Hello! I’m Maaya and I’ve spent the first 28 years of my life in beautiful Japan! I studied international studies but also have very strong passions in culinary arts in Japanese calligraphy. I currently work at a university in the Graduate School of Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Traumatic childhood experiences lead to anorexia at the age of 18 which lead to bulimia shortly after. Four years later I received a brief treatment, which I feel didn’t help me at the time, and suffered with my eating disorder for another four years. The culture in Japan can be difficult to communicate problems such as eating disorders, and I hope other women can learn from my experiences.
I want to help others with eating disorders because I do not want to see people needlessly suffer alone and in isolation as I did. Too many people feel they cannot open up about their illness, and I want to show them they can. As a survivor, I look forward to providing support to people suffering through this disease so that they may recover more quickly. I’m a Project HEAL International Ambassador and a recovery mentor. I’m dedicated to raising awareness and understanding of eating disorders and offering mentoring support.
I want you to know that even when you feel alone, you’re not. Survivors like me are available to help you. I know it’s hard, but I want you to know that it gets better and recovery is possible. Recovery is one of the toughest experiences of your life, but you can get through this and have a very fulfilling life waiting for you. You have a choice to recover from eating disorders. Be brave and bold!
My favorite ice cream flavor is vanilla.
Hi! My name is Simran Bansal and I am 17 years old. I am currently a junior in high school and live in Long Island, New York. 5 years ago, I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. In middle school, my life was constantly uprooted as I moved from treatment center to treatment center, away from my family, friends, and school. When my psychological health took a turn for the worst, I desperately needed treatment. However, the insurance company looked at me merely as a number, judging that I was too “medically stable” to receive intervention. It was not until I hit rock bottom six months later that they covered my stay at a hospital. My point is, we should not have to wait until we are near our deathbed to receive help. My experience of being denied treatment when I needed it most has inspired me to be a part of the Project Heal community. I know how essential getting treatment is for those with eating disorders—financial strains should not be blocking the road to recovery.
In my free time, I love to play piano, take photographs, volunteer at my local children’s hospital, and play tennis. If I am not found sleeping on top of my piles of textbooks or cramming for a test, I am probably writing for my blog, Numbers Don’t Define Us. Numbers Don’t Define Us is a site I made to help other adolescents struggling with body image and to foster recovery through language, imagery, and self-expression. When I grow up, I want to become a surgeon (inspired by Grey’s Anatomy) and an author. Ideally, in 20 years, I would be sitting on a beautiful beach in Hawaii writing my next novel!
Robyn Gonzales is a mom of five kids, yoga instructor, and her full time job is as a Data Manager for the Nebraska Department of Education. She has a degree in Political Science and Religion from Nebraska Wesleyan University. Upon graduation, she was awarded a State Department Fulbright Grant conducting research in Ukraine. When she isn’t working or busy with her kids, she can be found running races, and, in a rare quiet moment, likes to read.
Robyn knows the effects of eating disorders firsthand. She struggled with Anorexia Nervosa for nearly 26 years with various relapses and the most severe upon turning 30, over 3 years ago. Robyn understands the struggle of admitting having a problem, seeking the help of professionals, and most importantly having and relying on the support of others. She attributes the success in her two years of recovery to being open and honest about her struggles and, for her specifically, holding herself publicly accountable to people got her through. Her motto is Relentless Forward Motion, admitting that it is not always or often easy but it is so worth it.
As a Project Heal Ambassador, Robyn wants to spread awareness, education, and hope for anyone struggling with an eating disorder and those who serve in a support role to a loved one with an eating disorder. She wants to not only bring attention to this cause, but to help create resources for those in need and work to provide body positive supports and eating disorder awareness and education to local schools as they are a critical influence on our kids’ lives.
Katie Linda-Amalia Kelley
Katie resides in Las Vegas, NV where she works full-time in the hospitality industry at one of the hotels on the strip. She graduated from Pepperdine University with a Bachelors degree in communications. Having a love for serving others and working with the public, she feels right at home. Katie uses her past experience in pageants as a pageant coach and mentor for her business Queens Vault Pageant Consulting. In her spare time, Katie enjoys crafting gifts for friends, playing with her son/dog, Romeo and spending time with her family.
She fought with both Anorexia and Bulimia for 17 years. After 8 years in recovery, Katie volunteers with ANAD Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders) as a recovery mentor. She is devoted to helping those who are struggling with an eating disorder. Her goals include starting a Chapter of Project Heal in Nevada, and bringing the positive body image curriculum of the Body Project to Las Vegas!
Tracey lives in Perth, Western Australia.
She works full time as a Primary School Chaplain at 3 Primary Schools. She has been a Chaplain for nearly 6 years and loves her role.
She battled with an eating disorder and has been recovered for 10 years.
She is passionate speaking about- Eating Disorders Tracey speaks about her own journey and lived experience. She has recovered and longs to help women and girls see that they are worthy, valued and loved. She has shared her journey twice at an inspiration night and also at churches. She also recorded a DVD for Riverview Church for their God Stories where she shared her journey.
Her message is- “You can recover”, this is not your identity. You can break free from this illness. She writes about her journey on her blog the heart project.net. She has mentored girls with an eating disorder and is working toward setting up the Eating Disorder Support Group Perth. She has been on the Bridges Association as a committee member and was co-president for one year. She has also been involved with the National Eating Disorder Collaboration.
Tracey also volunteers with ANAD Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders as a recovery mentor.
She loves coffee, shoes, community, singing, songwriting, dancing, blogging and living life to the full.
Maya Chandy resides in Santa Barbara, California. Maya is earning a degree in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. As a Project HEAL National Ambassador, Maya is dedicated to offering support, guidance, and information to those dealing with eating disorders and hopes to help people with loved ones who are struggling express empathy and understanding. She is passionate about reading, journaling, and visiting new coffee shops. Maya’s favorite ice cream flavor is chocolate-chip-cookie-dough!
A devoted wife and mother, Brittany Mueller considers it not only her job but also her passion to raise a family who understands the affects of mental health and eating disorders.
Brittany, herself, is one of those of those who has been affected. As a teen and young adult she battled depression, addiction, self- harm, eating disorders and suicidal attempts. Brittany knows all to well the difficulties that face young men and women today to fit into a mold that has been created. Through this she was inspired to create her platform “Be Fearlessly Authentic” which teaches men and women of all ages that being true to yourself and who you are is more important than fitting a mold. Brittany partners with Project Heal as a National Ambassador and National Eating Disorder Association as an advocate to promote this platform.
As a Project Heal National advocate, Brittany makes sure that those who struggle are aware of full recovery and the assistance that Project Heal provides.She is also vocal in the need for funding of this important disorder, it does not go unnoticed that for every person who is struggling and has been diagonosed the funding is $0.93/person.
Brittany credits her mother and grandmother for showing her what it takes to be a fighter and to never give up in the face of adversity.
Brittany lives in Katy, Texas with her husband Brad, her son Parker and her mini Aussie Bailee. Brittany graduated from University of Central Oklahoma with a General Business degree and works at Nalco Champion with her husband. When she is not working or busy being an Ambassador for Project Heal she enjoys bible study, reading suspense novels, jogging, and cooking.
I am Florence Taglight, I am 21 and have lived in London, England all my life. I am studying a joint degree in fashion communications and business, however I have a strong passion for writing and public speaking and all things animal related. I write a blog, which always includes my passion for dogs, ellen degeneres and coffee in some way.
After being diagnosed with Anorexia and attending treatment in the U.K (which was far from helpful) before a 6 month treatment in America away from family, friends and dogs, on returning I knew something in the U.K system needed to change hence why I reached out to Project Heal and decided to try and become the change I wanted to happen. I run the instagram for Project Heal UK and I am a contributing writer for the unpolishedjourney as well as writing on my findingflo blog as often as I can.
I adore travelling and hope that my job in the future will include an array of things; from dogs, to social media communication, to public speaking and generally meeting a diverse range of people and being involved in a lively fun community (where dogs are allowed at work).
Sarah lives in Denver, Colorado.
Sarah currently works as an Intake Coordinator at a local eating disorder program where she supports patients and their families through the admissions process. She is also pursuing her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and plans on working directly with families and those affected by eating disorders.
As a Project HEAL ambassador Sarah is dedicated to improving education, advocacy, and awareness about eating disorders in her local community. As someone who has recovered from an eating disorder, Sarah hopes to give a voice to recovery and demonstrate that true recovery is possible!
In her down time, Sarah can be found hiking local mountains throughout Colorado, snuggling her 11-year-old Golden Retriever, Paddy, or trying to master the art of pizza making.
Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Lauren has always been an avid athlete, food lover, a curious explorer, and an instigator of all things fun and spontaneous, until she wasn’t. Lauren became unrecognizable to herself and her family after spending a year in Germany as an exchange student. When she returned from her exchange experience, Lauren was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Anxiety. Simply, she had become a stranger to herself and all who knew and loved her.
After losing battle after battle with her eating disorder, Lauren set her mind firmly to win the war. Her family philosophy is that “we are not victims”, a mind-set that she credits with helping in her personal battle for health. With the support and love from her family, Lauren took a semester off from her studies at the University of Texas at Austin and moved to southern California to participate in treatment at an eating disorders center. Lauren was humbled and inspired by the stories and strength of others she met in treatment and decided to become a champion for others struggling with similar challenges. Lauren relearned compassion for herself, and others, which stoked passionate embers to make a difference for others in their fight for health over eating disorders and associated challenges. Consistent with this commitment, Lauren is thrilled to be an Ambassador with Project HEAL, and hopes to help others in her Austin community by sharing her personal story, and raising funds and awareness for eating disorders.
Colleen Werner is a professional dancer, singer, writer, and mental health/body-positivity/self-love advocate who was born and raised in NY. She is a member of Long2 Dance Company in NYC, and teaches dance on Long Island, NY. Colleen is also a YPAD (Youth Protection Advocates in Dance) Certified Dance Professional, as well as a member of their Advisory Panel.
Colleen is currently studying Psychology at SUNY Old Westbury, and she plans on going to graduate school to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in Eating Disorders. She also aspires to start an eating disorder treatment program created specifically for dancers.
Her Instagram account/blog, @leenahlovesherself, which centers around body-positivity, self-love, and mental health, has deeply inspired thousands, and after creating the hashtag #BopoBallerina, Colleen was featured by Yahoo, National Eating Disorders Association, Dailymotion, A Plus, Dance.com, and by several international news outlets. Her experiences with her eating disorder and anxiety disorder have inspired her to share her story in an effort to help others. Colleen is devoted to using dance to make a difference.
In her free time, Colleen enjoys playing with her two yorkies Tidbit and Zen, coloring, journaling, writing, reading, and watching Food Network.
Rebekah Wheeler is a wife and mother to two young boys. She lives in Oklahoma and works full-time in the oil and gas industry, while serving her community as a volunteer with several organizations. Rebekah speaks to schools, youth groups and civic groups about ProjectHEAL and her message of ‘You Are Enough: Positive Self-Image.’
She has won a 10-year battle with eating disorders and now educates and advocates for positive self-image and eating disorder awareness. Finding love for herself through Jesus and her supportive family has been her biggest aid in recovery.
Outside of date nights with her husband, time with her boys, and balancing a busy schedule, she loves podcasts, group fitness classes, blogging, and recreating recipes with a healthier twist. She loves sparkly things and athliesurewear!