 pounds. If you weigh more, longer exercise times apply, while the opposite is true if you weigh less than 150 pounds.)”

The article also goes on to say that experts have known that exercise enhances the action of endorphins, chemicals that circulate throughout the body. You all know how I LOVE Endorphins and talk about them frequently!

“Endorphons improve natural immunity and reduce the perception of pain. They may also serve to improve mood. Another theory is that exercise stimulates the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which may directly improve mood.” – Harvard Medical School 

Also, according to Mayo Clinic, exercise probably helps ease depression in a number of ways, which may include:

  • Releasing feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression (neurotransmitters and endorphins)
  • Reducing immune system chemicals that can worsen depression
  • Increasing body temperature, which may have calming effects

This is not to say that exercise CURES depression and anxiety, but helps one MANAGE their depression/anxiety. And I’m living proof. 🙂

And of course my dog Miles, he helps put me in a better mood too (for the most part). 🙂


But who couldn’t help but be in a good mood with this guy around??

My Utopia

I grab my Garmin and tie the laces of my running shoes
It is that time again, to go anywhere that I choose
The sound of my breath and feet pounding on the ground
Honestly, to me is my favorite sound
The road is my calling and no matter how far the distance
My feet hit the pavement and everything else in the world has no existence
The place where I go to clear my head
The place I go when most are still in bed
The beauty of the sunrise is what I see
But, the rush of endorphins is what brings me glee
It is my sport, my practice of fitness, my passion,
It is something I will do for life; it’ll never go out of fashion
In the midst of my run, my head is clear and body numb to the pain
The rush of the high and power it makes me feel is the gain
When I am by myself without any competition
Is when I feel like I am truly on a mission
My running shoes on my feet and body in a sweat is when I feel at my best
Going further, longer and faster is my quest
It may be something that others find as a chore
But to me it is my utopia, my hobby; I’ll run until I can’t anymore
 By, Colleen Fitzgibbons

Loving Your Body – Embrace it for How it Looks Today

Body Confidence. It’s something we all want to achieve, but not always in the healthiest of ways.

A recent meme I came across on my Facebook newsfeed from the ANAD – National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders page inspired me to write this post. See it below:

body confidence

This statement is so true. The thing about the “perfect” body is that it really doesn’t exist. Yes, there are people out there like Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Angelina Jolie, Matthew McConaughey, etc. who have pretty nice bodies, and faces. But, they don’t have the “ideal” body for everyone in the world. Everyone has their own preferences of what they find sexually appealing, but the westernized version of the “perfect” body is what we (Americans) seem to obsess over and will do ANYTHING to achieve it.

So, what if you did achieve the “perfect” westernized body? What would you do? What would you think of yourself? Would you be 100% happy with your life? Would all your hopes and dreams come true all because you have the “perfect,” lean stomach? No, you would not… But, yes, maybe you would be more confident in your body, you’d show it off, right? Probably not… You’d most likely obsess over another part of your body that’s not “perfect” and obsess over that too.

This is not my point though… The statement in this meme “Body Confidence does not come from trying to achieve the ‘perfect’ body, it comes from embracing the body you’ve already got.” This means to love, respect, and appreciate your body regardless of what the scale or tape measure tells you. It means to love your body unconditionally. Unlike a mother/father-child relationship though, the relationship we have with our own bodies is not always so easy to love unconditionally.

Loving our bodies unconditionally is not something that we learn to do as we get older, it’s something we unlearn to do as we grow with age… From the time we were born and into our pre-teen years, we already love our bodies. It’s a natural human instinct to obey our bodies natural rhythms and needs. But, we are conditioned (especially in our culture) to despise our bodies if they don’t meet a specific mold over time. Our parents, relatives, and friends (usually unintentional) teach us if we should or should not love our bodies.

