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There’s Help. There’s Hope! The Emily Program is a warm and welcoming place where individuals and their families can find comprehensive treatment for eating disorders and related issues. This blog is a place for us to share the latest happenings at The Emily Program, as well as helpful tidbits from the broader eating disorder community. Subscribe via RSS to receive automatic updates. We want to hear your story. Email us (blog@emilyprogram.com) and ask how you can become a contributor!

Setbacks, Vulnerability, and Running Again: Carie’s Story, Part 2

Carie Wille

Read the first part of Carie’s story here

**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.

After college, I found myself taking my first professional job hours away from my friends and family in a tiny town. It turns out ED loves isolation. I told myself it was the only job I could find since I didn’t have any experience, but it also turned out to be the perfect haven for ED. I hardly knew anyone. I could go to work, come home, and just spend time with ED for the entire evening, just as he would like it. Then, I would drive the hours back to spend time with friends and family for the weekend and pretend like nothing was wrong. I had a good job. A nice apartment. I was dating someone. Life was good.

Meeting ED Head-On

At some point, my family and a great friend confronted me about my behaviors. It turns out I wasn’t as secret as I thought I was. ED was furious. Furious that they knew. Furious that our little secret was out. Now I was really going to have to actually face these issues I was dealing with. I began my first treatment with a social worker, registered dietitian, and some group work. It opened my eyes to what therapy really involved, and it was truly helpful at the time. Even then, though, I could not truly open up to my family and friends about what I was really feeling, thinking, and doing.

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In Came an Eating Disorder: Carie’s Story, Part 1

Carie Wille

**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.

My name is Carie Wille, and I am a 38-year-old wife and mother of a two-year-old toddler with our second baby due at the end of April. I own my own consulting business and I love staying active, especially running and waterskiing. I am also a sister, daughter, friend, Christian, and a bunch of other descriptive nouns I could continue listing, but we’ll leave it at that!

Although my family and I now live in Traverse City, Michigan, I am originally from Minnesota and spent my entire childhood and most of my adulthood up until last year there. I dealt with an eating disorder on and off since I was about 17 years old, although my disordered thoughts around body image and eating manifested at an earlier age. 

Although I won’t say I’m fully recovered because I still have to watch for those pesky eating disorder thoughts, I do not actively use symptoms and am ready to share my story to potentially help others in their journey toward recovery after having time to look back and reflect on… So. Many. Things. So many aspects of not only my eating disorder journey, but also life after an eating disorder. I have always felt that there was a reason God was sending me through these difficult seasons of my life that centered around disordered eating and body image complexities; I just didn’t know why. Sharing my story through The Emily Program is just a start for me – I feel called beyond this, but I have to start somewhere! By being vulnerable and sharing my story, I hope to help others through what they are dealing with. And, shhhhhh, just letting you in on a little “non-secret” secret: It is helping in my own recovery as well.

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Restoring a Masterpiece: Myself

A close-up view of a painting under restoration

**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.

Lisa Whalen’s book,  Stable Weight: A Memoir of Hunger, Horses, and Hope, will be available from Hopewell Publications on March 2, 2021. Her writing has also appeared in An Introvert in an Extrovert World; The Simpsons’ Beloved Springfield; Introvert, Dear; and Adanna, among other publications. Whalen has a Ph.D. in postsecondary and adult education and an M.A. in creative and critical writing. She teaches composition, creative writing, literature, and journalism at North Hennepin Community College, where she was selected Minnesota College Faculty Association Educator of the Year in 2019. In her spare time, she is an equestrian and volunteer for the Animal Humane Society. Learn more at her website and follow her on social media @LisaIrishWhalen.  

Years ago, a graduate school professor showed my class a documentary on restoring famous paintings and frescoes, like Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa or Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Guardians had managed to protect the fragile masterpieces from vandals, fires, and rain, but they couldn’t prevent centuries of dust, pollen, soot, candlewax, cigarette smoke, and the other pollutants of daily life from accumulating on the surface. The grime dulled paint colors so rich, vibrant, and complex that modern technology hasn’t been able to reproduce them.

Experts used Q-Tips to clean a single, square-inch section at a time. The work was taxing, tedious, and seemed like it never progressed, until one day, restorers stepped back and saw what looked like a miracle. Cleaned sections of the painting leapt from the surface. Their colors sang. Their backgrounds deepened. Their foregrounds glowed with light.

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Hope and Healing for the New Year

A rock labeled "Hope" placed in the snow

Though 2020 has now officially passed, COVID-19 remains in our present. We are still living through unprecedented times, most of us confined to our homes and surrounded by reminders of the pandemic’s impact. We continue to experience profound stress and anxiety, both of which are only compounded by the stress of months past.

Eating disorders are very troubling in these circumstances.

As many of us are now well aware, the stress of 2020 has exacerbated eating disorder thoughts and behaviors in many people. In some cases, those who were already struggling have experienced even more intense symptoms, and some who were previously in stable recovery have found themselves struggling again. Others who had never experienced these illnesses have found themselves dealing with one for the first time. It is painfully clear that there are millions of people who need attention and care for their eating disorders.

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Episode 43: Giving Voice to Eating Disorder Stories with Kiera Russo

A rocky river stream - Photo by Kiera Russo

Episode description:

Kiera Russo is a student at The University of Notre Dame, studying Film, Television, and Theatre. An eating disorder survivor, she hosts the podcast Heavier Than I Look, which aims to empower other survivors, educate listeners, and foster conversation surrounding eating disorders. By finding meaning in her own suffering, Kiera hopes to fight against the silence that eating disorders demand and to liberate others from the same demand.

In this episode of Peace Meal, Kiera shares with us her eating disorder and recovery story. She traces the beginning of her illness to the time following eighth grade. During this period of transition, stress, and anxiety, Kiera started running to prepare for her school’s track team. But, she says, “it easily and quickly turned into…a mechanism for me to control not only how many calories I would allow myself that day, but also how much weight I could possibly lose.”

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The Dangers of Dieting

Smoothie diet

Diet culture wreaks havoc all year long, compromising our joy, peace of mind, health, and trust in our bodies. And now, as in years past, it has hit its peak season. Dieting’s unfounded claims and empty promises show up with renewed energy after the holidays, as if right on schedule every year.

With the ring of the new year comes diet talk suggesting that we should “get back on track” after holiday eating or “jumpstart” the year with weight loss resolutions. Cleanses and detoxes and fasts galore, the clamor implies that we must change our bodies with the turn of the calendar. It sets an expectation that controlling our bodies will lead to happier, healthier lives via “new year, new me” goals.

But weight-loss dieting is a misguided approach to happiness and health. Not only is it ineffective for most people, but it can actually cause harm to our bodies.

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