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September Member of the Month- Stephanie!

Stephanie is an amazing woman and human being who we are so honored to know! Sadly, Stephanie has been through quite a lot. With an extensive history of trauma, this woman has had to overcome adversity... she has done so with an open heart and a kind soul.

Stephanie has been with Empowered for a while now and is learning more and more about herself as she finds new levels of confidence. We are so proud of you Stephanie! Keep holding the hope and being the light!

Below is Stephanie's story in her own words...

"Hi, my name is Stephanie and I’m a 22-year-old member of Empowered RX. From the ages of 12to 21, I had been completely immersed in diet culture and unhealthy eating habits. When I was younger, I was extremely restrictive with food and engaged in self-deprecating talk. I had been a dancer for 12 years, so calorie restriction and valuing thinness was normalized around me.

Even after quitting dance, I still felt the pressures of societal standards weighing on me. I felt I needed to live up to these standards by being thin, but the consequences of trying to live up to these standards were monumental. I still remember when I was in 7th and 8th grade and I wouldn’t eat at lunch, purposely starving myself until I got home, out of fear that people would judge me for eating. When I got to high school, I continued these unhealthy eating habits, and began trying out numerous diets that were detrimental to my health.

Unfortunately, my first relationship was a toxic one, and it only made my eating habits worse. When my relationship became narcissistically abusive, I started to develop binge-eating disorder and bulimia. During this time, I did not understand, nor did I value my self-worth. I engaged in self-destructive behaviors such as my eating disorder because it gave me a sense of “control” that I didn’t have in my relationship. When I finally got out of that relationship and went to college, I felt a sense of freedom to eat and be “normal.”

When your body goes through so much over the years, it’s normal and OK for your body to change and gain weight. When you give your body the nutrients it deserves, it’s going to hold onto them. This is something I didn’t realize at the time, so the quick change in my body’s appearance lead me to feeling negative about my body image.

I struggled immensely with my eating disorder throughout college because of this. After I

graduated from college, I decided I no longer want to live my life like this and stopped engaging in my eating disorder. I was introduced to Leah and Empowered RX, and in less than 3 months, I have begun to start loving myself and my body, eating “normally,” and fully processing my trauma to better understand myself. I have realized how toxic social media can be, and that no one should feel the need to live up to the unrealistic standards society puts on us. I have also realized that health looks different on everyone—you don’t need to be thin to be healthy.

For anyone that has similar struggles to my story, I advise you to let yourself be vulnerable with those around you. Being open and talking about your struggles can be intimidating, but with the right people, it makes all the difference in your healing. Having an eating disorder or struggling with your body image is NOTHING to be ashamed of. If anything, powering through and overcoming these struggles makes you STRONGER, and it’s something to be very proud of!

Please know that your inner beauty is what truly matters in life, not what you look like on the

outside. We need to “normalize normal bodies,” and remind ourselves that we are so much

more than the body we live in.

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