Episode #9 – Rebecca Arsena

Overcoming Disordered Eating

Rebecca always knew that her past story existed for a purpose. Before, anorexia defined her life. Now, she defines her life by committing to the path of healing and paying it forward to others.

Episode #9

“Learning to say “No” is very freeing and you don’t need to have an explanation behind why you say it.”


Rebecca Arsena is a courageous, persistent and intentional New England girl who moved South not knowing a single person because she felt pulled by her purpose. She never looked back.  Her 13-year-old daughter is the reason why she is persistent in reaching higher and striving to be better every day.  When you hear Rebecca’s story, you’ll understand exactly why having a healthy and happy teen daughter is so important to her and serves as her daily inspiration.

At 12 years old, Rebecca found herself hospitalized due to an eating disorder and at one point was admitted to a residential facility an hour and a half away from home.

While in treatment, she learned very quickly that all things centered around her weight.  The scale carried power.  Everyone around her seemed to be obsessed with her weight.  It could bring freedom such as attending weekly outings or going home to see family on the weekend, but it could also bring bondage and force her to stay or go back into the hospital.

For the doctors, her weight was critical and a matter of life and death, but to a maturing teen girl the idea of a number on the scale became all that mattered in her health.  Rebecca began to form unhealthy belief patterns at a very young and impressionable age.

A turning point happened in her life around the age of 13 while she was working with a compassionate family practitioner.  He was supporting her and also offering to counsel her to health.  He told her, “If you don’t get this eating disorder under control, you probably won’t be able to have kids in the future.”  While pregnancy was not something she had even thought about at this age, she did recognize that she didn’t want the choice of having kids be taken away from her.

She began to see improvements in her body as she developed.  Physically she was healing, but mentally and emotionally there was still a lot of progress to be made.  A few setbacks happened over the years and after college an unhealthy relationship added to her insecurities and disordered mindset surrounding her body.

When she took a heavy interest in nutrition after college it seemed to be a healthy pursuit, but looking back now she realizes that was likely just a way to learn more about how to manipulate her body. Her focus on being thin and the number on the scale was a key part of her identity.

Fast forward to just a few years ago.  Rebecca had the desire to push herself mentally and physically. She decided to enter a fitness competition. She knew it was way out of her comfort zone and that she would be exposed to the harsh judgment and criticism offered by the judges of such a competition.  She fully believed she would not sink back into the mental struggle and disordered thoughts that were of the past.  Of course, her family was concerned, but she honestly felt that after this competition she would be done obsessing over her body and exercise.

While backstage, in the middle of her competition, she had an epiphany recognizing that this industry was selling the wrong message about what it means and looks to be healthy.  She no longer wanted to participate in the problem but wanted to be part of the solution.  That’s when she decided to learn more from a functional medicine perspective and signed up in the health coach program that next month.

She found her voice when she started educating herself and pursuing health certifications. She became her own health advocate and recognized she can’t outsource her health to someone else.  Functional Medicine opened her eyes to see that while she had been struggling with adrenal fatigue, GI issues, and metabolic dysfunction due to her past choices and dead-end solutions from doctors, there were effective paths toward healing.

She began making the connection between mind and body for her health.  Mental health had not been a significant piece of her early health journey, but now it has become a huge part. She uses her journey and the hardships she walked through to serve others and inspire them to pursue lifelong health.

She never let anorexia define her life and believed that her past existed for a purpose. She uses the power of her past experiences to commit to the path of true healing for herself and paying it forward to help others.

If you’re looking for support from EHOP Health for your company or organization visit www.ehophealth.com. Are you an individual looking for health support? Visit www.journey2health.com/individuals


Key Takeaways

  • The struggle to overcome a powerful Eating DIsorder

  • Our past doesn’t have to define us, but it does become part of us

  • Becoming a part of the solution rather than the problem.

  • Finding your voice to support you and your health

  • The power of tending to your mental not just your physical wellbeing

  • Using past pain to promote future purpose

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About the host

Sarah Schall

Sarah Schall

Sarah Schall is a National Board Certified Health Coach and serves as Sr. Coach & Community Manager at EHOP Health. She is also a wife, mom of four, and founder of “Inside-Out Strong” a program that teaches girls and mom how to build up their hearts, minds and bodies.

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