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When a loved one is diagnosed with a serious illness, some of us find we run and hide and pretend it’s not happening. Some of us will be frozen with fear, some will want to learn everything possible. And I’m sure there are dozens of other responses.

What I know is that pretty much every family member I have ever spoken with has said at some point, “I would DO anything help my loved one be free of this eating disorder.”

One of the actual actions you can DO as a family caregiver is to educate yourself about these deadly mental illnesses. I know it might seem scary and you’ll hear things that terrify you. AND...it’s all helpful for you and your loved one.
Education is one of the topics discussed in my HUG Kits that are being launched on May 9th. Today I’m giving you a sneak peek into this topic to get you started.
First, why do we need to educate ourselves about our family member’s illness? As I state in this chapter of the HUG Kit Guidebook:  To learn the essentials of being an effective eating disorders caregiver.
You may have already learned some things. Now, you may want to consider asking yourself,
“What skills do I need to learn to become a calm, compassionate, confident part of the treatment team?” Yes, family members being a part of the treatment team is finally becoming a thing! :) And the research is showing it makes a huge difference in treatment outcomes long term.
Here are some examples to get you started:
Which area will you learn about today? You can find many resources on my website here. The new website will be live any day now...or so they tell me...yes, I’ve been working on it for months and am ready for it to be LIVE. You WILL hear about it when the thing is finally up and running. Listen for me shouting from mountain tops. ;)
 
Don't forget - next Wednesday is the Monthly FREE Group Phone Support Call click the link to register.

Take care,
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In case you missed my newsletter on St. Patty's Day, you can catch it here on my blog. As we get closer to the launch of the HUG Kits on May 9th, I'm sharing tips from each of the 10 topics covered in the HUG Kit Guidebooks that accompany the 10 videos and the physical copy of my book. 

Love to hear your thoughts!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day Weekend to those who celebrate.


Still traveling...making our way slowly back to Minnesnowta (looking like the temps are to hit 50 when we arrive by next weekend!) via Seattle to visit our daughter, her partner and our grand-dog Jack. Had fun (and challenges...following two 20-somethings - and a mountain dog...up a mountain…) hiking in the cascades yesterday. It’s great to take a break from work and social media.
I’ll be back on Monday. Literally walking the self-care talk daily. ​
As we move toward the launch of the HUG Kits, here is the second HUG Kit Topic from the 10 part video series and downloadable guidebook on “Oxygen.”

The goal for this chapter topic is: Getting your oxygen mask firmly in place. Like what I’m doing on this extended road trip...getting my oxygen mask in place and living life the best I can. You may be wondering why this is necessary when it is your loved one with the eating disorder that is in dire need of help. Feel free to check out my blog post on getting your oxygen mask firmly in place.

How might you give yourself permission to consciously make a plan for putting your oxygen mask on?

Need help on getting started on your self care plan? You can see ideas on my YouTube Channel https://youtu.be/MPFqqWsGjP4.

If you’re still feeling stuck, you may want to consider joining the weekly online group support that I lead each Wednesday on Zoom Video.

You may find it helpful to ask yourself these questions: What’s stopping you from feeling selfish about self care? What will get in your way? What/Who will support you in making this big SHIFT HAPPEN?

Take care,

_________________________________________________________________
TREATMENT CENTERS
Ask about special rates on bulk orders of the H.U.G. Kits to share with your families so they are less distressed. They'll be ready in a couple of weeks!!

Becky Henry, Founder
Hope Network, LLC - Eating Disorder Family Support
Coachbeckyhenry@gmail.com
952-451-5663 
____________________________________________________________________
If you're on this email list and prefer not to be for any reason, please simply unsubscribe. 
Thank you to the generous sponsors of Hope Network, LLC Services and Programs for renewing your sponsorships!
Ask how your Center can be a sponsor and/or contract for services!

Monte Nido and Affiliates 


Monte Nido & Affiliates includes three distinct eating disorder treatment
programs: Monte Nido and Oliver-Pyatt Centers, which provides residential treatment to women, and outpatient treatment for males and females; and Clementine for adolescent girls. We began offering residential treatment in 1996 having been founded by women who are fully recovered and became leaders in the eating disorder treatment field. 

What binds us together is our vast overlap in mission and philosophical approaches to providing best-in-class, evidence-based treatment for eating disorders – from a medical, psychiatric, therapeutic and nutritional perspective.  We are committed to being
industry leaders and share the belief that fully recovery is possible. Additionally all of our residential programs are in home-like settings, providing an environment conducive to healing.

Monte Nido has established itself as the clinical leader in the eating disorder field being widely recognized for achieving superior clinical outcomes that show the highest levels of recovery through our peer-reviewed and published residential facility outcome study. In this study, the vast majority of patients demonstrated significant changes in symptoms and behaviors from admission to discharge, and maintained that improvement throughout the course of the study.

