Body Image & Recovery

Worry, Mentoring and Ed

When we struggle with an eating disorder, we struggle with worry.

However, if there is one thing I have learned throughout my years of recovering from an eating disorder, it is this:

Very little of what we worry about from day to day is actually worth worrying about….with one exception.


Ed IS worth worrying about.

Because out of all those piles of worries, all those emotions and opinions and thoughts and ideas that our brain spends most of its waking (and much of its sleeping) hours worrying through, the eating disorder is the only one that will kill us if we do not worry about it!

We should be worried about a disease that is considered to be the deadliest amongst all psychiatrically-based disorders.

We should worry when we catch ourselves saying things to ourselves or others like, “I’m in no immediate danger,” or “I’m just not quite ready to give up my eating disordered thoughts and behaviors yet” (to my horror, these are both statements I have heard relatively recently from MentorCONNECT members).

Body Image & Recovery

Mentoring Basics: If Necessary, Use Words

In my mentoring work over the past several years, I have fielded an increasingly large number of inquiries from individuals who are still in the middle or even at the beginning of their own recovery progress, but who are already experiencing the longing to help others.

This is natural.

Human beings are communal. We belong together - we need each other. Or, to share a quote from one of my all-time favorite movies, "Contact" (more on this in Beating Ana), "in all this time, the only thing that we have found that makes the loneliness bearable is each other."

This is true as well.

However, helping, as in healing, requires not only willingness but also ability to be effective.

One of my favorite quotes is from Saint Francis, who when asked by a disciple how to evangelize to others, responded, "Preach the gospel ceaselessly. If necessary, use words."

This is advice that translates equally well in a mentoring context.

Body Image & Recovery

Mentoring Basics: Boundaries

In two words - "boundaries matter".

Boundaries are what give the word "relationship" its power.

Without boundaries, we don't know how to relate to each other, why extending our trust is worth the risks, and what value interacting relationally holds.

Boundaries are like safety cones around common relational units such as bosses and employees, therapists and clients, significant others and their respective close friends, parents and children, teachers and students.

With mentors and mentees especially, boundaries lend substance and certainty to this newer form of teaching partnership.

And when a mentoring partnership forms in a recovery setting, boundaries become critical. With boundaries comes the ability to clearly delineate important distinguishing characteristics that set a mentor's role apart from that of a clinician, peer, or friend.

Body Image & Recovery

Managing Needs Versus Demands in Mentoring

I read an interesting article the other day that supposedly had nothing to do with mentoring.

Only to me, it did.

This particular post was about marketing to customers, and how important it is in the making of happy customers to be able to tell the difference between what we think the customer needs versus what the customer is demanding.

Upon first read, I found myself scratching my head and thinking, "huh?"

But then, as I read through it again and tried to apply it to what I have learned as first a mentee, and later a mentor as well, it began to click.

As I share in my book, Beating Ana, over the years mentees have often written to me, begging to know the "secret" for achieving recovery.

Body Image & Recovery

Mentoring One Moment at a Time

Mentoring, like life, happens one moment at a time.

Sounds like a cliche, right?

That, as I am finding out, is exactly the problem. I live in a world surrounded by technology I barely understand, that moves much faster than I do, and never sleeps (which basically amounts to the ultimate "hmmm," considering I now serve as Executive Director for a web-based mentoring community!)

The fact is that technology, unlike human beings, doesn't take one step at a time, it takes many steps. Technology doesn't happen one moment at a time, it lumps many moments into one.

Which I think is why, with more ways to stay connected than ever before, there are many days that the opportunity for connection can start to feel almost intrusive rather than nurturing.

Body Image & Recovery

Mentoring Lessons from the Human Abdomen

About six weeks ago I had abdominal surgery. I have always been fairly healthy up until this point (if we aren't counting the fifteen long years I battled against anorexia and bulimia) and so having to undergo major surgery was both a brand-new experience and understandably a source of anxiety for me.

