Rachael Wolf is the lead dietitian for our St. Louis program outpatient services. She’s worked for Alsana since 2014 and is passionate about helping those with eating disorders. We are so grateful for the inspiration and friendship Rachael offers to her colleagues and her clients!
Where are you from?
I grew up in Barnhart, Missouri, which is a suburb of Saint Louis. Though I’ve moved a lot in the last ten years, I think I’ve finally settled down in St. Louis County.
Why do you work for Alsana?
I work for Alsana because I believe in the work that we do. It’s a challenging field, and it’s not for everyone. However, despite said challenges, my work is rewarding. I believe in Alsana because I believe in our Adaptive Care Model. Every individual is different. They each have distinct personalities, struggles, and stories, and we cannot approach treatment/recovery the same for each unique individual. I believe that relationships are a key component of recovery, and I love that Alsana recognizes this and is emphasizing this in treatment. I also believe in the way we view food—that all foods fit. Food is an integral part of our lives, and I believe it’s important to look at how our relationship with food, body, self, and others are all related.
Out of everything you could do for work, why have you chosen to help those with eating disorders?
I chose the field of eating disorders because I’ve spent a lot of time with them throughout my life. I know how much pain they cause (when they no longer serve a purpose), and I believe that if I can help someone work through that pain, that’s what I’m meant to do.
When did you start working for Alsana?
I started working at Alsana in 2014. I was SO excited to start, as working with eating disorders has been my passion and goal since I graduated high school. I heard about the company in my undergrad, during a presentation given during Eating Disorder Awareness week, and from that point forward, I knew where I wanted to start my career (and I came close). I actually went PRN for about 7 months from 2015-2016, and quickly returned when I realized that leaving the field was a mistake.
What’s your favorite movie quote?
How about song quote? “The hardest part isn’t finding who we need to be, it’s being content with who we are.” – The Ataris
Do you have any pets?
I have two dogs, Millie and Dutch. My fun fact at work is that I got one of my dogs at a flea market, from a Mexican, out of a bird cage. It’s a true story, and his personality supports this fact.
What is your role at Alsana?
I’m the lead dietitian for Saint Louis outpatient services, but I dip my toes in regional outreach and administration.
What three words would you use to describe treatment at Alsana?
Adaptive, Compassionate, Rewarding
What do you think is the worst part of living with an eating disorder?
I think the worst part of living with an eating disorder is living in a constant state of shame and anxiety.
What has been your best day working at Alsana so far?
My best day at Alsana so far was the day I received a thank you note that made me cry. All thank you letters give me the feels, but this one brought tears of joy to my eyes. It said “Thank you for talking to me about the spiritual aspects of recovery. I’ve never had anyone to have those conversations with, who understands both the ED and what a personal relationship with Christ looks like. It’s freeing to be able to talk about how the struggles with food go against my beliefs…” Wow!
What were your three favorite childhood activities?
When I was a kid, I loved to bike around the neighborhood playing a game that me and my neighbors invented. It was called “street rules.” We drew stop signs, road lines, and assigned each house as a different business. I also loved hiking in the woods behind my house after a few inches of snow (somehow the snow made the weeds less invasive in my mind). One time, we found a cross chained into some rock by the railroad tracks, and it had what we thought was Egyptian lettering. So cool! I also enjoyed going to vintage car shows with my dad, and scrapbooking with my mom.
Where is your favorite place on earth?
I love the mountains! Right now it’s a tie between Rocky Mountain National Park and Yosemite.
How would clients describe you?
Clients frequently describe me as intimidating, but I take that as a compliment because I know I’m challenging the eating disorder. They also describe me as compassionate, and personable. I admit my mistakes and take responsibility. I also talk about my life and build relationships.
How do you keep yourself occupied on a long flight?
If I’m flying with a co-worker, I typically spend the flight chatting about life. If I’m alone, or with someone I see regularly, I’m probably reading a book or playing Nin-jump on my phone.
How do you help individuals struggling with eating disorders?
That’s a loaded question. I am very passionate about working with clients to reduce shame and recognize their potential, and I really enjoy working with body image. I’m a very relational person, so all aspects of my work (with clients, clinicians, family members, etc.) is based on building a trusting relationship.
What’s the most fun thing you’ve ever done with clients?
The most fun thing I’ve ever done with clients is play a mad game of capture the flag. I miss leading movement groups for this reason; it used to be the highlight of my week.
What would you tell a client on their first day?
I’m glad you’re here. This is not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it. You have a team of clinicians that believe in you, and we are here to support you. The first few days will be tough, and you will probably find yourself wanting to leave, but please stick around. It will get easier.
What would you tell your 13-year-old self?
Don’t let the world change you; you are enough, your body is flawed but perfect (just like everyone else), your personality is unique, and your beliefs are what mold you. If you lose that, you will lose yourself.
What do you do on the weekends?
I like to hike with my dogs, bike around Forest Park, and lay around reading in a hammock. My perfect weekend is spent at the lake, in a hammock, with no internet access!
What was the best concert you’ve ever been to?
I’ve been to a lot of concerts, so this is tough. The best concert I’ve been to recently was Alt-J at the Pageant in St. Louis.
What was your first concert?
My first concert was Taste of Chaos at the Pageant in St. Louis. Story of the Year and Anberlin were playing (as well as a few others). I think it was one of Anberlin’s first tours. Now they are one of my favorite bands.
What do you look forward to at work?
I look forward to spending time with people that I genuinely care for; both clients and staff. Alsana is my home away from home, and the clients/staff are like my second family.
You just got home from a camping trip, and you’re tired, hungry, and dirty. In what order do you eat, sleep, and shower?
Snack, Shower, Sleep
“Let your light shine” is a foundational principle of Alsana’s culture. We expect employees to come as they are and bring their whole selves to work, just as we want our clients to feel comfortable bringing their whole selves—exactly as they are—to their eating disorder treatment.
Alsana’s staff spotlight series highlights the way our employees let their light shine and the unique attributes only they can add to our clients’ recovery experience.