How many times as a kid did you hear your family members degrade themselves in front of you for eating that extra piece of cake or put themselves down because their stomachs aren’t flat enough or their thighs are just too big? I heard it A LOT in my younger years… I don’t blame them – they too were victims to this vicious cycle of teaching our youngins’ to hate their bodies. Like I said, it’s more times than not, unintentional… And that’s the sad part, we, as adults, don’t realize what we are teaching the next generation. We don’t realize that a simple word or phrase that we think nothing of can be detrimental to that little one’s confidence in their own body. That someday, when they turn out to look just like you they too will turn against their bodies by being so critical of themselves and in turn keeping that same body-hatin’ term or phrase within the family for generations.

A BEAUTIFULLY-written letter from an excerpt from Dear Mum, a collection of letters from  Australian sporting stars, musicians, models, cooks and authors revealing what they would like to say to their mothers before it’s too late, or would have said if only they’d had the chance. This one letter from an author named Kasey Edwards titled “When Your Mother Says She’s Fat” really outlines the effects a mother’s self-hatred towards her body can have on her children’s own relationship with her/his body. Edwards addresses the issue while also attempting to stop the cycle by not repeating her mother’s mistakes with her own daughter. It’s a MUST read – click on the link above!

MUMS AND DAUGHTERS: "I don't want Violet to believe that her beauty is her most important asset; that it will define her worth in the world. ... We need to show her with our words and our actions that women are good enough just the way they are."

MUMS AND DAUGHTERS: “I don’t want Violet to believe that her beauty is her most important asset; that it will define her worth in the world. … We need to show her with our words and our actions that women are good enough just the way they are.”

So, am I saying to stop working out and eating your broccoli and to just love your body? Well the latter is true, but I don’t think we should all stop taking care of our bodies. Exercise and proper nutrition is CRUCIAL. I am a HUGE advocate for an active, healthy lifestyle. BUT, there’s a fine line between being active and healthy and being obsessive and engaging in unhealthy behaviors to achieve a “perfect” body. Refer to one of my past posts Finding that Happy Medium. There’s nothing wrong with having a cookie, piece of cake, or cheeseburger every once in a while!

Now, do I always embrace my body? No, not always… I’ve found myself not liking the way my arms look in a picture and find myself criticizing my not-so-perfectly-flat stomach. I find myself bowing down to the westernized body ideal. BUT, then I remind myself of all the AMAZING things my body has and is doing everyday. My legs have taken me across three marathon finish lines and MULTIPLE other race finish lines, my arms and hands have helped me write some pretty awesome, and award-winning essays, my body has been through so much and endured even more. My body is pretty freakin’ amazing! And so is yours!


The human body is AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL! That’s why we need to nourish it and take care of it. Don’t deprive it, harm it, degrade it, or belittle it. YOUR body is the ONLY body you will ever have! It’s OK to gain or lose weight, as long as it’s with healthy intentions. Our bodies go through some pretty incredible changes throughout the years – embrace them my friend and enjoy the transformations, and most importantly – love and respect your body each and every day. 🙂600


First Triathlon

Today was my FIRST triathlon! And guess what? I LOVED it! It was FUN! 🙂

Before I headed to bed last night I turned on the TV and ironically Finding Nemo was on! Remember in a recent post how I said I’m like Nemo when it comes to swimming, being slightly challenged? Haha That little coincidence didn’t make me feel worse or even nervous, because I remember what Dori said, “Just keep swimming… Just keeping swimming… Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming!” 😉

Woke up bright and early – 5:00! Once we got there, there was fog hovering over the water – it was so neat! And made me super excited.

Munroe Falls Metro Park munroe falls tri 2013_fog

I competed in the Munroe Falls Sprint Triathlon (400 yard swim, 12 mile bike, 3 mile run – which is slightly shorter than a regular sprint tri). I got nervous at first in swim and started to hyperventilate. But, I remembered to relax and focus on my breathing. I swam over top a couple people and ran into some others, but other than that, it was actually pretty fun! I enjoyed the swimming part, surprisingly! I still need to work on my breathing in the water, but not too shabby for my first tri!

out of water

Photo Courtesy of Kim Zepp and Angela Martino

The bike was relatively flat with some rolling hills and I enjoyed that part too!! I did get a cramp on both my sides, but drank lots of my Infinit Nutrition and took deep breaths that by the time I was transitioning to the run they were all gone!


