Wednesday, February 27, 2013

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week: Everybody Knows Somebody

This Guest Post was written by Sarah Mashburn Vogel, a friend that Lexy and Carrie have known from our days in a high school youth organization.  Sarah is amazingly smart, funny, talented, successful and an all around fantastic woman.  She is definitely a Smart Sassy Sister!

This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Events like this are often held because it’s easy for people not to think about issue that doesn’t affect them or someone they know. So, I’d like to introduce to someone who’s had an eating disorder: me.

For more than five years, I was one of the estimated 20 million people who are living with an eating disorder. There’s no question I was in  pain, but like many people with eating disorders, I was also great at hiding it. I was an overachiever who always had plenty of friends and never forgot to bake a birthday cake or write a thank you note. I even made it through graduate school a year early. On the surface, that’s not the behavior of someone with a life-threatening illness. But that’s the terrible irony of eating disorders. Sometimes people are feeling their worst when they appear to be at their best.  

I also want to touch the topic of weight. Some people assume that a person with an eating disorder has a “look.” That’s simply not the case. People with eating disorders come in all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds. I’ve known a middle-aged man deep in the throes of anorexia. I’ve met a college student from Asia who used her eating disorder as a way to deal with the struggles of moving to another country. I’ve even known a 23 year old who lost her life much too early because of an eating disorder. None of them had that “look.”
During my own struggle, my weight was both above and below where it is now. But whatever the number, I still thought it wasn’t “good enough.” That quest to move away from the “good enough” mentality is something I challenge myself to do every day. 

I wish could tell you what led me to recovery. I had plenty of breakthroughs with my therapist. I went to nutritionists and doctors who told me again and again what I was doing to my body was harmful. I had friends and family who intervened. I even spent the night in the emergency room. None of these things really made a difference. For me, recovery came when I realized that I wanted more out of my life than counting calories and thinking about food obsessively.

And when I started opening myself up to life’s opportunities, I built stronger and more meaningful relationships with my family and friends. I met my husband (the cute guy in the picture with me). I got involved in fitness and realized the power of endorphins. Most important, I found the courage to do things I once thought were impossible, like becoming a yoga instructor and leaving a “safe” job for new opportunities. While the journey still continues, I know that I’m on the path to becoming the person I want to be.

While I wish I was the only someone you know that’s been affected by an eating disorder, statistics show that probably isn’t true. 35% percent of people who go on diets develop some kind of disordered eating. Whether you are concerned about a friend, family member, or even yourself, here are a few ways to learn more:

  •  Call the NEDA hotline (1-800-931-2237). The experts there provide help and information.
  • Visit the NEDA website, The website is full of resources that you can use to help someone you know or yourself get support.
  • Not ready to talk about it? Chat about it with NEDA Click to Chat option. Visit Find Help @


  1. Thanks Sarah for sharing your inspiring story! You are beautiful and strong inside & out and we are proud to call you a sister & friend!

  2. Sarah you are a rockstar! Thanks for being authentic and awesome and all around amazing!