Ep 85 The Real Story of a Disordered Eater [Savannah Couch]

Ep 85 The Real Story of a Disordered Eater [Savannah Couch]
Live Fit Podcast

00:00 / 56:51

eating disorderIn this moving interview with Savannah Couch, we learn how she developed anorexia and then bulimia nervosa, and overcame it.

It all started when she was about 10 years old and her body developed faster then her peers. This brought unwanted,  negative attention her way and made her want to change her appearance. She resorted to starvation – until she learned about purging from a high school health class. She then found a book in the school library that virtually gave her instructions on the technique.

Now at the age of 22, she feels strong and balanced. She hasn’t purged in a year and values good health and fitness much more than she did her desire for the “perfect” body.


Glenn: Hi, Savannah. How are you doing today?

Savannah: I’m pretty good.

Glenn: So Savannah, the reason I want to speak to you today is because you told me a story about your younger years leading up to present day and how you had a bit of a struggle with eating and body image and your weight.

Savannah: Yeah.

Glenn: And I really want to share that with my audience because I think it’s really important for people to understand how these things get started and the effects that it can have on a person, long term effects it can have on a person, and what can be done about it. Can you maybe back up and like tell us your story what happened and how you became a disordered eater?

Savannah: Well, it’s kind of hard to pinpoint like the exact time or day because you know it’s been like eleven and a half years I think that I kind of been struggling with this.

Glenn: And it certainly was a gradual process. It’s not one day somebody said something—

Savannah: Yeah.

Glenn: –or a switch flipped but a gradual thing. So what, in hindsight, what do you think really led to your ideas of eating and body image changing from healthy to not so?

Savannah: When I was younger, I developed pretty early. So by like fourth grade you know, I looked more shapely, more curvy than all the girls in my class. And I would get really negative attention for that. And I think that sort of started. I think that sort of like got the gears going in my mind like that insecure kind of like “Okay I’m not… I don’t look like everyone else,” like I’m not comfortable feeling this way, like I have to go buy a bras and none of my friends do and kind of stuff like that. And it was you know it was such a young age, it’s such an impressionable time. It was really kind of difficult for me to feel comfortable in my own skin and not manifested itself throughout time in that gradual in a way. And I wasn’t necessarily thinking about eating disorders or stuff like that at a young age. It took about a year and a half for me to kind of like evolve to that point.

Glenn: Sure.

Savannah: But it really started when I was younger. I didn’t really feel like I have a lot of support at home because I wasn’t I mean you know as a young girl, you’re very shy and like you don’t want to talk about that kind of stuff because it’s so uncomfortable. Like my mom was going to college and you know which was great for her but I was living with my dad and my step mom and they weren’t like the most like involved people in my life. So I didn’t really feel like I had a good outlook. I didn’t feel like I have a really a way to kind of get any comfort for that. I wasn’t ever told that it was okay that I was different or that I was you know a little bit more developed than other girls or that you know… All that stuff kind of just like… I just internalized it and tried to move on. Obviously, I didn’t move on. I did the exact opposite but I think that sort of when it really started to kind of come about was by that time.

Glenn: Yeah. And when I think back to when I was a kid and it was a very, very, very common and it was the culture to make fun of people that were different. “Oh they got a haircut. They look a little bit funny.” So make up some cute little phrase and call them that name.

Savannah: Yeah.

Glenn: I had red hair when I was a kid. And I was called carrot top. And I would go home crying and crying and crying. It was so upsetting. It wasn’t the word carrot top. What it actually mean, for one carrot tops are green or you could say my head look like a carrot because it was you know reddish, you know ginger color. But what’s the big deal? So what? But it was more of the malice intent. And I think kids don’t really understand the harm they’re doing and even they might get it and then they give it too because they wanted to get rid of it or they might receive this but of course, they don’t like it so then they want to pay people back for it. And so you know—

Savannah: Yeah.

Glenn: –I understand it that sort of level but what’s happening is that they’re just trying… They’re awkward at communicating so maybe you like someone and instead of just coming up and being their friend and say “Hey. How are you? Do you want to play?” You make fun of them.

Savannah: Yeah.

Glenn: Sometimes you don’t like them and you’re teasing them to make them feel bad intentionally/ I’m sure that’s in there as well but kids are cruel. And unfortunately, it has some really lasting effects in a person’s psyche.

