Founder Of The Fit vs. Fiction Program, Public Speaker, Mother, Advocate
by: Marci Warhaft-Nadler
My recovery isn’t about how I LOOK, or even about how I FEEL about how I look. My recovery is about what I DO with how I feel about how I look.
My 25 year battle with anorexia and compulsive overeating robbed me of more life experiences and opportunities than I can count. It made me question my dreams, ambitions and self-worth and for a while, my eating disorder became my entire identity.
Like many eating disorders, mine began with a need for control. When I was seventeen years old, my older brother got sick and ended up in the hospital. My father had left my family when I was ten years old and my brother became the “man of the house” and I completely ADORED him. When I entered my teens and started wondering if I was pretty enough, he assured me that I was perfect just the way I was. When he got sick, I felt like my life was out of control and the ONE thing I thought I could control was my body. I started restricting my food intake as a way of rebelling against the situation I was dealing with. When my brother died, I stopped eating.
Over the next several years, my relationship with food took many forms, but none of them healthy. Food was the weapon I used to hurt myself, either through restricting it or binging on it and it was clear that I had lost complete control and my eating disorder had taken over. I managed to get married and have children, but my disorder was always with me, always tearing away my self-esteem and confidence. I put my health at risk more times than I care to remember. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I realized that while I had pretty much given up on myself, I could NOT give up on my sons. They deserved a mother who was healthy, both physically and emotionally and I decided to get help. I entered a 3 month treatment program and was determined to get the freedom from my disorder I had only imagined possible. While I may not feel beautiful every single day, I refuse to let old habits rob me of anything life has to offer. It took a lot of work, but I am now able to live my life without food anxieties getting in the way. Food is something to be enjoyed, not feared. My children have gotten their mother back, and for that, I am most grateful.
Once I began my journey in recovery, I was saddened by how many young kids were struggling with body image and felt compelled to do something about it. I created a workshop called “Fit vs. Fiction” which tears down the dangerous myths related to beauty and fitness and teaches kids how to appreciate themselves for who they ARE instead of judging themselves for who they think they’re not. I speak at elementary schools, high schools, Universities, parent groups and teacher conferences. By sharing my story, I give kids a safe place to share their own.
Through “Fit vs. Fiction”, I have met so many children and parents who were desperate for advice on how to tune out the negative messages thrown at them by the media and society on a daily basis. I decided to write a Survival Guide for parents that would empower parents with the tools they need to help their kids grow up with the self-confidence they deserve. I filled the book with games and projects for parents to do with their kids of all ages, like a section called, “Sticky questions/Solid answers”, real stories from real people sharing their experiences and so much more. Essentially, it’s the book I wish my own mother had had when I was hurting myself and she felt so incredibly powerless. It doesn’t have to be that way.
I have become an outspoken advocate for healthy bodies and body image and often write and speak about the way our society tends to confuse BEING fit with just looking fit. It’s my strong opinion that we need to focus less on weight and MORE on health.
I am encouraged by the amount of pressure from negative media images to take responsibility for the messages young kids are getting about how they look. I am hoping that we will see a future where magazines don’t rely on Photoshop and airbrushing for beautiful pictures and where people of ALL shapes and sizes are represented in the fashion industry. My goal is to teach people that the “Best” bodies are HEALTHY ones and that SELF-WORTH IS NOT MEASURED IN POUNDS!
“The Body Image Survival Guide for Parents: Helping Toddlers, Tweens and Teens Thrive” will be officially available in February 2013, but advanced copies will be available for pre-order in November.
Official Website: http://www.fitvsfiction.com/Fit_vs_Fiction/Introduction.html
Fit vs. Fiction Blog: http://fitvsfiction.wordpress.com