Learning About Eating Disorders

by Laurel Blackburn on November 6, 2013

Laurel1pngI wrote my last blog just over a month ago. I was scared, no terrified of the responses I might get. My biggest fear was that people would not see me as being trainer material, much less an RKC Team Leader. Boy, I was wrong!

I was overwhelmed with positive responses and support. I found that I am certainly not alone in my struggles. I received emails, texts and comments from women and men who shared their own struggles and applauded me for putting it all on the line.

The best response was from a friend who is a Social Worker. She is working with a woman who is suffering from an eating disorder. She shared my blog in a therapy session and had a major breakthrough with her client.

Putting myself out there like I did was worth it. My goal was to help others and start a conversation amongst trainers in dealing with their clients who struggle with eating disorders and food.

I am not one to sit in my problems and I hope you aren’t either. There is no sense in blogging about something so personal without looking for answers. So I went in search of answers and I got them.

Last year, I had the privilege of leading a team through the RKC in San Jose. One of the ladies that was on my team, Traci Hayes, is a registered Dietitian that specializes in eating disorders. I knew she would be a great resource for getting answers not only to help myself, but to help others.

Although I knew many of the things we discussed, it was an eye-opening interview.

First of all and most importantly, she stressed the importance of taking the focus off of calories and instead, focus on your health and strengths. Appreciate your body and what it can and does for you instead of how it looks.

For me, I have many strengths and I have many things my body does for me. At 51 years old, I can still do the splits, backbends and crazy feats of strength including bending nails and flipping tires. I can do so many things that others cannot do. I and you and your clients have strengths that have nothing to do with how they look and how much they weigh. Focus on those things. Celebrate strength gains and performance gains. What are your strengths?

Traci also discussed the scale, saying that there is no number we will be happy with, we always want more. The scale is a horrible indicator of who we are. It’s just a number. It doesn’t know how much of that number is muscle, fat, water, bones etc. It can’t tell you how strong you are, how kind you are or what kind of awesomeness you possess. It won’t tell you how smart you are and it won’t tell you how many successes you have in life. It’s just a number; a number we will never be happy with.

Getting on the scale sets our standard for the day and sets us up for misery.

This just doesn’t happen. Traci emphasizes that we must make a choice to focus on ourselves as a whole, healthy, strong, competent person. I think many of us are not willing to make that simple choice. We may have to do it many times through out the day, day after day before it becomes a habit. Just like any other habit, we must be consistent.

We discussed eating when not hungry and binge eating, one of my biggest struggles.

I don’t know about you, but I find myself standing in front of my refrigerator, looking for something, hoping that something suddenly appeared that will take the edge off. Yes, it’s emotional eating and it needs to be dealt with.

Many of my clients talk about eating when they aren’t hungry. After a satisfying dinner, they continue to eat until bedtime. Maybe it’s during the workday. Things get stressful and next thing you know, you have run to the snack machine or emptied out a co-workers candy dish.

Traci suggests sitting with those feelings, acknowledge them and deal with them. Feelings are just feelings, nothing more and they will pass if we give them enough time. The problem is that many of us just want to medicate our feelings and go for the quick fix, rather then just being ok with them. If you find yourself in this situation; tend to your feelings. Ask yourself if you are really hungry or are you trying to avoid feelings. This may be a good time to journal, take a walk, do some breathing and refocus. Success builds on success. The more you can redirect and deal with feelings without food, the easier it will be the next time.

Think of food as fuel, rather than a coping mechanism. Eat to nourish your body, not to punish it.

Choose health, mental health and strength. Focus on what your body can do for you each day. Our body shows up for us everyday. Give it what it needs to function. Traci promised me that by changing my focus, I will intuitively begin to eat healthier to fuel my body. The key word here is CHOOSE.

We discussed the negative self-talk and self hate. One of the things she asked was would I talk that way to someone I loved or to my own child. The answer is absolutely not! One of the things that hit home for me is that she said, is that the way we talk to ourselves is the way we will treat ourselves.

If you choose to break the cycle of self abuse, take these steps everyday.

  1. Don’t get on the scale…better yet, get rid of it.
  2. Feed your body healthy, non -processed foods to fuel your activities, health and wellbeing.
  3. Make a choice everyday to celebrate the many great things your body does and can do for you.
  4. Sit in your feelings, ask yourself what you are trying to avoid. Deal with that and know that feelings will pass if given enough time.
  5. Put a positive spin on your goals. Instead of making weight loss a goal, make a performance or strength goal.
  6. Refrain from negative self-talk. Focus on positive.
  7. Try something different. If you have been in a cycle of losing and gaining over and over, do something different. Get a new workout, try new healthy recipes, keep a journal.
  8. Eat healthy, clean foods and exercise. Doing this consistently will enable our bodies to get where they need to be.

Traci says that the diet industry fails us. It makes promises it can’t keep and never teaches us about living healthy and learning about our bodies. Once you place restrictions and rules on your eating, you are setting yourself up for failure and shame and then the cycle begins again.

I received so much great information during our interview but the most important thing I came away with is that I HAVE to make a choice to do things differently or I will never get out of this self destructive cycle.


 Here’s how Traci can be reached:  Traci Haynes, RD, RKC, SFG

Nutrition Therapist Specializing in Eating Disorders, Co-owner of VELOCITY Strength and Fitness, Chico, CA


 Laurel Blackburn is an RKC Team Leader and owner of Boot Camp Fitness and Training and Tallahassee Kettlebells.  Look for Laurel at www.bootcampstogo.com or www.tallahasseekettlebells.com.

At 51, she is out to prove that age is just a number. Her goal is to motivate and inspire people everywhere, both young and old that strength, flexibility and mobility can get better with age. Follow her adventures on her blog: www.SuperStrongNana.com. 


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