Guest Post: Lize Brittin’s Journey Part 1

When I first got the offer to write a guest post for the blog Running in Silence, I was both excited and honored. There are so many topics I would like to address, but I feel I should break the post down into a limited number of points I believe will help others most. Since I have already shared my story in my book, Training on Empty, I decided to give only a brief history of my career as a runner. The reason why I feel this is necessary at all is to show not just what I have survived but how my past played a role in both the eating disorder and my recovery.
In exploring what led to my eating disorder, I discovered that, like many others, I used eating or not eating as a way to cope with uncomfortable situations and my feelings. I was a sensitive child and got overwhelmed easily. Given my tempestuous living situation with an alcoholic father and peers who constantly criticized, it’s no wonder I had a hard time self regulating as a child.
At first I over ate, stuffing my hurt feeling down as far as they would go, but by the time I was 13, I started restricting, which brought about a false sense of control. I couldn’t control what was going on around me, but I could force myself to eat a certain way, taking my attention away the chaos in my life. In the early 80′s, anorexia wasn’t well understood, and it certainly wasn’t discussed. I didn’t even know there was a name for what I was experiencing until a few years after I started my extreme diet and exercise regimen.
Shortly after I started losing weight, I found running. It was an exercise I used primarily to keep myself thin, but I was also instantly successful when I entered races. Within a few years, I became one of the top mountain runners in the world, setting records on nearly every course I ran, including the grueling Pikes Peak Ascent. I also had tremendous success in road races and cross country in school, and I was only 16.
But my career was cut short due to my ever worsening disorder. I was plagued with illness and injury despite some outstanding showings in races. Eventually, before I hit my mid twenties, I was forced to give up running altogether. At one point, I was so weak, I could hardly stand on my own two feet.
Since numbers related to weight can be triggering, I won’t mention them in this post. Instead I will say that during the throes of my illness, I was having seizures and headed for disaster. One night, I was rushed to the hospital with chest pain, and doctors predicted I had only hours to live. My health had gotten that bad. The main doctor in the ER told my family to prepare for my passing and stated that I probably wouldn’t make it through the night.
But I did, and I went on to recover.
There is no secret formula or pill that will cure an eating disorder. Everyone must find his or her own way out of the illness. There are, however, key factors to address during recovery.
Unfortunately, a lack of food contributes to an increase in distorted thinking. Re-feeding and stabilizing the body is an essential part of recovery from anorexia, but it is only one aspect and can’t be done in isolation. A person must be seen in a whole way. One must address the emotional, mental, physical and even spiritual bodies together.
Diane Israel, a former elite runner herself, makes it clear that there are four main points to consider in regaining health.
1. Reclaim the self/Identify the self.
2. Heal the family/Move away from the family (if healing can’t occur)/Heal or address past trauma
3. Community support/community involvement
4. Give back/Charity/Service to others
I want to focus on number one, because for athletes, this step, while being probably the most important, can be the most difficult. It’s bad enough that eating disorders cause us to lose ourselves, but for an athlete, finding your true identity can be complicated by the fact that athletes so easily define themselves through their sport. For me, I was so overly identified as an elite athlete, I didn’t know how to exist without running. Worse, I felt tremendous guilt and undeserving when I didn’t run.
Naturally, when I couldn’t run, I lost myself completely in the eating disorder. I didn’t know who I was apart from both the illness and the running. I was either Lize the runner or Lize the anorexic. At times, I was even Lize the anorexic runner, but I was never just Lize. I didn’t even know who Lize really was anymore. In order to recover, though, I needed to find and reclaim myself, and that was not an easy task. Most of us are not taught that we are OK just as we are, and we are not taught how to truly know who we are. In this society, we are what we do instead.
So what does it mean to reclaim yourself? It means learning to appreciate who you are and your physical body apart from anything else. It means being comfortable and secure in your own skin and balancing all aspects of yourself.
This doesn’t usually happen overnight. For me, I had to start with the basics. Rather than focus on what I was eating or how much I was running, I had to turn my attention inward and ask myself what my passions were. I needed to rediscover what I liked and disliked, what my beliefs were and what stirred my emotions. In doing this, I started to better understand how I could move away from the labels that had bound me for so many years. I had to fight the negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones too. My mantra became, “I am OK and everything will be OK,” because I had so many fears and old beliefs that things would never be even close to OK, let alone good, especially if I couldn’t run.
Breathe.
Take time to analyze your specific set of circumstances and explore activities that you were forced to give up due to the illness. Ask yourself how this disorder has served you and how you can replace the harmful behaviors with healthier coping strategies. Tackle new experiences and prepare yourself for change. Allow yourself to FEEL and know that strong emotions will pass.
Once you take a leap of faith and start on your recovery path, it’s not so much that you can’t turn back; it’s more that you probably won’t want to. You’ll become too aware of the contrast between merely existing and actually living.
Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Eating Disorders Prey on Males, Too