Savannah: Yeah, and I think like I don’t necessarily like blame and it was… like kids are kids. And you know honestly, I definitely had my share of making fun of people because of my own insecurities. And I think that that obviously made me feel better which is you know now knowing what I know now, it’s just horrible. As a kid, you don’t know. You don’t understand that.

Glenn: Yeah.

Savannah: And so I don’t necessarily you know feel like “Oh you guys were enemy.” But it’s more of the thought that I didn’t really have anyone, any adult models in my life to help me go through it. And so what I ended up doing was just internalizing all these feelings. And so I wasn’t able to kind of like get that out there. You know I think all kids go through something like that. Everyone go to at it at some point in their life where they don’t feel like they fit in.

Glenn: Right.

Savannah: Or something else, stuff like that. And I don’t necessarily think that it always has to end up in depression, anxiety, eating disorders, you know all those things that go along of kind of with that. I think that a lot of people are like you know they grow out of that. That’s the hope for most people. But when you come from a place where you don’t feel supported by the people that should be supporting you is when you feel that you need to take on the responsibility to yourself. And being that young and taking on that responsibility is very hard.

Glenn: oh most certainly. And you know back to the story when I was called carrot top, I’d go home crying. And then my mom told me “So what? Just tell the kids “So what? It doesn’t bother you. Why are you calling me that? What’s the big deal?’” And I said “What? That’s it. I just tell them it doesn’t bother me. And they’re going to stop?” and she said, “Yeah.” And so I tried it at the very next day. And guess what? They stopped. In fact, the kid who was calling me carrot top, we later became best friends but he started crying because it didn’t bother me. He said “What? It doesn’t bother you.” I’m like “No.” Funny.

Savannah: Yeah.

Glenn: Talk about deflecting. But you have to have that knowledge because I never would have come up with that solution on my own. Never. No way. But my mom told me this and it actually worked. And had you had somebody to give you a similar advice…

Savannah: Yeah, I swallowed that for sure. And I think looking now you know like society, the whole American society has this ideal image for women. And unfortunately for me at that time, my step mom kind of fit of that image. So for her like she didn’t really see outside of that. And so it was weird for her to I look different too. So I would not only getting it from my peers but also from someone who was supposed to be taking care of me at that time, which was probably, ultimately kind of what pushed me even further.

Glenn: Well that unfortunately is a very common story where the mother is trying to help the child, the daughter, not be made fun of so they encourage them to go on diets and other things.

Savannah: Yeah.

Glenn: And pay attention to their appearance. Also maybe the mother is trying to live vicariously through the daughter so the daughter can have a better life than she did. And you know either this scenario or others I didn’t mention, it’s still very harmful.

Savannah: Yeah. And my mom, the one I’m close with, she was going to school like I mentioned earlier. And so she wasn’t really kind of around. And I wonder sometimes like if it would have been different if I would have told her because she went through a lot of the same stuff that I did. And she actually has her own story with eating disorders and body image issues and stuff. And so she understands that. And we’ve talked about it before but in those years, she wasn’t there. And I was too uncomfortable to try to talk about it. So I don’t know…

Glenn: How young were you? What was your age around this time?

Savannah: I was going in to fifth grade so I don’t know how old you are in fifth grade, like 10 or 11 maybe.

Glenn: Yeah, ten, elevenish. Right in there.

Savannah: Yeah.

Glenn: One of those. Yeah. That’s pretty young to have… that’s a higher developed sense of cognition to kind of think outside your own world, your own life, and maybe ask for help or recognize that other people might be going through it. And that’s something we generally experience and develop as we age and mature. So you know no fault of yours and you’re not the only one that has that kind of situation but I’m sure you didn’t know that at that time either.

Savannah: No. I didn’t really at that time know what was going on. I think I had you know my own insecurities but cognitively, I wasn’t aware of the consequences or also the solution. And so you know what made me feel better was trying to either lose weight or change my appearance in any way possible or make fun of other people to make myself feel better or be friends with like the cool kids, you know that kind of stuff. Those are the kind of things that are like the immature thing that you seek as a kid because you don’t understand and you can’t see outside of yourself in that moment.

Glenn: Right. And anybody who’s different is an outcast in a sense.

Savannah: Yeah.

Glenn: So tell me what were you doing. I understand how you felt and kids were teasing you and you weren’t getting support at home. But what were you doing in this? Were you not eating? Were you eating certain foods? Were you dieting? Were you exercising? What physical actions was happening during this time?

