Feature Friday: Virgie Tovar

Last week we celebrated International Women’s Day by highlighting the names of what was just a small portion of our colleagues and the powerful voices we admire in the eating disorder and body positive community! It sparked a wonderful conversation about diversity and empowering marginalized voices. BALANCE thanks all who joined the conversation. We are excited to continue celebrating many more beyond International Women’s Day by kicking off our ‘Feature Friday’ blog series. 

We are launching it today with the inspiring Virgie Tovar! We thank our colleague & friend Christy Harrison for suggesting the brilliant Virgie to feature this week (You can listen to Virgie on Christy’s Podcast Food Psych here

Virgie Tovar

Author, activist and one of the nation's leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. 

Virgie Tovar is an author, activist and one of the nation's leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She is the founder of Babecamp, a 4-week online course designed to help women who are ready to break up with diet culture, and started the hashtag campaign #LoseHateNotWeight. She pens a weekly column called Take the Cake. Tovar edited the ground-breaking anthology Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, November 2012) and The Feminist Press will be publishing her forthcoming book of non-fiction, You Have the Right to Remain Fat(August 2018; now available for pre-order). She holds a Master's degree in Sexuality Studies with a focus on the intersections of body size, race and gender. After teaching "Female Sexuality" at the University of California at Berkeley, where she completed a Bachelor's degree in Political Science in 2005, she went onto host "The Virgie Show" (CBS Radio) in San Francisco. She is a former plus size style writer for BuzzFeed. Virgie has been featured by the New York Times, Tech Insider, MTV, Al Jazeera, NPR, Yahoo Health, the San Francisco Chronicle, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan Magazine Online, Bust Magazine, and French language magazine Madame Figaro. She lives in San Francisco and offers workshops and lectures nationwide.  

Check out her powerful Ted Talk here on the importance of Losing Hate, Not Weight:

Fat shaming is one of the last bastions of unchecked bias in this country. As the weight-loss industry continues to grow, so too do rates of eating disorders, body dysmorphia and food anxiety. Is this what a healthy nation looks like? Virgie Tovar, fat activist and recovering dieter, advocates hate loss over weight loss.

You can follow Virgie on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram. Keep up with her amazing work and future projects on her website VirgieTovar.com

Thank you, Virgie, for being a fierce voice in encouraging women to ditch dieting and find peace with their bodies!

The Truth About Dieting & Eating Disorders Video Series

Excited to share our founder Melainie Rogers & Megan Bruneau, M.A. RCC's newest video in their series on The Truth About Dieting & Eating Disorders launched after our #WakeUpWeightWatchers campaign. In this video they chat about the diet industry, diet culture & the real reason Weight Watchers is offering teens free programs.


Nutrition Month Staff Spotlight: Chloe Cerino, Lead Recovery Coach

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What is your name, credentials & background? 

Chloe Cerino, soon to also have letters after my name! 

I started my undergraduate career at NYU studying nutrition and dietetics, but quickly picked up psychology as a second major after finding a real passion in the world of eating disorder treatment. I’m currently pursuing my Master’s degree in nutrition education from Teachers College, Columbia University. After I finish, I’m looking forward to starting my dietetic internship to become a registered dietitian.

What is your role at BALANCE?

I am the lead recovery coach. Recovery coaches work closely with the RDs to oversee the implementation of client meal plans during program as well as do lots of behind-the-scenes tasks like menu planning. 

What does a typical day for you look like at BALANCE?

There’s really no such thing as a typical day at BALANCE! One of my favorite parts of being a recovery coach is that I get to play a role in everything taking place here in a given day, from DTP to meal supports to Men’s Group. Everyday is dynamic and it’s fun to be involved in all the diverse groups BALANCE offers.

What is your favorite part about working at BALANCE and helping those recover from eating disorders? 

I love the energy that our entire team brings to the office every single day; it’s so clear that everyone feels authentic passion about the work we do. 

I think that all of our clients are such bright lights and getting to see them start to believe this about themselves, too, is such a special part of this field!

What is one of your favorite foods or recipes?
A very abridged list would be grilled cheese and tomato soup, sushi, and lavender ice cream, but I think it would be harder to come up with foods that I DON’T love :) 

Tell us about something you love to do? (an activity, hobby or interest)

I’m a really big reader—my favorite days are ones that I get to spend in a park or coffee shop reading something that interests me.

What is a fun fact not many know about you? 