If you can imagine how tough it is for women to be open about their eating disorders, just imagine how tough it is for males! I had a friend who I asked to share his experience here on the blog. I encourage anyone who struggles with an eating disorder or disordered eating to speak up when you feel ready–even if it’s just by letting it out through this blog.
If anyone else would like to share their story, please comment below or message me on Facebook. You do not have to be extremely sick to feel “valid” in sharing your story. Everyone’s struggle is their own and just as difficult–and as one commenter stated, it should be treated with as much love, care, and respect as any other.

~

I found Rachael and her blog a year ago, and every now and then we’ve talked about our eating disorders, specifically in the realm of raw food & bingeing. Like her, I don’t particularly fit the descriptions of bulimia, anorexia, or binge eating. At this point in my ED, I sway between binge eating & orthorexia. The 80-10-10 diet is always my fallback after a long 1 or 2 week bingeing episode. It all started when I was prescribed the stimulant _____ when I was 14. Before then, I never really thought about my weight. Because of its appetite suppressing effects, I lost 10 pounds within a week, effortlessly! Plus, because of its energizing effects, I felt great while doing it!
Being a musician, I started to glorify the “skinny rocker” image we all have when we think of Mick Jagger & Marilyn Manson. Now I had a goal to attain this. I started counting calories, going hard on the protein, working out all the time, all of the precursors of anorexia (Pro-ana websites for males didn’t help either). At 15 years old I reached my lowest weight–but this is when I experienced my first binge. It was a reaction from all the starving I had been doing, and after it happened, my behavior became more erratic. The bingeing continued, it was something I started to love and think of as a drug… and it became a vicious cycle: Binge. Abuse my medicine to suppress my appetite. Stay up for days. The medicine would wear off, I would sleep for a day and binge once again. I was going through my medicine so fast that my month’s supply would last me only a week. And I was doomed to binge intensely for the rest of the month, until receiving my new prescription. It was hell. I would even binge on the medicine. It was many addictions wrapped in one. Marijuana gave me relief from the depression I fell into, but would make me hungrier. So to counteract the marijuana I would take more stimulants. However, my ED was never about the drugs. The drugs helped aggravate it but my addiction was first and foremost restriction and food.
The day I found about raw food was life changing. This was my ticket out of this cycle (or so I thought). The gurus looked so happy and energetic, youthful and lively. I tried it and 2 weeks later, all of my physical/mental ailments seemed to dissolve. I was a new person.
But not for long… Fast forward to college. I am still going in and out of raw food. I was buying _____ from college peers, stealing it from friends. It wasn’t only about the appetite suppression anymore, I just wanted relief from how shitty the junk food was putting in my body. The stimulant gave me superficial energy that my nutrition wasn’t. If things got too heavy, I would switch to a raw food lifestyle and detox a little bit before my next toxic splurge. At 21 years old, you would think I would learn, but I the same behaviors are stuck with me.
I’m more aware of my “cycles” now. Right now, it’s been 2 weeks binge-free. I’ve only eaten fruit and potatoes. I feel great. If you asked me 3 weeks ago how I felt, I was completely different: McChicken wrappers stuffed in my desk drawers, eating cheap donuts at the self-checkout at Meijer–I was a ball of shame. It’s funny. Right now, I wouldn’t touch a burger or even a roasted almond. I’m orthorexic for the time being, until I decide to “flip the switch” and lose control. I know my choices of restriction probably make the binges worse, but to me this is completely normal. It’s become my normal.
Oh yeah. Did I mention I’m a GUY? Rachael is one of the only persons I’ve shared my ED with, because I feel there isn’t yet a healthy landscape for guys to talk about this kind of stuff. It’s embarrassing. Women are constantly called strong for sharing their ED with the world, but I don’t see the same with men. It’s not masculine, it’s not desirable for men to be this way. I’m convinced so many others like me struggle with this, but are too afraid to share. Even after years of my family finding half-eaten Chef Boyardee cans in my bedroom & diet pills in my drawer, I refuse to acknowledge to them that I have a problem. It’s engrained in me that no matter what, nobody can ever know.
The fact that I’m male makes the problem 1000x harder, too. I also wish there was more open discussion about this in the 80-10-10, “30bananasaday”, and raw food communities. Eating this way can worsen disorders in people who already have them, but the perfection-seeking quality of their adherents makes the subject completely untouchable and taboo. Part of what draws me to 80-10-10 is I can still binge, but it doesn’t effect me like eating junk food. So, I’m never not bingeing. Just bingeing on different foods.
Rachael is an amazing soul & has done excellent things with this blog. Thanks for letting me share my thoughts!

