Watch Out for this Fake Recovery Coach! Flourish with Ciandra is LYING to you.
Something happened to me that I could never have expected. In fact, I think it’s something no one in the eating disorder recovery space expects, because it is, at least I believe it is, supposed to be a space that’s founded on trust, transparency, and most of all, honesty. The reason I believe so much in the power of lived experience as an eating disorder recovery coach myself, is because lived experience allows us to connect with people on a deeper level and therefore create a foundation of trust. So when I discovered that the eating disorder recovery coach Ciandra Birnbaum, who you may know on social media as @flourishwithciandra – and from the Recover to Flourish Podcast – copied my content word-for-word, I was nothing short of shocked.
Before getting into the entire story, I do want to share why I’m sharing what I’m about to share. First off, I had really mixed feelings about creating this post. I believe love is the most powerful force and therefore, am just not a huge fan of spreading negativity. However, there’s no denying that as humans, negative experiences cannot always be avoided. In fact, they’re certain to happen. But what I believe can turn a negative experience into a positive one is using the experience to contribute and to help others who may one day walk the path that I’ve walked.
Furthermore, I, as is common among autistic people, have an incredibly strong sense of righteousness. In fact, one of the chapters in my book Rainbow Girl is called “Justice”! For this reason, if someone did something and is perhaps still doing something that is (A) morally incorrect and (B) may even be illegal, like it was in my case, it is my duty in this space to shed light on that. It is my duty to protect other people that may potentially come into contact with this person. Keeping the situation behind closed doors would be hiding the truth, and no one deserves to believe in a lie.
So with all that being said, strap yourself in my friend. You’re about to hear the in-depth story of how Ciandra Birnbaum stole my content, pretended to be someone she wasn’t, and quite literally, committed a crime. Let’s dive in!
The Start of Content Theft
The story starts around 2 years ago on Instagram. I had posted a blog post about overcoming fear foods for which I had also made an accompanying Instagram carousel post, something I still do today.
One day, I was scrolling Instagram and stumbled upon a post by Flourish with Ciandra titled “How to Overcome Fear Foods in ED Recovery.” I thought: “Hmm, that’s funny. I literally made a post a few weeks ago with that exact same title!” While this is of course a common topic of discussion in the ED recovery space, my curiosity surpassed me so I had a look. I start swiping through the slides, and I start swiping faster and faster. Turns out the content of the post was an exact copy of the content in my original post!
In an effort to resolve matters, I reached out to Ciandra. I pointed out that she copied my content and asked if she could credit me. Simple enough, right? Instead, she deleted the post and replied to my message with an “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
And I was like “Okay, whatever,” and pretty much just let it go. In the following years, I didn’t see or hear anything from Ciandra. And I mean, why should I? I wasn’t following her and was occupied with my own content creation.
2 years later...
Fast forward two years later, I’m scrolling Instagram again and a reels video pops up. It was one of those podcast snippets posted by someone who had interviewed Ciandra on their podcast. In this video, Ciandra is talking about “picking your hard.”
I think, “Hey, I haven’t seen her stuff in a while, I wonder what she’s up to.” So I click on her username in the caption. Scratch that: I attempt to click on her username, but it leads me nowhere because @flourishwithciandra is not clickable. I think, “Hmm, that’s weird,” so I type the username in the Instagram search bar. But what do I see? “User does not exist.” What does this mean? She blocked me.
Okay…of course, my mind instantly asks the question of why she blocked me. That’s another classic autistic trait: needing to know the why behind everything! I don’t want to jump to any conclusions yet, but I can’t help myself from thinking there’s something she doesn’t want me to see…
In an effort to solve this mystery, I go into total Sherlock Holmes mode and commit to an online investigation. First stop? Her website.
Clickety click clack, I type “Flourish with Ciandra” into Google and end up on her website flourishwithciandra.com. She’s got this nice flower theme going on, some pictures of her, and then I click on her “services” tab and navigate to her coaching page.
It’s at this very moment that my jaw just drops. In fact, I may have blinked a few times too many, just to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating.
On the left you have my 1-1 coaching page and on the right you have hers.
Let’s keep going. A box about accountability:
Another box...again, word for freaking word!
