Tag Archives: Weight gain

Human Connection – Why it Created & Healed my Eating Disorder

​It’s not often I like to talk about my story. Maybe it’s because I’m ashamed of it, or because I don’t like the attention, but a lot of times, I think it’s because I often wish I could forget about it, or hide it from my life now. But I’ve decided I am going to work on tackling my fears, and start connecting to more people so what better way to do that, than to share my story.

A chubby kid growing up, I was always happy, always social, always easy –going and surrounded by friends. Enter middle school and that all changed. I started to become more aware of my body. It wasn’t quite as thin as my friends. I couldn’t just eat whatever I wanted like my sister. I couldn’t shop in the cool stores like everyone else. I started to disconnect a bit from my “cool” peers.

Flash forward to high school, quite possibly the worst 4 years of my life. I suddenly felt un-cool and unpopular. My group of friends grew smaller and I never quite felt like I fit in. I didn’t play sports and I started to bury myself in my dance classes. Dance for me was the one time, I felt confident. I was good at something. People liked me there. Some maybe even looked up to me.

As I became more and more self-conscious I began to hide more and more in school. I would go home during free periods, would skip hanging out with friends on the weekend and felt miserable hiding in sweatshirts.

Enter, a diet that worked. After tons of failed diets, and attempts at weight loss, I finally started to figure things out. Weight fell off of me and I finally started to “get skinny” – hooray! One would think this was all I needed to be social and have the life of my dreams, but boy was I wrong.

I spent hours planning my food every week. Started to track and count every calorie I consumed. Skipped nights out with friends in order to stay in and eat my allotted meals. I buried myself in dance classes, and despite my body aching every morning, kept slowly taking calories out of my diet. I had the body I had loved and yet my personality never felt smaller. I was miserable. At that point, I had hardly any friends left.

Danielle Dance 1

I still have vivid memories of going home on free periods because I didn’t want to be around people. I would sit in my room at home, with my space heater on because I was freezing all the time. I would sip on sparkling water to fill up my stomach, and watch cooking shows on television. If that’s not irony, I don’t know what is.

My eating, food, and weight took over. As I got close to high school graduation, I was honestly excited. I was ready to break away from the school I hated and finally start over. I went to college for dance and suddenly realized that I was a small fish in a big pond. Where dance had once been the key piece of my self-love, it lost that magic in college.

I was no longer the best, brightest or strongest. Suddenly I was the least experienced, the beginner and I turned to my diet to cope. So afraid of regaining the weight I had once lost, I continued to obsess over food. I’m pretty sure I ate in the dining hall a total of 5 times, my freshman year. The first fight I ever got in with my new group of friends was because they were worried that I never ate.

Finally I had friends and people who cared about me and here I was pushing them away because of my eating disorder.

Then I met Christina. This was the first time, I found someone who understood what I was going through. She understood the anxiety and stress that food and my weight caused me. She saw me cry and agonize over my body and my eating disorder and it actually felt pretty good to share it with her.

I’ll never forget the first time I 100% opened up to her about this. Our nutrition class watched the documentary Thin in class. I was so upset by what I saw. Lifeless women trapped in their eating disorders, unable to live their lives. Back in our dorm room I burst into tears. Talking to my two roommates, one of whom was Christina, about my struggle, I finally felt like someone got it.


I would like to say that this was my turning point, I’ve honestly never admitted it but I truly believe this was where my story changed. This was when I realized I wasn’t alone. Someone got me. Someone had been where I had been and wasn’t any more. I felt a connection I never had before.

Fast forward a couple years, as I struggled to recover from my eating disorder and not eating, I sprung in the other direction. Where I once had total control over my food, I now felt like I had none. I was hungry all the time and couldn’t make it through a week on a diet. My weight started to rise and my body insecurities came flooding back. I felt so ashamed that I couldn’t get it together. I didn’t want anyone to know why I was struggling. I was hungry constantly and could never get full.

Suddenly I felt like the 11 year old me again; the girl who didn’t want anyone to see me eating because I felt like I didn’t deserve to at my current weight.