The run was fun – I felt pretty good and holding a pace of about 7:30 minute miles! I probably could have ran faster too, but I didn’t want to bring back those nasty cramps again by breathing any faster.

munroe falls tri 2013 run strong munroe falls tri 2013 run run munroe fallsmunroe falls tri 2013 2nd run munroe falls tri 2013 finish

I finished in 1:19. I didn’t place in my age group or anything, but it was definitely a great first Tri and experience! I can’t wait until my next tri in about three weeks – MiltonMan Sprint Triathlon – this one will be the full sprint distance with a swim of 750 yards, 13 mile bike and 5K run!

Now, for some notes to self for the upcoming tris:

  1. Practice breathing properly in the swim!
  2. Speed up the transition times – took me almost three minutes to transition from swim to bike!
  3. Drink more fluids!!
NLC Team Picture!

NLC Team Picture!

I have to send a special thanks to my coach, Chris Martino owner and coach of New Level Coaching, for preparing me for my first tri! He’s making me faster and stronger with the training he provides me, and the sports massages have helped tremendously too! Also to Infinit Nutrition for the awesomely prepared formula made specifically for me. I can feel the difference in my body when I drink it compared to regular old sports drink. Also to Trek and Eddy’s Bike Shop for my AWESOME bike, Stella. 😉

Also, thank you Angela Martino and Kim Zepp for taking some great pics and for supporting us all! And to the rest of the NLC team that came out to support us as well. And to Blake’s mom, Judy and bother Ian, for getting up early to come out and support Blake and I. 🙂

The Hills I’ve Conquered Thus Far

So, this past weekend I had an epiphany while running 10 miles on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I was running up a rather large and long hill in my neighborhood. I felt very optimistic during that run that I ran up not just one rather large hill (of about half of a mile long!) once, but I ran up it AGAIN, and then I ran up another large hill and then ANOTHER! Whilst running up these gigantic hills I started thinking about all the other hills I have conquered in my life, metaphorically… I’ve overcome many obstacles in my life and it makes me proud to see where I was and where I am now. Each “hill” I’ve conquered has truly shaped me into the person I am today. So, let me share with you the many hills that I’ve had to climb. 🙂

The Failure (held-back) Hill

I don’t think many people know this, but I was held back in the first grade. My parents were going through a divorce and I didn’t take it very well. I also found out that year that I had a lazy eye and not only had to wear glasses, but a patch on my one eye (save the pirate jokes). That made it difficult to come into school, because I was afraid of being made fun of… Because my grades were slipping, my teacher suggested to my parents that I be held back in the first grade. I was devastated! I didn’t want to be held back from my best friend, peers, and be seen as stupid… That’s how I felt, stupid… I had FAILED a grade… What a loser I thought I was; a one-eyed, glasses-wearing, stupid, failure…

That was quite a challenging hill to climb. But, in the 5th grade I excelled in all my classes and was even tested for being gifted. From there on I had continued to slowly overcome the “failure hill” and not only made it to the top, but ran far, far away from it. In high school I was the editor-in-chief of our newspaper, won awards for my work as a journalist, swiped up pretty much all of the essay scholarships, made prom queen my senior year, and was accepted into Bowling Green State University.  I excelled in my program at BGSU and became very involved in the most amazing organization, the Student Wellness Networkwhich I became president of for two consecutive years and truly sparked my passion for health education/public health. I even attended and presented at multiple conferences and became a leader in everything I was involved in. Now, I’m about to graduate with my master in public health next Friday! I went from a shy, four-eyed, crooked-teeth, insecure girl to a confident, educated, leader. 🙂

The Disordered Hill

As I mentioned (several times), I have battled with multiple mental illnesses throughout my life. I was dually diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and obsessive compulsive disorder when I was 11. Later, once being recovered from anorexia, I discovered that I developed a newly found disorder, orthorexia (see some of my previous posts on more on this). I’ve also dealt with depression and have General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which I’ve taken medication for more than half of my life and continue to do so.