The bucket list item I’m currently working on is to visit every branch of the New York Public Library! Each one has its own character and I find them so enchanting. I’ve already been to 19!

Celebrating 80 Female Eating Disorder Experts & Advocates

In honor of International Women's Day, BALANCE eating disorder treatment center wanted to celebrate what is just a small portion of the many inspiring faces, voices and minds within the eating disorder community. 

Below are 80 women who have, and continue to make, groundbreaking change in both how eating disorders are treated and how they are understood by society at large. 

Who do you want to celebrate and honor within our community this International Women's Day? Share with us on social media! 

Nutrition Month Staff Spotlight: Lead Dietitian Liz Carrara, MS, RDN, CDN

What is your name, credentials & background?

Liz Carrara, MS, RDN, CDN. I'm a native Vermonter and got both my Bachelor's and Master's at the University of Vermont. While in school, I felt like an outsider to my often type-A, nutrition student peers, and hated having to continually defend the "right" way of eating - all nutrition information was too ambiguous to be sure. When beginning to intern & work with clients, I could recognize all needs were different based on culture, biology, and satisfaction! It wasn't until I learned about Intuitive Eating at a conference that I knew which path to follow with nutrition - helping individuals develop a neutral relationship with food!

What is your role at BALANCE?

Lead Dietitian

What does a typical day for you look like at BALANCE?

There is no such thing as typical @ BALANCE! Each day is extraordinarily different depending on which individual clients I'm meeting with, group I'm running, or meal I'm eating! Just like with food, the variety in each day keeps me well nourished cognitively & physiologically - monotony has the potential for deficiency and depletion, so I am thankful for my dynamic work.

What is your favorite part about working at BALANCE and helping those recover from eating disorders?

Its an honor to see clients re-engage with a world beyond their plate! There is so much that this life (even just this city!) has to offer, and clients' vitality is dependent on them having varied experiences and trying new things. Witnessing a client develop an identity outside of their eating disorder by taking risks with new jobs, traveling, and trying new foods never stops inspiring me.

What is one of our favorite foods or recipes?

I LOVE lobster in any form and sushi. My mom makes a killer cheesecake too :D

Tell us about something you love to do? (an activity, hobby or interest)

Traveling! Experiencing new cultures and food is a passion - I just tried Chapulines for the first time on a recent trip to Mexico...google at your own risk ;)

What is a fun fact not many know about you?

I love to knit! Great self-care activity and I always have a stock pile of homemade holiday gifts!

The Truth About Dieting Video Series: #WakeUpWeightWatchers

BALANCE Founder Melainie Rogers, MS, RDN, CDN, CEDRD and therapist Megan Bruneau, MA RCC are excited to launch their brand new videos series on the truth about dieting and eating disorders. In this first video, Megan asks Melainie and BALANCE's social media manager Emily Costa about the #WakeUpWeightWatchers campaign that was launched in response to Weight Watchers decision to offer teens free programs. 

Watch the first video here and stay posted for more videos regarding why diets don't work, how and why diets can lead to eating disorders, why dieting is oppressive and much more! 

Staff Spotlight: Maggie Ritnour, LMHC, LCAT, ATR-BC, RYT

What is your name, credentials & background?

Maggie M. Ritnour, LMHC, LCAT, ATR-BC, RYT

I'm a licensed mental health counselor, art therapist and yoga instructor.

Growing up, I spent the majority of my time making art and moving my body. These were my main modes of release and expression. I was fortunate to be supported in continuing this path as I got older and found my way through a bachelors of fine arts program at the School of Visual Arts here in the city then obtained my masters in psychology from Antioch University in Seattle.


What is your role at BALANCE?

I facilitate groups, predominately art therapy & body image. I also see clients for individual art therapy and case management sessions.

What does a typical day for you look like at BALANCE?

There is no typical day. My experience working at treatment centers has taught me that on any given day one must be willing to embrace the messiness of this work. I usually hit the ground running because there's always something to work on. I get stuck when I expect the day to look a specific way. More often than not, days don't match what I imagined. Sometimes it's a struggle and sometimes it's unexpectedly excellent.

I facilitate groups in both our daytime and evening program hours so there is usually information to catch up on. I try to arrive at work early to check in on the overall vibe of clients and our staff. This allows me to tap into the energetic pulse of the milieu and sense what typical will look like that day.

What is your favorite part about working at BALANCE and helping those recover from eating disorders?