I moved to New York after college and broke down. I was trying to dance. Trying to heal, and had absolutely no confidence or belief in myself. As you can guess, this didn’t end well and I quickly ended up back home. The next few years continued to be a roller coaster. I would go through phases where I’d eat well, then struggle with food, then feel bad about myself, and then try to diet. I continued to try diets, but my weight stayed the same.

I worked with therapists, coaches, and nutritionists, anyone who promised they could heal me. Dance slowly phased out of my life and something new came in. CrossFit. For me Crossfit was never about fitness. It was so much more than that. For the first time in a long time, I learned what it meant to proud of my body. To feel good about what I could do. I suddenly had a circle of friends again. I was stronger, more confident than ever before. And then I switched CrossFit gyms.

I attended a CrossFit where a lot of people from my high school went. Suddenly I got the odd feeling I was back in high school. I was self-conscious, undeserving of food, and felt like I needed to diet. The next couple years were filled with struggle and a lot of disappoint. I had a better hold on my eating, yet still struggled with shameful moments of overeating and then needing to compensate with under eating. I continually took breaks from Crossfit feeling like I needed to get away from the “high school drama” that let’s be real, I myself was creating.


Never good enough, never fit enough, never thin enough, I told myself over and over again. At the time though, I felt “healed” from my eating disorder. Sure I struggled with confidence but food wasn’t a huge issue for me anymore, I tried to get my health coaching business running yet struggled again and believed it must have been because I was not good enough.

Then this past November I randomly applied for a personal training job. It was as if the pieces of the puzzle fell together. My eating started to feel easy again, I started working at a job I really enjoyed and finally I felt good enough again. I was growing my nutrition business doing things I loved and even lost a little. This is my success story I thought. Not quite.

I still had gremlins in my head telling me I wasn’t good enough. Still struggled sticking to my diet, and just couldn’t get past the point of limiting my own success. Then I came across another opportunity to grow my nutrition business. I received a random Facebook message from someone worked with Beachbody. No way I thought, not for me and politely turned him down. A month or so later I heard back from him, still trying. I of course, was too polite to shoot him down so listened to a webinar. Not for me I thought. I don’t sell.

After starting my training job, I loved life, I had no more need to desperately grow my nutrition business, my weight was down, and it was the holidays. A couple days after Christmas, I got a message from my Beachbody friend again. What did he want with me? He talked to me about posting on Facebook to build an audience. Let’s be real, me and my lack of confidence meant pictures and me did not get along. To appease him, I started posting, and suddenly realized that people actually listened.

Did this mean people maybe actually liked me? I continued posting on Facebook and eventually let him talk me into signing up as a coach. Why not? I figured it would be a good addition for my business but not really for me.


A couple months in, I was made a last minute captain for a challenge group. Again, I figured why not, I could help other people of course; that I am good at; helping myself, not so much. Our challenge groups grew and naturally I felt comfortable supporting everyone else, but still got squeamish about posting. A workout picture? No way it was going to be of me; I’d show them my sneakers. But then I started to get more and more support. People were complimenting me, supporting me. Did they actually like me?

As I got more comfortable, I started posting more and more. I even built up the courage to share a transformation picture on Facebook after I had lost some weight. Things were going great. My confidence was growing a bit and I felt awesome. But then, because I could never be happy for too long, I decide to sabotage myself.

My “diet” I had been attempting stopped working. I moved and started to get a little more stressed again. I joined a new CrossFit that I loved but again, started to worry what people thought of me. And then my story changed, I didn’t let this break me, as I would have in the past. I continued posting in my challenge groups, continued to feel a part of something. Continued to share my story and I realized what I was lacking all these years. Human connection.

I no longer diet, count calories, macros or points.

I workout when I want to and not when I don’t.

I am working on not caring quite so much about what others think of me.

I am learning to say no.

I am putting myself first and mapping out my future to success.

I am learning to depend on myself, like myself, and have confidence and faith in myself.

