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Learning How to Glow

Amita Massey’s journey from disordered eating to recovery—and entrepreneurship


The process of working through an eating disorder is unique to every individual. Though the root cause is unknown, it’s believed that genetics and/or biology may play a role in the development of disordered eating. Family history, stress, mental health challenges, a pattern of dieting and starvation, and a history of weight bullying could increase the risk of disordered eating.


One journey’s start

Amita Massey was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa in 2015 when she was about 15 years old. But she remembers body checking (defined in a 2019 study as the “practice of repeatedly inspecting aspects of one’s own body,” involving behaviours like self-weighing and mirror gazing) and having a fascination with skinniness since she was 9 years old.

Things got worse when Massey started at a new high school in grade 10, when she started tracking calories, becoming obsessive about eating, running 15 km some days, and skipping family meals.

When Massey began experiencing abnormal sensations in her heart, her mother took her to see their doctor. Among other findings, Massey’s blood pressure was extremely low, and her resting heart rate was 40. Massey says she was nearly hospitalized, but her doctor referred her instead to an eating disorder clinic where, because her symptoms were so severe, she bypassed the clinic’s waitlist entirely.

To begin with, Massey’s treatment included visiting the doctor once a week to stabilize her vitals. A psychologist, dietician, psychiatrist, and a family therapist offered additional recovery support. Another part of her treatment included taking part in group sessions with five others in various stages of their recovery.

During group sessions, talk of food or exercise was not permitted. Instead, the group engaged in activities and learning about effective communication, regulating emotions, and self validation. They learned to reach for tools like breathing or going for walks in place of turning to disordered eating behaviours.


A focus on natural

At home, Massey’s mother advocated for natural recovery methods, including nut milks instead of the Ensure that her doctor had prescribed for her to drink with each meal. “It was an easier ‘pill’ for me to swallow because nut milk had other benefits…,” says Massey.


A matter of motivation

Massey says her early recovery depended on those who cared for her. “At the very beginning of an eating disorder, it’s hard to be a self advocate because you’re in such dire need of help—mentally and physically,” says Massey.

A pivotal moment in motivating her own recovery happened while sharing the family bathroom with her elder sisters. She remembers looking at her sallow, yellowy skin in the mirror next to her vibrantly healthy sisters. “I felt really bad about myself, and I said to them, ‘I want to glow like you guys,’” says Massey.

When she entered university, Massey learned there was more to life than school, home, and doctor visits. As a university student, she realized how much energy was required to hold down a job and attend classes. That’s when she made the commitment to herself: she wanted to recover. “In order for me to have a life, I had to get better,” says Massey.


Adding fitness to her recovery

In 2017, her doctor gave her the green light to start exercising again. Massey began working out at the gym, where she took spin classes and realized that her natural disposition as a performer could make her a good spin instructor. This became her recovery goal.

When Massey experienced times when she didn’t want to eat, she reminded herself of her goal, that she couldn’t be a role model as an instructor if she wasn’t healthy herself. Massey eventually achieved her goal, becoming the youngest spin instructor on the fitness team.


Glowing outward—and upward

Massey graduated from her eating disorders program in 2018. It was soon afterward that she launched her own business selling specialty donuts at the gym where she taught spin classes. Sadly, as a grab-and-go item with a shelf life, the donut business couldn’t outlast the strains of the pandemic, so Massey responded by building a new business with a focus on supplementation.

Through her kinesiology studies, she learned about sports nutrition, and her mindset shifted from a focus on dieting to an interest in holistic fitness and body optimization. “I would try new protein powders and get really excited about incorporating these into recipes,” says Massey.


A new business model

Now engaged in her new business, Massey’s goal extends beyond making sales; she produces content and products with the goal of inspiring as many people as possible. The mission statement for glow body Nutrition embraces a holistic approach that promotes taking charge of your health and embodying your inner strength.


And, while Massey’s products—including protein powder, amino acid blends, and greens supplements—are currently sold in stores across Alberta and online, she has her eye trained on nationwide distribution.


Support resources that can help

For those struggling with disordered eating, here are some resources that may help spark a new journey toward healthy living.

NEDIC (National Eating Disorder Information Centre)

a Toronto-based non-profit providing information, resources, referrals and support to anyone in Canada affected by an eating disorder; toll-free helpline: 1.866.633.4220

Silver Linings Foundation

an Alberta-based organization providing access to resources and support groups and therapeutic activities such as art therapy and yoga for teens, parents, and adults; 403.536.4025

Looking Glass

founded in 2002, offers supports including affordable counselling in British Columbia, online peer support chats, and scholarships

This article was originally published in the March 2024 issue of alive magazine.



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