~

I just gotta say, I appreciate the kind words, but again, this blog and allowing myself to be as vulnerable as I am would not have happened without YOU ALL.
Thanks again for the support and keep winning your battles. And men, get the word out! Men get eating disorders, too.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Facebook Group Page

Hey everyone, I just wanted to let you know that I have a Facebook page for Running in Silence now. If you could “like” it, that would be great! Please share it with others as well if you would like, as I think spreading the word will help more people to open up about their own struggles, or help those who don’t understand eating disorders to gain more insight and perhaps be led to the blog. I can’t stress how helpful it has been for me to know that more people deal with eating disorders than I ever thought, and I’m sure it could help others. While it is disheartening to know so many people suffer, it is good to know you are not alone.
I will be posting videos, updates on the manuscript, inspirational quotes, and perhaps get some topics started on this Facebook page. I will continue with this blog of course, but I’ve been told it would be good to have a Facebook page, too.
I hope everyone is doing well–keep winning the internal struggle and find ways to open up to others.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

We Lost a Beautiful Soul

About a week ago today we lost a blog reader to anorexia.
Elizabeth Ellie S was not a close friend of mine; heck, we never even met in person. I don’t know how she found my blog, but when she did she added me as a friend on Facebook and has been supportive ever since, “liking” my Facebook updates about the blog and giving me words of encouragement here and there. I admired her bravery, love, and kindness and wondered if we could meet someday. If anything, it just felt good to have support on Facebook when it feels a little quiet with the blog posts besides the occasional “likes” from close friends and family.
I awoke Friday morning to find out, through Facebook, that anorexia had taken her life. I remembered thinking months ago that she could die from this, but I never thought this soon, this sudden, and honestly … a big part of me said “Nah, that won’t happen.” Elizabeth had been working so hard to recover while helping others too, and it seems she just wasn’t able to get there fast enough.
I found a picture of Elizabeth in June of 2013 (below) and commented on it, telling her how I found it so powerful (I still do! I hope I don’t sound too creepy when I say I saved it to my computer…it just really spoke to me and I’m sure it speaks to many people). Elizabeth told me, “God has carried me far, I can tell you that. and I want to say, your blog/future project thingy is/will be very powerful as well.”
It was so cool to read that from a Facebook friend I had never met face-to-face. I’ll admit that I am still nervous about posting my blog (who wants to talk about dark feelings surrounding food?) but people like that (and you, my readers) make me feel like it’s okay to stay open. Also, being more open has helped the recovery process (and made me feel accountable to get better). And if Elizabeth said she was looking forward to reading what I had to say, if anything, I had to keep writing for her.