BUT, I am NOT my disorders… It’s true, they have shaped me into who I am, but they are not WHO I AM. I feel as though I am more in control of my disorders than I have ever been. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to finally recognize the “disordered” or abnormal thought in my head and be able to combat them. 🙂 I’d say I’m standing pretty tall on top of this hill now.

 The Ugly/Short Hill

I’ve had many body image issues from the time my age was in the single digits to my later years. I had crooked teeth (yes, I had braces!) and was actually made fun of for it a couple times in elementary school… It made me sad and I was always afraid to smile with my teeth from the fear of being made fun of. I also had a medium-sized birth mark on my right arm up until I was about 12 when I got it removed (for health reasons). I wouldn’t wear sleeveless shirts because I thought it was so grotesque-looking. I would even wear a band-aid over it when I did go sleeveless to hide it! Now, I have about a two-inch long scar where it once was. It’s a rather large scar, but it’s alright – I like my scar. 🙂

I developed insecurities with my body at a very young age as well. I wouldn’t wear jeans or certain underwear because I didn’t like hugged my stomach and thighs. I would actually stretch out the leg hole in my underwear back in elementary school so they wouldn’t cuff my legs because it made me feel “fat.”

Another insecurity I’ve had pretty much all my life too is my height. I’ve always been the shortest of my class and was often picked on for it. Throughout high school people would pick on me, not trying to be mean, but it would still hurt my feelings. I felt like short was ugly, that I was not as pretty or good enough as the taller girls. I always envied the taller girls in my class. I was always told I look younger than my age, even strangers would ask me for my age and would sometimes not believe me! This made me so insecure that I didn’t even want to get my driver’s license and drive a car when I was 16 because I didn’t want to have to explain to people that I am indeed old enough to drive…

That’s why I do what I do! It’s why I started this blog, started KSU’s Body Acceptance Movement, coach for Girls on the Run, and am so passionate about helping others with body image issues, because I was once at the bottom of that ugly hill too! I can’t necessarily say I’m over it just yet, but I’m getting pretty damn close! I still have my insecurities, but I am much more confident in my body than I ever was before and will continue to keep climbing until I am way over this hill!

Bring on the Hills! 

I feel that all those hills I’ve climbed, and am still climbing, have made me the person I am today – I must have some pretty strong legs! 😉 We’ve all had our hills we’ve conquered and are still climbing, and that’s OK! Life shouldn’t be just a flat, straight line. The hillier and more uneven the road is, the more fulfilling and invigorating life is. Not all our climbs will be enjoyable, or even comfortable, they will be rough, dirty, and may even seem impossible to get over, but YOU will conquer it! I know there are many more hills to come in my future. I may not know where they’ll be, how far, deep, or challenging they may be, but there’s one thing I do know about those hills I WILL conquer them. 🙂

2013 Races

Listed below are the races I’ll be running for 2013. 🙂

Event Name



Event Location


Girls on the Run 5K






Lock 3, Akron, Ohio


Twinsburg Duathlon




2, 10, 2


Twinsburg, Ohio





5K Beachcliff Market Square, Rocky River, Ohio

Triathlon at Munroe Falls






Munroe Falls, Ohio


Aurora Fun Run






Aurora, Ohio


MiltonMan Triathlon






Lake Milton, Ohio


Muddy Paws Trail Race





Cuyahoga Valley, Ohio
Portage Lakes Tri Olympic Akron, Ohio

Akron Marathon






Akron, Ohio

Aurora Turkey Trot Running 4 miles Aurora, Ohio

BAM Makes Some Noise on KSU’s Campus on Body Acceptance & Eating Disorders!

