“I don’t want you to fall in love with your body. I want you to fall in love with your life.”
Those are the words of Jennifer Rollin, the eating disorder therapist and the founder of The Eating Disorder Center in Rockville, Maryland.
Rollin, who overcame an eating disorder of her own, has built a large following on social media. With over 100,000 followers on Instagram and counting, she is the go-to person helping people overcome eating disorders.
She wants people to know that there is a way out of eating disorders and that people struggling don’t have to feel trapped anymore.
Rollin is all about helping people fall in love with their lives again. One way she does this is by getting clients to take a step back and examine their lives. It all starts with unpacking unhealthy thought patterns and anti-fat bias, but it’s about so much more than that.
Rollin says people with eating disorders often isolate themselves from social events. Their eating disorders can often consume most of their thoughts for the entire day, which is painful on a psychological and emotional level, but also exhausting.
“I sometimes start with having my clients do a pie chart of the percentages of their life and where they’re spending most of their time and energy – in what areas,” says Rollin.
“Usually it’s a lot of food and body that’s taking up a huge amount of that pie chart, and we have a finite amount of time and energy.”
Rollin goes on to say, “When we’re putting 60 percent of our time and energy into focusing on our body and 20 percent focusing on food, we’re not leaving much space for other things.”
That is when Jennifer Rollin has her clients make another pie chart with what they want their ideal life to look like. This creates a new model for the client to work towards, and gives them a visual depiction of how their ideal life could be.
As Rollin’s clients work towards building a healthier relationship with food and their own body, they can eventually start thinking less about food and their bodies.
Getting people to reframe their thinking in a society that pushes the ‘thin standard’ is no easy task. Nevertheless, it’s not a challenge Jennifer Rollin is willing to back down from.
“I think it’s so natural and automatic in our society for people to make body based compliments and comments. I think even if it’s well intentioned, those comments do more harm than good.”
Rollin says it’s important to focus on complimenting people for their attributes that are not going to change over the course of their lives, and are not based on weight stigma. That means complimenting people about their personality and the way they make you feel. Those, according to Rollin, are more favorable.
To wrap up, Jennifer Rollin says it’s important to focus on expanding and acknowledging other aspects of ourselves outside of our bodies and recognizing that ultimately, our body is the vehicle that enables us to move through life.
“We need to think about those other things and qualities that we bring to the table, like deepening our relationships, expanding our hobbies, and thinking about other things that are far more meaningful than the size and shape of our bodies.”