Savannah: Yeah. So at that time I hadn’t really learned about like eating disorders fully like purging, which is what I ended up doing for a long time. But at that point, I was starting to develop a list in what they like this is really, really common for people with eating disorder or body image issues is that you make these mental list of things that are okay and things that aren’t okay. So for me like pizza, not okay you know.

Glenn: Right.

Savannah: something like ice cream is not okay, stuff like that. So Yeah, I was definitely changing my diet but not in a healthy way because I didn’t know about macros; I didn’t know about proteins; I didn’t know about portions; you know stuff like that. So basically like I would just eat like vegetables all day or I go to school and if they have lunch, I would get — I don’t know — a water and like they had these wheat donuts which is so funny. But they had these like they’re a whole-wheat donut. And they have this icing on them. And to me, my little immature brain, I was like “Oh they have whole wheat. It’s okay.” So I would eat those all the time but then I wouldn’t eat anything else. And then my dad and my stepmom, always wanted my sister and I to have dinner as a family but I would scream and cry and fight and I wouldn’t ever want to eat at night because I felt like eating at night was bad because then you’re sleeping and you’re dormant and you know. Now, what I know that’s not true. But…

Glenn: Right.

Savannah:  As a young kid, I develop these habits or you just believe everything you say to yourself. “Pizza, not okay. Okay. I will never eat pizza again.” So if I go to a friend’s house, and they have pizza I wouldn’t eat it. And then you start getting positive attention for that because you’re different for a different reason. You know what I mean? Like you’re adhering to this like societal like girls shouldn’t eat kind of thing.

Glenn: Right.

Savannah: And like so I started giving like my friends are I was this kind of positive/negative attention if that make sense to you.

Glenn: Oh yeah.

Savannah: Do you get kind of made fun for not eating but that feels good because one is better than you kind of because like I can say no to pizza and you can’t.

Glenn: Right.

Savannah: And so that sort of started first like that kind of like list development, changing what I was eating, getting really immature about it and thinking that… And I started counting calories, I was 11 years old.

Glenn: Wow.

Savannah: And not even knowing what that meant, I would try to eat a hundred calories a day.

Glenn: What?

Savannah: So I was living off of like yogurt like these hundred calories yogurt thing.

Glenn: That’s all you’re eating all day?

Savannah: Yeah. And so that’s what I was trying to eat all day. Sometimes my stepmom or my dad would like to try to like force me to eat but I would fight them every single day. It was a battle.

Glenn: Wow.

Savannah: And so that was… and then I was playing sports too. I was always active as a kid like I play all the sports. I was at dance. I did musical theater like I was always doing stuff so I didn’t really…. I would exercise on top of that by like running with my dog and so we may run around the block or like I ride my bike or something. But I didn’t know about like lifting and like those kind of exercises. I was like I didn’t even think I know what cardio was at that time. I just knew that if you did stuff, you burn calories. And if you ate less calories, you would lose weight. Like that was the mental capacity that I had for what I was doing. And then that kind of led me into… I’m never was diagnosed with anorexia because I don’t think that my dad or my step mom ever really like noticed that much. So I never like went to a doctor for that but after when I went to middle school and I was taking a health class actually, I was in sixth grade. And my teacher, we were doing a section on eating disorders. And my teacher was telling us about eating disorders, and anorexia and bulimia and like body-dysmorphic disorder and stuff like that. And so that was like I was like ‘What? You can eat and then throw it up. And you can be fine’ like that to me was gold. That was like the best news I ever heard in my life.

Glenn: All this time, I’ve been starving myself. And I could have been eating and barfing. Wow.

Savannah: Yeah. So I’m like “cool. I can have pizza and then not have to worry about like being fat.’ And so I was like so thrilled about this. So that day, I went to a library at my school and I was looking for books about eating disorders so I could learn how to do it. And so I actually got a book. I can’t remember now what it’s called. But it was a fiction book about a girl that was going through a lot of stuff at home and she had a friend and her friend had an eating disorder and she kind of like taught her how to do it basically.

Glenn: Right.

Savannah: And so I read this book like a few times. And it was mainly because I think now looking back I related to this girl because she was just dealing with a lot of stuff and I was dealing with a lot of stuff at a young age. And so I remember there was this one section of the book and it was her friend, this girl, is like telling her this is the kind of stuff you should eat like soft foods and drink soda because it’s bubbly, the carbonation helps your body rejects food, which I actually believed. I didn’t even know if that was true because I hadn’t even thought about that since that time. But I remember at that time saying “oh that make sense like Yeah. So I would drink diet cokes and eat like soft food and then like I would avoid bread because it was too hard to get that out. So I would do that. And then I started using like a toothbrush end like I got a toothbrush on a dollar store.

