“They might not be able to understand that what's going through a person's mind doesn't represent the person, but the mental illness.” – Maris Degener on why it's important to separate the person from their disorder.
Even today, stigmas and unclear understandings about eat disorders and mental illness still exist within our society. Fortunately, more people are coming forward to discuss why it's so important that we try to understand and help those who are struggling each day.
One of these leaders is 18 year-old University of California, Santa Cruz student and Yoga Teacher, Maris Degener. Maris began her wellness journey as she was recovering from her eating disorder at a hospital. She was given the tools and assistance that she needed to help her body recover from her disorder, but she realized that the medical center didn't provide what she needed to help her mind heal.
Even though she's now a freshman in college, get ready to hear a great deal of insight from Maris on how we can discover self purpose, uncover happiness, and help change the stigma surrounding eating disorders and mental illness.
Ending Myths about Mental Illness
“Mental illness as a whole is so difficult to treat because it's so unique to the individual. We're still not 100% certain about how exactly mental illness manifests in people.” – Maris Degener
There are lot a of myths surrounding mental illness and we're still not quite sure what could be the cause of it. For some people it might be genetics or trauma or other life situations they experienced that create enough of an impact to affect their well-being.
There's a false belief that eating disorders come from a place of vanity. However, the root cause is so much deeper than that. Eating disorders and mental illness can come from a person working through their personal life issues. It might be their way to cope with trauma, feeling lost, or as a means to stay grounded when they feel out of control.
Recognize the Signs of an Eating Disorder
Here are some different ways to recognize the signs of an eating disorder.
The person is _____:
- not finding joy in food.
- finding it stressful to eat or be around food.
- suddenly displaying stress during social situations where food is involved.
- weighing and measuring what they are eating.
- eating different foods that they didn't eat before.
Shed Other People's Expectations
“Find whatever lights you up when other people are telling you that you should be doing something different with your life.” – Maris Degener
Maris made a really great point about the predicted expectations that society has about life and happiness. We can go through these scenarios at different points throughout life, but the pressure can be at its strongest when we have all of this pressure to join extracurricular activities in order to get into college during our high school years.
For Maris, she struggled with making decisions that she thought others would want for her versus discovering her own path.
When we face so many expectations that other people have about OUR life, we can feel numb and shut out our emotions.
Leave The “Predicted Life” Path
“I was torn because I wasn't sure if I was supposed to do things because I was passionate about them or was I supposed to do things because it was the right thing to do. So I was struggling with the traditional lack of identity, but I was also playing with this idea of what it meant to be authentic.” – Maris Degener on trying to find her purpose during high school
When we create our expectations and a life for ourselves, we find happiness. So go on and shed every idea that you had before about what it means to be a happy and successful person. Discover what you want out of this life and create your own path for yourself.
Shed the expectations that other people have for you life and start to feel YOUR emotions.
For Maris, she was a talented swimmer, but she didn't enjoy the sport or the competition. After recovering from her eating disorder, she began a new journey in which she was more open and honest with herself about what what she loves and what makes her happy.
At first, it was an uncomfortable feeling, but before she knew it, she felt free to follow her passion for yoga.
About Maris Degener
Maris is an 18 year old certified yoga teacher specializing in the healing and restorative power of Vinyasa
Flow. With a past of overcoming eating disorders and mental illness, Maris is a recovering pessimist and
perfectionist who is now fearlessly authentic.
At the age of 13 she was diagnosed with a life-threatening eating disorder that led her on a journey to regain her mental and physical health. She now seeks to spread the healing powers of yoga, whole foods, and mindful living through her blog and teaching practice.
She has been featured by CNN health and across the media being spotlighted for her fearless authenticity and raising awareness of eating disorders and mental health.
Resources Mentioned On the Show
- Maris Degener's official website
- Maris' interviews with other exceptional women on Everyday Goddess
- Check out the 2017 documentary featuring Maris, I Am Maris
- Watch the I Am Maris trailer
- Listen to Maris on the Harder to Kill Radio Podcast: How to be Fearlessly Authentic with Maris Degener
- Read the CNN article with Maris: Teen Overcomes Anorexia Through Yoga
- Learn about taking a yoga class at Just Be Yoga | Walnut Creek, California
- Listen to WFR episode 071 – Food Freedom Forever with Melissa Hartwig
- Listen to WFR episode 085 – Lisa Perkins: You Are Not One Size Fits All
- Furious Pete's Body Transformation & Recovery from Anorexia
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
- Learn more about Michael Pollan and his Netflix series, Cooked
- Read about Research on Males and Eating Disorders
- Learn more about Amy Kubal
What You'll Hear On The Show
- 1:50 Josh discusses today's show topics
- 4:00 Josh introduces Maris
- 4:30 Maris' story of receiving an email from an 80 year old man interested in yoga.
- 5:40 What is a common myth about eating disorders that isn't true?
- 7:00 The start of Maris' eating disorder with anxiety.
- 10:00 Discovering who we are and what our destination is meant to be.
- 11:40 What was your inspiration to be so self reflective?
- 12:20 What was missing for you after you left the hospital? How can our medical centers be better to help us heal both our minds and bodies?
- 15:00 Maris' discovery on how she could heal her emotional wellness
- 16:50 Maris' new journey to healing her mind and body through yoga
- 17:40 Maris' parents participation in her healing process
- 19:15 Are we born with an eating disorder or do different events push people in that direction?
- 22:45 Maris' connection with other people
- 25:00 The stigma around mental illness: Do we not allow ourselves to simply feel our emotions? How can we manage our emotions?
- 27:10 What do you tell women who are struggling?
- 28:30 Who's inspired you become this person that you are?
- 30:00 I Am Maris: How did this documentary about mental illness and your story begin?
- 31:45 Maris' continuous journey towards forgiving herself for her eating disorder
- 33:00 Books that have helped Maris with emotional wellness and well-being
- 34:30 How can we recognize signs of struggle with addiction or mental illness?
- 35:50 Maris' relationship with food today
- 37:30 How do we misinterpret our relationship with food? What do we focus on instead?
- 38:40 7 for 7: Josh asks Maris 7 fast questions
- 39:15 How do you practice fearless authenticity?
- 39:45 How do you create an authentic space?
- 40:10 What can people tell themselves when they're going through a shame spiral
- 42:10 What is your definition of wellness?
- 44:40 Takeaways from today's show
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About The Author, Lauren Bryant, Podcast Production
is the Podcasting Assistant and Show Notes Writer for Wellness + Wisdom. She has a BBA in both Marketing and Spanish for Business as well as certificates in Advanced Business Communications and International Business from the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.
Lauren’s wellness journey began at a young age when she joined her local YMCA swim team, The Wave, of La Crosse, WI. One of the most profound views on wellness that anyone has said to her was when she was an assistant swim coach for that same YMCA swim team.
One day during a practice, former head swim coach, Jon Brenner, shared with her that the most important thing about coaching the swimmers was that “It doesn’t matter if they become the best athletes in the world. What’s important is that we give them the tools and guidance they need to live a healthy, active lifestyle for the rest of their lives.”
Since hearing those words, she has taken it to heart to not only focus on continuously living her own healthy lifestyle, but to help others pursue their wellness goals as well.
Lauren is not only an avid swimmer, but a fan of running, yoga, cooking, and doing any activity outside that involves being surrounded by nature. In the Fall of 2014, she completed a long-awaited goal of walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain.
According to Lauren, wellness is about finding gratitude and joy in doing any type of physical or self-care activity that we love. Wellness means providing ourselves with self-love, good nutrition, and the inner peace that our individual minds and bodies need.