As I have readied myself over the last few months for this walk across America, I’ve been so blessed to be surrounded by an army of loved ones. I truly could not have prepared for this incredible journey on my own…I would have been lost. So many people have reached out, offered services, assistance, advice, time and love…it’s been absolutely breathtaking. What a beautiful thing to know that I’m never alone!
All this support really reflected on my goal in trying to help others, in hoping to let someone else never feel alone in their battles with eating disorders. What a full circle we live in…how connected we all are as human beings. Life is amazingly beautiful!
Today is my last day at home before I fly out, first to Chicago tomorrow, then to Philadelphia on Sunday where I will begin my 2,613 mile walk. I believe that my efforts have been recognized by all of you…my supporters, my cheerleaders, my loved ones, those that I walk for…I don’t even have words for the extent of my gratitude.
After struggling with my own eating disorder demons for 10 years, my goal is to fill my recovery in helping others. Treatment can be obtained, but sometimes a bit of help is required. So let’s stand united and lift each other to wellness and wholeness.
Thank you for your support, your words of encouragement, your messages, your comments, your donations, your love! 2,613 miles, here I come!
Please donate today: http://www.youcaring.com/raewalksacrossamerica
100% of the funds raised will be given to the Eating Disorder Recovery Support, a California-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to promoting community awareness of eating disorders, professional education and collaboration, and providing treatment scholarships to individuals that need financial assistance for treatment.
In the years of battling my own eating disorder gremlins, I was so lucky to have an amazing support system who never tired of me, never gave up on me…my family. During this time period when my mind was telling me lies about my body, and I was sucked into these distortions, my mom was my biggest cheerleader and champion. Though we had no easy access to formal treatment (inpatient, specialized therapy, day programs, etc), my mom helped me build an array of cognitive tools that would strengthen me in the fight against ED…tools that I still utilize today.
In my recovery my goal is to help others overcome this lonely and, often, lethal battle. Why should anyone have to walk this path alone? I’ve been incredibly blessed to have such a strong support system through my darkest times…something that probably prevented the destruction of my life. I want to share that support with others. I fiercely believe in reaching out a hand and walking together…let’s ALL walk together!
My hope is to raise $5,000 to help struggling individuals receive the treatment that may be the difference between life and death. I will walk 2,613 miles across this country just to raise less than $2 from YOU for every mile that I walk…Let’s change the world together! Together we are strong!
Please donate today: http://www.youcaring.com/raewalksacrossamerica.
If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble…A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Is this not so true with all struggles? How much harder do we have to fight if we walk the journey alone? Instead, why not help and lift each other up! I find that in my own eating disorder recovery the more I do in devoting my time to others, the stronger I am. Eating disorders, like all mental disorders, come with such negative stigmas. They are embarrassing and frowned upon. We are “not supposed” to talk about them…they are taboo. However, if we keep our struggles, our triumphs, our recoveries to ourselves….what good will it do for that person sitting right next to us who may be experiencing the very same challenge?
I’d rather not have my years of battling ED go to waste by keeping my mouth closed. I choose to talk about the agonizing demon that I will never let win. I choose to try my hardest to help as many people as I can. Why not hold hands and walk together? We’re in this life together after all!
Please help me in my efforts. Together we can help someone struggling with ED achieve the relief of recovery. My goal is to raise $5,000 to assist in someone’s treatment. I’ll be walking 2,613 miles across the United States in an attempt to bring awareness to this lonely and lethal disorder…That’s less than $2 out of your pocket for every mile that I walk…I think that’s a pretty good deal!!
Thank you all for your support and encouragement…Let’s change the world together. Donate today: http://www.youcaring.com/raewalksacrossamerica.
I’ve had people ask lots of questions about my upcoming walk: What kind of gear am I using? Do I have a support vehicle riding along? Am I packing a gun? Am I seriously walking the entire way?? I figured I’d devote a blog with all the juicy details!
