The Most Transformative Year of My Life
This past year (well, 14 months) has been the most transformative of my life. I wanted to provide a timeline of what has happened in this incredibly short span of time (relatively speaking). I'm going to omit some personal details I’m not willing to share but will touch on them vaguely since they were super important to this all.
Finished up my internship at a residential ED treatment center, one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life that totally shifted my career path.
Got hired to work at my dream job, as a nutrition coach at literally the one gym I was a HUGE believer in that has some of the most knowledgeable and skilled trainers I've ever met (and I gave it that same praise back when I was a client, so there's no bias there).
Decided I wanted to write a book, though wasn't sure what I wanted to write. Started on a draft of a super-comprehensive book about some of what I consider the most important facets of nutrition.
Started my final semester of college (well, technically late August, but classes went into full force around this time).
My anxiety and depression were really bad, so I made the deceivingly ill-conceived decision to make my schedule ultra regimented. Though I never fully slipped back into significant restrict-binge cycles, I did start compulsively exercising and doing a bunch of obsessive stuff. I forced myself every day to dress as nice as possible, wake up at 4:30am and take a cold shower, do 100s of push-ups and squats on top of my regular training, eat at more structured times, and study hard.
The ultra-rigid schedule eventually backfired, worsening my depression.
By this point, I had about 3 clients I was working with remotely while still on campus taking classes.
Around mid-October, I started my Precision Nutrition Level 1 coaching certification course.
There was no more rigid schedule whatsoever at this point. I began falling back into the trap of abusing stimulants and crash dieting, but after 2 weeks of this I realized how antithetical this was not only to the career path I’m on (helping those with eating disorders) but also to my own health and wellbeing. As I transitioned back out of this, I was careful not to let the binge urges consume me.
I had scrapped the original book idea (which I’d accumulated hundreds of pages for so far) and decided instead that I was going to write a scientific piece about snacking and make it as comprehensive as possible. It would essentially answer the question “Is it okay to snack?” I began the research phase here.
For many reasons, this was the most important month of my life so far. I’ll spare the personal details and leave it at this: I was prescribed a certain medication that I definitely should not have been taking. It violently tore me out of my element and put me into a very, very dark place. Some things happened, I realized it was dangerous to be by myself, and I had to come home for a while and be with family. While this was a really scary time, in hindsight it was also a watershed moment in my life that forced me to prioritize my own self-care and adopt the phrase “You are enough.”
I graduated college and was off into the world, at this point just doing the nutrition coaching job I was beginning to increase my client load for.
I started off the new year getting pretty heavily back into the DJing hobby I’d played with here and there. It never fully materialized, but it was an amazing distraction from some of the immense depression I was still wrestling with.
Though the crazy symptoms from November into December were starting to fade, I still wasn’t happy. Life felt dull, I felt like a fraud being a nutrition coach who still occasionally overeats and skips workouts.
This was the month I started working at the very same residential eating disorder treatment center I’d interned at just the summer before. I was hired as a diet tech and counselor; nothing fancy, but it was just the “foot in the door” I needed when it came to staying in the eating disorder world I’m so passionate about.
Big month for me. I was featured on the Sigma Nutrition podcast with Danny Lennon, discussing the research I had done on refeeding strategies for severely anorexic adolescents. Knowing I had the expertise to speak on this matter was equal parts empowering and depressing:
On one hand, hell yeah, I know a lot about eating disorders and am establishing myself in my field!
On the other hand, my gosh, is this field really so under-researched that someone fresh out of college could be seen as an authority on the matter? Isn’t anorexia like, I don’t know, the #1 deadliest mental disorder? Huh.
During this month, I also bit the bullet and enrolled in the Precision Nutrition Level 2 masterclass year-long nutrition coaching certification course. As I type this, I’m now almost 8 months into the course. It’s tough, and unlike the Level 1 certification, you have to really discipline yourself to stay on top of your work. But it’s incredibly rewarding and you WILL come away from it a better coach (they’re not paying me to say this, I swear… in fact, I’m paying them).
Oh yeah, and I scrapped the book idea I was working on and decided on a new one. It was going to be a 100-day guide to recovery from your eating disorder. And, well, 8 months later, it’s now available on Amazon in both paperback and eBook!
My motivation in writing the book was coming to a halt. I was doubting myself tremendously, didn’t believe in the book, and was starting to become convinced this was just a waste of time. I would still write bits and pieces here and there, but there was no structure to my writing schedule and I’d give up at the first sign of discomfort (i.e. “oh screw it, this idea sucks!”).