My mother, on the other hand, being a veteran of  five abdominal surgeries, and my experienced and enthusiastic Patch Adams-esque surgeon who was a veteran of several thousand more, wasted no time speeding through the pre-operative prep and the "virgin stomach" jokes ... until I felt like I was a paying extra on an episode of Grey's Anatomy.

It probably is worth mentioning that I haven't been much of a Grey's fan thus far this season.

However, I have yet to experience a more healing, transformative lesson in mentoring than the one my own abdomen has taught me in the last several weeks.

Celebrity Mentors

Mentoring Wisdom from MSW Candidate Leslie Benson

Leslie Benson is a 2011 MSW Candidate at the NYU Silver School of Social Work. She is also a tireless volunteer for eating disorders conferences such as NEDA and Renfrew, and for MentorCONNECT as a volunteer mentor, support group leader, and research assistant.

Leslie's experiences with mentoring, combined with her clinical training and education, has produced a voice of wisdom, compassion, and expertise far beyond her years. We are honored to host her here on "Mentoring & Recovery" to share her mentoring experiences!

Tell us about your own experiences being mentored and how it helped you in your recovery.

My mentor came to me very unexpectedly, but in retrospect, it was exactly what I needed to get over a big hump in my recovery. At the time I was struggling with discovering who I was without ED. My mentor's confidence in me helped me build confidence in myself, which until then I didn't have. Slowly, with constant encouragement and positive reinforcement from my mentor, I was able to rebuild my sense of self, rediscover my strengths and interests, and use them to build a life without ED.

Strengthening the Voice of the Inner Mentor

Recently I read a great article on a site called The site and its programs are run by two inspiring women, Jane Shure, PhD. and Beth Weinstock, PhD.

These two thought leaders believe that we can learn how to "turn down" the voice of what they call our "inner critic," and learn to "turn up" the voice of what they call our "inner coach."

I absolutely LOVE this concept...for obvious reasons.

So I thought I would share their list of ideas for strengthening the voice of the inner coach, or mentor, with you here:

Body Image & Recovery

Fat Talk Free Week: A Chance to Mentor Each Other

My friend and colleague Dr. Carolyn Becker is one of the most inspiring women I know.

She is the co-author of Reflections: Body Image, an evidence-based curriculum which scientifically proves that when women come together to support one another in attaining and maintaining healthy body image, we can break through the culture bias against curves and learn to embrace, talk, and walk a body-love counter culture.

Given my own work with MentorCONNECT, it is easy to see why Dr. Becker is one of my personal heroes!

Reflections birthed a movement called "Fat Talk Free Week" that urges all women everywhere to just say "no" to "fat talk" and "yes" to their slogan in action "Helping Women Achieve Healthy Body, Mind, & Spirit." Sounds great to me!

Body Image & Recovery

Words of Mentoring Wisdom: An Interview and Book Giveaway with Andrea Roe

Survivor, author, and mentor Andrea Roe was kind enough to stop by "Mentoring and Recovery" to share her insights about the power of mentoring from both the mentee's and the mentor's point of view.
Andrea is the author of the great two-volume series "You Are Not Alone: the book of companionship for women with eating disorders" and the editor of the monthly Support Letter e-newsletter, which has the largest subscriber base of any similar publication in Canada. ( on below for how you can WIN a FREE COPY of You Are Not Alone Vol 2)*
Andrea is also a long-time valued board member with MentorCONNECT, a pending 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to promoting no-fee access to mentoring for any individual who is personally affected by an eating disorder.
Andrea's own recovery journey has been a rich adventure in seeking and finding nurturing, empowering, encouraging pro-recovery mentoring relationships. Thank you so much Andrea for sharing your experiences with us!
1. You have mentioned that online recovery communities and mentoring were important in your own recovery from anorexia and bulimia because of all the support you found there. Tell us about your own experiences.
Being in touch with others who were also in recovery or already recovered was an essential part of my own recovery. It made me feel understood, less alone and gave me hope that all this hard work was really worth it. I really got that if they could overcome their struggles, I COULD TOO!