But this isn’t even the craziest part. Let’s have a look at her author BIO. Whereas by definition, a biography is about an individual, she somehow believed it was a good idea to ALSO copy the “About Me” section. Well at least, she replaced my name with her own. That would have been embarrassing for her!
Seriously, if you can’t even write your own bio, who even are you and how can you feel confident enough to help other people find their authentic selves? The whole thing is just so flabbergasting to me and I honestly do not know how Ciandra is able to live with herself.
But that’s STILL not all! Let’s Zoom in on one particular part later on her bio that it appears she did write herself. On her website, it says:
I’m not sure what the ACCPH would say about this, but copying another coach’s website and then saying you “uphold personal moral qualities” and are “committed to your own continued professional development” seems a little misaligned. But maybe that’s just me.
Something else that seems quite misaligned is the fact that even Ciandra’s testimonials are fake! I don’t know about all of them because I’m sure she has some real clients, but just check this out:
Seems legit enough…
But then when you check out her coaching page, the exact same testimonial is suddenly written by a so-called Larissa:
Something’s not adding up here…
Reading through her other testimonials and the claims these make, it’s overly obvious Ciandra wrote these herself, but because she didn’t make any more name mistakes, I can’t technically prove the legitimacy of the other testimonials, so I’m choosing not to go down that rabbit hole.
Anyways, Ciandra does seem to have quite some awareness around the fact that social media is a lie. Just listen to the first few minutes of her TED talk to hear her say it herself: "social media is often a lie." And I couldn’t agree with you more there, Ciandra! But then I do have to ask, why did YOU lie?
I guess I’ll never know the answer to that question because I have my own personal moral qualities that involve standing up for what’s right. Speaking of which, I just couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t take action and do something about this. She had copied my work before and obviously she was still doing it, so I knew that if I didn’t stop her, she’d likely keep going.
Getting lawyers involved
Upon the advice of my friends and family, I hired lawyers. I explained the situation to them but didn’t have to do much convincing as it was overly clear that she had infringed upon my copyright. The next steps? I now needed to provide evidence that the text had indeed existed on my website before it existed on hers.
To do this, you need to go into the HTML of a website, which is basically all the coding on the backend. Me being the self-taught explorer I am, I did research on how to extract timestamps from when certain pages were published and because this does get a little technical, I’m going to be explaining again with screenshots.
Above we have the backend of my website livlabelfree.com. As you can see, my coaching page – that is, the one she stole content from, as I was using a different hosting platform at the time – was last modified on August 30, 2022. I was able to pinpoint this date by entering the code into https://www.epochconverter.com/, because this long string of numbers is actually epoch time, so I obviously needed to convert it to real human time!
Now here we have the backend of flourishwithciandra.com. This string of numbers above indicates that her coaching page was first published on November 21, 2022.
Well, November obviously comes after August, so the proof is in the pudding – or should I say coding – that the content on my website existed before hers did.
Considering the fact that she published her page in November 2022 and I discovered her coaching page with my content in August of 2023, indicates that the stolen content was on her website for well over 10 months!
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, I just don’t understand how you can live with yourself, let alone present yourself as “authentic” for others when your business is built on a lie...especially in the eating disorder recovery space that requires trust and transparency at all times.
Ciandra Birnbaum pledged to STOP this madness...
Anyways, the lawyers had me send them all the proof and then they sent Ciandra a letter requesting her to sign a cease and desist form that stated she would remove the content, she would no longer copy my content, that she had to place a text on her website indicating that she infringed on my copyright, and she must cover damages that I incurred with needing to go through all this trouble in hiring a lawyer and claiming justice.
Good news is that she signed the letter, removed the copied texts, and as you can see in below screenshot, she placed the following statement on her website for 30 days.
Of course, she has since removed that text (because of course she doesn’t want anyone figuring out about this) but I thought okay. In fact, hooray! I found justice! Even though she never even had the courtesy to reach out to me and apologize, she at least removed the copied content and I believed we could leave this behind us. Well, not so fast…
The saga continues!
One of my followers noticed that she posted a podcast episode toward the end of 2023 with a certain title eerily similar to a podcast episode and blog post I released years ago.