A powerful picture I found on Elizabeth’s Facebook back in June 2013. There are so many days where I’m sure many of us feel like this.

“i’m still a trainwreck im just a bit heftier,” she said in her comments below the picture.
I get it. The difficult part about eating disorders is most people think that once you gain the weight you are “better.” Gaining the weight for me (although it was never too dangerously low) was the scariest thing not only because I hated the weight gain, but because it was even more difficult to explain to people that I struggled a lot, if not more, than when I was at my lowest weight.
There are so many days where I feel like the “train wreck” Elizabeth portrays. There are so many days where I wonder how I can keep enduring the constant ups and downs with every meal, battling the love/hate relationship with food. It is emotionally and physically exhausting. As far as I have come with everything, I never knew it would take this long. My disordered eating was not as severe as Elizabeth’s, but if it took this long to work through my own recovery, I can’t imagine how long and intense it would have been for Elizabeth.
Right now I am in no way in danger of dying from my struggle with food. But I will say that I understand how difficult it is to push through it, that it is so much a mental disorder and not as easy as “stop eating so much” or “just eat more!” I can understand that, even in the face of death, Elizabeth couldn’t “just eat more” to save her life.
She worked hard. You can see from all her friends on Facebook that they knew she worked hard. And for Elizabeth, in her honor, keep working hard and fighting your demons. Do not let her have died in vane. Keep pushing through, hold onto hope in your darkest days, and know that we are all our own train wrecks sometimes; it takes strength and perseverance to just keep doing the best we can.

~

Elizabeth Ellie S

Elizabeth Ellie S, may you rest in peace. This blog post is dedicated to you for doing so much for others. May everyone exemplify your kindness and love.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

February 23-March 1 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week!
I think the idea of bringing awareness to eating disorders is awesome, but the most important part about it is that people become aware of how hidden and prevalent it really is. The key to my own recovery was recognizing it within myself, but this was difficult to do since I was never severely underweight. While my BMI was under 18 at one point, it was nowhere near being sickly thin, which made it difficult for me to see myself as having an eating disorder. And often there are people out there with a BMI under 18 who don’t have eating disorders, too, who are wrongly accused.
Clearly this is a tricky monster.
Thus, we must clearly emphasize how much of a psychological problem this is–that it is how we approach food and our habits around food that make an eating disorder what it really is.
Eating disorders vary from disordered eating (skipping a meal purposely a few times a week, throwing up your food once in a while, etc) to a full-blown eating disorder (consistently starving oneself, throwing up often for months, etc). But even though the intensity of eating disorders vary, even starting at the very mildest of symptoms can be dangerous, as they can easily morph into a full-blown eating disorder. This is why we must recognize any strange behaviors around food early. This is why we cannot dismiss any little sign from anyone who may be suffering. This is why we often need to recognize eating disorders as psychological more than physical.
Awareness comes in knowing that eating disorders are not always visible and can happen to anyone (that includes men!!). I believe Eating Disorder Awareness Week is about breaking the misconceptions and stereotypes of eating disorders. It is to become aware of more than just “stick-thin white girls,” that the demon lies deep inside the mind, and perhaps the ones who suffer the most seem to be far from the right “image” we have grown up to think eating disorder to look like.
I think the biggest eye-opener for me with this entire “coming out” experience was the realization of how many people deal with it. And I think what made it more difficult was the variety of experiences, “rituals,” weights, and definitions of eating disorders.
Everyone’s eating disorder varies. After studying and observing others who deal with the disorder, I see a variety of “rituals,” rules, etc. An example of my own ignorance would be was when I suspected someone I knew might have an eating disorder. But I kept putting it off because some of the foods he decided to eat would have been “forbidden” for me. He mustn’t have an eating disorder because he is eating THAT food and I could never allow myself to eat THAT. 
But I soon found out that he did suffer, and my awareness for eating disorders expanded beyond what I knew in my own head with my experience.
All I ask is that we open our minds and watch out for our friends and family–notice subtle cues, any changes in behaviors with food (even if just small–something as simple as trying to eat healthier should be filed away in the mind to pull out later if anything progresses from there). If anything, just learn to care about others and encourage yourself to ask how others are doing. Something as simple as showing you care can help others to open up–because for me, learning to speak was the best way to admit something wasn’t right.

