• Posted on May 1, 2017 8:48 pm
    McCall Dempsey
    3

    To my dearest anti-diet community, I get it. I totally get that every diet post, cleanse, and celebrity detox makes your skin crawl. I. GET. IT. I'm on your team, but I am not behind the shame storm that happens when someone decides to go on a diet or change their eating habits. Recently, I awoke at 3am (because my brain deems it a great time to wake up) and began scrolling through Instagram. I was taken aback by the diet war happening on Brené Brown's latest post. There were countless comments shaming Brené for her decision to do the Whole30. I then saw that Glennon Doyle Melton (my other 'she'ro) recently posted a Whole30 picture a few days earlier. The comments were inline with what I saw on Brené's picture.   All I have to say to my fellow anti-diet community is BE NICE. These two women have written best-selling books and changed countless lives, including mine. I am pretty sure they know what is best for them. My favorite mantra lately is 'You Do You'. Do what makes you happy and feel alive. Do what makes your heart beat a little faster. Take care of your body in whatever way you see fit. And if you feel like you need a little extra help and support, find a therapist and/or a nutritionist near you. I am happy to connect you. But whatever you do, don't shame others for their diet decisions. Advocacy does not mean shame and judgement. Advocacy is leading by example, promoting your message through your channels and being kind to others with opposing thoughts and feelings. Do I support the Whole30? No, it isn't for me. Any diet for me is a slippery slope back into my disorder. Also, my husband would literally die if we didn't have pretzels and beer in the house. I honestly don't know much about the Whole30, other than it is 30-days of eating 'clean'. It should also be said that the term 'clean eating' makes my skin crawl. I don't think my pretzels are dirty, but, YOU DO YOU and I'll do me. And I certainly won't insert my opinion on Brené or Glennon's life choices. Both Brené and Glennon are sober; I highly doubt they would judge me for my glass of wine so why would I judge them? Often times, we want to jump and say NO DIET! Trust me, my close friends can attest to receiving my anti-diet soap box over the years. I used to be very quick to judge, pleading with my friend and giving her all the reasons why she should not diet. Today, I still stand firm on my soap box, but I try to remind myself that the best way to promote my message is to live it myself - not shout it in unwilling ears. For many of us, a diet led to a lifelong battle with an eating disorder, crash dieting and all around unhappiness. I get how it can be triggering and you want to save everyone from the same dark rabbit hole. But for many other, diets will simply be that - a diet. Will the diet work for long term success? Probably not since diets have a 95% failure rate. But, again, you do you. My first encounter with the Whole30 happened in January. I was at a friend's house and her co-worker was over explaining how she was on Day 20 of the Whole30. I was intrigued and asked her about her experience. This woman knew what I did for a living and tried to explain it as a 'lifestyle change'. I went back and forth were a bit on why I hate the term 'lifestyle change' when it comes to diet, but she explained her reason for going on the program. Her fall had been fast and furious and the holidays followed. She did not feel good in her body, not necessarily from a weight perspective, but she felt sluggish and foggy. She went on to explain how much energy she has and how great she feels. Her diet is filled with wholesome food, no calorie counting or rigid schedules. She enjoyed the meal planning and prepping. So I get it. I get some people's reasons for wanting to reset. Some people need a plan to restart. I can totally get behind that. I don't agree with cutting entire food grounds or denying ourselves the calories we need to survive like many diets do. However, we have to remember that there are two sides to having a healthy relationship with food: flexibility AND meeting nutritional needs. It is a tough balancing act. In fact, lately I have been trying to get more veggies and fruit in my diet. The reason: my life has been fast and furious this spring and I haven't been feeding my body enough of those nutrient packed foods. I've been on the road, grabbing and going. When I finally landed home two weeks ago, I decided to take this next month to slow down, do a bit more yoga and get some color back in my diet. I also use my extra time to sit down and enjoy Easter candy and chocolate with my kids. It is all about balance, moderation and flexibility. But again, that works for me. I don't know what works for you. Now, would I recommend one of the young people I mentor to try the Whole30? Probably not. I would direct them to talk with their therapist and nutritionist if they feel like they need to make diet changes. The diet industry is sadly one of the most robust and booming industries. We can't rid the world of diets and guess what? That's ok! We can't stop others from dieting or changing their food habits whether it be by slowing down or doing the Whole30. We can lead by example, showing those around us what it means to love and take care of our bodies. We can admire and connect with like-minded people, people who make us feel good, people who challenge us, but we can't shame others for trying a diet or lifestyle change. We can't be quick to judge. Brené and Glennon share so much of their lives with us, but at the end of the day we don't know them. (Even though I claim them as friends in every talk I give "My bestie Brené/Glennon/Ellen says...") At the end of the day, we can't put people on a pedestal. We are all humans, trying to get through this thing called life as best as we can. No one is higher than the other. When we place people on pedestals, they will inevitably fall off and that fall hurts us more than it hurts them. Remember when your parents fell off? It hurts.   And if you are thinking of going on the Whole30 or a diet, I would simply caution you and ask you to reflect on your motivation. Weight loss does not equal happiness, despite what society says. On the other side of the coin, there is NOTHING wrong with wanting to feel good in your skin. Remember that health is mind, body and spirit. Do what you love, move your body in a way that excites you and challenge yourself to make every day count.   So to Brené and Glennon, rock on. You do you and I'll do me. And I'll keep loving you, buying (and recommending) your books, quoting you, photoshopping myself into pictures with you and claiming you both as my bestie. With a WHOLE (see what I did there?) lot of love and gratitude, McCall

