WALTHAM, Mass. – World Champion gymnast Aly Raisman brought a message of hope and inspiration to about 20 eating disorder patients at Walden Behavioral Care’s residential treatment facility today, acting in her new role as spokesperson for the hospital.
Raisman, who is a two-time gold medalist, World Champion and USA Gymnastics Team Captain told the patients to think positively and have confidence in themselves.
“When I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, I ask myself, ‘What’s good about today?’ instead of beating myself up,“ she told patients at Walden Place, which provides adolescents and adults in recovery with a home-like setting.
While she has always had confidence in herself, she said that on some days she feels more confident than others.
“I’m human,” she said. “Everyone struggles with insecurities. That’s normal.”
Raisman said she decided to work with Walden because,” I hope to be able to inspire men and women to be happy with who you are and to embrace who you are. You have to believe in yourself.”
While she does not have an eating disorder, she’s known people who do, and “You see it in everyday life. It’s eye opening and makes me want to help out.”
She encouraged the patients at Walden Place to accept their bodies as they are.
“No one looks at you the way you look at yourself,” she said. “You’re harder on yourself than anyone else will be.”
Raisman was captain of the gold medal-winning U.S. women’s gymnastics team in 2012, and won the United States’ first ever gold medal on the floor exercise and also earned a bronze medal on the balance beam. The Needham native also appeared on “Dancing with the Stars,” making it to the finals of season 16, and has recently returned to the gym for fulltime training.
She was chosen as spokesperson because of her positive perspective on self esteem and body image, emphasis on living a healthy and active lifestyle, and interest and passion in encouraging people to be confident and make smart, healthy choices. She will make appearances at Walden events, both for patients and for the public, in addition to videotaping public service announcements and help educate the public about the dangers of eating disorders by promoting Walden’s School-Based Eating Disorder Prevention Program.
“As a successful gymnast and dancer, Aly can discuss body image issues in a manner that will reach and inspire our patients, while also serving as a role model,” said Walden President and CEO Stuart Koman. “As a young woman who has known people with eating disorders, she also has a unique ability to provide a positive message to adolescents about how to stay healthy and avoid developing an eating disorder. She has achieved much as an athlete and she will help us achieve a great deal as our spokesperson.”
Walden Behavioral Care is one of the country’s leading hospitals for treating eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder. The Walden Center for Research and Education is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created by Walden to discover effective treatments for eating disorders, decrease the stigma around mental illness, provide subsidized patient care to save lives, and decrease the number of people who suffer from eating disorders.