Glenn: Yeah.

Savannah: And so I started using that. And then that was like hurting my throat. So then it goes from there. I mean you know you become good at stuff and you did it for a long time. So that’s like how that all started.

Glenn: Yeah. I’ve always wondered about that if it… I’ve been sick before and vomited. And it’s really not a pleasant experience. And it’s hard to imagine doing that on purpose but I guess, you get kind of use to it. It’s just a matter of what you do, right?

Savannah: Yeah. Well that. It’s not even a matter of getting used to it. It’s a matter of when and then you actually feel good, like really feel good, honestly. And I know that’s probably hard for anyone who hasn’t gone through this to understand because being sick is horrible like you know everyone hates that.

Glenn: But there’s a certain satisfaction to it, I guess. It’s more of a mental feel good than physical.

Savannah: Yeah, there’s that. And it’s a relief. And like I get that when people — like I never cut myself – but I get why people do because I felt the same exact feeling. And then you know you feel this, it’s like a rush. And it’s like a physical feeling from like head to toe, of just like this feeling of relief like kind of like when you jump into a cold water.

Glenn: Right.

Savannah: Or like something like that you know. I don’t really know how to describe it because it’s kind of like… I mean honestly I’ve never done any hard drugs or anything but kind of like that’s how it would feel.

Glenn: Interesting. It was that something that developed overtime?

Savannah: Yeah, because the first like obviously the first few times are really hard. And I couldn’t do it. I would get really frustrated. So they when I kind of figured how it worked for me, I was like happy about it. So I associated this doing this thing with feelings of being happy and it was like a good feeling. So I definitely took a little bit of time for me to like be okay with it but then it doesn’t take long. After a few months, I was fine with it. I was happy. I wanted to do it. I was like doing it a lot. And so yeah, it took a little bit of time but it does feel good at some point.

Glenn: You know what really scares me about this? Well, there’s two things. One is I have an eleven year old daughter. And I, of course, am aware of the path that some girls go down such that you did. So I’m kind of being aware and also giving her lots of healthy nutrition knowledge, advice. We do talk about it. And she looks at food labels and looks at the sugar and fat and calorie content and all that. But she’s not adding it up. She’s not trying to limit them at all. It’s more of informational so she knows what she’s putting into her body. She reads ingredients. She’s into cooking as well so she’s really interested in that.

Savannah: Yeah.

Glenn: But the main thing that really scares me is you learned of this in a health class.

Savannah: At school. Yeah.

Glenn: And that sort of instead of steering you away from it, it’s steered you towards it.

Savannah: Yeah.

Glenn: And that was a bit of hesitation with even doing this interview with you because I do want to make people aware of what a slippery slope it is and you know just the little things that you might say to somebody or how you’re receiving something that’s somebody said to you, how it can affect your life. So I think that it’s important that we know. But I also don’t want to steer anybody in the direction that you did for certainly unintentionally. Do you have kind of an advise that could help people separate the, let’s say, the good from the bad?

Savannah: Well, I definitely do. I think as far as parenting goes – I’m not a parent – I can’t imagine how hard it could be. So I’m not coming from a place of like be better parents. But as like from a place of being a child who I felt like I didn’t have that support, I feel like at that time for me, it wasn’t necessarily learning it at school. It was the fact that I was already in a bad place and I was looking for something. I was looking for anything. And so that kind of was the thing that I was looking for. And so I think as a parent, if you’re involved in – I would include boys, too but I’m gonna say specifically girls because it is a bigger problem for girls.

Glenn: You’re right.

Savannah: And I know that girls can take these things kind of way further.

Glenn: Right.

Savannah: So I think being involved in your daughter’s life and talking to them about the things that they’ve learned and you know doing what you’re doing, because I think that’s so important like if I had a child, they would know about nutrition. They would know about food labels. They would know because it’s important. Because for me, like if I wouldn’t have that knowledge, I might have turned out totally different you know. I might have realized that what I was doing was very unhealthy. And I could have gone a different way with nutrition you know instead of limiting myself but just changing and maybe not even necessarily changing because I don’t feel like any eleven year old girl should have to you know not eat pizza.

Glenn: Right.