Our residential programs are located in Southern California, Oregon, New York, South Florida and Massachusetts, with day treatment programs offering partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programming in Los Angeles, San Diego and Newport Beach, CA; Portland and Eugene, OR; Boston, MA; Miami, FL; New York, NY; and Philadelphia, PA.
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Spring is here in the Northern Hemisphere after a long, rough winter for so many! We just arrived back in snow-covered Minnesota a few days ago and had the joy today of experiencing the first 50 degree F (above zero) day here on the tundra! While it is a joyful thing for many, my heart goes out to all who are experiencing flooding from the fast snow melt on frozen ground. 

We got to see beginnings of spring in many places including; Joshua Tree National Park, the Central Coast of California, Oregon and Washington. It is my favorite season and it’s so exciting to get to enjoy it in so many different places. 
With all of this journeying about, my team and I have been putting the finishing touches on the HUG Kits and the new website. The technology is proving to be quite complicated to get the three parts of the Kits included (Physical book, Guidebook PDF & link to videos) and the option to purchase multiple copies at once onto the website so it’s taking a bit longer than we’d hoped.


The launch will be May 9th (just in time for Mother’s Day) and in the meantime, I’ll keep sharing with you some insights from each of the 10 topics from the guidebook and videos.


Today it is 3rd topic, “Support” which family caregivers don’t seem to get enough of. The goal I’ve stated in the Support chapter is; “To create follow-through and accountability for  the self-care, support structure and boundaries you laid out in the “Oxygen” chapter.”


Here are 3 components from the “Support” chapter in the HUG Kit Guidebook:
  1. What structures will you put into place to help you get in the habit of practicing self-care daily?
  2. Who are people whom you can call on for support and what are the tasks they can do?
  3. What may get in your way of practicing self-care, calling support people & following through on boundaries? ​
1 more spring flower photo - Central Coast of CA

Lastly, one of the resources from the “Support” chapter I’d like to share with you is an article I wrote:  Three Reasons to Set Firm Boundaries & Enforce Them 


I hope you are able to enjoy some spring weather where you are and want to remind you all that the next Monthly Free Group Phone Support is coming up April 3rd. Just email me if you or someone you know would like to participate and I will send the dial in info. There is info on my website under Group Support Options. 



Take care, ​
_______________________________________________________________________
TREATMENT CENTERS
Ask about special rates on bulk orders of the H.U.G. Kits to share with your families so they are less distressed. They'll be ready in a couple of weeks!! 


Becky Henry, Founder
Hope Network, LLC - Eating Disorder Family Support
Coachbeckyhenry@gmail.com
952-451-5663 
____________________________________________________________________
If you're on this email list and prefer not to be for any reason, please simply unsubscribe. Thank you to the generous sponsors of Hope Network, LLC Services and Programs for renewing your sponsorships!
Ask how your Center can be a sponsor and/or contract for services!

Monte Nido and Affiliates 


Monte Nido & Affiliates includes three distinct eating disorder treatment
programs: Monte Nido and Oliver-Pyatt Centers, which provides residential treatment to women, and outpatient treatment for males and females; and Clementine for adolescent girls. We began offering residential treatment in 1996 having been founded by women who are fully recovered and became leaders in the eating disorder treatment field. 

What binds us together is our vast overlap in mission and philosophical approaches to providing best-in-class, evidence-based treatment for eating disorders – from a medical, psychiatric, therapeutic and nutritional perspective.  We are committed to being
industry leaders and share the belief that fully recovery is possible. Additionally all of our residential programs are in home-like settings, providing an environment conducive to healing.

Monte Nido has established itself as the clinical leader in the eating disorder field being widely recognized for achieving superior clinical outcomes that show the highest levels of recovery through our peer-reviewed and published residential facility outcome study. In this study, the vast majority of patients demonstrated significant changes in symptoms and behaviors from admission to discharge, and maintained that improvement throughout the course of the study.

Our residential programs are located in Southern California, Oregon, New York, South Florida and Massachusetts, with day treatment programs offering partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programming in Los Angeles, San Diego and Newport Beach, CA; Portland and Eugene, OR; Boston, MA; Miami, FL; New York, NY; and Philadelphia, PA.
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After speaking at Rosewood Outpatient (thanks Dena Cabrera!) in Tempe, AZ with staff and parents about including parents in treatment and having shift happen, I’m back in California...now in the Central Coast Region. We’ve always heard it’s fun to drive the entire coast from South to North...so since it won’t stop snowing in Minnesota...we’re doing it. Actually, since we’ve already driven most of the parts from LA south, we started just north of LA yesterday and we’ll be in Seattle for St. Patty’s with our youngest.
Amidst all of this journeying the new website is getting finished and will be live within a week! It’s ready to roll (thanks Amanda DeVries!) and my new Virtual Assistant (Elite VA’s) is getting the PayPal Buttons and autoresponder emails ready to be live in the next couple days! If all goes as planned, next week I’ll be able to share the new website and HUG Kits with you! They contain:


3 powerful resources to help you become a calm, compassionate, confident caregiver.