~

And now for you readers waiting on the manuscript, I will make you AWARE of what is going on with Rachael and revision!:
Well the pages have been cut down to under 400 now, but with more elaborating and revision the page count may rise again. I’m reading through it a fifth time, but I’m sure I will be reading through it five or more times again. There is plenty to work on, and I have myself on a schedule of reading/revising 30-50 pages per week. I’m excited to dive deeper into each experience and really develop and bring out the story. This is all a huge learning experience for me, and I can say it can be an overwhelming project at times, but I am enjoying the ride and certainly love the revision process.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

It’s Time for Change

I think I’m ready for change. I’m ready to take the next step to eating “normally” among society.

I’m ready to get out of this rut.

It’s weird how those feelings suddenly come; when you realize the food you deemed “fattening” was only so because it became a rule in your head. The voice whispers to you day after day that you must eat perfectly, that you cannot mess up, that if you do mess up, bad things will happen.
And suddenly, I dared myself to change, dared myself to face my fear, because as scared as I am to move on, I know I must move on. That the only thing scarier than staying in one place, is thinking that you may stay in one place forever if you don’t do something about it.
This took months. Months and months of the same routine because I felt too scared to move on, but today, I realized, this is it. I might fall back again, but at least I’m making an effort to try something different, and try something I wouldn’t normally do. I told myself I could go back if I didn’t feel comfortable enough, but I encouraged myself to at least try.
For instance, I am eating food on a plate. Like, a regular plate, instead of trying to hide any food I deem as embarrassment in a tiny bowl. Also, I decided I needed variety. As in, I hear about this thing called “enjoying” food, and maybe it’s time to really savor and relish what I am eating. Not to say I’ve never liked the taste of the foods I usually eat, but I do find it a rare treat when I “have” to go out to eat and find myself with a plate of “sinful” food and love the taste of it; tastes as simple as sauteed quinoa and grilled tofu with crunchy, caramelized vegetables, and god-forbid, sauce.
I want to enjoy foods like these all the time. So what is stopping me?
Fear. Fear of taste, of loving or wanting something too much, of feeling like my body will run away with food and I will not be able to slow down. But then I figured, if everyone else can do it, then why can’t I? Why don’t I deserve to eat different foods like they do?
Until now, I never realized how true it is that you have to want to change. People don’t want eating disorders, but they fear life without it. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
From my own experience, I realized I just had to be patient with myself. When my dietician encouraged new foods like pasta or even peanut butter, I couldn’t convert to them right away. I had to want to change, and eventually it came. Something finally clicked in my brain, something finally broke in my emotional state, and I realized I wanted to feel different, wanted to break out of my own prison. It took a lot of thinking and experimentation on my part, but something finally released again and I moved on.
I want more than just oatmeal, tuna, eggs, coconut oil, and vegetables for every meal, every day. I will eat quinoa again. I will add some oil to my meals. I’m going to eat hummus. I may even eat pasta. (Don’t rush me too much, though). Don’t ask why I deem some of these healthy foods “evil.” I think anyone with an eating disorder has their own rules and regulations, and these are just a few that happen to be mine at the moment. They were constantly changing, and I don’t recommend anyone reading this to suddenly see these foods as “bad” just because I had a period where I wouldn’t allow myself to eat them.
I went to the store today and spent nearly two hours shopping for “new” foods. I have never seen so much variety in my shopping cart in years. I felt anxiety and reluctance putting some items in my cart, but I knew at least half of me was okay with what I put in, and I began to think of all the cool recipes I could start cooking up with them. I also began to think about how much more fun food could be with this change.
Yes, change. Many ask what helped me to recover. I say, take the time to keep learning about yourself, to keep thinking over what and why you fear certain things, and allow others (like a dietician) to work with you to move past the fears. You don’t have to rush yourself. You don’t have to stick with it. All I ask, encourage, and support you with is the notion that you at least try.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Fast Food, Healthy Steil!