    Body Image, Brene Brown, Eating Disorder
  • Posted on October 25, 2016 4:39 pm
    McCall Dempsey
    3

    Cancer, prayer requests, pediatric cancer, GoFundMe pages, accidents, untimely death. Facebook is often filled with such heartache. I've almost become immuned to seeing tragedy between the political rants and the latest Rodan + Fields product. What I will NEVER adjust to seeing is another life lost to an eating disorder, a TREATABLE illness that does not receive the coverage or research dollars it warrants. My heart always sinks at these posts - "Gone to soon" "You were so beautiful" "Love you forever". I hurt with every tribute, but most times I did not know the person. That all changed today. Last February I had the honor of speaking at the Alliance for Eating Disorder's 5th Annual Celebrate EveryBODY walk in Boca Raton, Florida. I met so many individuals who were in recovery or hopeful of recovery. Of everyone I met, there were two young girls that left a big imprint on my heart. They were best friends and Veritas Collaborative alum. We spoke at length about recovery and how much we love Veritas. We laughed together and I could see the lively spirit in each of them. As the girls smashed the scales I brought, I chatted with their mothers. They shared with me the girls' struggles and triumphs, as well as plans for recovery. I told them how much I  admired their dedication to their daughters' recovery. Being a parent of a child with an eating disorder takes so much energy: appointments, meal time support, emotional support, medical support and every appointment in between. Everything in their life is altered to help their child receive the treatment they deserve. Houses are mortgaged and things are sold to pay for the  massive gaps in insurance coverage. I have thought about those two girls and their mothers from time to time and even connected with one of the moms well after the walk. This is not unusual. Part of the reason I love what I do is because I get to not just meet people, but connect with them. I mean it when I say people stay with me. These two girls were not an exception. As I sat down at my desk today, Facebook came up on my screen. Then I saw her picture. That precious young girl with the future ahead of her. Gone. The young girl I met in February with her best friend.  Gone. Just 14-years old. My stomach knotted. My heart sank. I know her. I knew her. I secretly hoped my memory was wrong. This couldn't be. I sent a few texts and soon realized I was not wrong. This was that smiling, beautiful soul I met on that gorgeous day in February. My body is numb and my heart is shattered. Tears fall on my hands as I type. I cry for her friends - her countless friends she met in treatment. I cry for her family. I cry for her mother. I cry for a full life that has been lost to this illness. I cry for myself and so many others who have suffered and know that hopeless pain where you feel like you'll never see light again. I cry because I want to scoop everyone up and say "THERE IS LIGHT!" I promise! Don't give up. There is light in this world. You are your own light even if you can't see it. There is help that can guide you to your light, but you have to accept it. You have to reach for it. Reach for help. And know that you are never alone. To the precious "VTas" gang who loved her so - my heart is broken for you all. Please take care of yourselves. In this time of grief and heartache, honor your friend by honoring YOUR recovery. Take care of yourself. Allow the feelings of grief, sadness and anger to surface. Process with your team. Walk strong knowing you carry your friend's memory and spirit with you. Let her voice speak through yours. And to you, sweet Zoe, fly high and free. May you feel the freedom in the heavens and may you know how very loved you were and will always be. Zoe Rae McGowans July 29, 2002 - October 24, 2016 If you or someone you know if suffering. Please, please reach out. National Eating Disorder Association Helpline // (800) 931-2237 National Suicide Prevention Line // (800) 273-8255  