  1. A Physical Copy of Just Tell Her To Stop: Family Stories of Eating Disorders.
  2. Link to 10 Videos - 10 essential, specific, powerful tools for coping.
  3. PDF Guidebook - deepen learning on the 10 essential, specific, powerful tools for coping by writing plans to take action and move forward.

The 10 Topics in the Hope Understanding & Guidance (HUG) Kits are:
  1. Emotions
  2. Oxygen
  3. Support
  4. Education
  5. Communication
  6. RTC - Residential Treatment Centers
  7. Self Care
  8. Enabling
  9. Validate, Listen, Acknowledge
  10. Boundaries
​Each week I’ll share some tips from each of these 10 Topics covered in the HUG Kits. Today it is “Emotions” that come up as a family caregiver.
1. Notice the emotions you’re feeling right now. It will help you tolerate your emotions by simply noticing them without judgment.
2.  ACCEPT IT:  Say the following statement out loud for each of the emotions you’re feeling: “I accept being ____________.”  
3.  Ask yourself, is this emotion serving me and my loved ones?  


 Seeing families suffering in isolation grabbed my imagination so much that I wanted to get the
se tools in as many people’s hands as possible
. It’s not possible for everyone to do 1:1 coaching with me so I imagined and created a simple, cost effective way to get these antidotes into family caregiver’s lives and created the HUG Kits.


Be safe out there, this winter is proving to be a wild and wooly one everywhere.


Take care,
Becky
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A true pioneer in the eating disorders field, Carolyn Costin generously shared her story so you can have hope. 

Please enjoy her revised chapter which will soon be in the Revised Second Edition of my book, Just Tell Her To Stop: Family Stories of Eating Disorders. 

Carolyn Costin’s Story
Being Recovered Is Possible


Interviewing Carolyn and writing her story gave me so much hope for all who are in recovery, and for their families. I found a great deal of encouragement in her story, and wish that you, too, can know that—for many people, complete recovery is indeed truly possible. Everyone has his or her own definition of complete recovery.

Carolyn embodies the kind of hope that all who are affected by eating disorders can look to for hope and inspiration. She recovered from her own disorder over 40 years ago, and had a successful private practice as an eating disorder therapist.

Carolyn is a firm believer that being completely recovered is possible, and it is a message she believes everyone needs to hear: “You can be ‘recovered’ where the eating disorder is truly gone, a thing of the past that you are not dealing with one day at a time. When recovered, you not only have the absence of symptoms, but you have gained healthy ways to resolve problems or meet needs that you once used eating disorder behaviors to cope with or express.”

About Carolyn   
Carolyn Costin, MFT, who recovered from anorexia, has specialized in the treatment of eating disorders and exercise addiction since 1977.

In the early 1980s, Carolyn established The Eating Disorder Center of California, which provided outpatient services in several locations throughout Southern California. Carolyn also served as clinical director for three inpatient eating-disorder hospital units. In 1996, Carolyn’s dream of opening the first residential treatment center in California came true when she founded Monte Nido, which grew into a group of world-renown treatment centers nationwide.

Carolyn pioneered the idea that people with eating disorders can be fully recovered, and she openly hired and trained other recovered staff members, which both she and her patients attribute as a huge part of Monte Nido’s success.

After selling Monte Nido in 2015, Carolyn founded The Carolyn Costin Institute (CCI) where she continues to provide both live and on-line education and training for professionals on the treatment of eating disorders. Her lectures and workshops range from presentations at national and international conferences, to local community organizations, schools, and week-long retreats for professionals.

Through CCI, Carolyn also trains and certifies Eating Disorder Coaches to work with clients in a variety of settings as an adjunct to traditional treatment. Although Carolyn trained and used coaches throughout her career, eating disorder coaching has not become mainstream in the treatment community. Carolyn believes this is partly due to the lack of rigorous training and certification programs available for coaches to get the proper skills necessary for the job. Carolyn created a 12-module sophisticated training program which includes a supervised internship. Many of the coaching students who apply have a personal history of an eating disorder, but must be two years fully recovered to be accepted into the program, where there is a special track to help them specifically know how to best use their own recovery and avoid common pitfalls. Carolyn believes coaching will become a normal part of conventional treatment.

Carolyn has written six books and a short manuscript on nutritional approaches that are popular with both professionals and the lay public:

  • 8 Keys to Recovery From an Eating Disorder, (with Gwen Grabb co author 2011)
  • 8 Keys to Recovery Workbook (with Gwen Grabb co author 2017)
  • Yoga and Eating Disorders: Ancient Healing for a Modern Illness (with Joe Kelly 2016)
  • Your Dieting Daughter; 2nd edition (2006)
  • The Eating Disorder SourceBook, 3rd edition; (2006)
  • 100 Questions and Answers about Eating Disorders (2007); and
  • Anorexia and Bulimia, A Nutritional Approach (with co-author Alexander Schauss 1997)

Through her own recovery, enthusiasm, and expertise, Carolyn offers hope that becoming fully recovered from an eating disorder is possible.