The Body Acceptance Movement, the student organization I created as part of practicum experience for my MPH, planned and implemented programming for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (February 25 – March 1). As some of you know, I’ve done programming at my undergrad, Bowling Green State University, as president of the Student Wellness Network (SWN). SWN is an affiliate of the BACCHUS Network (a national peer education organization) and we attended the BACCHUS Network’s General Assembly every year and submit applications for recognition/funding of our programming at BGSU. I submitted an application for Outstanding Mental Health Program for our NEDAW, and guess what? WE WON! We were not only recognized at the national conference, but were also featured in their Peer Educator Magazine (see images of the magazine and article below)

EDAW 2010 coverBGSU's Student Wellness Network Receive "Outstanding Mental Health Program  from The BACCHUS Network  during the General Assembly in 2010.

BAM did a lot of the same programming at Kent State University, and we received a lot of wonderful responses! Starting off the week, I presented my Love Your Body Workshop to 22 students and faculty at the Student Health Center. My workshop addressed positive and negative body image, assessed attendees’ body perceptions, touched on some of the adverse health outcomes of body dissatisfaction, how different cultures perceive body image, the media’s role in body image in society, as well as how they can obtain a positive body image and help others. I used an evaluation to capture some data.  According to the evaluation responses after the presentation, one of the reasons why participants attended, 55 percent reported they attend in hopes of learning about to obtain a positive body image.

two ways share what learned feel betterfound out neg body image

The evaluation also found that 46 percent of participants found out through this presentation that they have a negative body image, while 81 percent of participants reported that they learned through the presentation at least two ways to turn their negative body image thoughts into positive ones and 68 percent reported that as a result of this presentation, they feel better about their body image. Seventy-seven percent of participants wished there were more events like this workshop offered on campus. Also, 82 percent of participants reported that as a result of this event, they are more aware of campus resources for body image related issues.

On the second and first day of NEDAW we held an outreach/informational table at the KSU Student Center. A visual depiction of the dimensions of what Barbie AND Ken Dolls would look like if they were real people were displayed, which received a lot of attention. Students were also asked to vent their frustrations to the scale, pick up some handouts and resources related to eating disorders and body image as well as an eating disorders awareness ribbon.

BAM TableSerena

Barbie and KenMesages to the Scale 2013!messages to scale

The table reached approximately 50 people through the two days.


On the third day of NEDAW we had TWO events! We held a panel discussion on eating disorders and body image. The panel included the Director of Women’s Studies who also teaches courses on body image, myself, and three other female students recovering from an eating disorder who are part of BAM.  The panel discussion had a total of 15 students and faculty in attendance, only 11 filled out the program evaluation.

Photo courtesy of Yolanda Li.

Photo courtesy of Yolanda Li.

As a result of the panel discussion, 63 percent of the 11 attendees who filled out the evaluation reported that they are more aware of campus resources for body image related issues. A common thread to why participants attended the event was because they or someone they know have an eating disorder and they wanted to learn more about the disease. Another common thread about what participants liked most about the event was the panelists’ stories and 91 percent of attendees reported that they plan on sharing what they learned to family and friends. The panel discussion was covered by KSU’s student-run newspaper, The Daily Kent Stater and was featured on the front page the next day.

Also on the third day of NEDAW, BAM held a yoga session titled, Love Your Body Yoga. The emphasis during the session was to focus on the movements and appreciate all the things their body can do. The total count of attendees was 25, and all received a FREE yoga mat!! 🙂

instructor 2 Yoga Monica   ColetteYoga 8


All week students were encouraged to donate jeans that no longer fit to one of four drop-off locations for the campaign Be Comfortable in Your Own Genes. Wear Jeans that fit the REAL You! which was created by the National Eating Disorders Association. All jeans were donated to a local shelter, County Clothing Center in Ravenna, Ohio. We collected around 100 pairs of jeans!

