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!




Tuna Noodle-y Comfort

Well hello!  I hope you all were able to enjoy some fun weekend sun-shiney activities!  There are two weeks left of school…TWO WEEKS!  And then I’m home free.  So.EXCITED!

I’m please to report that cooking and eating dinner with my roomie, Elizabeth is going quite well.  Although we’re starting to plan how we’ll eat well this week without buying too many groceries, and then how we’ll polish off the frozen leftovers…but hey…at least we’ve got choices 🙂

Not all of our meals yield leftovers for the freezer though.  Take this Tuna Noodle Casserole, for example.

Simple, creamy, and healthy…and it was gone in two nights!

I used the classic recipe from Campbell’s – but of course, I HAD to change it up a bit!

Here’s the recipe, adapted from Campbell’s:

1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup (Regular 98% Fat Free)

1/2 cup milk

1 cup frozen peas

3 medium mushrooms, chopped

2 cans (about 5 ounces each) tuna, drained (I used one in water and one in oil)

about 2 cups whole wheat egg noodles, cooked and drained

5-7 whole wheat ritz crackers, crushed

1 tablespoon butter, melted

  • Heat the oven to 400°F.  Stir the soup, milk, peas, mushrooms, tuna and noodles in a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish.  Stir the crushed ritz crackers and butter in a small bowl.
  • Bake the casserole for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbling.  Stir then sprinkle with the cracker and butter mixture.
  • Bake for 5 minutes or until the bread crumb mixture is golden brown.

So tasty!  It reminded me of my childhood when mom would make tuna noodle casserole for dinner on those cold, blustery nights.  Obviously, child-like taste buds would NOT have been okay with the whole wheat noodles, mushrooms, and ritz crackers.  But hey…our tastes grow with us, right?  Right.

Cheap, easy, tasty…sounds like a great dinner to me!

In other news, remember the big news I had for you?  In case anyone has been on the edge of their seat in suspense, here it is: my family and I will be going to the Eating Disorder center at the University of California, San Diego, to participate in a week-long treatment class!  I’ll be writing a full post about it soon soon, but let me just say this: it’s family training with the idea that I can recover at home, in a more natural setting and avoid an in-patient center.  Disclaimer: in-patient centers have their time and place, but my family and I don’t think that now is the time for me.  Anyways, we’ll be flying to San Diego in a couple weeks and I’m SO excited!

Well there ya have it – a tasty recipe and some exciting news!

Happy Monday – have a great week!



The Hurts of Healing

Hello, friends!  Happy St. Patty’s Day, and happy Saturday!  This week lasted a million years, I think.  Two midterms, several assignments, AND the fact that Spring Break the week prior made a senioritis-spring-fever-producing concoction.  Only 6 more weeks until finals, not that I’m counting…. 😉

In my Spring Break recap post, I mentioned that I had some excellent conversations while at home.  Excellent, but challenging.  To a quite high degree.  Actually, the difficult conversations began the afternoon before break.  To summarize:

I’ve been advised to consider more aggressive Eating Disorder treatment.  I’m not necessarily in immediate danger, but my weight has been trending downwards, and there’s definitely some concern.  This could mean a short inpatient stay.

A stinging reality of healing,

The evening that I arrived home, I was able to  talk with my parents about the next step in treatment.  I was thankful to talk to them face to face!  In this conversation, I had freedom to be  open about how I feel – stuck.  I know I want to change – to be healthier – but I’m struggling to progress.  At first, they were just as shocked by the notion of inpatient treatment, but they became more accepting as we talked.

I asked them, “So, are you supportive of sending me to a center if that’s what needs to happen?”  My dad’s response:  “If you were I drug addict, I’d send you to rehab.  It’s the same idea.”


In my routine doctor visit, I found out that I weigh several pounds less than I thought.  Ouch.  I’ve been doing “blind weigh-ins” for months, and while it worked to get my focus off of numbers, well…it didn’t work out so well in the long run.  In terms of weight, I’m literally back at square one – at diagnosis weight.  Dang.

Another sting, but given the situation, it couldn’t be avoided.

That afternoon, I had a meeting with my dear mentor.  I expected sympathy and support, in light of recent events.  Sympathy and support showed up…by way of a figurative slap in the face.  Which, by the way, was a very good thing.  I asked my mentor for advice on inpatient treatment, and her response left me speechless.  Because sometimes, the most loving thing a person can do is reach across the table and punch you in the nose.

Basically, she told me to think about how what I’m doing now will screw up my life in the future.

“Do you want to have healthy babies?”


“Do you want to have strong bones, a healthy body?”


Of course, my mentor will support whatever decision I make, but she wants me to really think about these things.  Hard.

This little bit of healing in our conversation came with yet another stinging reality.

And these are the hurts of healing.

Change doesn’t happen without some discomfort.

Just like gold can’t become pure without a lot of heat.

Just like children experience aches and pains as they grow.

Just like stitches hurt when you get them, but provide better healing of a wound.

I asked my parents to think of my ED like a gash on my arm.  We could bandage it up with band-aids and neosporin, and while that certainly wouldn’t hurt – and in the long run, would help – it would be a lot more affective to just go get stitches.

Sometimes, you have to experience discomfort in order to progress.  In order to heal.

There are a lot of words here, but I wanted to give a little update, and mostly, ask for your prayers.

Now, to leave you on a more hopeful and happy note:

I DO question why I’m dealing with all of this.  But I’m reminded:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

Stay tuned, friends, for updates, and for info on some of the tools I’m learning about!

Take care,


P.S. If you have questions about any of this, don’t hesitate to ask 🙂