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Co-founder of PROJECT HEAL, a non-profit organization for people with eating disorders who are unable to afford treatment, while also promoting healthy body image and self-esteem.
Project HEAL: Help to Eat, Accept and Live is a 501(c) not-for-profit organization in the United States and a federal not-for-profit organization under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act (NFP Act).
We provide scholarship funding for people with eating disorders who cannot afford treatment, promote healthy body image and self esteem, and serve as a testament that full recovery from an eating disorder is possible.
On July 4th, 1776 we claimed our independence from Britain and Democracy was born
On August 12th, 1984 my parents got married
On May 4th, 1991 I was born
On March 28th, 2004 I received first place at invitational for swimming my time in a 100-meter free style
On April 24th, 2004 I celebrated my Bat Mitzvah
On May 8th, 2008 Project HEAL became officially incorporated with NY state an received 501(C)(3) status
In the course of history as well as our own personal lives, we use dates to commemorate milestones and special occasions.
Interestingly enough, the two most significant dates in my life cannot be circled on a calendar.
For those who suffer the onset of an eating disorder really can’t be pin pointed, nor can the first day of recovery.
Both are long gradual processes. I challenge you to mark this day on your calendar, as the day you choose to start your HEALing process.
I’m frequently asked, how. HOW did you recover? However, until we all start asking WHY more frequently, we can’t possibly know how or where to get started or how to move beyond what we already know or are comfortable with.
A few years ago my therapist handed me a piece of paper and told me to split in half. (Of course, I made it certain the distance between each half was exactly equal).
My therapist requested me to write down life with my eating disorder and life without.
Life without an eating disorder? I could not possibly imagine that. I’m here to tell you WHY!
The hardest part of recovering from an eating disorder for me was differentiating my personal thoughts and beliefs from those of my eating disorder.
My eating disorder fed me lies, but that is something I never believed when I was malnourished.
The thing is, when you’re malnourished you don’t know what to believe. The thoughts become so drilled into your head and it becomes a lifestyle.
I began to challenge those thoughts.
I realized that the scale couldn’t determine if I am going to have a good day or a bad day. I recognized, that numbers had such a powerful impact on my life.
I came to realize that you couldn’t measure your self worth through your food, calories or weight.
It was not a way of life and I knew I had to stop. But stopping was not easy. No one can do it for you; you have to make that conscious decision that you want to recover for yourself, no one else.
You have to destroy what destroys you. Happiness did not come and find me. I created it…and I worked incredibly hard for it.
When I was battling with anorexia, I never had a smile on my face. Eventually, I got sick of being sick and tired. I did something about it.
As I began confident in myself, I started to let the old Liana shine through. However, I’m not the ‘old’ Liana, I’m a better version of her. Why?
Because I believe in myself, I’m not afraid to take risks, I’m courageous, and I’m determined.
But most importantly, I am me. I’m always happy because I don’t have a reason not to be. Every obstacle is an opportunity to grow.
For five years I battled with anorexia nervosa and strived for my body to look a certain way.
I was constantly preoccupied by thoughts of my physical appearance, so much that these concerns interfered with my daily activities and my social life.
I had a “blueprint” in mind of what the “perfect” body should look like.
Truth is, if that “blueprint” was actually a person or a building it would eventually wear down and collapse. A wise teacher once said to me, “Your body is like a car.
If you don’t give it fuel (food) then it will eventually shut down.” My body went through some major wars while I was restricting my caloric intake.
This might sound a bit cliché, but I have learned that when someone doesn’t have respect for themselves they most likely wont have respect for anybody else. The thing is, I learned that my body is capable of some amazing things.
I have gained respect for what I was naturally given and learned to embrace change that I could not control. We are only given one body, one mind, one heart, and one soul.
It is our job to take care of it, love it and embrace it!
If we neglect our body, we will never be true to our inner self. Through recovery I have realized who I am.
I no longer label myself, as “Liana the anorexic” as I felt like being sick was the only thing I had to offer the world.
I have found who I am and who I want to be and can happily say that I am completely comfortable with it.
You have three choices. You can either let it define you, you can let if destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you. Staying in recovery is a mindset. Recovery is sort of like jumping into an iced cold pool; one might want to escape the cold by beginning slowly.
Putting one toe in, then the rest of the toes, then your feet, and so on. You have to jump in!
Of course, recovery is taking baby steps, but you have to trust yourself and take that leap. Jump into the cold water, jump into life, what’s the worst that can happen?
There is no “magical pill” to cure eating disorders. You have to make a conscious decision to change your life and work at it.
You have to redefine your image of beauty. Beauty to me is someone who is confident—someone who can achieve real goals, not those consisting of what size jeans we want to wear.
Life may not be perfect, but I have learned that if we accept life and ourselves then we can have out cake..and eat it too!
Recovery is a process, a series of forward and sometimes backward steps, but ones that all add up to real progress.
I grew up analyzing everything about myself, from my physical appearance; to the way I expressed myself.
I always set high expectations for myself. I had to be the most athletic, or the most popular.
But, I realized something. I realized that there is no such thing as the “most” of anything. Everyone has a purpose, but its up to the person to find it.
Have confidence in your abilities. Know that you have the ability to make important changes for yourself, for as long as you put your heart and soul into it.
You can support yourself by visualizing positive outcomes. When you learn to see beauty in every thing, you will also see beauty in yourself. It’s not who you are that holds you back, its who you think you’re not.
Words of Wisdom from Liana
In life we can’t choose what we are given, but we can decide how to handle it.
At a young age I was able to learn important life lessons, which usually take people a life time to figure out.
So let me share a bit of what I learned:
Life’s a climb.
Everyone faces some sort of adversity at one point in their life.
It’s all about how we face it. Don’t back away from it.
Pack your fears away and live.
Don’t be afraid of failure.
Live in the moment.
You are given the life you were given because you are strong enough to conquer it.
Live with your eyes wide open.
And don’t forget to have a little faith!
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