National Eating Disorders Association

The New York State Legislature voted last week to approve a restoration of funding to the Comprehensive Care Centers for Eating Disorders (CCCEDs) back to $1.2 million in the 2016-2017 state budget. This is big news because that funding has been dramatically slashed in recent years, with some centers receiving only $40,000 per center, which essentially eliminated their ability to provide care.

NEDA took a group of amazing advocates to Albany to lobby for the restoration of these funds last month - this victory proves that our voices are having an impact!

I was a talented athlete.  I won accolades in high school, and pitched on the softball team for Villanova University.  I was voted All-East Pitcher of the Year, Academic All-America, and later I pitched professionally in Italy.

I became a fitness contest participant and winner, and model. I served in the United States Marines Corps, won leadership awards, became a platoon leader, and served in Iraq, leading 150 Marines on several dangerous missions.

When I was in the midst of my eating disorder I was terrified of the dark. I did anything I could to escape from darkness--those uncomfortable feelings of anxiety, deep depression and loneliness. I know what it feels like to live in darkness and feel the hopelessness that comes with feeling lost.

As a former model, commercial actress and host, I enjoyed my share of success within the fashion and entertainment industries. I also suffered from binge eating disorder, bulimia and anorexia nervosa for the length of my career—although the behaviors didn’t begin in the industry, they were exacerbated by things I heard, saw and experienced: things like sexual harassment, trauma, bullying, exposure to wild parties, drinking, drugs and the daily pressure to lose weight.

In November, I turned 30 years old, which meant that I could no longer say that I had done gymnastics for the majority of my life. 15 years in the sport, 15 years out of it. I had a great gymnastics career… state titles, national championships, college scholarship… but it all ended abruptly because of my unhealthy relationship with food.

After years of restrictive eating, I headed off to college & quickly switched to binge eating. This ultimately led to me resigning from the sport after my sophomore year of college.

In collaboration with the Eating Disorder Treatment Collaborative and special guest Chevese Turner, President, Founder and CEO of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), NEDA hosted the Beyond Hunger: Understanding, Treating & Coping with Binge Eating Disorder conference in honor of NEDAwareness Week 2016.

The 2016 National Eating Disorders Awareness Week was an enormous success. The campaign reached nearly 200 million people with information and resources through social media alone, and close to 40,000 people took the online screening. Another bright spot was the number of generous landmark buildings that were iluminated in green and blue in observance of NEDAwareness Week.

The response to this year's NEDAwareness Week campaign went above and beyond our wildest expectations. Thanks to the unwavering support of our partners and people like you, we reached nearly 200 million people with information, resources and, most importantly, the message that recovery is possible.

I have been doing a lot of reflection lately about my eating disorder journey, and what it was exactly that made me come to my senses and recognize that I needed to start recovering before it got as bad as it could have gotten. I read a lot of books, blogs and emails written by others who have suffered and in many ways dealt with their illness for much longer than I did, and it has caused me to stop and think — what was it that made me come to my senses after two years of intense restriction? What caused that shift?

For years, my body didn’t belong to me. It was my disorder’s. Signed and paid for with my own self-hatred; countless hours at the gym on almost zero food; a scrap of paper I kept in my calendar to proudly mark the number of calories I’d burned, far greater than what I’d consumed. My anorexia had had her brittle hands on me for years, and I didn’t want to admit it. She was with me when I tried on wedding dresses, forcing me to choose the one I felt least fat in. She would whisper in my ear every time I bought groceries.