    Eating Disorder, Recovery
  • Posted on August 6, 2016 7:48 pm
    McCall Dempsey
    No comments

    The signature Wal-Mart yellow face smiled down on my mom and me as we slowly pushed our buggy through the back to school aisles. I was just a few weeks away from moving out and into my college dorm at Ole Miss. Most freshman fear the move away from home, making friends or getting into a sorority. Not me. I only had one huge fear. One MASSIVE fear that trumped any other fear: Gaining the Freshman 15.  I. DIE. I spent the summer compulsively reading every article on how not to gain the weight. As my mom pushed the buggy, I told her my plan for avoiding the dreaded beer weight gain. "I won't eat late night and I'll avoid beer. Oh and I definitely won't go to the dining hall - they said it is LOADED with calories..." My mom (unaware of my eating disorder) did what every loving and amazing mom does: she offered advice and encouragement. "I use a scale to keep my weight in check." She said, "I hop on every few days or once a week to gauge where I am and know if I need to cut back a little." Her innocent suggestion led us to the scale aisle where I purchased my first scale. Before you start judging my mom, remember that we are all doing the best we can - especially as parents. We love our children and often don't have the tools or education on how to cultivate a strong body image. (See below for parent/body image resources) The simple white scale became my best friend, my worst enemy and my measure of worth. Every morning the little dial rotated and sprung back and forth until it landed on my weight worth of the day. My once day weigh-in quickly escalated to over thirty times a day. I once missed class because I lost track of time obsessively stepping on and off of the scale. So did I gain the Freshman 15? Nope. I lost weight - and it was met with high praise. "McCall, you look so good. ... What are you doing? ... You have such willpower ... College is treating you well!" The compliments fueled my obsession. How low could the scale go? I watched with joy as it showed me a lower number every day. But what goes down, must eventually come back up. And when the number crept back up, life really spun out of control. I was going out and allowing myself to drink and even eat late night. I practiced the college diet rule that many students do: restrict during the day, saving all daily calories for alcohol - also known as drunkorexia, a dangerous and deadly practice that is all too common. Alcohol lowered my inhibitions and ability to stay away from food. After eating late night with friends, I would sneak down the hall, scouring vending machines and even garbage cans for leftover, thrown out pizza. I would wake the next morning with such shame and guilt, too mortified to ever reveal my secret, my struggle...my ILLNESS. On the outside, I was your All-American sorority girl. I experienced a fantastic rush, pledging Kappa Kappa Gamma. I had a wonderful roommate and friends. My grades were off the charts amazing. But behind closed doors, I was literally killing myself. To this day, I still wonder how I didn't drop dead during college or the years following. The war in my head and the way I abused my body should have caused major health issues - those didn't come until nearly ten years later. Shame kept me silent. I continued to struggle throughout my college years, bouncing between anorexia and bulimia, addicted to that bathroom scale and playing the picture perfect girl all the way through. So I am sure you can guess my solution to how you can avoid the freshman 15... DO NOT BUY OR STEP ON A SCALE! Often times your roommate or even the dorm or sorority house has a scale. It is impossible to never encounter a scale. (Side note: if your dorm or sorority house has a community scale, stop reading this and email me: mccall@southernsmash.org). While we can't stop others from purchasing and depending on scales, we can choose to not step on it ourselves. We can choose to measure our worth on who we are as a person not what we weigh. College is a time to find yourself, to try new things, meet new people and yes, eat late night and drink beer. I don't know anyone who has discovered their passion or found new friends by standing on a bathroom scale - trust me, I tried. To all college students, especially you freshies: LIVE life. Live YOUR life. This is your time. It is going to be amazing, hard, difficult, hysterical and full of new adventures. You can't fully experience life with lingering anxiety/obsession about the number on the scale. And if you are experiencing ANY type of anxiety - go TALK to someone. Your school has a counseling center on campus. Again, email me and I will help connect you to locals in your area. I lost so much of my college experience to my eating disorder and I will do whatever I can to make sure you don't do the same.  Whether you're a Rebel, a Tiger, a Tar Heel, a Bulldog, an Aggie, part of a Wolfpack or God forbid a Gator, Blue Devil or Roll Tide (JK...not really), I am here for you. You are not alone.  Get off the scale and let your freshman year be about YOU, not your weight. With love (and a Hotty Toddy!), McCall Body Image & Parenting Resources About Face Body Image Health Ellyn Satter Institute A Mighty Girl Beauty Redefined Body Image Articles Reclaiming the “F” Word:It’s For The Children It’s Not Just Girls. Boys Struggle With Body Image, Too Raising a Girl with Positive Body Image  