My favorite part is probably the collaboration with our dynamic team at BALANCE and the clients themselves. 

A near second to this is the fact that I get to introduce people to the magic of art therapy and in this way witness the courage of clients taking risks. Some days this witnessing feels like watching flowers blossom in the spring.

What is one of our favorite foods or recipes?

To be honest, I get pretty excited about cheese ravioli... always.

Tell us about something you love to do? (an activity, hobby or interest)

I love to ride my bicycle! It's my all time favorite way to visit new places and spend time with friends or just be with my thoughts.

What is a fun fact not many know about you?

I wish I could fly.

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2018 Events

Starting MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26TH through SUNDAY, MARCH 4TH is National Eating Disorder Associations Awareness Week

The theme this year is Let's Get Real and NEDA's goal is to expand the conversation and highlight stories we don't often hear. BALANCE is always glad to join the conversation during this week to help raise awareness and bust myths! 

In honor of NEDA week, our Founder & some staff will be participating in local NYC events! See details below for Project HEAL's screening of Straight/Curve and a panel discussion at Borough of Manhattan Community College. We hope to see you there! 

Straight/Curve Screening and Panel Presented By Project HEAL (New York)

Join Project HEAL for the New York private screening of the exciting new documentary Straight/Curve which examines the industries and obstacles responsible for this body image crisis and showcases the dynamic leaders fighting for more diversity of size, race and age. Following the film, Project HEAL will host a live Panel HEALTH AT EVERY SIZE AND BODY ACCEPTANCE streamed live from NEW YORK NYC: Straight Curve Director Jenny McQuaile, Supermodel Emme, Model Jennie Runk, Influencer/Branding Consultant Kelly Augustine, Balance Eating Disorder Treatment Center Founder Melainie Rogers, Project HEAL Director of Volunteer Services Ali Hougnou, Project HEAL Cofounder Liana Rosenman, Psychologist Judith Brisman. Moderated by Wellness Features Editor at Teen Vogue, Vera Papisova

When: Thursday, March 1st, 2018 from 6:30 - 9:30 PM

Where: Trevor Day School 312 East 95th StreetNew York, NY 10128

Eating Disorder: The Path to Recovery

An Evening Panel Presentation which will include expert eating disorder treatment professionals, a former patient now in recovery, and the parent of a daughter who has struggled with an eating disorder. The panel will address eating disorders from various perspectives followed by a Q & A.

Eating Disorder: The Path to Recovery is part of the annual Women’s HerStory Month, presented by Borough of Manhattan Community College, and the National Eating Disorders Awareness Week in collaboration with NEDA, the National Eating Disorders Association, andBALANCE eating disorder treatment center in New York.

A special event open to students, parents, professionals & the NYC Community!

Panel guests include BALANCE's Clinical Director & Lead Dietitian Kate Rosenblatt & Liz Carrara

When: Friday, March 2, 2018 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Where: Borough of Manhattan Community College 199 Chambers Street Richard Harris Terrace  New York, NY 10007

Weight Watchers Twitter Takeover - Are You In?

As many of you have seen, this past week Weight Watchers announced their plans for growth to reach 10 Million members and grow $2 Billion dollars in revenue. Along with this plan? Offering free memberships to teenagers (ages 13-17) this upcoming summer.

Their reasoning is to 'help the development of healthy habits at a critical life stage.’

We believe that we as professionals and advocates for eating disorders, body positivity, Health at Every Size & the anti-diet movement - we can and MUST shed a light on why this is so problematic!

BALANCE has planned a ‘TWITTER TAKEOVER’ campaign in which we plan to flood @WeightWatchers (and the general public!) with our thoughts on this dangerous plan. We’d like to call on both Weight Watchers & Oprah to listen to us and to consider rescinding this policy before it is planned to take effect next summer. We appeal to both Oprah & Weight Watchers to engage in a dialogue with the professional community and with the families & loved ones suffering from eating disorders that care very much about this issue. 

We are hoping that if enough of us participate in this campaign, our #WakeUpWeightWatchers hashtag can become a Trending Topic and bring awareness to this issue. This is not meant to be an attack on Weight Watchers but a prime opportunity for education on the damages and repercussions of dieting, especially for teens. 