I am always going to be a work in progress but I think we all are. I am happy to say my eating disorder thoughts are almost gone. I am eating to fuel my body and not to lose weight and am starting to realize that if someone doesn’t like me solely for the way I look, I probably don’t want to be friends with them anyway 😉

And guess what. That is my transformation. My transformation has nothing to do with the scale. My transformation has to do with connection. I am connected to myself now. I know how to connect and support others. And now I’m so excited to share my story with other people. To help other people connect and not feel so alone.


P.S. I am still looking for my 5 ladies to commit to helping for the month of January. If you’d like to be one of the 5 who I mentor through a fitness program, custom meal plan, and more, please apply here.

Fear of Food or Fear of Fat

For a very long time I was afraid of food. Anything fried, loaded with sugar, or packaged scared the crap out of me. I covered this belief up with excuses like, “I want to be healthy” or “I feel better when I don’t eat it”, but let’s be real, the real reason these foods made my heart skip a beat was because of my fear of fat. I’m not talking about the actual fat content of these foods either, I’m talking about the horrible stereotype in my head that fat was bad and thin was good.

Every day when I walked in my kitchen, planned out my meals, or loaded up on egg whites, I was working up to one major goal, to be thin. The problem was that my intense anxiety towards any of these “bad” foods meant that I thought about them often. I obsessed over the cookie my sister ate in front of me. The breadbasket tormented me throughout dinner. I couldn’t focus on a conversation happening in front of me because calories were adding up in my head and my next meal was being planned. I was so afraid of food that I thought about it constantly.

What was I really afraid of though? Sure cookies for breakfast probably didn’t have the best nutritional benefit of all, but I wouldn’t even touch them for dessert. And where did my irrational fear of gluten free bread come from? Yes it is a little more processed than other foods but it’s not exactly a health disaster either.

When I was forced to look at things a little more closely, I started to realize something; all of my fears towards food boiled down to the fact I was actually in fear of fat. I was so fearful of gaining weight that I avoided any and all foods that might possibly contribute to what I saw as my demise as a person and yes; I’m still talking about weight gain. All of this led to a total obsession with food.

I have grown up in a society that is terrified of fat. For a very long time I was to blind to notice, because I myself feared fat. My concern about what I was eating didn’t just have to do with the quality of my health. In fact, I was eating my spinach because it would make me thin, and not because it would give me iron. Every day I headed to the gym to get skinny and not to improve my heart health. It wasn’t until an amazing coach, Isabel Foxen Duke, pointed out exactly what I was doing that I realized it.

Appearance is everything nowadays. We are taught at a young age that fat is bad and thin is good. Fat is unhealthy and thin is healthy. The problem with so many diets however is that they take our fear of fat and teach us to be afraid of food. We become so afraid that we diet, binge, restrict, and feel shame towards something we need to consume daily to live. Now our problem is two-fold. We are fearful of fat, and fearful of food.  We feel crazy around food and when we try to solve it by normalizing our eating habits we fail. Why does this happen? Because we are still dealing with the underlying fear of fat.

The first step towards relinquishing your fear of food is to start dealing with your fear of fat. It’s probably there and you don’t even know it. Ask yourself what exactly you are afraid will happen if you gain 10lbs? What are you making fat mean in your mind? Now it’s time to change that definition.

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Do Christmas Cookies Make you Crazy? – The Path to Holiday Sanity


For years, between the months of October and December it seemed like my health and body image always took a backseat to an overload of cookies, sweets, baggy clothes, and the winter blues.

It’s always a fun time of year, between holidays, friends, family, and parties, but at the same time, all of this fun often led up to a whole lot of stress. Everything from my finances, to what to wear suddenly seemed like an overwhelming burden and I often compensated for this stress by over analyzing my food choices.

I would meal plan, restrict, and count calories, all in the hopes of looking amazing by the time Christmas day came around. The problem was, my anxiety, that I was convinced was about my weight, was actually about things like seeing long-lost friends, getting along with family, and my money. I never actually addressed these fears and every time I slipped up on my diet, I felt like I just couldn’t take it any more.

The anxiety I was ignoring, thanks to my diet, was then taken out on cake, chocolate, and candy, which I had likely, previously denied myself at a party the night before. Since these times, I’ve finally figured out how to combat holiday stress and now I’m going to share some of my tips with you. Here are 3 of my favorite tips to stay sane during the holidays.

1. Get clear on your emotions.

Don’t let your stress take a backseat. Get clear on what it is that is causing your stress or anxiety and tackle it. If it’s finances, make a budget, if it’s your family, give them a call and talk it out now. Likely your stress over your weight is simply a side effect of a bigger fear. Figure out what that fear is and tackle it.

2. Don’t go on a restrictive diet, or even try to diet during the holidays.

Instead, keep your focus on eating quality whole foods, staying healthy, and weight maintenance. Stressing about your weight or food choices is only going to add on to the stress of the holidays. Plus the increased guilt whenever you eat something not entirely healthy will actually put you at an increased risk to gain weight. De-stress and give yourself permission to enjoy the season.


It’s very easy when things get busy and stressful to put yourself last on the list of priorities but I want you to make this year different. Consciously take 30 minutes per day for you. Do something you love everyday. Stay active. Get enough sleep. Take days off. It may take some creative scheduling or saying “no” on your part but I promise it is worth it!

I think this is an excellent time of year to put yourself first and really address your health. Why? Because this is the time of year when we often put ourselves last, in favor of everything else in our lives. Remember when you take care of yourself first, you are better able to care for everyone else around you.

Now you tell me….

What are your tips for staying sane during the holidays? 

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Why you get fat looking at the cookie that your skinny friend is eating

If you’ve ever struggled with your weight even just a little bit you probably know what I’m talking about. You know that friend that eats whatever she wants and never seems to gain weight. Chances are you’ve skipped dessert before because you’re “on a diet” and watched her devour something delicious, just wishing you could have a bite without the worry of weight gain. She’s also probably that girl that loves to run and stops halfway through a cookie because she’s full. Well today, I’m going to teach you how to be that girl. Sound good?


Before we start, little mini science lesson: When we are stressed our cortisol levels in our bodies rise, which can lead to weight gain, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, heart disease, and fatigue. Sounds pleasant doesn’t it?

What does this have to do with your skinny friend? She’s likely not stressed around food. She listens to her body and when she wants dessert she eats it. She stops when she’s full and sometimes just skips it all together when she’s hungry. Because she is not stressed and hence not in fight or flight mode, her body is able to full digest and metabolize her dessert. She is in tune with her hunger and is not eating beyond her needs.

Now let’s look at you. Chances are if you are struggling with your weight and trying to “diet” you are likely putting your body under some stress. Dinner itself can become a stressful situation. You worry about what to choose and whether it’s cooked in butter and already feel on edge because you’re hungry and that breadbasket is staring you in the face. Sound familiar? Well by the time dessert rolls around your cortisol levels are so high that your metabolism has slowed down and your blood sugar has risen without even touching dessert. So here is what you need to do: relax, slow down, and find ways to reduce stress.

First thing’s first: stop labeling your food as good and bad. Food is just fuel. It is energy that our bodies use to function on a daily basis. No food should be off limits. This doesn’t mean go have a free for all on chocolate and cookies but allow yourself to have a cookie. Take away the stigma of a cookie being “bad” and you likely won’t crave it as much.

Next step: stop trying to “diet”. There is no need to restrict or cut back anything in your daily intake. If anything you probably need to add in more nutrients and that’s exactly what I want you to do. Fill up on things like fresh greens, fruits, and vegetables, foods that come from nature. Make your diet plentiful of these foods knowing that you can also have a cookie and see what happens.

Another tip: eat without distractions. Focus on your food and enjoy every bite. Munching mindlessly while watching TV doesn’t count. Sit down, put your food on a plate, and enjoy it. No stress necessary.

My last tip: work on eliminating stress in your life. Maybe you need to take a rest day from the gym, maybe you need a night out with friends, maybe you just need to go shopping. Whatever it is take time for you and de-stress however you need.

Now what are you going to do with this information? Next time you go out for dinner with that “skinny” friend or really anyone remember, nothing is off limits, enjoy your company, fill up on some greens, and just relax! Food is not worth the stress.

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