BlogJust Sayin'Whole30 “Drinking your coffee balck. Is. Not. Hard.”

February 27, 2016by Courtney Elise0

Today is a big day.

It’s the last day of Eating Disorder Awareness Week AND it’s my Whole45 finale. (I am this close to Whole60 so here’s to 15 more days).

Speaking of eating disorders,  I had several friends growing up who were hospitalized due to their eating disorders. Anorexia consumed them, nothing but skin and bones, with big hearts and tiny waist lines. Helpless and hopeless. Bulimia, the other extreme. Beautiful girls–you would’ve have never guessed in a million years WHY they visited the bathroom so quickly after each meal and then the overeaters, the “lazy” ones who used food to cope.

Much like opiate addiction, eating disorders do not discriminate.

I questioned my path for a lot of years but now as I am faced with my own demons I can see how every step I’ve taken was purposefully planted right in front of me.

I’ve been around the family business of treating addiction my entire life, never, ever thinking one day I would have the privilege of being a certified counselor.

College days rolled around and my passion quickly turned from being an ESPN side line reporter (after all, there is only ONE Holly Rowe ;))  to helping those who suffered from addiction of any kind from eating disorders to pain pill, heroin and/or alcohol abuse.

My best friend was a victim of addiction and it was my eye opener to see such a beautiful, family oriented, hard working, best friend and mom struggle with this disease.  Good and bad days came but she taught me that with loyalty to herself and meetings that life could be lived drug free. It was up to her what she put in her body.

One week after graduation I started my first “big girl” job at Magnolia Creek- a residential treatment center for woman with eating disorders. That is when I first saw the connection between eating disorders and addictions… while still being blind to my own problems.

I was the staff counselor for the graveyard shift. I had it “easy” because that’s when everyone was sleeping. Well, supposed to be sleeping. Sometimes the nightmares kept them awake, or just the anxiety that breakfast was only a few hours away plus the morning weigh in. It was hard for me to understand WHY portioning out cereal could be such a devastating task for some people.

I get it now.

It’s not just about control, compulsion and obsession. I understand that there are genetic and environmental components to eating disorders and addiction but it’s important to understand what lies beneath. Mental illness is not something to taken lightly and no one is immune. As an advocate for both with personal & professional experience, be careful who you judge and why. These mental illnesses impact more people and families than you think.

This week I’ve had the honor of sharing part of my story that I am just now coming to terms with,  with my patient’s in our group sessions. I was able to bring awareness to eating disorders and co-occurring disorders of many kinds.  It’s all starting to make sense. Past experiences were my building blocks to my career and identifying who I am and why I am the way that I am.

At Magnolia Creek I had patients I would drive to 12 step meetings because when they could not have control over food they substituted with drugs or alcohol.

The same thing can happen here at Private Clinic. Regardless of the amount of work put in to ANY recovery program, it’s important to learn new coping skills so that you don’t substitute one addiction for another. For many of my current patients it’s food. After years of putting drugs before food those roles reverse quickly when entering rehab.

 My all-time favorite Whole30 quote that has been known to cause some controversy is a certain truth that I finally understand.

{Whole30}  “It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. “

While I know that Whole30 was NOT designed as a “cure” for eating disorders, it WAS designed to assist men and woman to change their relationship with food. And maybe that’s the start with any addiction or eating disorder. Figuring out why your drug of choice, be it heroin or cupcakes was a temporary solution to your problems.

I am thankful for Whole30 because it brought me an understanding of WHY I was craving all these calorie dense foods (the “scienc-y” stuff as the Hartwigs phrase it) and why it is important for my patient’s to understand as they begin the journey of drug addiction recovery.  It has been so helpful to me as an individual and to my profession.

It’s more than just losing weight, it’s fueling your body to function how it was meant to in the first place.

Did I learn new coping skills from removing bread and cheese from my diet? Did I learn new coping skills because I make my own mayonnaise and ketchup?

No. I’ve learned new coping skills because I acknowledge that I have an unhealthy, toxic relationship with food and like with any vice, it could lead me further down a road to major health problems or premature death.

Whole30 has made me a better counselor, a better accountability partner, a better & healthier wife and daughter. I am finally able to put all the pieces of my life together and realize my purpose and my passion. And for me to be the best that I can possibly be…. It starts with food.

Resources if you or anyone you know are struggling with eating disorders or opiate addiction.       

Courtney EliseCourtney Elise

Courtney Elise

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