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Details & Tips: 

  • The main-time for our takeover: starting this Saturday February 10th at 12 PM eastern time & continuing thereafter (social media engagement can be up to 17% higher on weekends!) 
  • Utilize the hashtag #WakeUpWeightWatchers
  • Make sure to tag @WeightWatchers
  • Tag @Oprah in Tweets as well - as their spokesperson, she needs to hear our thoughts too!
  • Plan multiple tweets regarding the topic to go out within the hour
  • If you cannot Tweet live, you can schedule Tweets via free management tools like Buffer or Hootsuite
  • Feel free to create graphics/quote cards to share during the chat
  • Engage with other content being posted with the hashtag 
  • Encourage your followers to share their thoughts 

 Some ideas of things you can Tweet about:

  1. What you wish Weight Watchers would consider in promoting this plan
  2. What makes it so dangerous for teens
  3. Things parents/teens should know before considering this program
  4. Why Weight Watchers is actually offering a free plan since it is only to make more $$$
  5. What this could mean for teens susceptible to developing an eating disorder 
  6. How this plan could effect the self-esteem and confidence of young girls/boys 
  7. The many other things teens should be spending their summer break doing!

If you are in, and we hope you are, feel free to share the following Tweet (or a similar message) and/or the graphic attached to promote the takeover! We also have all the details in a blog post here: http://balancedtx.com/blog/2018/2/8/weight-watchers-twitter-takeover-are-you-in

Join myself, @BALANCEedtc & many other #eatingdisorder, #HAES & #bodypositive professionals and advocates this Saturday afternoon starting at 12pm est. for a Twitter Takeover to let @WeightWatchers know what we think of their free #Teen program! #WakeUpWeightWatchers

Please invite anyone else you’d think would be interested in participating! We hope to ‘see' you on Twitter! 

Staff Spotlight: Primary Therapist Cassandra Lenza

cassandra lenza

What is your name, credentials & background? 

My name is Cassandra Lenza and I am a licensed clinical social worker and yoga teacher. Early on I knew I wanted to work in the field, so I became a certified eating disorder therapist through the Center for the Study of Anorexia and Bulimia (CSAB). 

What is your role at BALANCE?

I am a primary therapist, and see clients in many different capacities- for groups, yoga therapy, meals and individually for psychotherapy and case management. 

What does a typical day for you look like at BALANCE?

There is no typical day at BALANCE and that is what makes it such an exciting place to work! Most days do consist of meeting with clients, whether for a group like CBT or ACT, or one-on-one. My favorite days are ones that include joyful movement, such as teaching yoga, and delicious food, like eating lunch with clients. My least favorite days are ones spent on computer- I was never meant for a desk job! 

What do is your favorite part about working at BALANCE and helping those recover from eating disorders? 

I feel so lucky to witness my clients do some incredibly brave and challenging things to recover. To me, there is no better feeling in than knowing we are working, together, side-by-side, to beat their eating disorders. 

What is one of our favorite foods or recipes?

Any client at BALANCE can attest to my love of chicken fingers. I’m not a real “cook” but I do love to bake. It’s an excuse to use my very chic, pink, Kitchenaid mixer. 

Tell us about something you love to do? (an activity, hobby or interest)

I grew up at the Jersey Shore and most of my hobbies involve being outside and by the water. In the winter, I brave the cold for the beach. It’s where I feel the most “me.” 

What is a fun fact not many know about you?

Growing up, I really wanted to be a fashion designer. I still get to use my love of fashion by helping clients develop healthier relationships with shopping. Lucky me! 

Upcoming Breakfast Seminar on Orthorexia at BALANCE

To kick off National Eating Disorder Awareness week, our Founder & Executive Director Melainie Rogers, MS, RDN, CDN, CEDRD will be doing a breakfast seminar on Orthorexia. 


Clean eating, juicing, fasting, gluten-free, plant-based, dairy-free, pure eating, paleo, low-carb, soy-free, organic... we reside in a "diet culture" that promotes weight loss and "healthy eating" on every magazine cover and social media website. We live in a society in which we are bombarded with media images of perfection when it comes to standards of beauty and the ideal body. While the concept of healthy eating has been around for decades, fad diets and the emphasis on achieving perfect health is on the rise. The term Orthorexia was created by Dr. Steven Bratman and translates as "fixation on righteous eating". The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics defines Orthorexia as an unhealthy fixation on eating healthy or "pure" foods. This disorder is typically characterized by an extreme preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be harmful or unwholesome. Orthorexia starts out as an innocent attempt to eat more healthfully, but orthorexics become consumed with the notion of achieving perfection and purity in their eating habits. Eventually, this obsession with healthy eating can progress to the point of impairment to one's mental and physical well-being.

This workshop will provide a comprehensive overview of orthorexia and it's role in the spectrum of eating disorders. The presentation will include the origins of orthorexia and who may be most at risk, its diagnostic manifestation and symptomology, cultural influences of the condition and considerations in the treatment of orthorexia.

This is an essential subject for healthcare professionals. We hope you will join us for this informative presentation and interactive discussion!

Date: Friday, February 23rd, 2018 from 8:30-10:30 am

Where: BALANCE eating disorder treatment center (112 w 27th St. 7th Floor, Suite 700) 

RSVP: Call or email to reserve a place: 212-645-6903 leslied@balancedtx.com 





Staff Spotlight: Clinical Director Kate Rosenblatt

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What is your name, credentials & background?

Kate Rosenblatt, MA, LPC, LMHC. My graduate studies focused on Counseling Psychology with a holistic approach.

What is your role at BALANCE?

Clinical Director

What does a typical day for you look like at BALANCE?

The great thing is that there is no typical day! I feel most alive and excited by starting my day off with a cup of freshly ground coffee that we make onsite for our patients and staff each morning. I check in with our team, catch up on emails, and then will either see clients in our Day Treatment Program (DTP), be in meetings, or read up on the latest on eating disorders. Right now I'm loving that Demi Lovato announced she is offering complimentary mental health counseling sessions to fans who attend her upcoming tour in an effort to end the stigma surrounding mental health.

What is your favorite part about working at BALANCE and helping those recover from eating disorders?

I envision a world where there are no eating disorders. Think about it, how amazing would that be?! Every day our team works tirelessly to make this world a healthier, happier place. It feels fulfilling and challenging to work towards creating this world. Also, our clients are amazing people. It's a beautiful experience to really "meet" someone for the first time when their eating disorder symptoms are not so omnipresent.

What is one of our favorite foods or recipes?

I feel really connected when I cook and bake with family recipes. My specialty is baking challah!

Tell us about something you love to do? (an activity, hobby or interest)

I love exploring NYC -- I feel so lucky to live here. My favorite ways to explore include trying new restaurants and coffee shops.

What is a fun fact not many know about you?

I practice Vedic Meditation every day; I've been practicing for many years! It's 22 minutes, twice daily. I love it and recommend it highly!

Join Melainie Rogers in 2018 for Free Monthly Lunchtime Supervision Groups


Group led by iaedp RD Supervisor Melainie Rogers, MS, RDN, CDN, CEDRD

Join Melainie for an hour of supervision for RDs, therapists and other health professionals. Bring your lunch along with cases, topics & questions for discussion!  

The group meets the first Wednesday of each month from 12:00 -1:00 pm at BALANCE (112 West 27th Street, 7th Floor, New York, NY)

This is a complimentary group and is open to practitioners who would benefit from support and guidance on issues related to the evaluation & treatment of eating disorders in clinical practice.  

Melainie Rogers is a Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian and Supervisor in the treatment of eating disorders accredited by the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (iaedp). She is the Founder and Executive Director of BALANCE eating disorder treatment center.  

Schedule of groups for the 2018 year:

Wednesday, February 7
Wednesday, March 7
Wednesday, April 4
Wednesday, May 2
Wednesday, June 6
Wednesday, July 11
Wednesday, September 5
Wednesday, October 3
Wednesday, November 7
Wednesday, December 5
(*Note there is no meeting in August)

Please call 212-645-6903 or email balance@balancedtx.com for more information and to reserve a space. 

CBT with Emojis:10 Most Common Unhelpful Thinking Styles

In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), clients work to bring awareness to their unhelpful thinking styles, or cognitive distortions, that keep them stuck in their eating disorder. CBT demonstrates that when we work to recognize, name, and change our cognitive distortions, we become less attached to those damaging, hurtful, self-defeating thoughts. Since these thoughts are so automatic to our brains, it  is always helpful to have reminders of the 10 most common cognitive distortions at arms length.

Our Day Treatment clients used present-day emojis to depict the most common unhelpful thinking styles. It is our hope at BALANCE that you can use these images too, and start to recognize your own the thoughts that keep you stuck or feeling down. Let's work to out our unhelpful thoughts and banish the voice in your head that says "you're not enough!

Go through all 10 below & feel free to save or print our handy sheet with all 10! 

by: BALANCE Primary Therapist Cassandra Lenza, LMSW, RYT