Thursday, May 31, 2012

A quote for Thursday: Success

"Success comes in cans, not can'ts."
- Author Unknown

Thursday inspiration: "Shake it Out" covered by the Capital Children's Choir

When I got into the office this morning, I checked the Facebook page for Rock for Charity 2.0. Before I was able to do that, though, the above video, which appeared on my news feed, captured my attention.

The Capital Children's Choir from London cover "Shake it Out" by Florence and the Machine. They recorded it at Abbey Road Studios after meeting Florence Welch, the lead singer of the band, earlier this year at Alexandra Palace.

Let's just say I watched it this morning and got chills from the moment the little boy at the beginning started singing the lyrics until the very last "oh woah." And, when I watched it again...the chills returned.

I leave you with this video for Thursday's little bit of inspiration. Don't forget, "It's hard to dance with a devil on your back. So shake him off, oh whoa."

-- Leviana Coccia

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Classic inspiration

Photo by: CC Chapman
"You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in 
any direction you choose.
You're on your own.
And you know what you know.
You are the [one] who'll decide where to go."
- Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Writing to cope

I’ve always been a writer.

In grade one, I kept a diary in a book with Tweety Bird on the front cover. It had a lock and key as well as confessions of my first crush.

In grade eight I had to write weekly journals for school, one being about a neighbour who passed away from Leukemia at the age of five. I was asked to share this one to my class. When I looked up from my notebook, everyone had tears in their eyes.

In high school, my journal’s front cover was decorated with City and Colour and Dashboard Confessional lyrics. On the inside, I wrote about high school frustrations, parties, friends, ex-friends, fights and stresses with family.

For the majority of my university career, I kept a blog, where I would write on a daily basis and communicate with my 100+ followers about how things were going, issues I felt like ranting about and my battle with confidence.

Photo by: Basykes
Last week, I felt the urge to start journaling privately again (in a notebook for my eyes only). So, I went out and purchased a notebook from the dollar store. I don’t just write about difficult topics or not-so-great days, but I also write about challenges, opportunities and my goal to stay positive.

It’s safe to say that for majority of my life, I’ve been writing to cope.

Sometimes, I keep feelings to myself. After a hard day at work, a family fight, a crushing realization or a difficult encounter, I really do not want to talk about the traumas I’ve experienced. As time goes on, though, I don’t feel relieved. Instead, I feel as if the things that have gotten under my skin are now in my blood stream preventing me from sleeping at night.

My thoughts revolve around the bothers that soon begin to eat away at my self-confidence, spirituality and sense of self.

After writing a journal entry about my day, including how I felt in each situation, however, I feel freed. I feel my chest change from the mass of a heavy paperweight to a light feather. I feel at peace and continue my day, or move on to the next one, with ease and a smile.

When traumatic or inspirational incidents take place, they fall into those two categories subjectively. What I feel is traumatic may not be on the same level as another person’s trauma, but the incident that may have disturbed me has subjectively become my own.

Writing down my thoughts allows me to communicate with my number one: Me. I can confide in my journal and myself because book binds, lined paper and pens don’t judge and neither do I. I know the thoughts and feelings I have and when I write them down, I am communicating with the one person who knows me best.

Most of the time, these journals become self-reflections. I’ll start off writing in an irritated or concerned tone and by my last sentence, I’ve mentally accepted the situation and found a way to look past it. I write down these re-evaluations, too.

The best part about journal writing for me, though, is when I go back and read entries from years, months, weeks, days or moments before. When I write, I keep in mind that my audience is myself. So, when I go back and read what I had written, I’m not only remembering how I felt earlier, but I’m also effectively coping with whatever experience I had written about (whether good or bad).

And when I close my journal and cap my pen, the tough moments or exciting revelations are still there, but this time, they don’t keep me from doing my best nor do they keep me up at night.