(My last name is pronounced “style” for those of you who don’t know me)
 ~
“I gotta give you a reward…”
My coach raised his hand in a high-five when I came back with my teammate Lindsey from a fast food restaurant.
“A … what?” I asked, puzzled.
“A reward … for going through your first drive-thru!” he said, smiling.
Lindsey had asked to get lunch while we were at a track meet. She picked McDonalds–unfortunately, a place I had only been to once back in my junior year of high school when I got hot chocolate with my friend Kristi. And that experience was embarrassing to say the least, as I ended up stopping and talking into a trash can to give our order, thinking it was the speaker.
Needless to say I hadn’t been back to a drive-through since, part because of that embarrassing incident and another for my fear of any fast food.
Thus, I asked Lindsey how the drive-thru worked. The “adventure” ended up working out well, except that this “fast” food ending up taking forever. I mean, fifteen minutes waiting in line? It made me realize how good I have it when I just prepare my own healthy food at home. I’ve gotten in to a routine that I’m happy to share with you all here.
Thanks to the help of my dietician, whenever I think of a complete meal I think of the three macronutrients: carbs, protein, and fat. I add “vegetables” in there as well even though it isn’t a specific macronutrient group, but most people don’t see them as “carbs” so I always have to add them in.
Carbs: I usually cook up oatmeal since it’s the quickest and easiest-to-cook carb (in my opinion). This could go for rice, potoatoes, and quinoa as well; whichever you prefer. Bread is probably the easiest of all carbs since all you have to do is pull a slice or two out of a bag, but from a health perspective and for those who are gluten-intolerant, cooking carbs works well too. I try to cook a large batch of carbs and pour them into a large container or two for the next few days to a week. I’m always about preparing ahead.
Protein: I always try buy one or two dozen eggs for the week. It’s great to hard-boil them, too, so they are a quick grab-n-go protein snack during the day. I also buy about 10-20 packages of meat and keep them in a small freezer I have so that I don’t have to go to the store as much. Each week I thaw a package or two to use for the week. I also keep cans of fish in my cupboards for emergencies if I don’t have any fresh protein to eat. Cottage cheese, yogurt, and milk work in the refrigerator too as good protein sources if you are vegetarian and can digest lactose.
Fat: The easiest one! Peanut butter is as easy as dipping your knife in a tub of it, as well as coconut oil. I may keep an avocado or two in the refrigerator and slice into that as well.
Vegetables: I buy many packages of frozen vegetables and keep those in my freezer just in case the fresh vegetables I buy from the Farmer’s Market run out. I try to buy frozen vegetables that I wouldn’t normally eat raw—like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, summer squash, zucchini, and carrots. The raw vegetables I buy from the Farmer’s Market—especially celery. I try to buy vegetables that don’t need much chopping, too, like green beans. That way I don’t feel like I spend so much time in the kitchen. I can just rinse off the vegetables in the sink, throw them in a pan with some coconut oil, and voila! Instant meal. I try to cook up all the vegetables and just store the leftovers for the next few days.
I am a celery fiend. I chop off the ends of these suckers and break off smaller pieces with my hands. This is a great grab-n-go snack that I keep all prepared in small baggies in my refrigerator.
Fruit: Of course, fruit is the easiest grab-n-go option. No explanation needed here.
Don’t let all of this overwhelm you. Let me tell you, this took time and patience. It was confusing at first for me when I tried to plan it all out; and even then I didn’t have the “perfect” plan down yet.
When I first learned to cook, I just tried to arrange all these different recipes that I would just try to prepare every day of the week. That proved too difficult and time-consuming. I began to just hit the basics and now I combine a carb, protein, and fat in each meal to make my own “recipes.” I get all of my spices from Penzeys (same price as spices you would find in a regular store, but fresher ingredients) so that each meal tastes a little different.
Please feel free to ask questions below, and even share your own strategies for preparing healthy food for the week!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Book Review: She Was Once a Runner