Carolyn’s Story

Driving up to Beverly Hills from Simi Valley in the early 1960s with my mom and two siblings was always a bit surreal. We were heading toward my dad and stepmother’s mansion in Beverly Hills for our weekend visit, a huge change from the home my mother’s teacher’s salary afforded.
We were originally from Texas, and our dad was always dressed in a cowboy hat and boots that elevated his already 6’5” frame about seven inches taller. He was quite a commanding figure, and we looked up to him. Living in the California foothills, my brother, sister and I spent time running around outside, riding horses, and playing tag. We were innocent and unaffected by all that was changing in the world. Fashion and body image were unknown concepts to us.

Our lives were normal until my dad left for London to produce a western play. While there he fell in love with a fashion model. When he and the model returned to the U.S., he divorced my mother—and our lives were changed forever.

The message I received was pretty clear. My dad dumped my mom for this young stick-figure woman, who was a friend of “Twiggy,” the infamous model who set the weight bar for women in the late ’60s.

My experience epitomizes what females in America were beginning to go through. We left the innocence and “norm” of the ’50s for this new way of thinking: women needed to look like shadows of their former selves to be accepted as sexy and worthwhile. Not only was Twiggy popular with all my friends and me, I saw firsthand my dad choose a fashion model over my mom, and that sent an absolutely clear message of what was important and valued in terms of being a woman.

Our lives began changing as fast as our growing bodies—all of this happening during the time when the world was being impacted by the hippie movement. Moving from Texas to the wild and free craziness of Southern California in the early ’60s was a cultural change for all of us. There were so many changes all at once, including going from being a 12-year-old living with both of my parents to living part-time with my mom in Simi Valley and spending time with my dad and my now model stepmother in their rented Beverly Hills home.

Years later, after recovering from the eating disorder that inhabited me for seven years, I remembered a significant incident from that time. It occurred after my dad and stepmother married. My siblings and I were at their Beverly Hills mansion for our regular visit. I walked into the large white master bedroom and saw a closet with big, mirrored sliding doors, filled with my stepmother’s many clothes and interesting full-length coats, including mink and cheetah.
I saw the most beautiful pink mini-dress ever, and couldn’t resist trying it on. This was the height of the ’60s, mini-dresses were all the rage, and I was just becoming interested in fashion.

When I tried it on I couldn’t believe that it did not fit my now 13-year-old body. I was so embarrassed looking in the mirror, I made a vow right then that someday I would fit into that dress. For years I had forgotten this incident; remembering it was an eye opener into a part of my past, a piece of the jigsaw puzzle that contributed to my developing an eating disorder.

Two years passed after I tried on the mini-dress before I developed an eating disorder. Neither the pink mini-dress nor my model stepmother caused my eating disorder. As an eating disorder expert, I now know that my genetic predisposition, anxious temperament, perfectionist personality, dieting with all my friends, cultural pressure to be thin, and underlying psychological issues all contributed to my eating disorder.

As the teen body is growing and changing, it is challenging to maintain a sense of self-esteem. The unintentional damaging messages from the media seep into our delicate psyches, and plant seeds that can bloom into life-destroying disorders. I received the clear message: Thinness is beauty. If you are not thin, you are not special.

By the time I was 15, I had lost 45 pounds. The details of how I suffered with anorexia nervosa aren’t what is important here; what is important is what helped me to completely recover.
I remember feeling like there were two parts of me: the real, healthy self, and this other part that had taken over, the eating-disorder self. Eventually, I realized it’s not about telling the eating-disorder self that it’s bad and has to go, it’s about permanently strengthening the healthy part of the self so the eating-disorder self is no longer needed. It is a person’s healthy self that heals the eating-disorder self. This is not a quick fix but a slow process, just like developing an eating disorder is a slow process.

You don’t wake up one day with an eating disorder,                                                                   and you don’t get rid of it that way either.

When I am asked how I recovered or what is the most important thing for recovery, the answer is a difficult one in some ways. The real answer to this question is found in my book, 8 Keys to Recovery From an Eating Disorder, because in it I discuss what I believe are the most important key elements to becoming recovered. Personally though, there are a few things in my situation that I think really helped me get better. One thing was that I never battled with my parents. They truly tried hard to understand what was going on in my mind, and I think this helped us not get into fights about my illness and behaviors. Having understanding parents who listened and talked helped me feel like they weren’t trying to take control. This helped me to be honest about what was going on with me.

Control is a word that always comes up with people who have eating disorders. There are many aspects to this, but one thing to note is that collaboration is important in the treatment, not just externally focused or forced change. Behavior change that is forced by outside control will only be maintained while the controlling force is maintained. Unless there is an internal shift, the person will go back to the behaviors because the eating-disorder self will just regain control.

Another interesting thing that helped was that my mom did a visualization technique with me about having an imaginary doctor inside of me. She would tell me to imagine that this real healing essence was breathing inside of me, and could heal me. We did this a few times during a period when I was pretty ill. She was the first person who actually taught me the concept of the inner healer—and how powerful we humans genuinely are.