I’m thinking: “She signed a form in which she pledged to no longer copy my content, so surely this podcast episode must be different from what I shared.” But I also thought “Hey, I might as well check it out.” The episode was only about 20 minutes so I figured I‘ll play it at 2x speed and within 10 minutes I’ll know the facts.
And I wish I could say that what I heard surprised me…because sure enough, she gives “tips and tricks” on the subject matter, some of which are literally word-for-word the tips and tricks I give in my podcast episode and blog post on the same topic!
Alas, here we go again…
Since I didn’t want to get lawyers involved again though – because let’s be honest – it’s both monetarily costly and working with lawyers can be a pain in the ass, so I decided I’d send Ciandra an email. This was going to be my first direct contact with her in over 2.5 years since that first instance, and of course, because she decided to have the audacity to apologize in the meantime. What’s more is that she didn’t only keep me blocked, but she ALSO blocked MY ENTIRE FAMILY!
Reaching out to Ciandra personally
Regardless of the fact of how ridiculous that is, I sent her an email saying, “Hey, you know, you signed a cease and desist, but aside from that, we just had a whole legal case about you copying my content and somehow you feel it’s morally correct to continue cherry picking my words?”
I had no idea what she was gonna respond, let alone if she was gonna respond, but luckily she did. However, instead of receiving a long overdue apology and seeking to resolve the matter – which, it’s worth mentioning would totally have prevented me from making this video in the first place – she once again, pretended to have no idea what I was talking about and of course, refused to remove the duplicated content.
So we go back and forth a bit, me providing evidence once again, she continuing to deny it, whatever. What’s most noteworthy is some of the claims she made in her email.
Well, I don’t know about you, but people who “co-exist peacefully,” usually apologize when they have done something morally wrong, let alone, ILLEGAL. And, typically, individuals who have “mutual respect and understanding” for one another don’t go blocking coaches in the same industry (not to mention also blocking their entire family!). And finally, “seeking to resolve matters”? Um, you were legally forced to. Have you ever heard of putting your money where your mouth is...that is to say, aligning your actions with your statements?
Once again, I pointed all of this out. Just when I thought this couldn’t get any worse, her next email totally gaslights me and makes the entire situation about her. Basically, this whole ordeal ended in her refusing to apologize, continuing to block me, and then Ciandra saying, “The whole situation had a detrimental on my mental health.”
To be fair, I totally can see that, because it was a big deal. But your mental health? What about the mental health of the person you stole content from and used for your own business? I mean, not to make this about me, but that’s going a little too far coming from the person that decided to illegally use my content nearly a year ago!
Anyways, it was crystal clear Ciandra was going to stand her ground, so I let it go. At least, I tried to. We were gonna keep this all behind closed doors so she could continue on her merry way, presenting herself as someone she isn’t. But then came the drop in the bucket and I had to make this post. And that was Ciandra’s recently launching what she calls “career coaching.” The headline on her website states:
Yeah, I guess why would you spend years navigating the coaching world alone when you can accelerate your journey by copying another coach in the industry? I mean, it is a lot faster to copy, definitely right about that! But what was that again you said in your reels video? “Picking your hard?”
SERIOUSLY? I truly cannot fathom how you can go through an entire legal case about not being an authentic coach, claim to want to “coexist peacefully” while blocking and refusing to apologize, and then mere months later, launch a program to “help” coaches…like what’s your plan here Ciandra, to show them how to copy content and then pray to not get caught?
Now, I don’t want to go on much longer and if you want to work with Ciandra or you want to support her, you do you. The goal of this post isn’t to tell you what or what not to do, because you are your own person and you deserve autonomy and freedom and you possess the power to make your own choices. As I mentioned in the beginning, the only intention I have in making this post is to share the truth. To share my experience so that no one else has to experience something similar. This world can be a dark and deceitful place, and especially in the ED recovery community, it is critical that the darkness is brought to light and that people know what’s going on behind closed doors. You are a unique person and no one can take your creativity or hope away from you. And if they try to, fight for justice and fight for what’s right. Because in the end, love always wins.
Thank you for reading my story. If you want to make the ED recovery community a safer space that is truly authentic, please consider reporting her Instagram account, sharing this post, and warning anyone you know who may be interested in working with Ciandra. I genuinely want the world to be a more transparent place, and we can only create this together when we stop the people who are fighting for the opposite.