I came across the book She Was Once A Runner about half a year ago and recently read it a second time. This memoir, written by an anonymous author, details a collegiate woman’s experience during her sophomore year on a Division I cross country team where she was encourage by both her coach and parents to lose weight. Additionally, she was influenced by her teammates who also dealt with eating disorders. It was interesting reading about an experience with eating disorders in a different light from mine–in an environment were it seems eating disorders were enforced on the collegiate cross country and track team. Meanwhile, my eating disorder was mostly influenced by the pressure I had on myself.
I thought the memoir was well-written. The dialogue flowed and the plot moved along at a strong pace to keep me engaged. The author remains anonymous so as not to point fingers at anyone specifically, which I think is admirable. In this way she isn’t writing the story to blame anyone in particular, but to show how this is not happening at just one college, but college across America. Reading a lot of online running forums left me to conclude that many people, especially other collegiate women, could easily relate to the story.
It’s an unfortunate situation, but I’m proud of this author for stepping up to the plate and exposing the ugly truth behind some collegiate distance running programs. As Camille Herron states in her recent blog entry about leaving a mark in the world with running, I feel that that NAIA (the association/division my school runs for), in exemplifying Champions of Character and striving to develop the runners for the real world, there seems to be many runners who leave the program continuing to run rather than being burnt out and injured. I do not mean to say that most Division I or II schools result in a dire outcome, but the pressure put on many of the athletes, especially to lose weight, can result in permanent damage physically and mentally. The Silence of Great Distance was also a insightful read showing the impact of pressure on women athletes and weight, especially at the Division I level.
As I continue to work on my own writing project, I thought it would be helpful to read all the different eating disorder and running books out there. This one was definitely a favorite, and I hope to spread the word about it because not only was this book a good read, but the topic needs to be open for discussion and awareness.
Meanwhile, I work on my experience–in the form of 421 pages at this point! There is still a lot more revision to go, but here it is all printed out:
Look at that beauty! All 421 pages printed off for further revision ...

Photo credit to my wonderful mom for allowing me to use a whole carton of ink (plus some?) and 400+ pages of paper. And my dad, for working so hard at his job to help pay for this. :)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Here’s to a Fear-Free New You New Year!

This is my prayer.
I know the holidays are difficult for those with eating disorders. I pray that you worked through it, that you allowed yourself to enjoy time with friends and family rather than having food rule whether it was “good” or “bad.”
This is my prayer.
We have another year ahead of us—and to you, I wish you good luck, and health, and love toward yourself. I wish you more ease and comfort with food. I wish that you find love and joy in the simple beauties of life—including the delectable taste of a fresh new dish. I encourage you, as I encourage myself, to venture out and try new foods. I encourage you to live more this next year.
This is my prayer.
I wish you to feel the exhilaration of life. I wish you to find yourself, to keep digging. I wish you to uncover the darker parts of yourself, because you are worth digging for. I wish you tears and a bit of heartache, because those are the times where we let ourselves become vulnerable, and we learn and grow. Those bad times help us to understand more about who we are as people.
This is my prayer.
I wish you a happy new year. I wish you luck. I wish all of us courage, strength, and bravery as we tackle the new adventures waiting for us.
Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Hungry to Speak

