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).
Starting on July 21st and taking an estimated 94 days, I plan to cover 2,613 miles as I make my journey across the United States. Eating disorders are emotional battles fought by approximately 11 million Americans (Eating Disorders Coalition, 2012). This is a battle I’ve known and have fought with personally for all of my adult life. Part of my recovery is understanding that I am here to help others, to be an inspiration, to show that happiness is possible. So here I go!
For me, this journey will present physical discomfort (walking for 3+ months…there’s bound to be some challenges!). My goal is to turn a bit of physical discomfort into others’ emotional healing, to use my healthy and strong body in uniting people for a common good, to stand as a witness that recovery is possible. Please follow me on my trip (and don’t forget to donate!)! I’ll be checking in on Facebook and blogging daily…you don’t want to miss any of the adventures! My route will start at the Philadelphia International Airport. From there I will walk across our nation through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho…and finally ending up back home in Richland, Washington. Whew!
Thank you so much for your love and support! 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
On my 2,613 mile walk across America beginning July 21st, I will be devoting my energy for all those who suffer from Eating Disorders. Whether you’re personally struggling, have walked this agonizing path and overcome, or are cheering on a loved one…I walk for you.
During the worst years of my eating disorder, my mom stood by me night and day. She attempted to get me into treatment. There was none readily available in Eastern Washington. Any out-of-state inpatient facilities were self pay, costing thousands and thousands of dollars, simply unattainable. She never stopped looking, stopped researching, stopped praying. I remember my dad looking at me with such sadness in his eyes as my body dwindled away to nothing. But my loved ones never left my side…I walk for you.
For all of you: my friends, my family, those who encourage me and believe in me, for those of you personally battling this demon…I walk for you. For you who tirelessly stand by your loved ones, watching them struggle and fight, encouraging them, never leaving them…I walk for you.
I walk to make a change, to help those who are hurting. I want more treatment readily available for those who cannot afford it or access it. Please join me in my efforts! My goal is to raise $5,000.00…that’s less than $2.00 from you for every mile that I walk! I believe with this small offer of generosity, we can help change the world!
Stay updated on my journey by liking me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RaeWalksAcrossAmerica. You’ll catch all the preparation action, journey pictures, and we’ll meet a lot of cool people along the way!
Consider these statistics:
•Among western women between 15 and 24 years old, approximately 1 out of every 200 suffers from anorexia nervosa, while about 1 in 50 is bulimic.
•Between 10 and 50 percent of American college women report having binge eaten and then vomited to control their weight.
•Approximately 40 percent of American girls ages 9 and 10 report being or having been on a diet to lose weight.
•Some 50 to 60 percent of teenage American girls believe they are overweight, yet only 15 to 20 percent of them actually are overweight.
Individuals with eating disorders are at the highest risk of premature death (from both natural and unnatural causes) of all people who suffer from psychiatric disorders.
The significant behaviors of my eating disorder began when I was 19 years old… Over 10 years ago. However, if I really think back through life, I can pick up on sensitivities and pre-cursers that possibly made me susceptible: I remember as a child of 7 or 8 years old, being deemed the “fat” sister. I really wasn’t fat at all, but I had two sisters with very lean body builds…of which I did not have. In high school, I already despised my thighs so badly that I wore a sweater tied around my waist everyday and would never wear jeans. Seeing pictures of myself during this time, I know that I wasn’t “fat”…I was already having body image distortions.
When my eating disorder took my life over, around the age of 19 or 20, I lost all control of myself. I was so displeased with my body…so ashamed. I turned to engaging in severe caloric intake and creating strict rules about food consumption. These rules would dominate my life for many years.
Eating disorders are lonely monsters. Mine stole my self-esteem, gave me so much anxiety that I couldn’t go out with friends or family, and told me so many lies about myself that I simply didn’t want to go on. Food had become my best friend…and my worst enemy. Every single bite it took was carefully calculated, anguished over, cried about, cursed, and regretted for days. I had become chained to the scale. This piece of plastic was my own personal prison and Hell. At one point, I destroyed a scale in the driveway of my home with a hammer…tears running down my face, cursing the lies that I could hear from the poor scale. The next day I turned around and bought a new one…
Now, 10 years later, and after much struggle, learning, and support from friends and family, I’m still standing! I can’t tell you that I’m perfect. I still have bad moments, bad days where I hear the gremlins telling me that my body is shameful, laughing when I try on a new summer dress. I’ve had to learn to fight back cognitively, and I’m getting pretty good at it! Every day is a practice for recovery. I ask myself: Will my eating disorder win today or will I win today? I’m proud to say that I mostly win now!
I’m also so proud to say that I earned my Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Washington State University in May 2013 and began working on my PsyD in Clinical Forensic Psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology during the Fall of 2014! I want to help and inspire as many people as I can. I believe in order to do that I need education, knowledge, and as many tools as I can get…so I think I’m on my way!!!
With my recovery, I feel so strongly about reaching out and helping others. I understand the anguish that comes with an eating disorder. My goal is to remove the stigma and negative stereotypes that our society has placed around eating disorders and other mental health illnesses. I believe that if we can talk about our stories and our triumphs, only then will we be able to heal.
So let’s use our voices, our stories, our experiences. You are not alone. Let’s change the world together!