-- Leviana Coccia

Monday, May 28, 2012

Two quotes today, because it's Monday

Photo by: cygnus921

 "There is an exquisite melody in every heart. If we listen closely we can hear 
each other's song."
- Anonymous

Diets: You lose more than just weight

A friend of mine teaches Sunday school and a few weeks ago he texted me from class saying, “These [girls] are in grade six and seven and they are talking about their weight.”

After reading the text message, my jaw dropped! These girls weren't even in high school and yet they were fussing about their weight. I also thought back to when I was nine or 10-years-old. I was told numerous times that I was fat, ugly, worthless and a goody-goody. Once, before performing a dance in the talent show, a boy in my class said to me, "No fat chicks allowed dancing." After my short blast from the past, I asked my friend to elaborate on what he had overheard at Sunday school.

“Talking about how they had a slumber party and all weighed themselves at the beginning and end to see if they lost weight,” my friend said. “One lost one pound and [the others] were jealous.”

According to the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC), 40 per cent of nine-year-old girls have dieted, despite being within a healthy weight range. NEDIC also says that human bodies come naturally in a range of sizes.

"We inherit a genetic set-point around which, with healthy lifestyles, our weight will fluctuate a few pounds," reads the centre's brochure called, "Dieting & Weight Loss: Facts and Fiction." 

Being asked, "Did you lose some weight?" is often followed by, "Wow. Great job. You look fantastic," or something of that nature, when really, an individual who lost a certain number of pounds may not have needed to, at all, should they have been at a healthy body weight.

NEDIC also says the following in their "Dieting & Weight Loss: Facts and Fiction" brochure, "Some people will naturally be thinner, a larger number will be naturally average and another group will be naturally fatter. It is healthiest to remain at your natural set-point weight."
Although my natural body-weight may not be my ideal, it is the weight at which I am going to be the healthiest.

"And when we are healthy, we have the energy and vitality to live our lives to the fullest, and to look our best," the NEDIC brochure says, as well.

A person receiving the positive reinforcement may be suffering terribly and addicting comments encouraging negative behaviours like restricting food and excessive exercise can lead to self-doubt and acts of self-harm.

Photo by: Leviana Coccia
There was a time in my life where I was extremely concerned with my weight and I spent months obsessing over the number on the scale, like the girls my friend texted me about. It was as if losing weight was the only thing that was supposed to be on my to-do list.  These behaviours of mine could have turned into an obsession that could have eventually taken my life, literally speaking if they were to result in an eating disorder but also because these actions slowly started to take away my joy, resilience and openness that are all vital to a healthy life.

It was as if a number on the scale defined me, in place of my self-worth, self-love, self-awareness and ability to stay centered on goals of my choice. Everything about me on the inside seemed not to matter when I was given addicting compliments about how great I looked at my new weight. And, it was extremely hard when others around me were dieting and exercising excessively, essentially doing the same thing as me, and losing more weight than I was. I felt jealous, like those girls my friend talked about in the text message. This competitive edge can be dangerous because self-worth can be replaced by external measures, like negating oneself that could spark the beginning of isolation.

That's when I realized I would never be able to look the best, be the best or feel the best based on other people's standards because I couldn't define myself based on what others perceived of me. And, no two people are comparable, because every person is so unique. Instead, my self-awareness and self-definition needed to come from who I was entirely: How I defined myself, without outside prejudices and judgements.

When on a diet, you can lose more than just weight. NEDIC says you can also lose your sense of humour, muscle and lean tissue, water (which means you could end up dehydrated), money (after spending tons on diet products - and for the record, the diet industry has a 98 per cent failure rate) and time and energy (that could have been spent on something that could ensure lasting self-esteem instead of dieting, which could lead to lowered self-esteem and poor health).  A preoccupation with food can also lead to loss of friends, goals and life.

For more information about dieting facts and fiction, visit our website.

-- Leviana Coccia

A new week, a new quote

Photo by: The Love Yourself Challenge

 "Put your future in good hands - your own."