As it was, I did not actually get much professional help. I was ill in the late ’60s and early ’70s, and not much was known about eating disorders yet. When my mother took me to our medical doctor, he took blood tests and had to admit that everything was fine. I took that as a green light to keep going. My mother then took me to a different doctor who told her I might be pregnant and trying to hide it. Undeterred, Mom took me to a psychologist, who tried to get me to drink a soda in front of him to see what I would do. I never went back.

I went to the college counseling center but the therapist there had never heard of eating disorders, and could not fathom such a thing as my being so thin, yet seeing myself as fat. I tried to explain that I felt guilty when I ate, and she suggested that if I felt guilty when I ate in front of others, perhaps I should eat by myself. The problem was that the guilt was my own. I felt bad eating, whether in front of others or alone. In fact, eating alone made things worse.

These experiences were so bad that I never tried to get further help. No one suggested family therapy or told my mother to try to be firmer about my eating. Most people did not even know what to call what I had.

I had the eating disorder for seven years, and feel that if the professionals back then (or my parents and I) had known what we all know now, I might have recovered much sooner.
During college, I started reading books on spirituality. The authors helped me begin thinking about being in a world where I wanted to pay attention to my soul, not just my body. This made a big difference in my life, and started to help me get better. Many books explained the difference between the ego and soul; many were various translations or western explanations of Buddhism. They all opened me to look at the world, myself and my soul in a new way. They helped me separate myself from my thoughts and feelings, helped me become aware of my own consciousness and beingness. They helped me place value and importance on things of the heart and soul rather than the scale and my fat gram intake.

I use these concepts in my practice and recommend these kinds of books to my clients when I feel it is appropriate. Some examples of the books I recommend to clients now are: Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore; Seat of the Soul by Garry Zukoff; When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodren, a Buddhist Monk; and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

When working with clients, I try to help them reconnect and stay connected to their soul-self, a concept that is not often talked about. I teach clients that rather than being humans who are on a soulful path, they are souls who happen to be on a human path. I call their bodies their “earth suits,” and talk about caring for their bodies that their souls embody here on the planet. It sounds complicated but it is actually simple. I help people get connected to or reacquainted with what is truly sacred and most important in their lives. I help each client develop a stronger core, a healthy soul-self. I believe that once re-connected with what is truly important in life, the need for the eating-disorder symptoms diminishes.

Parents can be an important part in helping us develop a strong, healthy self. In my work I teach parents how to align with their child’s healthy self, and not make enemies with the eating-disorder self, but rather get the healthy self strong enough so it takes care of the eating disorder. As I began to recover, I began to gain back weight…and I would cry. No one understood why it felt so bad to be getting “better.” I always ask my clients to explain to their parents why “getting better feels so bad.” This helps family and friends understand the dynamics that keep fueling the eating disorder.

I believe families are an important part of the solution. I do a lot of work with individual family members, and have used multi-family groups to help family and loved ones understand the eating disorder—and also get help for themselves, and get the tools they need to continue to support their loved one in recovery.

I tell families that the goal of the therapy is to put myself out of business with each client, that is, making it so the client and family no longer need me. This is true (or should be, at least) for all therapists.

My job is to teach families what it is I do that works, so they can do it.

Every person who walks through my door for help has a healthy core person inside of her or him—as well as the eating-disorder self they have developed. When families are included in the recovery process, they can be trained to see the eating disorder is a part of the person, but that they can also find the  healthy person in there. This helps significant others work to recognize and strengthen their loved one’s healthy self. Instead of getting in fights with their loved one, they begin to see that they can align with him or her against the eating-disorder self.

Learning to support someone you care about who has an eating disorder is a huge task, and it takes time and guidance. It is so easy to get pulled into the fights and lose sight of how important it is to support and guide your loved one back to health. Most families feel so hopeless and overwhelmed; it is essential to learn to take care of themselves, as well as how to care for the person who is in eating-disorder recovery.

I find it very annoying when I hear that parents are told their loved ones will not fully recover. Although it often takes  a long time, people can be fully recovered. Some studies have shown that with family involvement, the recovery can be shorter.

Studies  show that people with eating disorders can fully recover. Monte Nido has a very positive and hopeful outcome study that was conducted on patients from 1 to 10 years post-treatment. It shows 80–85 percent of the clients are either fully or partially recovered in an average of 4.5 years. I have been recovered since the early 1970s. I don’t have any desire to restrict food, weigh myself, take laxatives, skip meals, lose weight or use any of my past eating-disorder symptoms. I don’t need to deal with it one day at a time.

I believe that having found a deeper purpose and meaning to life was essential for me in order to gain a foothold on recovery. I decided I wanted to be a teacher, and becoming one helped me to have something else to care about. Going through college, I studied psychology and became a high school teacher for kids who got kicked out of regular school. I went on to become a school counselor, then after further study, I interned as a marriage and family therapist. I wanted to work with troubled teens.

As I began my psychology practice, I received a few referrals for people with eating disorders, and I successfully treated them. Soon people were referring clients to me from all over, and my practice grew. Eventually I was hired to run a hospital unit for eating disorders, then another. Over time, I knew I needed to open my own center. It gives me great joy to help others find their own purpose and meaning—and begin the process of shedding the eating-disorder self that prevents them from fulfilling their own life purpose.