You ask her why she doesn’t eat that food anymore. She tells you she doesn’t care for it.  She tells you she is full. She tells you it’s unhealthy.
She tells you she is eating raw food now.
She doesn’t tell you that it’s because of the calories, that it’s because she wants to lose weight, that she wants more than anything in the world to eat it and feel okay.
What is going on inside when you see her eat?
This is not easy. She does not wish to tell you.
See, she can’t even talk in first person.
When you see her eat, her heart beats fast. She wishes you wouldn’t watch her eat. She wonders how much you think about what she eats. She decides what she will eat next to make it look like she is not eating too much. She waits until it is noisy enough in the room so that you may not notice how much she is eating when she grabs something else.
She seems calm. She sits there acting like nothing is wrong because she doesn’t want you to see how loud she is screaming inside. She doesn’t want you to know how embarrassing this is for her.
~
I will speak now.
You ask my why I’m fat; I’ve gained weight, I am no longer as thin as I was. But this does not mean recovery. What kind of eating disorder is this, anyway?  You ask why I can’t have more self-control. I tell you, it is because I used to have all the control in the world.
You ask me why I take food out of the trash. I tell you that it is because I used to spit my food into it.
You ask my why you find food wrappers, empty cans of vegetables in strange places around the house. I tell you it is because I pushed food away for so long, and now there is a shaking, anxious girl inside of me that is scared she will never have enough.
I am scared to feel the hunger again. I am scared you will see the monster I held back for so long.
This girl you see today? This is the monster I’ve been hiding all along. This is the girl I was ashamed to admit I buried inside for years. This is the girl who was scared—is scared—to admit that she has a big, fat problem with food, because the control she had before was never hers to begin with.
~
You ask her how she could possibly have an eating disorder if she looks anything but anorexic. She has no response for you, because her voice is trapped in the bottom of her stomach—the stomach that screams to be filled, to be emptied, to be punished. She has no words to articulate, because how can she explain that what goes on inside speaks louder than what she reveals on the outside? She wants to stop, but her body rebels.
Have you ever heard a body scream? I have. It was my own, and I kept strangling it, kept pushing her beneath the shallow bathwater.
Stay there. Stop breathing. Stop scrambling.
Stop eating.
Cold water splashes. Body thrashes. She suffocates.

Photographer: Jennette Kristen Laven

Photographer: Jennette Kristen Laven
I hurt because I don’t want to be told that every emotion, every scream for release, every moment I have been through is a lie. Because what else can I call this obsession, this war with food?
I wish I could show you my pain. I wish I could have the guts to show you the monster within when I eat by myself. I wish I could make you feel the deep hunger when I restrict, make you see the gluttony consume me as I consume it. I wish you could feel the isolation as I sit holed up in my room, as I hide in the bathroom, as I sneak off into an empty room and eat.
Because I am embarrassed. Because years ago I took the bread off the dinner table and pretended to chew it before my family, only to excuse myself to go to the bathroom and flush it down the toilet.
I wish I had the guts to show you the stashes of food I hide in my room, in my purse, in my desk drawers. But I know that embarrassment holds me back, that I try so desperately to keep this hidden so that no one will know that I keep this such a big secret, that when you ask about how I could have an eating disorder, I have no words left to give.
Call it a lie, call it fear, call it lack of control or discipline—but in my head it is more real than I will ever know.
This is why I do not want to eat to begin with. This is why I fear hunger. This is why my obsession with food continues everyday. Because I know I will have to eat again. And when I do, I no longer feel that I can control my body. It takes over, and the girl who was drowning beneath the water comes up with a vengeance and twists me around. She twists around my mind and drowns that instead.

~

You ask me why I eat in secret.
I tell you it is because I am ashamed to eat at all.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments