Helping others, helping herself

Helping others, helping herself

On her own road to recovery, Heather Resos is reaching out to help others struggling with disordered eating

By Marissa Lyons

Heather Resos hopes to help other people in the community who struggle with disordered eating./Photo by Maria Belen Farias

Every morning it was the same routine: wake up and immediately weigh.

For Heather Resos, 21, the number that appeared on the scale had a huge impact on her day. That number decided if it would be a good day or a bad day. Those digits determined if she could have an extra snack, or if she would skip another meal.

Resos, a graduate student in the College of Health and Human Performance, suffered from disordered eating throughout her undergraduate career at UF.

Now, she no longer emphasizes the numbers on the scale. Instead, she is focusing on helping others. Currently in the process of recovery herself, she is helping to start an Eating Disorders Anonymous group in Gainesville this fall. Resos has come a long way, but it has been a trying journey.

The problem started during her freshman year. She reached her lowest weight, 102 pounds, during her junior year in 2009. That was the year things became very bad, Resos said.

“Everything revolved around the eating disorder,” Resos said. “That was my whole world.”

A typical day of meals for her back then was half a grapefruit with cinnamon sprinkled on it for breakfast, half a low-fat quesadilla for lunch, an apple as a snack, half a quesadilla for dinner, and half a cup of low-fat frozen yogurt for dessert. The day’s total? About 800 calories.

“I was hungry all of the time,” Resos said.

This past year, Resos started dating her boyfriend, Rasheed, who helped her realize she needed to stop starving her body. She had begun seeing Maria Constantinidou, a psychology resident at the Shands Behavioral Health Unit, for problems with anxiety, which led to her diagnosis of disordered eating.

Now, Resos said she is mostly recovered. She no longer counts calories and tries not to step on the scale at all. Stress is still a huge trigger for her but weekly sessions with Constantinidou help.

“Every day is really a battle when I wake up,” Resos said.

She continues to fight her battle and will soon help others as a leader in the new Eating Disorders Anonymous group.

Resos was inspired to start the group after searching for a support group she could join herself and realizing there were none in the area. This new group will be open to people in the community who suffer from any kind of eating disorder.

Resos is in the process of completing a 12-step program for disordered eating. She plans to finish the program by fall so she can sponsor someone else. She will be a co-founder of the group, partnering with another girl.

“I hope to really reach out to people,” she said. “Knowing that I can help just one person by sharing my story really gives me the push to do this.”