Carolyn Shares Some of Her Philosophy:

1. I believe that the ability to be one’s true self and enjoy life is robbed by an eating or exercise disorder.
  • Focusing on eradicating the symptoms is not enough, I work to help clients discover what they are recovering to, rather than get too stuck on what they are recovering from.
2. I believe that part of healing involves helping clients connect to a deeper purpose and meaning in their lives.
  • Developing meaning and purpose is assisted by providing teaching in spirituality, lessons in understanding the difference between ego and soul and helping clients learn and practice the concept of  “Tending The Soul.”
  • Once clients are reconnected to the spiritual, sacred and soulful aspects of life, the need to use the eating disorder behaviors diminishes.
3. Friends and family members are an important aspect in healing and recovery.
  • The efforts, love, and support of family and friends has been shown to positively affect recovery.
  • People who have recovered from eating disorders often cite being loved, believed in, and not “given up on” as crucial factors in their getting help and getting well.
4. I believe that to heal, you do not have to get rid of what I call your eating-disorder self, but rather learn from it and integrate that knowledge into your core-healthy self.
  • Clients need to get rid of the eating disorder behaviors, but the eating disorder self becomes integrated into the core self so there is only one whole person. The old eating-disorder self becomes the alarm signal or messenger serving to let the client  know when there is something that needs to be attend to.
5. I do not believe you have to be ready to give up your eating disorder or want to fully recover to begin to get help.
  • Ambivalence is part of the problem, and is to be expected
  • Lack of motivation is not a problem with the client, but it’s an important challenge for the therapist
  • It is my job to help clients work with their motivation and ambivalence.
  • I can’t make anyone stop their eating disorder behaviors, I hope I can make them want to stop.
6. If I could become recovered, so can you.
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Every day in the USA at least 23 people die from eating disorders.
Full disclosure, I dislike the term “enabling” a lot.

The line between being a supportive caregiver or parent, and enabling a family member struggling with an eating disorder can become blurry when fears run the show.

Enabling is defined as ‘Protecting someone from experiencing the full consequences of their behavior.’

We are absolutely terrified beyond description that our loved one is disappearing before our eyes - regardless of their weight...they are absent from their body as if their true self has been hijacked by this ‘ed monster’ and we cannot find them. What we see in front of us and hear talking back to us is not the person we knew. Now and then we will get glimmers, much like when a loved one has alzheimer's. It gives us momentary hope...and pain.

Family members do not want to see a loved one suffer. And being labeled as “enabling” or “enmeshed” or as an “anxious parent” increases everyone’s suffering. We are not trained on how to tolerate a loved-one’s distress and how to manage our own distress at seeing them suffer. We need support and training on how to do this. We are having a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.

At some point all family caregivers learn how deadly eating disorders are. That is terrifying. We need help to calm the fears. Then we can be calm, compassionate, confident caregivers.
In the realm of eating disorders, terrified parents can get involved to the point of unintentionally and unknowingly supporting their eating disordered child/loved one’s behaviors. As a result, the child/loved one can become overly reliant on the parent/family member for help, feeling as though they need their parent to be able to recover.
Parents may invest all of their time and energy into helping their child while neglecting their own feelings and needs. To an outsider, it may seem as though the parent or caregiver is simply being self-sacrificing in order to help their child to the best of their ability.  However, this type of relationship begins to take a toll on the child and the parent, and may leave the parent feeling as though they need to “fix” their child.
It is essential for family members to be involved, and include these 4 things:

  1. Separate your child/family member from the eating disorder.
  2. Practice EXTREME self-care.
  3. Learn as much as possible about these complex, deadly illnesses.
  4. Get support from someone who knows eating disorders well.
How do we do these things when we need to protect someone from experiencing the potentially deadly consequences of their behavior? We love them and don’t want to see them suffer. We want them to live.
When we see what enabling does for us and our loved one and what having healthy behaviors does for us and our loved ones we can see the benefits of learning different ways to provide support.
When we enable we can:
  • Try to fix the ED
  • Stop Living
  • Worry all the Time
  • Are Held Hostage by ED
  • Lose Hope
  • Stop Sleeping
  • Jump Down the Well
  • Get on the Emotional Rollercoaster
  • Become Resentful
  • Feel Exhausted
Results: Burn out, anger, bitterness, sickness, frustration, and ED gains the upper hand.
When we use healthy behaviors we can:
  • Can Feel Guilt at First
  • Be Engaged Part of the Team
  • Support the Therapeutic Process
  • Can Enjoy Life Again
  • Reduce Distress
  • Model Health Behaviors
  • Increase Compassion
  • Reduce Burnout
  • Increase Hope for Recovery
  • Learn to Validate
  • Communicate Effectively
  • Remain Calm
  • Stop Accommodating ED
  • Reduce Drama
  • Practice Self Care
  • Raise Confidence
  • Lower our own Distress
  • Increase Capacity to Tolerate Child’s Distress
Results: We stop losing ourselves and become more effective at supporting our loved one.
I hope that this gives you some ideas and hope to begin to experience the benefits of learning different ways to provide support.