- Author Unknown

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Advertisements could prevent us from living “Life in Balance”

EDOYR honours “Life in Balance.” We believe it. We live it. We love it. But, we also live in a world where the term “balance” is often ignored.

The other morning I was watching Food Network Canada’s Chef at Home starring Michael Smith, one of Canada’s best-known chefs, before leaving for the office. The volume was on low, but I could still see what Smith was making. Right after Smith put what appeared to be a loaf of honey oat bread into the oven, this commercial came on.

This Atkins Diet commercial introduces Cheryl Lynn Wolf, the 2012 Success Story Superstar Winner, and then describes all the foods dieters can eat to find a perfect balance between carbohydrates. In other words, the commercial tells its audience that if they go the Atkins way, they can be just like Cheryl.

The selling point: You can get your free Atkins Quick-Start Kit by following the directions provided in the advertisement. What that really means: If you apply for a free start kit, you could be just like Cheryl.

As soon as I watched this commercial, an extremely loud “this answer is not correct” noise seemed to go off in my head. You know the one:

Companies, not just Atkins, sell us what they say are quick fixes for our problems and insecurities.

In this example, we are promised that if we are unhappy with our weight, all we have to do is go on the Atkins Diet to find happiness, like Cheryl did. The problem with that, though, is eternal, lifelong happiness cannot be achieved through the purchase of products, whether these products are weight-loss plans, a new book, teeth-whitening toothpaste or a new pair of shoes.

Not to mention, we honestly have no idea if Cheryl is truly happy. How is her spiritual well being? How is she mentally? Does she love herself for who she is (regardless of the fact that she lost weight)? We don’t know the answer to those, but we’re tricked into thinking that Cheryl must be happy in all those areas because before and after photos show her smiling from ear to ear after using the product being sold to us in the very commercial we are watching.

After Atkins spokesperson Courtney Thorne-Smith stopped selling a diet (like the other several that exist but do not work…I mean, the diet industry has a 98 per cent failure rate!), this commercial came on.

Anna Olson, chef and host of Sugar and Fresh on Food Network Canada, shows us that cooking can be as easy as 1-2-3, especially with the new Philly Cooking Creme, which can be used for dressings and sauces of all sorts.

My first sarcastic thought after watching this advertisement: The Atkins Diet would not approve.

Do you see how we are thrown from one extreme to the next? We could be watching television for our own personal pleasure and then be told that to experience even more pleasure, we would need to buy into a diet program to help us lose weight. Then moments later, we could be told to indulge because it’s easy, fun and, well, taboo.

Where’s the balance in that?

-- Leviana Coccia

Positive thought for this lovely Thursday

Optimism is the foundation of courage.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

All Sons & Daughters - Brokenness Aside

I was looking on The Love Yourself Challenge today and came across this song. I enjoyed listening to it because it reminded me that with every challenge comes an opportunity. One of the bloggers on the site said the song helped get them through a tough week. What are your thoughts on the song?

-- Leviana Coccia

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What are some things you wish someone had told you at 15?

Photo by: @boetter
We're making our very own version of the "Dear 15-year-old-me" video! But, we need your help to do so. Here's an opportunity for you to share lessons with current, former and soon-to-be 15-year-olds around the world.

What are some things you wish someone had told you at 15? 

Dear 15-year-old-me...

Michelle, our summer placement student, found this video by Kat Forder Photography. Here in the EDOYR hub, we were all touched after watching it.

How did you react to watching this video?

Under one month until Rock for Charity 2.0

Rock for Charity 2.0 is under one month away. That means that in 30-days, the El Mocambo could be filled to capacity with people of all ages listening to local bands Four Nines Fine, Highway Lights, Couriers, TNG, House of Coconuts, Ravyn Red and Eric Conlon of Lambs Become Lions. The audience will be bopping to the sounds of the Greater Toronto Area: Acoustic, rock, alternative, indie and hard-rock.