I AM walking (hiking actually) the entire 2,613 miles. I’ll be carrying a hiking pack which will act as my “house” for the next four months (just call me Turtle Rae). There will be no support vehicle in tow (wow, that would be the most boring job EVER!). Actually, I have been blessed with an incredibly knowledgeable Logistics Officer (my best friend :)) who is researching gear, routes, water stops, etc. and ensuring I come back in one piece…and with minimal pain along the way! He’ll be helping me, remotely, every step of this journey!
As for some of my gear: My Deuter Aircontact Light hiking pack has proven awesomely successful during the training process. It’s curves lay nicely along my spine and is made with special sweat wicking material to keep my back cool (which will be amazingly beneficial during the heat of the summer in the humid Eastern states). Salomon XR Mission trail running shoes have been the ultimate BOMB.COM! (hahaha…I didn’t just say that!) But seriously, my blister-free feet speak for themselves! Weighing in at 2lbs, 2oz the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 is going to be a great addition to my gear. Super lightweight and packing down incredibly small, this tent will by my home-away-from-home for the next several months!
Food! Don’t forget about the food questions! I’ll be packing around a camp stove to boil water, which I’ll be able to make up some super tasty (and lightweight to carry) dehydrated meals. Additionally, I’ll have high calorie protein bars in my pack and will be able to make stops at places like Subway and grocery stores when available.
Regarding the gun…there will be no gun in my pack. Knowing me I’d end up shooting myself in the foot, which would be totally less than productive. However, I am packing appropriate safety measurements to keep myself safe!
Would you like to know more? Don’t hesitate to ask! Also, don’t forget who this walk is really about: In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or an eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS) (Wade, Keski-Rahkonen, & Hudson, 2011) Treatment is incredibly expensive. I know from my own personal experience, that many people can not afford it and their disorder may go untreated. My goal is to raise $5,000 to help someone suffering from this agonizing battle and increase their chances for recovery.
Please donate today! http://www.youcaring.com/Raewalksacrossamerica
100% of the funds donated to Rae Walks Across America will be given to the Eating Disorder Recovery Support, Inc. (EDRS), a California- based 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to promoting community awareness of eating disorders, professional education and collaboration, and providing treatment scholarships to individuals that need financial assistance for Eating Disorder treatment. You can learn more about this amazing organization at http://www.edrs.net.
Obtaining treatment for the devastating impairments of eating disorders is so important. Currently, there is a waiting list for those seeking scholarship funding from EDRS. My goal is to help someone achieve the ability to get treatment and find the wellness and peace that everyone deserves. No one should have to live a life shackled to eating disorder demons…it’s an agonizing, painful path to the grave. I know from my own personal fight against body image distortion and disordered eating challenges that having a support system is the difference between life and death. For me, my mom was my champion…my life saver. Now that I’m strong, it’s my turn to help be someone else’s life saver…even if only in a small way.
Please aid in another’s path to recovery and donate today: http://www.youcaring.com/other/rae-walks-across-america-for-eating-disorder-awareness/62318
Sometimes when people hear that I’m preparing to walk 2,613 miles across the country they look at me like I’ve lost my marbles. “Why would you do that?” is a question I’ve gotten more than once. Well, here’s how I answer:
Talking about my own eating disorder struggles is not the easiest thing. This subject is supposed to be “embarrasing”, “shameful” and we should hide it away. It causes some amount of anxiety and vulnerability to post for the world to see. However, I feel strongly that the challenges each of us have experienced and are conquering are wasted- our fighting for wholeness and recovery are wasted- if we can’t open our mouths, stretch out our arms to the next person and share our learned strenghths. We’ll never know that the friend, family member, co-worker standing right next to us is battling the same demon if we keep our mouth closed in shame of exposing ourself. If we can share our experiences with each other, we can help strengthen that universal human bond. We’re all in this life toghether…why not walk toghether? So here I go…walking.
I’m walking for all my sisters, my brothers who fight this lonely, ugly, lethal battle of ED. I’m walking to share my story. I’m walking to unite us all. I’m walking to hear YOUR story, your sister’s story, your brother’s story, your niece’s story, your dauther’s story. I’m walking to, I pray, lift just one person higher than they were yesterday.