Keep loving, keep supporting, be present and keep YOU on your TO DO LIST. Remember, self care is not selfish. 
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Does it seem like for everyone else, the holiday season is a time for peace, love and joy?
Sometimes we believe that it’s perfect, love, light, fun, joy, sunshine and rainbows for everyone else. Usually that’s not true. For many caregivers it’s the most stressful, exhausting, conflict filled, anxiety provoking time of the year. 
For those families living with eating disorders, it can be one of the most stressful times of the year!
With so many late fall/early winter holidays, our loved ones in recovery can be filled with anxiety over, weight, calories, the food, how much they think they will have to eat, whether or not their family will be “watching” them for eating disorder symptoms. These anxieties, which are normally troublesome for those who struggle, can be escalated during the holiday season.
This  focus on family and food can cause undue anxiety for those in recovery and may be an upset to their eating schedule.  Not to mention finals and relatives asking questions.
Here are 15 ways caregivers can help loved ones deal with the holiday stress by practicing your own self care:  
  1. Get enough sleep
  2. Let enough be enough
  3. Focus on gratitude to help stop worry
  4. Consciously choose to give your presence rather than presents
  5. Plan for a non-traditional holiday
  6. Schedule sessions with your loved one’s treatment team for while they are home
  7. Say “No” to unnecessary and/or unenjoyable activities
  8. Say “Yes” to simplicity
  9. Spend time in nature
  10. Plan enjoyable movement at regular intervals
  11. Breathe consciously, try videos on my YouTube Channel
  12. Take a nap
  13. Watch a movie
  14. Take time for your hobby
  15. Use essential oils to feel calm, lavender on a pillow can help with sleep
15 Parent/Caregiver tools to support a loved one in recovery more directly:
  1. Plan Structure for meals & time - this may entail help of the team
  2. Discuss all plans ahead of time
  3. Plan ahead for being with people who might be triggering or say triggering things
  4. Recovery totem - when triggering things come up
  5. Take focus off food - this needs to be intentional
  6. Offer distractions during and after a meal: play a game, take a walk, watch a movie, keep the conversation going.   
  7. Encourage your loved one to have their meal prior to attending an event so that triggers are limited
  8. Brainstorm on self-care tools and create a list
  9. Keep your expectations in check, this is a very challenging time
  10. Find time for simply being present with your loved one
  11. Ask how you can best support them during the change in routine
  12. Remember to separate your loved one from the eating disorder
  13. If you see major changes, contact the treatment team
  14. Use this as a time to assess how your college student’s recovery is going
  15. Be prepared to set healthy boundaries around money and other privileges

For some, it also helps to be engaged in conversation throughout the meals, as it is all too easy for a person who struggles to get stuck in their heads and eating disorder thoughts.  

While it is important not to be the “food police” during the holidays, it is also important to watch for eating disorder symptoms, such as restricting food intake, or purging after eating.  If these symptoms are noticed, it is important to approach the person with the eating disorder to express concern in a constructive way (see my tips on communication) as to help the person decrease symptom use.  

While the holidays are a time for celebration, it is also key to remember that those with eating disorders may be having a particularly hard time.  Using these tips may be a helpful way to guide your loved one through this stressful time.
​HELP FOR THE HOLIDAYS - AND...for my birthday this month I'm going retro on my pricing for those who start coaching in December! 
So get some support to cope during or after the holiday with some coaching, call me and schedule now. I won't be raising my rates again this year and for my birthday special from December 4 to January 1 they'll go back to $400 for 4 one-hour sessions for as long as we coach together and for those who begin coaching after January 1 they'll return to $500 for 4 one-hour sessions. 

Let me know what you think in the comments section. And remember, January 2 will be here before we know it!
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For the majority, the holiday season is a time for family and joy.  However, for those with eating disorders, it can be one of the most stressful times of the year.  Thanksgiving, which typically revolves around food (like my favorite Scandinavian treat - Lefse) and eating, can be particularly triggering to sufferers.  It can fill them with anxiety over the food, how much they think they will have to eat, whether or not their family will be “watching” them for eating disorder symptoms, and weight and calories.  These anxieties, which are normally troublesome for those who struggle, are usually escalated during the holiday season.

Instead of focusing on time spent with family and loved ones, it is all too easy for sufferers to turn their focus to food.  It could be that they are expected to snack all day, rather than sticking to the three meals and two to three snacks that are recommended by professionals.  This can cause undue anxiety, as it may be an upset to their eating schedule.  

So what are some ways to deal with the holiday stress?  As a family member or loved one of someone with an eating disorder, here are four tips:
1. Try to take the focus off of the food.  
2. Keep your loved one engaged in conversation throughout the meals.
3. Plan ahead to offer distractions during and after a meal.  
4. Have a list of ideas for after the meals: play a game, go on a short leisurely walk, watch a movie or a TV show, or keep the conversation going.  