The pretty boxes used for collection. :)

The pretty boxes used for collection. 🙂

 We were featured in the Daily Kent Stater THREE times in one week – twice of which was on the FRONT PAGE.



I was VERY pleased with the outcome of KSU’s NEDAW 2013!! I’m hoping my predecessor will continue with BAM’s goals and efforts to promoting positive body image. 🙂

I LOVE Chocolate… And I Can No Longer Lie!

Ok, if you don’t get my headline, it’s a pun from the song “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot! HEHE

So, the constant theme of this blog has been my journey through my recovery from an anorexia. One of my posts talks about how I try to treat myself once I accomplish something such a running longer distances with a cupcake, frozen yogurt, something that I wouldn’t have even touched a few years ago! Which is WONDERFUL! However, I would ONLY eat this treats because I expended an abundance of calories. There is still a sort of obsession/disordered eating behavior going with that… I was cognitive of that, but was still not ready to move beyond my comfort zone of eating sweets simply because I wanted some! Now, I KNOW the obesity rates in the U.S. are enormous (no pun intended) and that a many Americans eat sweets in excess. But, not EVERYONE abuses sugars and sweets and they can be good for you!

That is not my point – the point of this post is that I have FINALLY moved beyond my comfort zone of eating sweets on special occasions. CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!! YUM!! I’ve always LOVED this CHOCOLATE!! But, for MANY years I’ve actually lied to people who offer me this delicious food or when it’s someone’s Birthday and I don’t consume any cake, cookies, etc. I lie and tell them I don’t LIKE these foods.

My lie of LOVING chocolate was due to be OBSESSION with “healthy” foods. As I mentioned in my poem post The Beautiful Image in the MirrorI had Orthorexia – literally meaning the fixation on “righteous” eating. I didn’t want to seem weak, to love a food that was “bad” for you. I’ve learned that there are no such thing as BAD FOODS! ALL foods have calories, and with moderation all foods can be healthy! Chocolate has had a bad rep over the years. Cocoa is actually pretty darn good for you! It has healthy antioxidants and chemicals that have been shown to fight cancer, heart disease and aging, researchers say. But, even like carrots (since you don’t want your skin to turn orange) you should eat everything in MODERATION.

I have found the joy of BAKING. I LOVE baking cookies! Yes, they are a bit of a healthier version – I use whole wheat flour, coconut sugar, stevia sugar, egg whites, skim milk, and no butter, BUT I still use CHOCOLATE CHIPSSSSSSSSSSSS! NOM! I’ll bake these just because I feel like it! And you want to know what? I’LL EAT ONE (or two, or three…)!! And you want to know what’s even better, I DON’T FEEL GUILTY!! Oh, what an amazing feeling to eat something I’ve hidden my love for for so long, enjoy it, and not feel a tad bit of guilt afterwards!


My homemade chocolate chip cookies!

Want to know what else I consumed without an inch of guilt?! CAKE!! My boyfriend, Blake, baked me what was supposed to be a RED velvet cake. He accidentally used purple food coloring instead of red. But, it’s OK, purple is one of my favorite colors! I had a piece of that cake on my Birthday! And then the next day, I had ANOTHER, and then the day after that guess what? I HAD ANOTHER!

PART of the PURPLE velvet cake that Blake made FROM SCRATCH for me. 🙂 It was in the shape of a heart. ❤

Between my anorexia with restricting myself of calories to my years with orthorexia of restricting myself of taste and proper nourishment, this is a pivoting moment in my life. It not only proves that I can finally say I have conquered my eating disorders, but that I am a survivor! Cue Destiny’s Child’s Survivor!


No longer will I deprive myself of a chocolate chip cookie, or two, because of my PAST disorders! I’m a survivor and I’m proud to have overcome such a long, torturous battle.