San Diego – The Work

Hi Friends!

Apparently, school getting out didn’t make me any less busy…just changed the type of busy-ness.  Oh well…I won’t complain about making money at work 😉

In my last post, I told you all about the fun things I got to do in San Diego…visiting Old Town and La Jolla, eating some tasty food…it was a good trip!  But let me tell ya…it wasn’t all fun and games.

On the first day of therapy at UCSD, it became clear that I would have to eat more.  Duh.  But seriously, I would have to eat more.  And really, that’s what everything else is based on.

It would take me weeks to recount to you every detail of the week…and to be honest, I can’t remember it all.  But there are a few things that were very significant to me.

Weight Restoration

Without becoming “weight restored” any work was basically pointless.  Starvation does crazy things to our bodies and has significant effects on the brain.  Basically, a starved brain can’t rationally process whats reasonable vs what’s emotional, making weight restoration priority numero uno.

Physical Effects of Starvation

Obviously, starving oneself will cause significant weight loss.  But what does that weight loss actually do to the body?  The answer is frightening.  Starvation shrinks the brain.  You know that lack of focus?  It’s not just because you’re hungry…it’s because your brain has actually changed.  Thankfully, it’s reversible when normal eating resumes.  Oh and you’ve probably heard about heart issues in Eating Disorder patients.  It’s from the heart actually shrinking.  And that just terrifies me.  Again, this is reversible with normal eating.  And lastly, bones become more brittle which can lead to a host of other problems.  Of course, there’s the issues of messed up hormones, lack of energy etc, but those three….they kind of slapped me in the face.

Causes of Eating Disorders

It seems like the generally accepted cause of Eating Disorders is media and peer pressure, poor body image and low self esteem.  Those probably contribute, but the current research has a different answer.  Experts are discovering that the brains of those with Eating Disorders are different than those without.  I’m know there’s WAY more science behind it, but here’s what I understand: There is a genetic predisposition to eating disorders.  This doesn’t guarantee that someone will develop an ED, but they are more likely to have issues with one.  So basically, us ED folks aren’t just nuts…we have different brains!

The structure of the program was very conversational and team oriented.  We worked with our families a lot, but also discussed things as a group.  Self reflection was a huge element also.

The basic structure of each day was discussion, snack, discussion or activity, lunch, discussion/activity snack, discussion, end.  And these snacks were not optional.  No, they didn’t tell us exactly what to eat, but the therapists watched and would give us feedback.  We also discussed how meals away from therapy went, and sometimes, what we had for those meals.  Between the snacks, meal reporting and weight checks every other day, my intake increased, literally overnight.  I had no choice.  I began eating a starch in the morning (previously too scary).  I moved beyond PB&J for lunch.  Dinners grew and evening snacks were also more substantial.  And it was terrifying.  Yet liberating.

My parents and Ron were able to ask questions and learn so much about exactly what I’m up against.  They went to San Diego with a basic understanding and a desire to help me however they could.  The left San Diego with a much greater understanding and the tools to help me.  Again, terrifying yet liberating.

One key part of this therapy is writing a contract – what I agree to do, what my parents agree to do, and the rewards and consequences of adhering to or breaking away from the contract.  Basically, I have a range of weight to gain each week.  There are weekly rewards (a few dollars in a clothes fund), monthly rewards (manicure, pedicure, etc) and bigger rewards for continued maintenance at graduation in December.  Consequences include less walking time (less than the 20 minutes I’m currently allotted), increased intake, and a loss of freedom around plating my own meals and snacks.

Basically, it’s a lot to swallow.

So how am I doing with all of this?  Well, I’m doing okay.  I will not sugar coat one bit of this and say it’s easy.  Because it’s not.  It’s hard to eat enough.  It’s hard to put together meals that are adequate.  It’s hard to not feel like a bum when I walk for less time.  You know what’s easy?  Gradually slipping back to restrictive behaviors.  Choosing the lower calorie option.  Settling in to being back at home and loosening up…not working as hard.  But guess what.  That’s just not gonna work.  I have to eat well to be healthy.  That’s all there is to it.  Whether or not I’m hungry, or whether or not I feel fat, or deserving, or good enough, or whatever — I have to eat that snack or adequate portion.  That’s just the way it is.