While it is important not to be the “food police” during the holidays, it is also important to watch for eating disorder symptoms, such as restricting food intake, or purging after eating.  If these symptoms are noticed, it is important to approach the person with the eating disorder to express concern in a constructive way as to help the person decrease symptom use.  

While the holidays are a time for celebration, it is also key to remember that those with eating disorders may be having a particularly hard time.  Using these tips may be a helpful way to guide your loved one through this stressful time.  
Me with one of my best birthday gifts ever! My daughter Caroline surprised me by flying home!
HELP FOR THE HOLIDAYS AND...for my birthday this month I'm going retro on my pricing for those who start coaching in December! 
Get support to cope during or after the holiday with 1:1 coaching, call me and schedule now. I won't be raising my rates again this year and for my birthday special from December 4 to January 1 they'll go back to $400 for 4 one-hour sessions for as long as we coach together and for those who begin coaching after January 1 they'll return to my regular rate of $500 for 4 one-hour sessions. 
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When caregivers have our oxygen masks on and have been practicing loads of self care, we can be like the momma bear in this video who patiently waits for and believes in her cub. It’s so tempting when our loved ones in recovery are heading back down the very slippery slope of eating disorders to go down after them. This bear knew her cub could do it. When the cub got close she tries to reach out to help but does not go back down the slope. When we are depleted, it’s much harder to watch them slide down over and over again. When we are filled up, we have more capacity to use tools for coping and can believe in them.

Animals often have more innate wisdom than humans and know they need to reserve their energy and it wouldn’t serve the cub for momma to use up all that energy to go back down and rescue it. Plus, she believes in the cub’s capacity to climb. It’s hard for us to believe in our loved one’s when they’re being held hostage by ed and often acting out and behaving in ways that are sabotaging their recovery. AND...we need to believe in their capacity. We need to show them that we will believe in recovery for them until they can believe in it for themselves.
Fallen Bear Cub Climbs Back to Mama|| ViralHog - YouTube
YES! It is hard to watch them slip back down the slippery slope time and time again. AND...we can stand at the top of the hill guiding them toward recovery. If we go down the slope with them, we will wear ourselves out trying to drag them up the hill and they will feel like failures for not being able to do it.

Notice momma bear is not ranting, raving or wringing her hands. She paces back and forth a bit and yet she stays at the top of the mountain showing her cub the way. And believing in her cub. She isn’t abandoning. She is keeping very close watch.

It can feel like we are abandoning our loved one when we don’t rescue. It is actually giving them the greatest gift we can give them, our belief in them. That means we have to manage our own feelings of distress which is not possible if we are not practicing self care.

What will you take away from watching this momma bear?

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Parents and other caregivers of those with eating disorders you have so many valid fears to cope with daily. Simply taking the leap to get a loved one into treatment can bring on so many fears: What modality is best? Which treatment program should I choose? What if they blame me and/or collude with the eating disorder?  Then there is the reality that 23 people in the USA alone die every day from eating disorders and many are hijacked for years. And then there are the nitty gritty fears that you dear, brave warrior caregivers are facing minute by minute.

Everyday I hear the raw terror from parents and partners telling me they are so uncertain about how to handle a loved one coming home from treatment. And the sadness and fear about your child or partner who has been physically harming themselves and often threatening more self harm and sometimes suicide.

There are so many different coping skills and tools that caregivers can utilize, it’s really about finding the tools that work for you and that you can use daily and make part of your routine so you can have it be your default in the midst of a crisis or challenge.

My Top 6 Tips for Coping with Fears:

  1. Self-Care. This can look like a lot of things from making sure you get enough sleep, physical activity, time with family & friends, seeking support, calling a friend, reading a book, meditation, yoga, etc.
  2. Breath work. There are so many breathing tools to utilize to calm down our nervous systems so we can use our wise mind rather than react. A favorite of mine is the 4-7-8 breathing.
  3. Shift Perspective. When we realize that we can consciously choose our perspective we reclaim our power from the fear. I often teach this tool in which we try out different possibilities about how we might look at our situations.
  4. Faith. Many people find that relying on faith practices can take away some of the severity of the fear and give back some peace.
  5. Put it in a bubble. When we can notice the fear, name it and choose to release it we can imagine putting the particular fear into a balloon (choose the color even) and then let go of the string and watch it float away. I’m not a fan of actually doing this in real life as balloons pollute the earth...and it’s very effective to imagine this. :)
  6. Mantras. It can help to repeat questions or statements to ourselves to keep us in a positive mindset. For instance, “Everything is working out for me.” (Fake it till you make it). “Worrying will not help my loved one.” “What do I know to be true about this situation?” “Is this mine to handle?” or “This is not mine to handle/take on.”

I’d love to hear which tool/s serve you best. Remember, F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real. AND...sometimes we do have evidence that there is something to fear, this is when we need to choose how we will react. This is a concrete thing you can do to help your loved one. They need you to be operating with a full cup and a calm, compassionate and confident state.
​You can do this! Big hugs, Becky
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