Savannah: But to be aware, I think is the power that lies in this. And I think being aware as parents is also extremely important because you know once… if you don’t know and then a couple years go by and your daughter is already kind of dealing with this, honestly, it’s like – I hate to say it – but it’s like too late. You have to be there from the beginning because I think for a girl, it is so easy to get caught up in this and then see all these good things. It’s like – what am I trying to say? – it’s just like this beautiful like mass evil and it’s so horrible but to the person, it’s like rose-tinted glasses you know.

Glenn: Yeah.

Savannah: And so I feel like if someone’s there to be like that’s not how you should live your life. That’s not healthy. You’re beautiful. You know this is what you should like portion control, your macros, your carbs, protein, you know all those things. If you give someone that knowledge like the power of being aware, I think that is so important. And I think that will deter so many young girls from going on this task.

Glenn: Good. Good. Maybe people listening to this–

Savannah: And as far as like–

Glenn: I was gonna say maybe people listening to this will share this with their young girls. I’m gonna have my daughter listen to it as well.

Savannah: Yeah. I think as far as like my advice to young girls is that there is a better way and there is a better side. And for me, I went through this but I’m in a place now where I couldn’t imagine my own daughter was going through this. And it’s so much more fulfilling to be healthy in a healthy way. And to you know exercise and eat right and just supplement your life with being well because you know that’s really like it makes your soul so much stronger. And when you’re going through eating disorder and you feel weak and you feel disgusting and you feel shameful, like those are things that go with that. And if you can avoid that, then that’s, honestly, you’ll be so much happier. And it takes a really long time to get to that place. And if I can encourage anyone to just skip all of that and find this inner peace through just being a healthy, well person; then that would be the best thing possible.

Glenn: Yeah. You know what’s really difficult is this appearance to base society we lived in. we see it everywhere we turn. Even the evening news and morning news and magazines and of course all these reality shows, facebook, they’re always showing pictures of people’s abs and you know skinny people and, of course, models – which you see them in person, they don’t really look very attractive but they photograph well. And that’s why they’re models. It’s not because they represent real people. It’s just because they make the clothes look good.

Savannah: Yeah, and I think being again from a parent or not from a parent but to parents, I think if you can acknowledge that and just show your kid, their general daughter specifically, that that’s not real and it’s okay to be different and it’s okay to, you know, to be super skinny. I know some girls hate that. And they’re just naturally really thin. And they don’t want to be but it’s okay because that’s your body. And your body is going to naturally be the way that it was meant to be. And I know it’s hard to be accepting of that. And also I know that it’s hard when you’re a child is in pain. It’s hard for the parents to not know what to do.

Glenn: Right.

Savannah: And I think the best thing to do is just show assurance, encouragement, positivity. If that is what you’re surrounding your child, there’s no way that they’ll turn out with this situation. But I think it’s important to be positive with your kids and just let them know that no matter what, it’s okay and that you don’t feel like they’re any different or they need to diet or exercise more. And like that is a problem for me too like my step mom would tell me you know “Oh you look fat in that” or like “You need to walk home because you need to burn calories.” Those are the kind of things that I was dealing with. And so–

Glenn: Right.

Savannah: I think if you can eliminate that, that’s a huge step in the right direction.

Glenn: Right. Right. And one of the things that I deal with as a health coach and personal trainer is people, they really – most people at least under the age of 50 – don’t really care about health. Most of them don’t want to do any of these stuff for health reasons. It’s all appearance.

Savannah: Oh yes. Oh yeah.

Glenn: It’s terribly troubling to me because I… You know who doesn’t like something that looks good? You know you want to look in the mirror and like what you see. You want to look around and see pretty people all the time but that’s not reality. Not everybody can be pretty because if they were, then nobody would.

Savannah: Yeah.

Glenn: But you know we should really focus on the long term and it’s hard to convince a 20 year old that what they do with their body, how they live and the habits that they develop now, will make an impact on them when their 50 and 60 and if they live longer than that…

Savannah: Yeah, definitely.

Glenn: The foreside is really limited on younger people. But I would like to applaud you for the progress you made so far. You’re what? 20, 21?

Savannah: 22, yeah.

Glenn: You’re 22. And do you feel like you have these same struggles, or are you all better? I mean it’s certainly something in the back of your mind, right?

Savannah: Yeah.

Glenn: Do you still struggle?

