WithAll Blog


Not Okay in December

Dec 22, 2023

Serena Nangia
2024 marks my tenth year as an advocate for eating disorder healing, which means my work started when I was fifteen years old. I am, for all intents and purposes, a product grown of the eating disorder field, mixed with the inclusivity and intention that comes with being a mixed race, queer, Fat activist in the 2020s.

When I started my advocacy efforts in 2014 through a youth-led eating disorder organization called REbeL, I did not know that my participation would save me from developing a full-blown eating disorder (instead, leaving me with a more manageable form of disordered eating). I did not know that the afterschool program I joined would help catch my sister’s quickly developing eating disorder, or that her story and healing would prompt my own journey for self-love, food peace, and independence from trauma.

The holidays and new year bring much of that healing into perspective. Self-love is a bit harder, food peace changes day-to-day, and trauma presents itself at the worst times, especially at gatherings and in the late, snowy evenings of December. Healing in the depths of winter is harder – when life is busier and overthinking is at full speed when Seasonal Affective Disorder kicks in, and when loneliness is easier to access. Specifically, depression and the cold can make regular, balanced eating feel astronomically more difficult.

Today, I have the language to identify what I’m going through, but as a kid, I thought my depression was laziness (why can’t I just get out of bed?) and my loneliness was defective (something must be wrong with me).

I would often come home from school and stay in bed until the middle of the night, restricting my food consumption until I could go to the kitchen and eat alone – where no one would judge me. Inner me thought: at least I have peace here. My midnight meals were a way for me to disassociate, and while I was lonely, I didn’t feel that being with people helped; at the time I didn’t think anything would help. Depression is like that sometimes, but I didn’t know that back then.


These days I have coping mechanisms to better deal with the hard times in December and January. I have found ways to see bright colors in the midst of the white and gray of winter. Instead of guilting myself for resting in bed on Saturdays, or for being unable to get out of bed, I allow myself those moments. And then I make a plan to change things up the next day – to go to a friend’s house, an open mic, or spend time with my friends’ dogs (puppy love is a glimmer). When I’m lonely, I find ways to have deep conversations with the people I care about – because that’s what I actually need. When I struggle with regular eating, I call a friend and ask for help.


Winter is hard for people struggling with mental health issues, and eating disorders are no exception. I’m not sure exactly what I would have said to myself as a kid to help them understand, but one thing I know for sure is: it gets better…then it gets worse…then it’s Spring again. But, throughout it all, I know it’s going to be okay. If not now – eventually.

Learn more here about Serena’s work at Project Heal 

Serena Nangia is a a long-time advocate for eating disorder recovery
Serena Nangia is a a long-time advocate for eating disorder recovery, host of the Body Activism Podcast, CEO of the Body Activists, and Marketing & Communications Manager for the eating disorder nonprofit, Project Heal . 

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Shannon assists with the logistics of development and operations and making every day run as smoothly as possible. Her day-to-day focuses on our Recovery Support Program, budget management, events, and administrative support. She enjoys being part of the nonprofit world and finding ways to help enhance the organization. She has a heart for serving others and helping people succeed.

Shannon has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Health & Exercise Science from Gustavus Adolphus College and a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) from Walden University.

Outside of work, you can find Shannon chasing her two girls around, attending sporting events and finding the next brewery or winery to explore.

Lindsay leads our operations, programming, fundraising, and communications to better fulfill our mission. She enjoys engaging with our supporters and stakeholders to build stronger connections to our work. Outside the office, you can find her planning her next trip, exploring the Twin Cities, or reading her book club’s latest pick.

With ten years of experience in nonprofit and foundation administration, Lindsay is a creative project manager working to strengthen all our operations. She loves being a part of a team deeply dedicated to discovering innovative and effective strategies to end eating disorders and is excited to invite others into this important work. Efficient and collaborative, she executes activity across all operations, including fundraising, events, communications, and programming. Lindsay has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Northwestern, St. Paul, and a fundraising certificate from the University of St. Thomas. She and her family live in Richfield, MN.

As Executive Director, Lisa leads WithAll’s strategic growth as a sustainable social enterprise dedicated to the prevention of and healing from eating disorders.

Lisa has more than 20 years of experience in public affairs, community relations, and law, and nearly 15 years of experience in non-profit leadership, most recently at Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media. She is a graduate of Mitchell Hamline School of Law, a member of the Minnesota Bar, and a Minnesota Supreme Court appointee to Minnesota’s Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board. She volunteers with her daughter’s school and with youth sports.

Lisa does this work because she knows eating disorders are not a choice; they are deadly, and they are everywhere. She also knows kids are not born with harmful thoughts and actions around food or their body—and it’s our job as adults to keep it this way so they can focus their precious brains and time on things that matter.

Lisa finds laughter, all children, and the numerous variations of sparkling water to be delightful.