A photo booth called "Ladies not Barbies, Men not Ken" celebrating how wonderful we are in our own skin will also be set up. Attendees can get their photo taken with a donation and then receive their photo via e-mail.

The photo booth idea was sparked by the media attention surrounding Valeria Lykyano, the 21-year-old Ukranian model from Russia who has undergone countless surgeries to have the face and body of  Barbie.

Rock for Charity 2.0 will celebrate the skin we were born in and the lives we have been given, as well as honour self-worth and self-love.

So, come out on June 21 to Rock for Charity 2.0 at the El Mocambo in Toronto to celebrate summer, happiness and love.

Doors open at 7:00pm. The show begins at 7:30pm. Tickets are $10 at the door, or $8 with a canned food donation that will support the El Mocambo's food drive. All proceeds will go to EDOYR.

In January, we hosted Rock for Charity (the original in the concert series). Volunteers raised $1,407 the night of the concert, but EDOYR received a call earlier that day from a new friend of the organization who said they would match whatever was raised at the event. In total, Rock for Charity raised $2,814.

Those funds helped EDOYR provide support for people suffering from eating disorders as well as for their families and friends. It has also helped EDOYR continue outreach initiatives across the community that spread eating disorder awareness and education.

Ultimately, the funds, friends and awareness we can raise together benefit everyone in the community. Whether we know it or not, someone we know is suffering from some sort of disordered eating or eating disorder. We are all affected.

RSVP online, today.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

MANOREXIA: A multimedia piece by University of Guelph-Humber grads

To see more of the project, click here.

Canada's first mental health strategy launched

Canada's first mental health strategy was launched Tuesday to improve access for all Canadians to mental health supports and services.

Read this article from the Aurora Banner for more.

EDOYR at the Aurora Chamber Street Festival

On Sunday, June 3, you'll be able to find EDOYR at the Aurora Chamber Street Festival!

We'll be offering information brochures and resources. We'll also be hosting a "Make Your Own Friendship Bracelet" station, where people of all ages are welcome to make their own bracelet and become a part of our Circle of Friends.

Photo by: moiracrochetsplarn.
 Please note, these friendship bracelets are simply an example of what you could make
on June 3 at the Aurora Chamber Street Festival.

As you may have read in an earlier post on our Circle of Friends, the "Friend Raising" campaign was established to help raise awareness and funds so EDOYR can continue to provide support for people suffering from eating disorders or disordered eating as well as for their families and friends. 

Click here for an example of a "Friend Raising" event I planned in January. The second event in this series will take place on June 21.
When friends come together to embark on any given initiative, the encouragement and support they provide one another is inexplicable. We see this first hand at many of the fundraising events hosted not only by [EDOYR], but by the friends we have gained over the years. We are hoping to take this idea one step further! With the help of even just one friend, EDOYR is able to make great strides. If that one friend were to encourage their circle of friends, not only would this increase awareness around eating disorders but lessen the stigma as well. Everyone knows someone who in some way, shape or form, is affected by an Eating Disorder. We need to come together, to empower one another and add that human touch to relationships that is often left behind.
 Nisha Thomas, a former EDOYR placement student, wrote the above when initially describing "Friend Raising" for our blog.  

"Friend Raising" also teaches members of the community how to be a friend to someone suffering from a mental illness.

Thomas went on to explain that a Circle of Friends would include groups of friends coming together to arrange events within their local community to raise money. All proceeds would then, in turn, go towards EDOYR.

A Circle of Friends could also include ongoing online donations of any amount per month. Should one person make a donation each month and then encourage four of their friends to do so as well, this monthly contribution from your Circle of Friends will not only increase with the more people who donate, but so will eating disorder awareness.

Be sure to visit us at the Aurora Chamber Street Festival to make your own friendship bracelet and learn more about how you can become a part of our Circle of Friends.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Rock for Charity 2.0 at the El Mocambo - June 21!