Savannah: Yeah. Well, yes and no. I feel like I have come really far in the last year and a half. It was actually it will be 1 year in June since the last time that I purged. So that’s kind of a big deal for me.

Glenn: Right.

Savannah: Also in the last year and a half, I… Well, let me back up a little bit. When I was 18, I moved to Portland the day I graduated of high school. Basically, it was like nothing. I packed up my car and had $400. And I came up here because I needed to find myself through my own way. I just know that I’ll never be truly peaceful if I don’t kind of find my own way. So I moved up here.

Glenn: Right.

Savannah: And I did struggle when I moved up here because I struggle. I struggled with money. I struggled at school. I struggled with you know with the body image. I struggled with finding a friend. I struggle with that kind of stuff on a daily basis such as life stuff but that amplified my eating disorder. And so I definitely, when I got here, it got worse for a little while. But then you know I started, I figured out what I wanted to do in school. I found an outlet for myself. I made friends. I met my boyfriend who I’ve been with for 2 years. I have lived in my apartment for a few years. It’s like I found stability here. And that was a huge, huge step for me because I had never had that. And so I’ve never lived in the same place for over a year since I moved here. And so to be able to be like stabilized my own life, have like led me into the right direction. And then after that, it was like “Okay, I really…” I’ve kind of figure out something but now I’m ready to face this because I had never really been ready to face it head on. And now it was like okay. I can do this. I had a counselor for awhile. She was really nice. But I didn’t honestly, and I don’t discourage anyone from seeing someone in fact that they need; but for me personally, it was more about the fact that I needed to change my mindset. And I started doing yoga. And I got personal trainer. And I started… I learned about real nutrition. I learned how to eat. I learned what healthy nutrients for my body were.  I learned how to you know supplement my life in a healthy way. And so I’ve been able to come a long way from that but with all that, I do struggle. Not necessarily with wanting to purge because I feel like finally I’ve let that go. But you know it’s a daily reminder. I have to constantly feel like I’m okay. It’s okay. You know some days are better than others. And some days I feel horrible about myself. But when I start to feel that way, I have to say “You know what? You are who you are. You’re doing everything you can to be healthy” and not to be unnaturally thin or not to be sick and not to be you know what people want me to be. Like I finally feel like I was able to live my life for myself. And so through all of that, I definitely feel like I’ve got at least control of it. And that’s the biggest thing I think people start to feel out of control because they’re like this is controlling me and now I’m controlling it. And it’s still a part of me and it always will be a part of me. It’s who I am now that matters. It’s not who I am but it is a part of who I am. And it is a part of who I am now. And so I think that yes, I still struggle sometimes but I definitely feel like I’m in a very good place now.

Glenn: You are awesome, Savannah. You are awesome. I love what you had to say. And I understand what you mean by it’s a part of you or at least it was part of your make up, your history, but it doesn’t have to rule you or own you.

Savannah: Uhum.

Glenn: I’m curious. What sort of self care and health care and what sort of things you do on a daily or at least a regular basis that contributes to good health?

Savannah: Well, I so with nutritional health.

Glenn: Let me say health and wellness.

Savannah: Yeah, okay.

Glenn: Let me say health and wellness. That’s more precise to what I mean.

Savannah: Yeah. So I mean every day is every day. And everyday you know you have to remind yourself in the morning like you got to do this for you to be well for that day. And that’s really simply taking one day at a time. And so as far as like nutrition, I mean I have learned a lot. I see a nutritionist for this. And so she helped me get through a lot trying to figure out like what foods I like and what foods kind of work well for my body. And I also don’t diet because that kind of… It’s not necessarily a health thing but I don’t feel like it’s super necessary for me because I feel like I’m in a healthy place. And so I don’t eat pizza everyday but you know if I want pizza, I’m gonna eat it. It’s in moderation. And that’s how I feel like you know I’m not gonna limit myself because that can be manifested to a harsher cycle.

Glenn: Exactly.

Savannah: I take vitamins. I take probiotics because I actually had a really bad stomach infection. And my esophagus was really inflamed. And so…

Glenn: Still.

Savannah: Yeah, well I think like permanently damaged which is unfortunate and so you know.

Glenn: Yeah.

Savannah: So I take probiotics for my stomach. You know multivitamins, and I take iron because I’m iron-deficient. I take vitamin B. And so those things have helped me. I used to do actually vitamin B12 injection because I was so low in Vitamin B12 that it was like at a very low rate because I went to a holistic doctor. And she actually recommended it to me because I was feeling very low energy, very lethargic. And you know I’m a very vivacious like vibrant person naturally. So—

Glenn: Right.

