Thankful for Recovery: The Journey, & Reaching the Destination

Thanksgiving 2010 I was so concerned about having enough “safe” foods at dinner, Thanksgiving 2011 I was eating my own separate “raw food diet” foods, Thanksgiving 2012 I was bingeing on pie in my bedroom.
Thanksgiving 2017 finds me excited to eat, happy, full, content, very few worries around food, and looking forward to the rest of the holidays to come. Eating disorder recovery was confusing and tough, but so worth it.
So what happened between 2013-2017?

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What I’ve Learned in One Year as an Author (and Speaker!)

A year ago today, Running in Silence was released.
The best way to sum up this year would be that it has been a huge learning experience. Writing and getting a book published doesn’t suddenly make everything easier–I had a LOT of work ahead of me. The more emails I received from those who went through similar journeys, and the more people that attended my talks and spoke with me afterward about their struggles, the more I realized I needed to get out there and keep hammering the message.
As a recovering perfectionist (striving to be an “imperfectionist”), writing a book and having it published without being able to make big changes or adjustments when I overthink scenes or experiences in my life has been terrifying. I see ways in which I can grow as a writer, but I’m thankful that I’m not still laboring over the same piece a year later. My perfectionism might’ve left me with this book still in only my hands for the fear of publishing something I might STILL deem not completely “up to par.”
The reality is, I had to get it out there. It was time.

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The Race Many Coaches Have Yet to Run

This weekend I spoke at the MITCA (Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association) cross country coaches clinic to share my eating disorder story (as a reflection of many stories), my recovery process, what may cause eating disorders in running, and of course, how coaches can address this topic each year with their athletes.
I don’t think I’ve ever been this nervous for a presentation in my life. Speaking for an audience I’ve wanted to reach for years made me want to get it down “perfectly.” I am aware that I have other opportunities ahead of me, but I also know that each time I get in front of a group, as someone who has been through an eating disorder, written about it, and coaches as well, it is my responsibility to reach these coaches in the right way.

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Set Me Free: Reflecting on November 1, 2013

November 1st, 2013 was the answer I received to the above journal prayer–in the form of a broken kneecap, cracked in half during a running workout. The fractured bone was a representation of my fractured relationship with running and my body, a physical manifestation of my emotional pain.
It was the most challenging, painful, confusing days of my life. I fought between the Rachael who was distraught about not being able to run, with the Rachael who noticed this feeling of relief–relief to stop racing toward the impossible standards she set for herself, relief from the pressure of eating “perfectly” for running. I saw the Rachael who was exhausted and needed to lie down, and it wasn’t until this circumstance that she finally felt she could.

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Coaching: The More We Speak Up, the More They Will, Too

My “senior year” of cross country coaching finishes up in a few weeks with Jenni Callendar, and after that I will be speaking to Michigan cross country coaches at the MITCA clinic in November to discuss the prevalence of eating disorders in runners, how to approach the topic within our own teams, and why we should speak up EVERY year! I’m in year 4 of coaching and still learning so much; my own methods of raising awareness on the team hasn’t come easily, and the first year I thought just having the knowledge was enough. If I wait for them to come to me, they may never come.
The more we speak up, the more they will, too.

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Promote a Healthy Attitude About Sport and Fitness

EDCare recently designed an infographic that I believe very well describes 12 signs that an athlete or fitness enthusiast is closer to injury and illness than health and wellness–many of which are associated with eating disorders. It also includes tips for parents and coaches on how to spot signs of obsessive exercise and unhealthy eating patters. Thus, I was glad to have them share it in this guest post. Please check out EDCares at http://eatingdisorder.care/index for more information and resources!
Young athletes may dream of becoming the next Serena Williams or Tom Brady, but most know that it’s just that — a dream. They come to realize that top athletes are a rare breed. Even so, they press on. They still want to see how far they can go with their own physical abilities and mental stamina.

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Interview with National Champ Erin Herrmann: Speaking Up About Eating Disorders

I had the privilege of interviewing National Champion for the 3000m Steeplechase from Hope College Erin Herrmann, who came out about her eating disorder in May. She shares her story & advice for others who may be struggling in the video interview below! Biggest tip? TALK ABOUT IT.
Will be posting more YouTube videos SOON, so be sure to subscribe!
“Trust in the love of the people you are surrounded by. They will help you see what you need to see in yourself.”
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Why I Kept Silent About My Eating Disorder, and Why Coaches Shouldn’t

Dear Coach,
You are required to detect the early signs of concussions, and to know when to stop an athlete from continuing to play, all with good reason: concussions are common in many sports. Unfortunately, so are eating disorders—and we still don’t know how to talk about them. Coaches aren’t even required to discuss them.
By leaving this topic in the dark, we are failing our athletes. And as a past eating disorder sufferer and runner, my heart breaks to see other athletes struggle as I did—in SILENCE–because they don’t think their eating disorder is “bad enough,” or they don’t think you would understand. I read these emails, and hear these stories over
and over
and over again.
As a fellow cross country coach, I want to thank you for wanting to do something about this.

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The Chin-Up Podcast: Eating Disorders in Running

I first connected with Amber Sayer (author, exercise psychologist, and certified personal trainer) years ago when I read her memoir PR: A Personal Record of Running From Anorexia. It was one of the first eating disorder running memoirs I had read so I appreciated that it was a new angle, and that I could relate so much. I recommend you check it out, along with Amber’s blog at ProcessingProblems.com.
Recently Amber invited me onto her new podcast, The Chin-Up Podcast, where we talked about eating disorders in runners, recovery, writing, and approaches for coaches for athletes with eating disorders. Check out the link below (photo) for this podcast along with the others she will post in the future!

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Why Don’t You Lose 5 Pounds: Upcoming Sports Documentary

In a recent trip to St. Louis, MO for the Eating Disorders in Sports Conference through McCallum’s Place Victory Program, I was able to talk with and be interviewed by Chris Blunk, producer of the upcoming documentary Why Don’t You Lose 5 Pounds? And after a few days at the conference connecting with eating disorder therapists, dietitians, and athletic trainers focused on eating disorders in athletes/sports, I was even more excited for what Chris (and Nancy Kerrigan, Executive Producer!) have in store for us with this documentary. Chris Blunk has more background on the documentary below, but be sure to also follow the Why Don’t You Lose 5 Pounds website and social media pages for updates!
How long have you been in film?
I started making films my senior year of high school and went to the University of Kansas for a film degree. I graduated in 2004 and started working professional in film right after that.
What inspired you to start making a documentary for eating disorders in sports?
It was one of many tragic stories. I worked with a two married producers on a short sports doc and asked if they had another film topic in mind. It turned out they had a daughter who was into competitive cheerleading and was removed from the squad when her new lift partner could hoist her up. She asked the coach what she could do to get back on the squad and his suggestion was “Why don’t you lose 5 pounds?” As you can probably guess, that moment spiraled into an eating disorder that spanned several years and eventually took her life. They’ve spent years speaking on the topic on college campuses.

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