Did you have fun at Rock for Charity in January? If you did, then you should come to the second benefit concert in the series at the El Mocambo. You should also bring all your friends. Don't worry, even if you missed out on the first one, you and your friends are invited, too.

Here is your chance to rock out for charity!

As it also happens, June 21 is the second day of summer. What is a better way to celebrate than at the famous and historic El Mocambo with friends dancing the night away?

The concert is volunteer run and will benefit EDOYR. We will also be collecting canned food donations for El Mocambo's Serving Charity.

RSVP online today!

Thanks in advance for all your support and great effort! We are really excited to see this event raise even more than our first concert did. The record we hope to break: $2,814.00. Can we do it? With your help, of course we can!

Tickets can be purchased at the door for $10 OR $8 with a canned food item!


EDOYR at Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School in Markham for their Wellness Week Fair!

We had the pleasure of attending Markham's Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School's Wellness Week Fair on Wed. May 16.

Check out photos from the event below:
Michelle, placement student, working the EDOYR booth at Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School's Wellness Week Fair!
Natalia, Administrative Assistant, working the EDOYR booth at Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School's Wellness Week Fair!
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) was also at Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School's Wellness Week Fair! They were giving out these cool brain-shaped stress balls!

Remember the CMHA rep we met at St. Theresa of Lisieux Catholic High School earlier this May? He was at this fair, too.
These are some of the brochures students, guidance counselors, teachers and the like had access to!
The information brochures we provide are filled with information from the National Eating Disorders Information Centre (NEDIC).
Our motto!
Thanks Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School for having us on Wed. May 16 during your Wellness Week.
Michelle (left, placement student) and Leviana (right, Events and Communications Coordinator) are sitting at the EDOYR booth giving out brochures, answering questions and encouraging students to get involved in their community.
The halls of Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School are buzzing with student activity!
More brochures!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

EDOYR's first ever Recovery Support Group

Starting on June 12 for a total of eight Tuesdays, Eating Disorders of York Region's first ever Recovery Support Group will be hosted in Thornhill, ON from 5 to 6pm.

Flora Svinarenko, psychotherapist, will facilitate these groups.

The Recovery group is intended for those who are currently working actively on maintaining changes they've made in regards to their eating behaviours while also attending other group programs offered by EDOYR or participating in eating disorder treatment.

Located in a safe and empathetic environment, this group will provide attendees with coping tools and support needed to address complicated emotions, unhealthy behaviours or unhelpful thoughts.

The Recovery group is not structured, so individuals can bring their issues, difficulties and achievements up for discussion.

The Recovery group will also bring everyone in attendance together to explore helpful and useful ways to reduce symptoms and make meaningful changes.

The road to recovery can be challenging and emotional support is necessary to overcome or prevent lapses.

Register for the group online, today!

Location: 300 John St., Suite 15, Thornhill, ON, L3T 5W5 
Major Intersection: Bayview Ave. and John St. 
Group #: 301-062012 
Fee: $80.00

Tips for Addressing an Eating Disorder

Dr. Jennifer Hagman, the Medical Director of the Eating Disorders Program at Children's Hospital Colorado, talks about how teachers and coaches can help a student with an eating disorder.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Show Your True Colours does Mental Health Week

We at EDOYR have been busy. It's day three of Mental Health Week and we've got a great deal to show for it (literally...see the photos below). On Wednesday May 9, we went to St. Theresa of Lisieux Catholic High School (CHS) in Richmond Hill to take part in their Mental Health Fair. We met with students, teachers, guidance counselors and representatives from other organizations in an attempt to raise mental health awareness.

While we were at the local high school, we also spread information about our Show Your True Colours campaign. Tons of students and teachers expressed their interest and support. We cannot thank you enough.

Check out our Twitter and Facebook pages for more photos of the day's events.