    Advocacy, Body Image, Eating Disorder
  • Posted on July 20, 2016 10:19 pm
    McCall Dempsey
    No comments

    ...they sat down, ordered a beer and started reminiscing on the good ole days. This was last weekend for me, at the wedding of one of my dearest and oldest camp friends. Camp Green Cove has connected me with the most extraordinary people on earth. We come from different walks of life and wear different labels. But we are blind to labels, we only see the exquisite person underneath. We have so many labels that define us, whether self or society inflicted. My time at Green Cove stripped away all labels. There was no fat/thin, black/white, Jewish/Christian, gay/straight. We were all kids, loving life and loving each other no matter how different we were because we really didn't even know we were considered different. I was probably 17 before I realized my best friend was Jewish. After that, the two of us would stay up for hours talking about Catholicism, Judaism and the meaning of life in general. This past weekend was a beautiful reminder of what life can be like when we forget the labels and just be. After the fantastic welcome party in downtown Asheville, a group of us walked to another bar. Some straight, some gay and some transgender. We sat at a table, met partners and shared life stories. The next day was much of the same: laughter, rosé, new and old friends. Alden and Olivia's ceremony was the most beautiful and unique wedding I have ever witnessed. The heavens literally opened up, rain poured down, but the mood was not dampened. The entire wedding danced the night away and toasted to the beautiful couple. What really left a mark on me was the post wedding day activity: tubing down the French Broad. Everyone met in the parking lot with excitement (and post wedding headaches). We laughed at previous night shenanigans, lathered up with sunscreen and rented our tubes. As we plopped oh so elegantly into the river, there was one topic I never heard: fat talk. There was not a single mention about body parts. No "I'm so fat" or "OMG my muffin top". Nothing. It was body silent - just laughter and belly laughs at everyone's float mount. The Green Cove tribe tied our tubes together for our slow float down the river. In the two hour float, not a single minute was passed in silence or talking about bodies. I was blown away, but not shocked. I would not be here today without Camp Green Cove. It was my sanctuary every summer. It was the one place where I could really be me: witty, empathetic, goofy, sensitive and kind. No one ever picked apart my body at camp and there were no body competitions. Diet talk and fat talk simply did not exist when you entered the Blue Ridge Mountains. As I dismounted my float (actually, I ended up floating in the tiny cooler float because my float hit a rock...shocking, I know), I smiled. Well, I smiled because I just spent the last hour in the world's smallest float, but mostly I smiled because I was back with my tribe. My people. My place in the world where it doesn't matter if my belly rolls when I sit or if I say something silly. A place where I get to meet the most incredible people and reunite with my favorites. We are all who we are. Some of us have more bruises and scars in the journey of self-discovery. Some of us have endured ridicule and bullying for our sexual orientation. Some of us have destroyed our bodies only to build them back up again. At the end of the day, when we reunite, we are still the kids who climbed the mountains without fat talk, laughed without labels and loved without boundaries. May all of us aspire to be Green Cove girls - to love one another in a world filled with so much dark. May our light and love shine outward. May we never judge based on labels. May we always be kind to one another. And above all else, may we always be kind to ourselves. It doesn't matter what label you wear at the bar or in life...as long as you wear it with pride and love. Because at the end of the day, we all know this one simple truth... LOVE (always, always) WINS.                       Cheers!  

    Authentic, Body Image, Eating Disorder
  • Posted on July 7, 2016 7:57 pm
    McCall Dempsey
    No comments

    [Guest Blog for Jacksonville Mom Blog] Soapy suds ran down my naked body in the shower. I closed my eyes in an attempt at one minute of peace in my whirlwind life as a working mom with two babies. No such luck. “Honey,” my husband yelled as he swung open the bathroom door holding Marjorie. “Did you know the stovetop is loose?” “Yes. Yes. I know it is. I will call the contractor.” Jordan walked out and Manning entered a few minutes later showing me a truck I have seen (and picked up) a thousand times. Sigh. So much for a few minutes alone. I turned the shower off, opened the door, grabbed the towel and stepped out of the shower. Jordan and Marjorie reappeared this time trailed by our two dogs. I stood before my husband naked as he went on telling me about his day, weekend plans and other non-important news. My thoughts had nothing to do with my body and everything to do with my desire to have a solid five minutes alone. Read the rest about how my hubby saw me naked on the Jacksonville Mom Blog

    Body Image, Eating Disorder, Motherhood