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ANAD presents This is my BRAVE

"Someday, we will live in a world where we won't have to call it "brave" for talking openly about mental illness. We WILL SIMPLY CALL IT "TALKING," 

For as long as I can remember, I have had a love-hate relationship with food. This was a secret relationship, or so I thought; however, the weight fluctuation gave it away. This fact has been suppressed deep down in my psyche because what could I say about it, and would anyone even listen or care? For years, I thought, "No, but attending the A.N.A.D.'s This Is My Brave Event has me thinking differently. Could my relationship with food and body image stem from limiting beliefs from my past?

ANAD presents This Is My Brave

Two weeks ago, I attended the ANAD: This is My Brave at Northwestern University, located in Evanston, IL. This event represented transparency in its purest form. It consisted of individuals creatively and explicitly divulging their struggles and their triumphs through their struggles. Most stories stemmed from the pressures of societal norms with its one-size-fits-all definition of beauty.

The ANAD event was held at the Norris University Center at Northwestern.

Performers Ashley Trattner and Kristin Schmitz pouring their hearts in song

Lauren Johnston with her stunning voice

I was in awe of how all the performers expressed how they single-handedly redefined themselves, healed from those who hurt them, and kept fighting. They were honest about the bad days and emphasized the power of a peer group. The beauty of these stories ranged from poetry to singing and dance; it was the most beautiful display of self-expression I'd ever seen.

All ANAD presents This is My Brave Performers

Males and Eating Disorders

According to Production Team Lead & PR/Marketing Coordinator Jason Wood," 28 million people have had an eating disorder in their life." Within those million, 6.6 million males have been affected, yet this disorder has been publicized as a female disorder. According to, "due in large part to cultural and gender bias, they [males] are much less likely to be assessed or diagnosed for their eating disorder and even less likely to seek treatment." This fact was one of the reasons Jason Wood decided to share his story in his book, Starving for Survival.

For transparency's sake, Jason is a long-time friend of mine, and I never suspected he was struggling. Behind that infectious and dynamic personality, he was struggling with body image. After learning about his struggles, shared his story on the B.Y.O.K. Podcast. His strength as a person was always intriguing; however, after our interview, it left me in amazement. What's even more beautiful is that he is now helping others heal in their journey.

Everyone, meet my friend Jason!

Food Sponsor and Raffles

I have to make mention of the delicious popcorn and trail mix that was sponsored by Healthier Tomorrows. This company helps others develop a healthy relationship with food and offers services nationwide. They also accept major insurance!

Beautiful Ladies representing Healthier Tomorrows

I tried the Herb and Spices Popcorn. OMG! This is worth driving to Northwestern University!

I did not try the trail mix being fixated on the popcorn but it received rave reviews

Also, I entered a silent auction with some cool items! Amongst those items were donations from Reese Weatherspoon Book Club and delicious Portillo's.

I bid on this self-care box, but sadly was out-bid.

Some more of the items from the silent auction (there was so much more too!)

My Two Cents

Again, this event was heart-warming. This event was filled with inspiration, good company, and popcorn. Experiencing such strength and courage in one room was astounding. I couldn't help but cry and feel emotion for each warrior who graced the stage.

If you or someone you know are struggling with eating and body concerns, please call 888-375-7767 or reach out for help. Please visit their website if you want to volunteer or donate to A.N.A.D.

Thank you, my dear friend, Jason, for inviting me.

Don't Be Shy? If you feel comfortable, I invite you to share your own journey with eating disorders in the comments below. Your story could provide hope, encouragement, and solidarity for others who may be going through similar challenges. Remember, you're not alone in this journey, and together, we can support each other towards healing and recovery.

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