I was never much of an athlete growing up. In fact, I can remember in the 2nd grade overhearing my mom talking to another mom about enrolling me in dance. They were going on about how it would be such a great way to “slim me down” and “get me active”. I took dance and baton for 5 years until I reached that awkward stage. In 7th grade, I decided to do the drill team thing, which I ended up enjoying throughout high school. Needless to say, I just never could get the hang of sports. Honestly, I think that part of it may have been insecurity and a feeling of total uneasiness with my body. I don’t blame my mom for anything at all, in fact, I am glad that I did take dance all of those years! What I do know is that somewhere around 2nd grade I started to feel different about myself and my body. I felt too tall, too big, not skinny, not pretty, etc. Why? I am not completely sure? There is a lot of talk about ED’s and the role that environment plays vs genetics. Speaking from the perspective of someone that has an ED, I truly believe it is a combination of both. There has to be some genetic factor that led me down this path. No doubt, it was perpetuated by environmental factors.
So, what is my point? Well, I shared an early memory from elementary school regarding my feelings toward my body, and my non-athletic abilities. Fast forward to high school. I remember the summer after my freshmen year. I had decided that I was going to make it a summer of renewal, lol. I had seen a girl down the street, who was much older than me, running early in the morning down the dirt road by our house. She was a larger girl, and I thought…dang, if she can run, why can’t I?? So, I set my alarm and set out to run. Well, as you can expect, it didn’t go quite as I imagined it would. I made it about 3 minutes and thought I was going to die! I tried a few more times that week, and eventually decided that I was just not meant to be a runner.
Things changed when I got to college. I gained a ton of weight my freshmen year, and by the time I was heading into my junior year, I decided that I needed to figure something out. I took some classes at our Rec center, and started gaining some confidence. The more I stuck with it, the better I felt, and the better I wanted to do. I went from a taking a step class every few days to taking a cycle class every morning followed by a step class and kickboxing. Now, this is a tricky line that you have to be VERY careful with when you have an ED or any addictive type of personality. It is very easy to swing from the far left to the right without even realizing what you are doing. In fact, that is exactly what I did. As I look back to elementary, junior high, and even high school, I see my ED. It was there. It exhibited itself in the form of yo-yo dieting, constant self-criticism, and a need for total perfection. There were other unhealthy behaviors as well, in an effort to get thin/better. I was never comfortable or satisfied with my body then. However, I have to say that my ED officially stepped up and took center stage my junior year in college (perhaps the summer before). I went from trying to get healthy via a better diet and exercise, to over the top extreme. I had no idea what I was doing.
Well into my senior year, I was stuck in a vicious cycle. Unfortunately, this craziness lasted for about 15 years. Every comment from someone about how great I looked, fueled the fire. Every failure or bump in the road, fueled the fire. There was never a good time to get out. It became my identity, and I remember thinking that there was no way I could give it up. I was so scared to even imagine what would happen if I had to stop.
Why is this important for me to share? Over the weekend I ran in the Ragnar race that I have been training for for several months. I have never been so nervous in my life!!!! As I mentioned previously, running has always been a challenge for me. I have definitely gotten much better over the years, but this race was going to push me to run 16 miles! Anyway, I survived it. It was a huge challenge, and the last leg was cancelled due to extreme weather, but I did what I never thought I would be able to do. I really think this race made me dig deep like I have never had to before. It was a major sense of accomplishment. When it was all over, and I was back home, it occurred to me that I was back at that fine line. I have been training hard. Granted, I have eaten well! But, as I have ran everyday this week since the race, it has been in the back of my mind. I felt as if I needed to revisit the path that has brought me to where I am today. I needed a strong reminder of that fine line that I jumped over so easily without even realizing it in college. I do intend to keep up my running, because I actually do enjoy it as a bonus to my walks. However, I do not intend to go over that line into out-of-control ever again. It will be a constant struggle forever, but I will not stop fighting.