So here I go!  My week in San Diego was challenging, but it is now that the hardest work takes place.

Feel free to comment with questions – I’d love to talk about the program!




San Diego – the Fun

Hey friends!

Last week in San Diego…well, it was life changing.  We flew in to Spokane last Friday night Saturday morning (EARLY), then drove home a bit later Saturday morning.  I was tired, and ready to be home, but inspired and motivated to work hard.  This post will be mostly the fun stuff…I’ll get into the program stuff a bit later 🙂  And I still have a Graduation post to write….haha!

The UCSD Multifamily Intensive Therapy is vigorous, challenging, and INTENSE, but motivating and inspirational.  The facilitators and therapists are caring and very competent, and through the week, a general sense of comradery is developed between the families.  I would highly recommend it to anyone struggling with an Eating Disorder.  I’ll talk more about the program in another post 🙂

Are you ready to see some fun San Diego stuff??

Monday morning, we needed to be at Rady Children’s Hospital (where therapy would take place) bright and early to get all set up and checked in for the week.  Our hotel, the Holiday Inn (in Mission Valley) didn’t have continental breakfast, but they did have a nice little restaurant, so we had breakfast there the first morning in town.  Here is my “little” parfait!  The fresh strawberries were AH-mazing.

Even though we were busy all day, we were sure to get some touristy sight-seeing in!  Our first adventure took place in Old Town San Diego.

  There were palm trees…

…and nifty buildings.

Dinner was our first stop, though!  We checked out the menu for El Fandango, and liked it, but were completely won when they gave us a 15% of coupon!

Here we are, goofing off a bit while waiting for our scrumptious dinner

Besides the obligatory chips and salsa, mom and I shared a salad to start.

Here’s my dinner – chicken tacos…REAL chicken tacos.  Corn tortillas rather than flour, big chunks of chicken, lettuce and tomatoes, topped with queso fresco or cotija.  The beans and rice were flavorful and soft, and the guacamole was SO fresh!  This was my first experience with authentic Mexican food and man…I can’t even look at Taco Bell!

The next evening, we decided to check out the La Jolla beach.  One of our friends from the program told us about the seals and lovely beach, and we decided it would be a great place to check out.

  God gave us the perfect weather for our beach excursion!

And we got the PERFECT parking spot.  We stepped out of the car, walked a couple of feel to a railing to look down at see this!!!

Perfect backdrop for a photo, don’t you think?

Well, I certainly thought so! 🙂

We wandered a long for a bit, and looked back to where we parked…how gorgeous is this?!

Mom sent us down to the rocks to snap this photo before we set off on a dinner-searching expedition.

We found this little place, Krafty Krepes.  They have crepes and paninis, and being hungry, I opted for…..

…a turkey and avocado panini.  It was SO.MUCH.FOOD!  But it was so tasty!  Flavorful deli turkey gave it some staying power,  while  the avocado slices and mayo made it creamy.  The  bread was slightly buttered and perfectly toasted.

And we all got free salads to boot!

And of course, sunset by the beach was BEAUTIFUL!

Our last night in town, we went back to Old Town…we just really liked it!

I only remembered to take a photo of my dinner…

But it was so great!  We went to Cafe Coyote which is apparently quite the happenin’ place!  We got a table right away, though, and made our decisions.  I went with one chicken taco and one potato taco.  Yes, potato taco.  Served in corn tortillas as well, the quality was right up there with El Fandango.  The potato taco was interesting.  I expected diced potatoes, but they were mashed…and SPICY!  I enjoyed it, but the chicken taco was my preference.

That brings me to the end of my best photos!  We had a really great time in San Diego, but don’t let this give you the false assumption that it was all fun and games.  I think I can truthfully say that last week was some of the hardest ED work I’ve done.  I’ll write more soon.




Life was Just Happening, Part 1


In my last post, I mentioned that I’m behind on posting blog-able events.  Here is an attempt at catching up – at least a bit!

A couple of weeks ago, my roomies and I woke up early (well, for a Saturday, at least), packed up a cooler full of lunch, jackets, bocci ball, and a frisbee and hit the road.  Destination: Fort Casey.  One roomie had never been there, and the other hadn’t been in years, so we decided that for and end-of-the-year celebration/quality time session, we just had to go!  And of course, copious amounts of photos were taken.