Savannah: –to feel kind of not with myself a lot of the time was hard. So just kind of taking the route… and actually this kind of lead me into a whole another thing but really quick. I want to touch on the fact that I think wellness comes from natural, being natural, doing things the natural way. Supplementing your body with vitamins and with food and with exercise is the best way to be healthy. And I don’t believe in antibiotics. I don’t believe in anti-depressants which I had to take when I was younger. And that actually also caused a lot of problems. And so I think if you can really just like supplement your body more naturally, and you know do think for yourself everyday because life is so hard. You don’t want to constantly “I have to do my homework. I have to go to work. I have to do all these errands. You know I just wrecked my car,” which I did just wrecked my car. What do I with that?

Glenn: Oh no.

Savannah: And so I think there’s a lot of things and life gets on the way. I think if you put yourself first, and you just say I want to be healthy no matter what, I want to live well each day and you can… I think it’s really beneficial. Like I have come so far into just my personality like I’m much more calm. I’m much less volatile because I have a really bad temper because you know you’re when you destroy your body, it affects your brain too.

Glenn: Oh yeah.

Savannah: And so now I can feel the difference in myself, that just each day, I just grow more and more and more. And each day, it makes me know. And once you get started, it’s like you want to do that stuff because like if you’re eating well and exercising, you see the changes and that makes you want to keep going. And so I think that’s important for younger girls because you know I don’t think it’s necessarily super important to think it’s the gym five times a week. They’re little girls. And I think letting them be little girls is the most important thing.

Glenn: Yeah, I agree.

Savannah: And just letting them makes their own choices but monitoring the kind of what they’re reading, what they’re learning, what they’re seeing, what they’re internalizing. I think communication is a huge thing that I didn’t have that I hope that more parents can do for their… And I know it’s hard. I’m sure it’s hard. I’m sure it’s hard to like you know confront your 12 year old daughter about eating disorder but it’s something that you have to do. And it’s a sacrifice you have to make in order to you know stop, to put an end to it before it starts. Because once it starts, it kinds of just snow ball effect.

Glenn: I agree. Yeah, and that’s why it’s so important to think about it early, to be aware of actions and comments–

Savannah: Yeah.

Glenn: –when a person is young. But yeah, I really like what you’re saying about being all natural, not dieting because it is deprivation. I do this experiment with my class, with my students when we’re talking about food and dieting. I’ll say “Okay. I want you to take a deep breath and hold it. And then I talk about stuff. And after about 30 seconds, I say “What’s on your mind right now?” Then another 15 seconds goes by and I say “Okay. Now what’s the most important thing to you right now?” And then many of them will say, “Air. That’s all I care about. I don’t care about donuts. And I don’t care about watching TV. I care about breathing.” And that’s because you’re depriving yourself. And if you really love chocolate and you say no more chocolate, that’s what you’re going to want more than anything even if–

Savannah: Exactly.

Glenn: Even if chocolate is not that big of a deal to you, as soon as you say or somebody says, you can’t have that anymore, boom, you want it more than anything.

Savannah: Yeah.

Glenn: I was gonna ask back to the self-care thing. Do you do any sort of physical activity on a regular basis?

Savannah: Yeah, I do. I actually work out quite a bit but right now, more than normal because I’m actually training for a sport  to compete in this summer. So trying to get in a better physical condition for that. But I try a very active life outside of the gym just like having live in a beautiful place where we’re lucky to have so many outlife so I go hiking. You know I try to walk around as much as possible. I go for a walk with my boyfriend. And we like to roller skates so sometimes we roller skates to the park. And like we do jogging. We try to just keep things you know each day doing something. Right now, I haven’t been working out like 6-times a week but that’s because I’m actually doing something athletic. Like I’m training for something which is also like a huge deal for me because I’ve never done anything like that. And so I’m really excited to kind of see where that goes and see what I can do you know with my body in a positive and healthy way. But I also do yoga. I don’t do that daily. I should but I don’t get to it every day. But I think that was also a really good part of the healing process that I went through because you know I was able to kind of center myself and focus. And when you’re sitting there and you’re doing these poses that you’re kind of feel awkward about doing.

Glenn: Yeah.

