By Megan Samuels, MSW, LMSW, Outreach Coordinator
After numerous applications and interviews, we are thrilled to announce a new recovery coach to our team! Enjoy this interview with Sarah to get to know her more. She is currently taking new virtual recovery coaching clients. Reach out to us to schedule a free 15-minute coaching consultation with Sarah!
Megan: Tell me a little bit about yourself and what fueled your interest in helping people to recover from eating disorders?
Sarah: My interest in helping people to recover from eating disorders stems from my personal struggle with an eating disorder. At the time, I couldn’t imagine a life without these disordered thoughts/behaviors consuming every waking minute of my day. I felt hopelessly trapped. Looking back, I am so grateful for my friends and family, who pushed me to get the help I needed, yet did not feel worthy of it for so long. Finding and working with my own therapist, who had recovered from an eating disorder herself was a pivotal moment in my own recovery. She showed me that full recovery was and is possible. I am so grateful I reached out for help and held on. It is my passion to hold space for people navigating recovery from eating disorders and body image issues because I know firsthand that true recovery is possible!
Megan: What would you say are some common misconceptions when it comes to eating disorders?
Sarah: There are so many misconceptions when it comes to eating disorders. To name a few:
Megan: How would you describe your approach as an eating disorder recovery coach?
Sarah: My approach is client-centered and empowering. I meet my clients exactly where they are in recovery, and hold space for their feelings, while firmly challenging them to examine their beliefs and behaviors from a place of self-compassion.
Megan: Do you subscribe to a health at every size approach?
Sarah: Yes, I work within the framework of health at every size. This approach accepts and respects the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes, and rejects the idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights. My role is to help my clients understand that their purpose in life is not to lose weight or look a certain way in order to have value in this world. HAES means prioritizing your well-being above all else!
Megan: How is your life as a recovered person different from your life in an eating disorder?
Sarah: There is so much freedom, joy, and room for spontaneity in my life as a recovered person! Recovery has allowed me to connect to my personal values and true self in an entirely new way. I’ve uncovered new passions and hobbies, formed new and tended to old relationships and connections, and re-discovered a love for ALL FOODS (notably ice cream and pizza).
Megan: What is one piece of advice that you would give someone who is struggling in their recovery?
Sarah: Be gentle with yourself as you go through the healing process; recovery is not linear. There will be victories and moments of discomfort. My piece of advice is to lean into the moments of discomfort, even if you don’t feel “ready”. Give yourself grace when you are all down, and know that each and every time you get back up, you’re choosing recovery. You got this!
Megan: What are your biggest pet peeves about diet culture?
Sarah: One of my biggest pet peeves about diet culture is the normalization and glorification of disordered tendencies in the pursuit of “health”. Diet culture is sneaky. It tells us there is a “right” and “wrong” way to eat. It normalizes eating disorder behaviors like restriction or excessive exercise. It tells us that a thin body is the epitome of health. This messaging is everywhere from social media to grocery store aisles or casual conversations with coworkers over the most recent fad diet. As a result of these messages and societal expectations, it can be difficult to differentiate between a health-conscious behavior and an eating disorder behavior. When the line between health and eating disorder gets blurry, take a step back and ask yourself: Does this satisfy ME or my eating disorder? What is my motivation behind this food choice or behavior?
Megan: What would be a few of your tips for someone who is struggling with negative body image in recovery?
Sarah: My first tip for someone who is struggling with negative body image in recovery is to stay off the scale! The number on the scale does not define your worth, and can be incredibly triggering! Instead, think about and celebrate all of the amazing things your body does for you—dancing, breathing, laughing, dreaming, etc. Your body is a vehicle to carry you through life- not a metric of self-worth!
My second tip is to set goals for your body image journey that have nothing to do with the physical size/shape of your body. Words that may resonate with you include trust, respect, compassion, gratitude, neutrality, and acceptance. Get clear on what it is that you want out of recovery, and remember that trust in your body is important to fully embrace recovery!
My third tip is to be gentle with yourself! Do something nice for yourself — something that lets your body know you appreciate it. Put lotion on yourself, make time for a nap, or find a peaceful place outside to relax. When you’re struggling, try to lean into self-compassion. Here are some of my favorite self-compassionate statements to consider:
My fourth tip is to ask yourself what might be underneath your bad body image. Often it's easier to say "I hate my thighs" than "I feel lonely and alone." Trying to figure out the underlying emotions can be so helpful in addressing what is actually going on-and helping you to realize that often folks use their body as a punching bag for other issues in their lives.
Want more? Check out this blog that explains what recovery coaching is and how it can benefit your recovery journey!
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The Eating Disorder Center is a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center founded by Jennifer Rollin. We specialize in helping teens and adults struggling with anorexia, binge eating disorder, bulimia, OSFED, and body image issues. We provide eating disorder therapy in Rockville, MD, easily accessible to individuals in Potomac, North Potomac, Bethesda, Olney, Silver Spring, Germantown, and Washington D.C. We also provide eating disorder therapy in Arlington, Virginia and virtually throughout Virginia, as well as in D.C. Additionally, we offer eating disorder therapy virtually in New York (NYC), Florida, and California, serving those in cities including Palo Alto, San Francisco, Newport Beach, Los Angeles, Woodland Hills, San Jose, and Beverly Hills. We provide eating disorder recovery coaching via Zoom to people worldwide. Connect with us through our website at www.theeatingdisordercenter.com
The Eating Disorder Center
We are a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center in Rockville, Maryland.