As soon as we were ready, we hopped in my car and thus begins our epic adventure.

We were seriously excited.  Obviously.

Our first stop?  The ferry.

Again, there was some serious excitement amongst the ranks!

And before we knew it…we had arrived at the highly anticipated destination: Fort Casey!  Our first item of business?  Explore the bunkers and guns.

For the record, you’re never too old to play in the bunkers.  Basically, it’s a playground for adults big kids. Point proven #1.

Point proven #2!

After exploring for a bit, we went to a particular part of the bunker that has AMAZING acoustics.  It makes even the smallest voice sound big – so imagine four voices…in harmony!  We sang as many songs as we could remember — and even had a passerby add his bass voice to our rendition of Amazing Grace.  Proof that you don’t always have to be in a church service to worship God!

But all that singing sure did make us hungry…

So we set up our picnic.  And got comfy 🙂

But Marisa and I had a surprise.  We decided that our roomies are SO great that they needed some awards.  So we put our heads together and invented some pretty snazzy certificates.

Yes, that does say “Brown Trout Wrangler Award”.  And yes, that’s a plunger.

Here is one of several awarded to Nikki.  Others included “Late Night Champ”, “Spunktastic Quirkny”, and “Best Listener”.

And here is what happens when you’re laughing hysterically and a sudden gust of wind comes up…and you’re STILL laughing hysterically as you dive for the awards shouting, “SAVE THE CERTIFICATES!!!!!!!”  I love these girls.

After lunch, comical games of frisbee, and many many rounds of bocci, we decided to take a walk to explore another set of bunkers.

We saw this little feller along the way.

And then we arrived at our destination.  But now the question was…how do we get down there?  The answer?

Uh…very carefully?

You got this, Nikki!

Like a champ!

We came upon these stairs with an open door.  Where would they go?  Into the depths of the hill?  Would it be creepy?  Would it be an adventure?

Who knew it would just be an old bathroom.  Ha!

After thoroughly creeping ourselves out/getting adrenaline rushes in the depths of the bunkers, we decided to mosey on back to the main part of the fort for more singing and some beach time.

Are they just the greatest??

Marisa tried waving at the ferry.  Who knows if they actually saw us though…

Marisa also snapped this prime shot.  I seriously giggle every, and I mean EVERY time I see it!

In case you ever wondered…yep, this is how cool my roomies are.

No explanation needed.

Photo credit: Elizabeth.  Caption Credit: Nikki.  So much love/loveliness.

Here is proof that even big kids get tired after playing all day!

But what an excellent day it was.  I can think of few things better than spending the day with wonderful, Godly women, exploring, adventuring, sharing a meal, and rejoicing in the God-painted beauty of the creation and people around us.

As captioned by Elizabeth, and quoted from Switchfoot:

Part 2 is coming your way soon – until then, “may the peace of the Lord be with you.”





A Different Kindness

Hello friends!

Sorry for the lack of recent posts, but moving, traveling and resettling takes some time!  I still have a significant amount of unpacking to do, but eh.  It will still be there when I finish this post 🙂

I’m so behind on blog-able events!  I have a recipe or two to share, a roommate excursion to Fort Casey to recount, and Graduation (not mine) to proudly post…but here I am, writing to you about something completely different.  See, when the Lord prompts me to write about a specific topic, I try to listen.  Perhaps I’ll come to a deeper understanding, and just maybe someone will stumble upon this blog who needs to hear the message.  So Lord, please be my words!!

I have a really lovely Bible.  It’s a NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) translation, but the real unique part about it is the fact that it’s a CS Lewis Bible.  Scattered throughout the pages of blessed words from God, are excerpts from many of CS Lewis’ books and writings.  These excerpts serve as reflections on specific passages from scripture, and while a lot of CS Lewis’ writings are way over my head, some of them click.  Like the one I’m about to share.

The passage for reflection is Romans 2:4-8, however I think verse 4 is the “stinger”:

“Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience?  Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (emphasis mine)

The CS Lewis excerpt is taken from A Grief Observed and is titled “God’s Kindness”.  Lewis wrote this while grieving the death of his wife.  Let that sink in for a moment before reading on.

