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Posted Apr 20 2010 12:00am


April is “Poetry Month”. To celebrate that fact, poetry therapist, Nate Gadsen, came to speak at our medical center. I often use poetry in my journaling groups to help people connect with images and emotions. It was great to hear someone else’s experiences.

One vitally important aspect of Nate’s talk was when he outlined four steps that people need to recognize and practice as they work to pursue their dreams. I think these steps are so important that I want to focus on them. Consider how they might relate to your eating disorder recovery.

1st Step: “I AM”

You need to consider who you are and what you want in life. One way you could consider this: “I am tired of living with my eating disorder.” “I am more than my eating disorder.” “I am…”

2nd Step: “I CAN”

Now that you have identified how you want to view yourself and your life—you need to believe that you can make changes. You need to grab the energy and the “I Can” part of this. For example, you could say: “I can get rid of my eating disorder.” “I can discover the healthy aspects of myself.” “I can focus on my true self rather than my eating disorder self.”

3rd Step: “I WANT TO”

We all have things that we can do, the question is whether we want to do them. I can learn how to garden, but I don’t want to. Anyone can have a goat (just like I do), but most people don’t want to. So how does this relate to your eating disorder? Consider what you can do and now decide that you want to do it. For example: “I want to get rid of my eating disorder.” “I want to discover healthy aspects of myself.” “I want to focus on my true self.”

4th Step: “I WILL DO IT”

Recovery is not just wanting to do it, but it is doing it. With any great goal, it is not just desiring it, but pursuing it. I may want to be a writer, but if I don’t get my butt in the chair and write each day, then I may want to be a writer, but I won’t be. That’s the same for recovery. You need to decide to make it happen. How about: “I will get through today without using symptoms.” “I will follow my meal plan today.” “I will explore a healthy activity.” “I will develop my true self through_______.” (Fill in the blank—writing, drawing, or whatever creative outlet will help you explore the true you.)

Nate said that “Someday is land—you need to claim it!” Don’t think--someday, I’ll do this.  Do it today! Today is the first day of someday, start on that first step.


  • Take time to outline your four steps. Who are you (outside of your eating disorder)? What can you do? (Start small, but then build on the skills.) What do you want to do? (What dreams do you have?) What will you do? (Start with the basic steps, but realize you are building for a healthy tomorrow.) Claim your energy, your future and your todays!
  • Visualize and journal about what you want from your future. Now is the day to claim your energy and start planning for it. What do you need to do to get there? Journal a plan. Journal who can help you get there. Journal the tools that you’ll need. Now work to gather them.
  • Do you keep hitting a wall? Journal about that so you can understand what is holding you back. Sometimes our past can creep into our present and affect our future. If someone in your life had a bad temper, do you worry that others are going to yell or lose control? Does that hold you back? Journal about what you’re currently facing. Could your past be affecting your perception of the present?
  • Journal an affirmation to help you through the four steps. Know what you want and then take the steps to make it happen.


So who are you? You are a fabulous person who can start a new and healthy life. What do you want? Journal and discover. What will you do? Journal your plans and then get started!

Go, Write On!

Martha Peaslee Levine, MD

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