Thin Enough? The Athlete’s Dangerous Secret

Following up on the recent bravery of Michigan State University standout runner Rachele Schulist, I want to share my story too, because I think it’s important for all of us who’ve dealt with body image issues to speak up–
and that includes MANY of us.

Let’s examine what Rachele calls, “the lie of not being thin enough”:

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TOP LEFT PHOTO: Being thin for collegiate running got me school records, 6th & 7th places at the national cross country and track meets, and times a minute faster than I had ever run for a 5k. Sounds “successful,” right? It also created isolation, obsession with food, constant hunger, and a disconnect between me and my teammates. My only identity was cutting food and running fast.

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Guest Post With Megan Flanagan of Strong Runner Chicks: The Dark Side of Distance Running

I met Megan Flanagan through social media thanks to our interest in preventing eating disorders in the running world. With a similar mission of speaking about the topic, and encouraging those who struggle to speak up. I am excited to work with Megan in the near future, and I’m especially excited to share what she’s doing through  Strong Runner Chicks, a website dedicated to fostering strength in the female running community!

Strong Runner Chicks started as a way to inspire female runners to embrace their strength rather than cover it up; to embody the curves, muscle, and female bodies that we were given; to foster strength in the female running community and connect females of all ages, competitive and recreational runners alike, to an online space where they share ideas, tips, and personal stories on topics related to running, racing, strength training, fueling right and defining what it means to be a strong runner chick.

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When you think “female distance runner,” what image comes to mind?

Thin? Lean? Wispy? Emaciated?

Likely, the word “strong” doesn’t appear first in your head, if at all.

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Lauren Fleshman: Eating Disorders in the Running World

Life has been busy. Not only have I started my own YouTube channel, but I’ve also been scheduled for numerous speaking engagements, one of which I most recently completed this past Saturday with Yoga For a Cause. That event involved my first-ever radio interview with Rachael Morrow of the Grand Rapids Center for Healing Yoga a few days prior. And to be honest, speaking on the radio felt nerve-wracking. But practice makes perfect, right? Or imperfect is okay, perhaps, in accordance with the message of this website and the Running in Silence book.

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The shirt from the yoga event: “I Love This Body.”

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Are You Ready to Go Boldly? Spreading Body Positivity

My newest friend and great writing/creativity partner is Bri Goodyear Luginbill, founder of the Go Boldly campaign in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She agreed to guest post below about what she is doing to encourage people to embrace their bodies.

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Go Boldly is a positive body image campaign. It first came about as my response to some billboard advertisements I saw along the highways of Grand Rapids. The ads seemed to play off of women’s (and men’s) insecurities as to advertise for plastic surgery. However, Go Boldly has developed into more than a response. My intention is to have it be a positive body image movement that extends past Grand Rapids. So far I have had people contact me from West Virginia to Israel.

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For the Skeptics and Naysayers of the Body Image Movement

I am excited about what social media is doing to help people speak up and love their bodies. The Body Image Movement is gaining momentum, what with blogs of the voices of bigger men and women, photoshopping revealed in videos, and Facebook groups encouraging people to eat and love their food (see “Eating the Food!”). An especially powerful video was seen here.

But something jolted me after watching this video. I had expected to see comments full of joy and empowerment for a video like this, but most of what I saw was hate:

“To go from being dedicated and having good work ethic to being gluttonous, lazy, and satisfied with below mediocrity is not something that you should encourage on others. This woman compared losing a breast, for removal of breast cancer, and cerebral palsy, to being a lazy fat piece of shit. Absolutely disgusting and insulting.”

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Weightism: Eating Disorders and Mental Health in Obesity

“They almost treat me like a leper, really. Like I don’t deserve a place in society because I’m obese. You know, I must be so fat that my heart doesn’t break when people say things.”
~Jean Marie from “Fat Doctor,” Series 3 Episode 1

Weight discrimination: It’s real. It’s happening.

And I’ve been guilty of it.

I used to be one of those people who said, “They just need to have more control. They just need to eat healthier.” Just because it was easy for me. But once I fell into the pit of food obsession, once I endured the overwhelming cravings and seemingly never-ending restrict-binge cycle, and as I’ve gained weight despite every intention to try to lose weight again, I feel as if I’ve had a glimpse into the world of an overweight person.

Not only have I not endured the physical disabilities that come with being obese, but most of all I have not faced the torment, the never-ending weight discrimination that haunts many people for the rest of their lives.

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