Dear Eating Disorder Treatment Community, IAEDP board and colleagues,
I am a HAES-aligned, eating disorder informed & sensitive fitness professional, and am proud to announce that I am newly certified through IAEDP as a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist (CEDS). My passion and focus over my career, has been to create safe and supportive fitness training environments for individuals recovering from eating disorders. I have fallen in love with my role and truly value the opportunities I have to work with a patient population that I care deeply for.
I was familiarized with our field, not willingly, but as a result of a close childhood friend and teammate’s battle with a startling eating disorder. During that painful time, I witnessed my happy, confident and athletic friend be withered down by damaging and body-shaming messages by our coach. When I realized the lasting impact our coach’s words had on her (and ultimately, both of our lives), my attention was piqued. Something didn’t quite sit right with me. I became curious. My awareness and concern were ignited. I was mad, motivated and moved! As a result of my observations from this difficult experience, I have been working to absorb as much knowledge as I can around the intersection of eating disorders and sport/physical activity.
Throughout my 15 years of work in the eating disorder field, I’ve come to understand that the relationship with how and why we move our bodies is significant in the healing process for many struggling with eating disorders. This has led me to the belief that the inclusion of safe and intentional physical activity is an important component of treatment. Walking side-by-side with individual on their recovery journey as truly been a great privilege. I am grateful for the support, space and resources that enable me to provide an encouraging and compassionate setting for others to cultivate a more wholesome relationship with body movement and sport.
I share my experience, not in pursuit of accolades, but as a reflection on my “journey to the starting line”, with immense gratitude and enthusiasm for what’s to come.
Forming my dream job has definitely been a long, windy and gradual path…but as my patients will remind me, “waiting is not easy, but it is absolutely worth it”. Allowing things to evolve in its suitable time has brought me great fulfillment. As a fitness professional, I’ve felt I did not belong in the eating disorder treatment field (and in some cases I was told I wasn’t). There were many years that I would attend eating disorder continuing education events feeling like an imposter since I wasn’t a physician, therapist, or dietitian. I recall during conference breakout networking sessions that I didn’t have a group to join; and there were never any CEUs offered for my career path. It wasn’t until some of the leaders in the field saw the value of including a strength and conditioning specialist as a part of the multidisciplinary treatment team. That open-mindedness to my “non-traditional” role provided me with a seat at the table, a voice and the opportunity to take the current research on safe and intentional exercise within the eating disorder population and put it into practice with our patients!
I don’t take the authorization of the IAEDP certification lightly. As I enter the next phase in my career, with the CEDS credential, I want to harness my appreciation into continued action. There is a strong need for additional, solid and reliable fitness professionals that our specialized ED providers can trust with working with their clients. My commitment to the providers and those seeking support from the ED treatment field are as followed:
- Remain a student – learn from my limitations and continue to grow and strengthen my knowledge base
- Stay up to date on relevant research
- Bridge the gaps between eating disorder treatment and body movement/athletic spaces
- Help those in athletic and fitness settings recognize the signs of EDs and feel comfortable with referring their clients to the appropriate eating disorder providers
- Provide guidance and mentorship to other strength and conditioning and fitness professionals
- Create a network of “eating disorder informed and sensitive fitness professionals” to help individuals heal their relationship with body movement and sport during their recovery process; and demonstrate how to collaboratively work with the rest of the ED interdisciplinary treatment team.
- Dispel the damaging messages generated by fitness and diet-culture
- Remain HAES-aligned
- Continuing to celebrate body diversity through fostering open and inclusive fitness environment
I want to express my appreciation for all of the growth opportunities that I have experienced in this ever-evolving field!
As I stand at the starting line, I am eager for the journey ahead and look forward to the innovative advancements in our field.
Let’s get to work!
Amanda S. Tierney, MS, CSCS, CEDS