This is why I walk.
Please help someone’s ability to obtain treatment and donate today: http://www.youcaring.com/other/rae-walks-across-america-for-eating-disorder-awareness/62318
There are 34 days left until I embark on a 2,613 mile hike across the country with the goal of raising money and awareness for Eating Disorder treatment! In struggling with my own eating disorder demons for 10 years, I’ve found that part of my recovery is turning around and helping others. I feel that if someone has been through certain trials and has survived, all their struggles are wasted if they can’t share their tools and resources with those around them. We have to open our mouths, collaborate, be an inspiration and help to others, love all…Let’s help make the world a little better together! Please lend a hand in someone else’s path to wellness and donate now: http://www.youcaring.com/other/rae-walks-across-america-for-eating-disorder-awareness/62318
Please consider the following facts and stats regarding the dangers of Eating Disorders…
(Thank you to NEDA: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/get-facts-eating-disorders)
What Are Eating Disorders?
Eating disorders are real, complex, and devastating conditions that can have serious consequences for health, productivity, and relationships. They are not a fad, phase or lifestyle choice. Eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that affect a person’s emotional and physical health. People struggling with an eating disorder need to seek professional help. The earlier a person with an eating disorder seeks treatment, the greater the likelihood of physical and emotional recovery.
In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or an eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS) (Wade, Keski-Rahkonen, & Hudson, 2011). For various reasons, many cases are likely not to be reported. In addition, many individuals struggle with body dissatisfaction and sub-clinical disordered eating attitudes and behaviors, and the best-known contributor to the development of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa is body dissatisfaction (Stice, 2002). By age 6, girls especially start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life (Smolak, 2011).
Health Consequences, Including Mortality
In anorexia nervosa’s cycle of self-starvation, the body is denied the essential nutrients it needs to function normally. Thus, the body is forced to slow down all of its processes to conserve energy, resulting in:
•Abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, which mean that the heart muscle is changing. The risk for heart failure rises as the heart rate and blood pressure levels sink lower and lower.
•Reduction of bone density (osteoporosis), which results in dry, brittle bones.
•Muscle loss and weakness.
•Severe dehydration, which can result in kidney failure.
•Fainting, fatigue, and overall weakness.
•Dry hair and skin; hair loss is common.
•Growth of a downy layer of hair—called lanugo—all over the body, including the face, in an effort to keep the body warm.
A review of nearly fifty years of research confirms that anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder (Arcelus, Mitchell, Wales, & Nielsen, 2011).
For females between fifteen to twenty-four years old who suffer from anorexia nervosa, the mortality rate associated with the illness is twelve times higher than the death rate of all other causes of death (Sullivan, 1995).
The recurrent binge-and-purge cycles of bulimia can affect the entire digestive system and can lead to electrolyte and chemical imbalances in the body that affect the heart and other major organ functions. Health consequences include:
•Electrolyte imbalances that can lead to irregular heartbeats and possibly heart failure and death.
•Electrolyte imbalance is caused by dehydration and loss of potassium, sodium and chloride from the body as a result of purging behaviors.
•Potential for gastric rupture during periods of bingeing.
•Inflammation and possible rupture of the esophagus from frequent vomiting.
•Tooth decay and staining from stomach acids released during frequent vomiting.
•Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation as a result of laxative abuse.
•Peptic ulcers and pancreatitis.
Binge eating disorder often results in many of the same health risks associated with clinical obesity, including:
•High blood pressure.
•High cholesterol levels.
•Heart disease as a result of elevated triglyceride levels.
•Type II diabetes mellitus.
Did You Know?
•The rate of development of new cases of eating disorders has been increasing since 1950 (Hudson et al., 2007; Streigel-Moore & Franko, 2003; Wade et al., 2011).
•There has been a rise in incidence of anorexia in young women 15-19 in each decade since 1930 (Hoek& van Hoeken, 2003).
•The incidence of bulimia in 10-39 year old women TRIPLED between 1988 and 1993 (Hoek& van Hoeken, 2003).