And for the record, I’m still trying to figure more of this excerpt out…I just am starting to get the drift 🙂

“The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness.  A cruel man might be bribed – might grow tired of his vile sport – might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety.  But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good.  The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will he will go on cutting.  If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless.  But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us?  Well, take your choice.  The tortures occur.  If they are unnecessary, then there is not God or a bad one.  If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary.  For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren’t. 

Either way, we’re for it.

What do people mean when they say, ‘I’m not afraid of God because I know He is good’?  Have they never even been to a dentist?” 

That’s kind of a big bite to chew on.  But if you chew on nothing else, chew on this, Romans 8:28:


The pain.  The joy.  The discomfort.  The peace.  The confusion.  The clarity.  It’s all part of God’s plan for our good.  Going back to Lewis’ surgeon metaphor: operations don’t make sense.  Why would cutting someone open be good – make someone better?  But because in the end it will have a benefit, the surgeon kindly and lovingly makes incisions in the necessary places, just big enough to do the necessary work.  Then, the surgeon stitches the patient up, and the healing begins.

What in your life is “surgery”?  What challenge are you dealing with that seems needless, but upon closer inspection, is actually producing growth and good?

My answer to this question is pretty clear.  When could anorexia ever be a good thing?  It can cause damage, physical, emotional and relational.  It can amass some pretty hefty medical expenses.  It can be deadly.  But maybe it all comes down to how it’s handled.  And I’ll be the first to say: I haven’t always handled it well.  But it hasn’t been pointless, and I have faith that it will remain that way.

Yes, I’ve gotten upset, asking God to please, please, PLEASE take this dumb eating disorder away.  But “If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless.”  God, the Master Surgeon, knows what he is doing.  The pain is for a purpose – and some of that I’ve already seen.

I’ve grown, spiritually.  I’m more confident in who I am.  I’m more sensitive to others needs and feelings.  I’m more aware.  And sometimes, I can recognize when another is silently fighting ED.

And you know what?  I’m getting more and more excited to see how these stitches are going to heal.

I’d love to hear feedback on these thoughts.  Please join the conversation 🙂



An Exciting Report!

Hello Friends!

Guess what?  I have one final today, and one final tomorrow, and then I’m done!  Well, until September…but I’m going to try not to think about that too much for the next 3 1/2 months 😉

A few posts ago, I mentioned that my family and I would be going to San Diego for an Eating Disorder Treatment program.  I also may or may not have promised a full report on that soon…so here it is! 🙂

My family and I will be attending Intensive Family Therapy provided by the Eating Disorder Center at the University of California, San Diego (I’ll abbreviate it UCSD).  The rationale of this type of therapy is “…to provide parents with an understanding and the tools necessary to successfully interact and manage their child with anorexia at home. In addition, we teach adolescents with AN how to understand the symptoms that they are having and develop more effective coping strategies.”  (source)

Guys, I’m so excited!  CJ summed it up pretty well in her post the other day:”I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired!”  I don’t see this therapy method as a “magic bullet” — however, it sounds like it will provide a lot of tools and strategies to help get me in a healthier frame of mind.

Back to the therapy: they use the Maudsley approach.  As explained by UCSD:

“The theoretical understanding or overall philosophy of the Maudsley approach is that the adolescent is imbedded in the family, and that the parents’ involvement in therapy is vitally important for ultimate success in treatment.” (source)

It’s all about family – and the family working together to provide an individualized treatment plan, one that works for the family.  The really awesome thing about this is that my family and I don’t have to fit some mold of ideal therapy – we get to work with experts who will help us tweak it to fit us best!  In a sense, it seems like this type of treatment works to retrain my mind – to take a step back and be more child-like, when it comes to eating.

The UCSD program also incorporates relaxation techniques to cope with stress, and teaches some methods for effective family communication.  Don’t worry – you’ll get a full report when I’m back!  We fly out in less than 2 weeks.

Not only will this be a great time to learn a lot about dealing with eating disorders, but it will be like a (dare I say it?)…VACATION!  We’ll attend treatment from 9am-4pm, and then be free to do as we please.







Not to mention the boardwalk, lots of shopping, different food, different climate TOTALLY…I’m looking forward to this.

It’s just one more bit of proof that God is good and He knows just what we need 🙂