Not much else happened this month; it was fairly nondescript. I did present on identifying clients with eating disorders to my place of work, which was a nice warm-up for what I got to do in May…
Another defining moment in terms of putting my name out there as a [relative] expert in my field. I had the distinct honor of leading a webinar for Precision Nutrition Level 1 students & grads. The topic was on identifying clients with disordered eating patterns, how to coach this population, and how to know when you’re out of scope and subsequently what to do. This was an amazing experience, and the other students and coaches had some awesome questions for me. But ultimately it turned into exactly what I was hoping for - a seminar, not a lecture. We all had some important insights to share and all really learned from one another and held hands and sang Kumbaya and whatnot (let the records show my sleep-deprived brain started typing “sang hands and held Kumbaya”).
My perspective on the book changed dramatically upon meeting one of the clients admitted into our care at the treatment center. I’ll spare the details, given client confidentiality and whatnot, but it suffices to say that meeting this young woman changed my life and turned my half-assed efforts at writing this book into my definite life mission. Though I obviously care about every single client who comes into our care, and I would do anything to make sure they’re happy and safe, this particular client and her recovery really sat with me. But I made a promise to her that I’d have this book published, and ever since then I would spend every morning writing around 2,000 to 4,000 words.
I grinded for hours a day, despite a million other things competing for my attention, because (warning: this will get corny) I knew the book needed to be written. Whether one person reads it or 1,000, I just knew I needed to put this out into the ether. My years of binge eating and body hatred, and the recovery I made from that, could not be in vain. This isn’t sensationalist filler either; my entire outlook shifted from this point on, to the extent that it was weird writing about the preceding months, since those felt like a “different me.”
Went to San Francisco on vacation, which was my first time ever being on the West Coast. Got to see Nick Kroll, Wu-Tang Clan, and Jon Stewart all perform, so it certainly wasn’t an unsuccessful month.
Road trip down to Jamestown with my friend. Helped break up some of the monotony and also the increasing madness of my work schedule (as I simultaneously got more clients and got asked more often to cover counselor/diet tech shifts).
Got to chat with Tabitha Farrar over Skype about my career aspirations and whatnot. If you haven’t heard of her and have any interest in science-based ED recovery podcasts, put this blog on hold for a bit and go check that out. Anyways, it was a super helpful talk that helped shape my vision of how I can best go about serving this population.
I also began coaching my first ED-diagnosed client here, though this was a short stint. It did, however, teach me more about this population than months working at an RTC had.
Early August was when this site went live. Crazy to think it’s only been a couple months since then, as so much seems to have happened.
Had my 23rd birthday and now officially feel like a washed up college grad.
Here we are in October. Obviously the biggest update here was that, as of the 12th (and 14th for the paperback), my book 100 Days of Food Freedom is available for purchase. I know I’ve been promoting this pretty heavily in recent days, but it’s due to this being something I believe in heavily. I put my heart and soul into this book to create a system that makes recovery from your eating disorder ridiculously simple. Just do each day’s task and give it your all, and you will see incredible changes in how you view food and your body. This is a completely comprehensive approach that requires very little brainpower on your part. You won’t have to constantly figure out what’s expected of you when, since it’s all literally spelled out for you each day.
And if you enter your email below shortly after this blog goes up, you’ll get in on the free eBook promo that’s coming up.
I also took a random solo vacation, which was tentatively in the works for after I’d officially published the book. It was a road trip from Northern Virginia/DC (where I live) all the way down to Clearwater, Florida. The first night I did an 11-hour drive down to Savannah, Georgia, and stayed at a hotel there. The next day I left for Florida and then stayed at a pretty nice beachfront hotel for the next 3 nights. I then left super early in the morning to drive up to Charlotte, North Carolina, where I stayed briefly at a small hotel to rest a bit before driving up to my old college in Pennsylvania and then finally back home.
I include this in the list of notable events just because it was such an out-of-the-ordinary week for me, filled with constant driving and sleeping in different hotels.
It’s been an incredible past year (14 months, to be exact). This is an extraordinary field to be in, and I’m excited every single day to help people find Food Freedom and learn that they don’t have to live in fear of food or their body!
Remember to check out my brand new, totally comprehensive book on self-directed eating disorder recovery: