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Melody Pierce: “Be the change you wish to see in the world”

Eating disorders are the deadliest mental illnesses for a reason. They are one of the only mental illnesses with severe physical effects such as loss of bone density, heart problems, infertility, and more. I think this is a telling sign that battling this disease is painful and goes beyond attempting to implement a positive mindset […]

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Eating disorders are the deadliest mental illnesses for a reason. They are one of the only mental illnesses with severe physical effects such as loss of bone density, heart problems, infertility, and more. I think this is a telling sign that battling this disease is painful and goes beyond attempting to implement a positive mindset to get better. It is a form of addiction and chemical imbalance in the brain so as long as we continue to share that information and increase our community’s education, we will hopefully move away from harmful statements like the one above. If you are educated, you have the duty to challenge harmful statements in a constructive and positive way to help the person who is saying those things understand the negative impacts that can follow.


As a part of my interview series with public figures who struggled with and coped with an eating disorder, I had the pleasure to interview Melody Pierce.Melody is a philanthropist, business owner, and public relations professional. She is currently an account manager at Evolve PR & Marketing and is also an eating disorder recovery and body acceptance coach at S.T.E.P.S. Recovery. As a recovery coach, Melody helps individuals overcome their eating or body image issues by giving them the tools to clarify recovery goals and achieve them. Melody is certified by the Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy program and has been recognized by dozens of publications for her efforts in the eating disorder community.

She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University and is an Arizona native. Her passions include spearheading the National Eating Disorder Association Walk in Phoenix, Arizona, and serving her community as a local titleholder with the Miss America Organization. To learn more about her programs visit www.stepsrecoverycoach.com.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Melody! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and what you do professionally?

Thank you for having me! I have some of the best jobs in the world, between being in the public relations sphere and getting to tell other people’s stories I also gathered the toolset to tell my own, which is what lead me to become a recovery coach and advocate for eating disorders. I started my own business, S.T.E.P.S. Recovery, in 2018 because I saw the need in my community for a coach. I was finishing up my senior year at Arizona State University at the time and was running a support group on campus which is when I realized that the students, and so many other community members, didn’t have a hub for resources and support.

My main goal as a coach is to help people recover through the S.T.E.P.S. program that I developed and stands for Support, Talk, Educate, Prepare, and Strengthen. I use S.T.E.P.S. as my roadmap when approaching treatment to help give clients a tangible guide. We work on clarifying goals, overcoming obstacles, capitalizing on your strengths, celebrating wins, and offering strategic support in the form of worksheets, activities and so much more.

Thank you for your bravery and strength in being so open with us. I personally understand how hard this is. Are you able to tell our readers the story of how you struggled with an eating disorder?

I was battling an eating disorder at 10-years-old after the passing of my father. Addiction runs in my family so I always knew from a very young age to stay away from alcohol or any other substances, but I had no idea that addiction could be present in the form of food. I was counting calories, restricting myself to “safe” foods, getting away with not eating because I was constantly at friends’ houses- the whole nine yards. It was a really dark time in my life, but I think it’s important to note that I was still a straight-A student, I still ate from time to time, and I was an extremely positive person. When battling mental illness, people sometimes think that you have to wear it on your sleeve and that was so far from the case for me. I managed a seemingly normal life all while obsessing and restricting food, and in the end, making myself really sick.

What was the final straw that made you decide that you were going to do all you can to get better?

I hid my eating disorder extremely well until age 16 when a classmate of mine completed suicide. His mom came in to speak to our entire school and all I could think about was how I didn’t want that to ever be my mom one day. I knew my eating habits were taking a toll on my physical health and I continued to get weaker. I then did the bravest thing I think any 16-year-old could do and I asked for help. After lots of therapy and strong community support, I recovered from anorexia.

And how are things going for you today?

Amazing! I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, I have a strong support system and an exciting purpose to use what I’ve been through to uplift others. I still have bad days, we all do, but I have the tools to work through them in a positive and constructive way. I’m also so thankful that I went through everything that I did at a young age because I have a mature mindset to handle typical life situations that come up, I don’t settle for the mean friend or destructive situation anymore, I know how to get out and always put my wellbeing first which I don’t think a lot of 24-year-olds can say.

Based on your own experience are you able to share 5 things with our readers about how to support a loved one who is struggling with an eating disorder? If you can, can you share an example from your own experience?

1. Support– support your loved one during this difficult time and also support yourself. It can be easy to become frustrated with someone who is experiencing mental hardships but it’s important to not blame yourself or take anything personally. Take time to honor your own mental health and don’t be too hard on yourself.

2. Talk– discuss eating disorders with friends, family, and other community members. The more that we talk about the reality and prevalence of this disease, the closer we are to destigmatizing it. Also, talk to your loved one who is struggling, keep an open heart, and an open mind to make sure you are a resource for them to share their experience with.

3. Educate– again, sharing the reality of eating disorders is so important. Educate yourself and those around you about what is going on so you can continue to change the conversation surrounding eating disorders.

4. Prepare– being prepared comes in many forms, from having a connection with therapists and treatment centers to making your home a recovery centered space, do what you can to mentally and physically prepare to help your loved one to the best of your availability while also supporting your own mental wellness.

5. Strengthen– find strength in your community and others who have been through what you are going through, so if you’re a mom with a daughter who is battling an eating disorder, try to find a support group or community organization of moms who are experiencing or have experienced similar walks of life.

Is there a message you would like to tell someone who may be reading this, who is currently struggling with an eating disorder?

You matter you are deserving of recovery and life without an eating disorder is a thousand times better than your best day participating in your disorder.

According to this study cited by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, at least 30 million people in the U.S. of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder. Can you suggest 3–5 reasons why this has become such a critical issue recently?

I believe that eating disorders have always been a critical issue, but we are now paying more attention to them because of greater access to information. Mental health in recent years has become a widely discussed topic as opposed to before when there was a heavy stigma surrounding mental disorders. With this increased comfort in conversation, we are becoming more and more aware of just how many people in our own circles and communities are battling these invisible diseases. We are also witnessing more public figures talking about their eating disorders which again, normalizes the topic for further discussion and need for research. Eating disorders are the deadliest mental illness but continue to receive little to no funding. I am thankful for nonprofit organizations such as the National Eating Disorder Association for their work in pushing for increased funding and research. I have personally shared my story with members of Congress to advocate for increased funding and support so that one day we can put an end to eating disorders.

Based on your insight, what can concrete steps can a) individuals, b) corporations, c) communities and d) leaders do to address the core issues that are leading to this problem?

Individuals, corporations, and communities can donate to nonprofits like the National Eating Disorder Association or The Every Body Is Beautiful Project, get involved in local events for awareness like the NEDA Walks, and continue to create change in their own circles when it comes to the conversation about eating disorders. Leaders can do all of those things as well with the added component of being able to influence their follower base through hosting seminars, events, or educational speakers.

As you know, one of the challenges of an eating disorder is the harmful, and dismissive sentiment of “why can’t you just control yourself”. What do you think needs to be done to make it apparent that an eating disorder is an illness just like heart disease or schizophrenia?

Eating disorders are the deadliest mental illnesses for a reason. They are one of the only mental illnesses with severe physical effects such as loss of bone density, heart problems, infertility, and more. I think this is a telling sign that battling this disease is painful and goes beyond attempting to implement a positive mindset to get better. It is a form of addiction and chemical imbalance in the brain so as long as we continue to share that information and increase our community’s education, we will hopefully move away from harmful statements like the one above. If you are educated, you have the duty to challenge harmful statements in a constructive and positive way to help the person who is saying those things understand the negative impacts that can follow.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that have helped you with your struggle? Can you explain why you like them?

My favorite books are Embody by Connie Sobczak, Health at Every Size by Dr. Linda Bacon, and Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Well and Weird by Holly Lowery is my podcast obsession. As far as resources, the National Eating Disorder Association truly saved my life, I attended the walk at the beginning of my eating disorder and was able to connect with a lot of community members who wanted to help point me in the right direction. My website, stepsrecoverycoach.com/resources has a list of helplines and other organizations to support as well.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Be the change you wish to see in the world,” by Mahatma Gandhi.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, of course, I’ve seen funding as a continuous barricade for those with eating disorders. Treatment centers can cost a family upwards of 30,000 dollars per month and many patients require three or more months of treatment. I’m working on supporting NEDA in the legislation reform needed for families to afford treatment by sharing my story and contacting members of congress.

I also developed a curriculum for fourth through sixth graders that are based on my S.T.E.P.S. program and am working on expanding it for other grade levels.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the largest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

A movement of human kindness is increasingly necessary. If we could make a point to do one kind thing a day and focus on using the more positive language it would make a great impact on everyone’s lives. Being kinder to ourselves, our bodies, and others can only bring good.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

My Instagram is @steps_recovery and @melodyyfaith and my website is stepsrecoverycoach.com

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring

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