Posted on Mar 28, 2017
For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by the brain and how it impacts and is impacted by human behavior. Right now, my brain is reviewing memories, making sentences out of ideas, and controlling my fingers as I type on the computer. These tasks rely on the functioning of individual neurons (brain cells) as well as the larger structures they form in the brain and connections throughout my brain that allow it to function as a whole. Not only is my brain using its existing framework to create my thoughts and behavior it is also constantly forming new connections and adjusting its functioning based on experience. This is called neuroplasticity, a concept that describes the human brain as “changeable, malleable, modifiable” (Doidge, 2007).
Posted on Mar 21, 2017
Eating disorders have the highest death rate of any of the psychiatric illnesses. They affect every organ system in the body. As I stated in my first post, many of the symptoms of an eating disorder go unrecognized by healthcare professionals. Increased awareness of the effects of eating disorders on the body is vital to helping those who suffer with eating disorders get the help they need.
Posted on Mar 14, 2017
One of the unique things about Avalon Hills is the integration of biofeedback and neurofeedback training into our program. Biofeedback in general, refers to taking the trainee’s biological data, such as heart rate or skin temperature, and translating them into meaningful information, often in the form of games or other visuals. Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback that uses the electrical activity of the brain as the biological input. The reason that biofeedback is such an integral part of treatment at Avalon Hills is because of the powerful insight it provides our clients. Our emotional world and physical state are inextricably linked and biofeedback gives us a glimpse into the connection between the two.
Posted on Mar 06, 2017
National Eating Disorder Awareness Week has come and gone, but raising awareness about Eating Disorders is something we can do any day of the year. While working at Avalon Hills, I have become more aware of what this week truly means to me. In the past, I would see and sometimes read interesting and insightful articles or videos about Eating Disorders (ED) on social media. The past few years during NEDA week have been different. This week in particular has been a special time of reflection and encouragement, and I seek to know how to further support individuals in all different stages of an ED.
Posted on Mar 01, 2017
Most people know that exercising can help you improve your health, reduce stress, and stabilize mood. However, as with all good things, when used improperly or excessively you can actually cause more harm to your body and mind through misusing exercise. When patients first arrive at Avalon their relationship with exercise is often very clouded. I hear the patients talk about how they used to enjoy movement but their eating disorder twisted exercise as a way to burn more calories, isolate, and avoid being in their bodies and feelings. Learning to shift away from these thoughts and establishing a balanced mind-body connection allows the patients to enjoy the benefits of exercise in a healthy way.
Posted on Feb 08, 2017
I first learned about Avalon Hills while taking a physiology course at Utah State University and was immediately excited to apply. Unfortunately, I am no stranger when it comes to the topic of eating disorders. While growing up, my oldest sister had an eating disorder and it was very difficult to witness this. I have worked at Avalon Hills for over five years now and initially, I quickly learned that the position of being a direct care can be exhausting, yet very rewarding. As direct care we are hired to interrupt symptoms of eating disorders and model appropriate interactions between food and exercise.
Posted on Jan 31, 2017
Yoga is the act of union, where we create connection and let go of separation. Yoga provides a safe and grounding space to explore the connection of the embodied brain-mind and body together. Yoga also offers a place to unwind and release through growth and understanding.
Posted on Jan 17, 2017
With the beginning of this new year it seemed appropriate to talk briefly about new years’ resolutions. You know, that thing that you’ve already broken now that we are a few days into the new year (something tells me many reading this know exactly what I’m talking about!) I was speaking with my wife about our new year’s resolutions a few days before the new year. When asked what she was going to do she said, “you know, the normal ones…”. What she meant of course was the resolutions she makes every year, but for one reason or another is unable to follow through on.
Posted on Jan 10, 2017
Tragically, 17 years ago Anna Westin committed suicide. She was only 21 at the time. I have heard her mom Kitty tell the story that Anna felt so hopeless in her eating disorder that it lead to her death. Anna needed residential treatment desperately but was unable to access care due to limitations of her insurance policy.
Posted on Dec 06, 2016
This month our clients had the opportunity to serve at the Loaves and Fishes Community Meal, which is a non-denominational event held at the First Presbyterian Church. Volunteers and donors from several churches and organizations worked together to make this outreach a great success. Meals were served and delivered to elderly people in need of companionship, families struggling financially, group home residents seeking social safety, and people hoping to build stronger relationships throughout the community. Meals were also delivered to CAPSA to help those sheltering from domestic violence. We felt fortunate to be part of such a great community effort!