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Reaching Out to Young Women at Texas Christian University

March 4, 2013

By Lori Hanson

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Texas Christian University. In addition to getting a break from the white snow-covered lawns and streets in Denver, TCU has a beautiful campus with lovely flowers, attractive buildings and a warm and welcoming feeling.

Lori with intern Martha Moseley

Lori with intern Martha Moseley

The occasion? The Panhellenic Council invited me to campus to help raise awareness about eating disorders and share resources for support in honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. We planned on and had a big turnout for the program. Over 500 girls attended.

I was pleased that the individual sororities encouraged their sisters to attend. unfortunately I only saw one male student, which is a bummer…of the 30% of college students that are struggling with eating disorders, it is certainly not all females and the numbers are known to be higher in the Greek community.

Male students that are athletes partake in some really unhealthy behaviors to “make” and lose weight. But we planted a seed that hopefully will be nourished and grow to have a lasting impact on TCU’s campus.

My schedule was packed while I was there. I enjoyed dinner with the Panhellenic Council Members before the program on Tuesday. And thanks to Dr. Kathy Cavins-Tull, the Vice Chancellor of Student Activities, I had breakfast with her professional staff.

We had a candid discussion about issues caused by stress at TCU. The staff is engaged, but so many times it’s more than a student can handle to walk through the doors of the counseling center to ask for help. We discussed ways we can keep the discussion about eating disorders and addictive behaviors top-of-mind and what we can do to help freshman who with each new year seem to arrive more stressed and overwhelmed than the previous year.

After meeting with the professional staff, I spent 90 minutes giving free 15-minute consultations to students and Panhellenic officers who were looking for advice and help. This is something I started to do three years ago after my programs as it allows me to reach the students directly while I’m on campus. Often it’s easier for them to talk and confide in me because I’m a neutral party. And that’s value I’m happy to share because I’m so passionate about helping students make healthy choices in life and avoid the lifetime of destructive habits that I followed. These are just some of the things we do to create a “Learn2Balance Experience” while I’m on campus.

It’s so easy to get stuck and feel totally trapped when you’re in college. Even though it’s been quite a few years, I remember it well. So much pressure with studies, work and relationships, and getting ready to make the big leap to the real world where you will ultimately be responsible. Exciting and scary at the same time. If you don’t learn good habits and how to deal with stress in college, it will only get worse when you’re on your own.

As I shared with the students who attended my program, eating disorders are ony one way of dealing with stress. Some people pick alcohol, others-cutting, still others drugs, promiscuity and being verbally abusive. I call it “The Whack-A-Mole Syndrome.” Until you are ready to learn how to deal with stress proactively and give up the convenience of a habit that numbs you out when life hurts, or when you think you can’t deal with it, your brain will safely guide you to another form of addiction.

My hope is that the seeds we planted last week will grow, and that the girls who attended will not only hear the message, but use the techniques we discussed to reduce stress. And embrace the message that our bodies are only a wrapper…the package we came in. We are all different and that is a good thing. It makes each and every one of us special. By owning and embracing who you are, starting with what’s in your heart you’ll have a fighting chance of creating a life you enjoy living. A life that is peaceful, happy, and brings you all the success you want.

If you need help but don’t want to leave school to get help (and you’re still functioning) please join us in the Finding Hope Community. This is a safe, nurturing online community designed to help you:

  • Learn how to deal with stress
  • Get access to people who care about you that understand
  • Talk with people about your feelings without being judged
  • Get access to resources to help you improve confidence and self-esteem
  • Learn how to eat healthy, balanced meals that give your body the fuel it needs
  • Start on, or continue your journey to creating and embracing a healthy lifestyle

If you need a referral to a treatment center, or want personal coaching to help you. Contact me and I’ll be happy to provide a referral for you. I have many friends and resources in the eating disorder treatment community.

A special thank you to Martha Moseley, Claire Homza and Dr. Kathy Cavins-Tull for inviting me to TCU.  I look forward to visiting again and often.

Watch Martha’s interview with local CBS DFW news to promote eating disorder awareness week.

©2013

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