•The prevalence of eating disorders is similar among Non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asians in the United States, with the exception that anorexia nervosa is more common among Non-Hispanic Whites (Hudson et al., 2007; Wade et al., 2011).
It is common for eating disorders to occur with one or more other psychiatric disorders, which can complicate treatment and make recovery more difficult. Among those who suffer from eating disorders:
•Alcohol and other substance abuse disorders are 4 times more common than in the general populations (Harrop&Marlatt, 2010).
•Depression and other mood disorders co-occur quite frequently (Mangweth et al., 2003; McElroy, Kotwal, & Keck, 2006).
•There is a markedly elevated risk for obsessive-compulsive disorder (Altman &Shankman, 2009).
Prevalence vs. Funding
Despite the prevalence of eating disorders, they continue to receive inadequate research funding.
Illness Prevalence NIH Research Funds (2011)
Alzheimer’s Disease 5.1 million $450,000,000
Autism 3.6 million $160,000,000
Schizophrenia 3.4 million $276,000,000
Eating disorders 30 million $28,000,000
Research dollars spent on Alzheimer’s Disease averaged $88 per affected individual in 2011. For Schizophrenia the amount was $81. For Autism $44. For eating disorders the average amount of research dollars per affected individual was just $0.93. (National Institutes of Health, 2011)
National Survey Shows Public Understands Eating Disorders Are Serious Illnesses
In August of 2010, American Viewpoint (a nationally recognized public opinion research company) conducted a telephone survey of American adults for the National Eating Disorders Association. The national survey shows an increased public awareness of eating disorders and a shift in how eating disorders are viewed.
The survey polled a nationwide sample of one thousand adults in the United States. Among the findings were the following:
•82% percent of respondents believe that eating disorders are a physical or mental illness and should be treated as such, with just 12% believing they are related to vanity.
•85% of the respondents believe that eating disorders deserve coverage by insurance companies just like any other illness.
•86% favor schools providing information about eating disorders to students and parents.
•80% believe conducting more research on the causes and most effective treatments would reduce or prevent eating disorders
•70% believe encouraging the media and advertisers to use more average sized people in their advertising campaigns would reduce or prevent eating disorders.
Dieting And The Drive For Thinness
Dieting and weight control strategies reflect how dissatisfied an individual is with her or his own body size and shape. Besides being associated with the onset of eating disorders, these behaviors alone can be dangerous to one’s health.
•42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner (Collins, 1991).
•In elementary school fewer than 25% of girls diet regularly. Yet those who do know what dieting involves and can talk about calorie restriction and food choices for weight loss fairly effectively (Smolak, 2011; Wertheim et al., 2009).
•81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat (Mellin et al., 1991).
•46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets, and 82% of their families are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets (Gustafson-Larson & Terry, 1992).
•Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives (Neumark-Sztainer, 2005).
•35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives. Overweight girls are more likely than normal weight girls to engage in such extreme dieting (Boutelle, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, &Resnick, 2002; Neumark-Sztainer&Hannan, 2001; Wertheim et al., 2009).
•Even among clearly non-overweight girls, over 1/3 report dieting (Wertheim et al., 2009).
•Girls who diet frequently are 12 times as likely to binge as girls who don’t diet (Neumark-Sztainer, 2005).
•The average American woman is 5’4” tall and weighs 165 pounds. The average Miss America winner is 5’7” and weighs 121 pounds (Martin, 2010).
•The average BMI of Miss America winners has decreased from around 22 in the 1920s to 16.9 in the 2000s. The World Health Organization classifies a normal BMI as falling between 18.5 and 24.9 (Martin, 2010).
•95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years (Grodstein, Levine, Spencer, Colditz, &Stampfer, 1996; Neumark-Sztainer, Haines, Wall, & Eisenberg, 2007).
•35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders (Shisslak, Crago, & Estes, 1995).
•Of American, elementary school girls who read magazines, 69% say that the pictures influence their concept of the ideal body shape. 47% say the pictures make them want to lose weight (Martin, 2010).