Savannah: You kind of have to face these things. You’re left there to think about stuff. And you’re left there to kind of like you know you get more comfortable with your body because you’re doing something that’s kind of awkward. And so I think that was a big part for me too in moving forward. And then just you know being okay with not being good at working out. I know how funny that sounds but the first few times that I went to a gym I got the membership, the first few times I walk in there and I’m like intimidated. I don’t know what I am doing here. Like I have no idea what any of those machines do. I don’t know what you know I had no idea. And so also getting some help really helped me. I did get a trainer and that you know that kind of helps me figure out what to do. And I think that can really be beneficial for people is to get some outside help and whether that’s counseling, whether it’s personal training, whether that’s what’s nutrition because it’s hard when you’re… You know you can go on Google and read a hundred different things. And you’re like well that wasn’t helpful. And so I think getting someone who is able to help you specifically is really important stuff because then you would have some guidance and it’s a little bit easier to kind of understand each step.

Glenn: Right. Right. Well, I’m glad that you didn’t stay away from the gym because you’re a little bit intimidated. I remember my first time in a gym too. And I was certainly intimidated. “I don’t look like these guys. I don’t belong here. I’ve never been to a gym before” but you know you’re first time at anything is always a little bit intimidating. I’m still a little bit nervous walking into situations even if they’re not new. First day of school, I walked in to class and I look at all these strange people looking at me.

Savannah: Yeah.

Glenn: So you just have to figure out a way to get pass it. And I think I was really glad to hear that you said that you don’t just exercise in a gym but you go outside and do activities and that you do yoga, too, because that’s really shows that you have a balanced physicality about you. You’re eating healthy foods primarily, correct?

Savannah: Yeah.

Glenn: And but you will indulge now and then, correct?

Savannah: Yeah.

Glenn: And you’re not beating yourself up about it so that is fantastic for your wellness and for healthy eating. The exercise, the physical activity that you said you do sounds really great. You know I, the first time I – not the first time – but several years ago, I met a woman who was 50, 52 somewhere in that area. And she told me that she is finally okay with herself. She’s finally feeling balanced and comfortable with her body. She had had body dysmorphicism. From the time she was in college, she was a swimsuit model and of course you have to look a certain way and that’s how she helped pay for college. But it also was very damaging to her. And so she started at what? age 18 or so, maybe a bit younger, all the way through her late 40’s before she really got a healthy sense of self and was living a healthy lifestyle with balanced nutrition and physical activity. So I’m really thrilled. So that’s why I wanted to speak with you today to share your story because you had some trouble but you got over it. And granted, it’s something that it’s gonna linger for awhile. And you’ll have to kind of you know keep that monster at bay.

Savannah: Yeah.

Glenn: Keep that away from you and realize your long term health is much more important than some momentary emotion or feeling.

Savannah: Yeah. Yeah. I you know been hearing about that. The moment I feel like you know my mom, she’ll struggle. She dealt with that through all of her adult life. She’s 44. You know part of me I just realized you know this is gonna be the best time of my life. Like it may not the best time of my life but I’m young and I’m healthy. And I’m active. And I have a lot ahead of me. I just want to appreciate it. And I don’t want to have to constantly be like putting myself down because it goes further than just body image like when you have these issues that become you know stuff about to other stuff like you’re not doing this at school. You’re not working hard enough. You’re house isn’t clean enough. It’s like you know you strive for this perfectionism. And I, finally, being able to let that go is like a very freeing feeling because I don’t you know I’m doing the best I can and that’s okay. And I feel like if you can either just totally skip all this which is the best thing to do. But if you are going through it, if you can realize how special life is and how special each day is, then you become a much happier, much more stable person. You feel much more free. And I think you know for people that are going through this right now, that’s the best thing I can say that it’s hard but each and every day is a gift and it should be treated like that.

Glenn: That is a fantastic parting shot right there. I think that’s just a great note to end this conversation. Every day is a gift and should be treated special. I love it.

Savannah: Yeah.

Glenn: I thank you, Savannah. I really appreciate your openness, your willingness to talk about this in public. And as we said, I really do anticipate that this will help somebody somewhere down the line whether it’s a person listening or somebody that they know, I do think that this knowledge can be very valuable and helpful to somebody and it maybe keep somebody on the healthy tract to good longevity and a balanced sense of self and wellness.

Savannah: Yeah, that’s the whole prayer for everyone.

Glenn: Yes. Once again, thank you. I really appreciate it. And I hope you have a great day.

Savannah: Yeah, you too. Thank you.



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