This grade twelve student at St. Theresa of Lisieux CHS in Richmond Hill poses beside our EDOYR booth at the school's Mental Health Fair, organized by the Stomping Out Stigma (SOS) club on campus.

Two St. Theresa teachers show their support for Stomping Out Stigma (SOS).

Look at those amazing shirts! EDOYR had a ton of fun at St. Theresa's SOS club's Mental Health Fair.

EDOYR was giving out our gear at St. Theresa! Buttons and bracelets for everyone.

Students, teachers, guidance counselors and the like were stopping by our booth to ask questions about eating disorders and how to get involved with EDOYR. If you're interested in getting involved, e-mail We're ALWAYS looking for new helpers.

A lot of students weren't aware that men could have eating disorders, too. Well, they can! For more information, visit our website.

Three EDOYR reps are wearing their Stomping Out Stigma (SOS) bracelets to support the St. Theresa club!

We loved this banner so much that we had to take a photo. "Live the life you have imagined." So beautiful!

Look at this St. Theresa student showing HER true colours. Notice her green pin? You can show your true colours by taking a photo of yourself and sending it to for a chance to see your face on our Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blog! Please e-mail us asking for a Photo Consent Form, as well.

This grade twelve student at St. Theresa of Lisieux is also showing her true colours. Thank you for your support!

Ashley Nicholls from the Women's Support Network of York Region was at St. Theresa for their Mental Health fair, too. See her here with her Show Your True Colours button. Thank you for the support!

This is Stephen Liu from the Canadian Mental Health Association. He's sporting his Show Your True Colours button, too.

Meaghan Bluer is from Pathways to Affordable Housing in Toronto. She has her Show Your True Colours button on!

What a lovely thank-you card from St. Theresa's Stomping Out Stigma (SOS) club.

Thanks again for having us, SOS at St. Theresa!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Our Show Your True Colours Campaign is on the move!

Alina Khan is a Markham high school student who came to our office in Aurora today. She interviewed us for a school project on Anorexia Nervosa and the impact an eating disorder can have on a family. 

See Khan's lovely "Show Your True Colours" button? You can show your true colours by sending in a photo of yourself to

From left to right: Janice Morgante (Executive Director), Natalia Tvoronovitch (Administrative Assistant), Leviana Coccia (Events and Communications Coordinator) and Khan.
Here we are again! Can you see those lovely green buttons we're wearing? Join our Show Your True Colours campaign, today!

Mental Health Week

Toady is the beginning of a new week that brings with it a chance of showers and a high of 15 degrees. Not even the overcast skies outside the Eating Disorders of York Region office in Aurora can take away the excitement of a new week with new adventures.

You might be thinking, “It’s Monday. I’m groggy, hungry, tired and bored…what could possibly make the beginning of this week so special?” Well, today marks the start of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Week.

Mental Health Week is an annual national event that takes place during the first week of May. CMHA says the weeklong initiative encourages people from every community to join in mental health awareness by learning, talking, reflecting and engaging with one another on various mental health issues.

“We’re celebrating 61 years of improving people’s understanding of mental health through our annual Mental Health Week, May 7-13, 2012!” reads the CMHA-run

This year’s theme is Mental Health for All, which is why EDOYR is encouraging our Circle of Friends to spread mental health awareness.

Photo by: xlordashx

Eating disorders are the mental health issue with the highest mortality rate. Though females make up 90 to 95 per cent of those diagnosed, eating disorders affect everyone and are increasingly seen amongst males. Unfortunately, there is still so much the community does not know about eating disorders.

You could help spread eating disorder awareness by volunteering with EDOYR and/or organizing a friend-raising initiative.

Send us an e-mail to with a personal story about how you’re getting involved with Mental Health Week. Tweet us @EDOYR and give us a teaser to your Mental Health Week plans. Take a photo of yourself celebrating your true colours and submit it for a chance to show up on our Facebook, Twitter, blog and/or website.

By: Leviana Coccia
Events and Communications Coordinator at EDOYR