MHSAA Women in Sports Leadership Conference: Making Change

I felt blessed and honored to speak to a group of strong young women last week at the MHSAA Women in Sports Leadership Conference. I loved seeing these ladies interested in mental health and asking thoughtful, important questions.

And it struck me, looking out into the audience, that these high schoolers are the future of sports. These are aspiring coaches and athletic directors.

They will impact lives.

I saw great potential, but also heartbreak. A few tears were shed in the audience as I shared my eating disorder experiences. Having spoken about my own story for years now, I’d forgotten the impact it first had on me, and how new it is for these students to hear. I’d forgotten how scary it was when I first admitted that something was wrong, because now it is so easy to talk about, and I am so far into recovery.

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“Why Aren’t We Talking About This?” Coaches & Eating Disorders

After my presentation at the cross country and track coaches clinic in Illinois (ITCCCA), I was told that one of the coaches who attended my talk appreciated the presentation, and had heard “nothing like it” before. In fact, she thought it to be so unique and important, that she wondered why this wasn’t being told at all the other conferences.

That’s the obstacle right now. Many people don’t realize the monstrosity of the issue, and we are still at the beginning stages of awareness. We still have very little discussion on it, and most of the time the only coaches attending these kind of talks are those who know one athlete on their team who struggles with an eating disorder.

What I’ve been proposing is that this is an issue all coaches should be aware of, and openly talk about with their athletes each year. We cannot afford to wait for an athlete to approach us about an eating disorder (if they ever do bring it up), or only “look” for it in a skeletal frame. Most eating disorders don’t even necessarily HAVE an “appearance.”

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Book Tour: The Final Day (Walden Pond, Boston University)

I took on my first book tour 11/29 through 12/7, landing in Boston, driving to Vermont to speak at Saint Michael’s College, driving back to Boston to speak at BU, driving to Rhode Island to speak at URI (Kingston), and back to Boston for one last talk at BU. You can read the first entry here, the second here, the third here, and the Rhode Island trip here. The following details my final day on Wednesday 12/6:

For my last day in Boston, I visited Walden Pond.

I had learned about Henry David Thoreau in school of course, so I knew about his two-year stay at Walden Pond and what an important role that played in literature and environmentalism.

I didn’t know that standing before Walden Pond would bring me to tears.

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Book Tour: Day Trip to Rhode Island

I took on my first book tour 11/29 through 12/7, landing in Boston, driving to Vermont to speak at Saint Michael’s College, driving back to Boston to speak at BU, driving to Rhode Island to speak at URI (Kingston), and back to Boston for one last talk at BU. You can find the first entry here, the second entry here, and the third entry here. The following details my journey Tuesday 12/5:

My third talk was at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston. When scheduling this, I made sure to connect with Jill Puleo of the YouTube channel A Case of the Jills, because when we found each other on social media a few months prior (and messaged briefly), she mentioned that she was living in Rhode Island.

If you have not looked into Jill’s YouTube channel yet, then you totally should. She discusses a side of exercise/training I had never looked too deeply into: amenorrhea (cessation of the menstrual cycle). And her discussion of amenorrhea is not limited to women, either. Even through our talk together that day for lunch, I learned so much about what men experience with overtraining (not necessarily amenorrhea of course, but certainly clear signs of a body deteriorating from the stress of overtraining).

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Book Tour: The Adventures Continue With a Talk at BU

I took on my first book tour 11/29 through 12/7, landing in Boston, driving to Vermont to speak at Saint Michael’s College, driving back to Boston to speak at BU, driving to Rhode Island to speak at URI (Kingston), and back to Boston for one last talk at BU. You can find the first entry here, and the second entry here. The following details my journey Saturday 12/2 – Monday 12/4:

“Just act like you know what you’re doing.”

That’s what I told myself as I walked up the stairs out of the T rail on my second day in Boston. I was nearly confident with where I was going–which was a lot more confident than I had been 12 hours prior–but still trying to get things down perfectly and had to fake it until I made it.

Luckily, a week before this trip to Boston, I had found out at a Thanksgiving party that an Aquinas cross country alum had moved to Boston. Nick was my lifesaver, and I happened to be walking out to my lifesaver this very day I had figured out the T rail.

Nick came out to my presentation Monday, too!

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Book Tour: Boston, Day 1

I took on my first book tour 11/29 through 12/7, landing in Boston, driving to Vermont to speak at Saint Michael’s College, driving back to Boston to speak at BU, driving to Rhode Island to speak at URI (Kingston), and back to Boston for one last talk at BU. You can read the first entry here. The following details my journey on Friday 12/1.

Driving back through Vermont toward Boston was a “magical” experience once again (great views, easy driving). Driving through Boston, however, was a different kind of magical.

I know I’ve been told DON’T GET A CAR IN BOSTON, but with all the traveling I needed to do for speaking engagements, it was a requirement for this trip.

I had a mix of awe and jolts of fear entering the city. For someone who’s already anxiety-prone with driving, I was testing my limits–because not only were the roads busy (I was warned about the traffic), but my GPS seemed to go haywire (“turn right, MAKE SURE YOU ARE IN THE LEFT LANE OF THE TURN RIGHT [too late], now SHARP LEFT, make sure you’re in the middle lane”…). With the constant curves and tunnels (my GPS lost signal, of course), it was tough to make the drive mistake-free. So a big mantra of this trip has become “Just take one thing at a time.”

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Book Tour: First Stop Colchester, Vermont

I recently took on my first book tour 11/29 through 12/7, landing in Boston, driving to Vermont to speak at Saint Michael’s College, driving back to Boston to speak at BU, driving to Rhode Island to speak at URI (Kingston), and back to Boston for one last talk at BU. The following details my journey on Wednesday 11/29 through Thursday 11/30.

Book Tour Day 1: Up at 3:30am, arrived in Boston by 9am, grabbed a rental car and I was off for a 4-hour drive to Colchester, VERMONT!

To say that it was a beautiful drive would be an understatement. I hadn’t looked much into Vermont with the limited time I had in the weeks leading up to this mini book tour (it felt like I was just suddenly on this trip–it came up FAST!) so I had no idea what I was getting into, but it was a very pleasant surprise.

A quick description: Miles upon miles of tree-lined roads, Moose Crossing signs (we have DEER crossing signs in Michigan), rolling roads, vast expanses of mountains (not sure if they were mountains, but they were definitely mounds bigger than what you see in Michigan). I was in awe, and the moment I arrived at Saint Michael’s College, I couldn’t stop telling everyone I met about my drive (the student athlete journalist who interviewed me for the school newspaper, the photographer for the school newspaper, and later my host Emily and the SAAC leader and the athletic director… the list goes on).

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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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A Second Book, Video Interviews, Journal Entries Revealed

With snippets of information here and there, I figured it was high time to give more details about what’s been going on in the realm of Running in Silence and future writing/speaking endeavors. Honestly, I’ve just been way too busy, so I’m trying to carve more time into my day to work on writing, speaking, and YouTube videos. THANK YOU to all of you who have supported me/followed my journey so far!

YouTube

I’m about to embark on a video interviewing spree, which will include talking with my parents (separately, as they offer differing perspectives), men with eating disorders, and possibly my coach from Aquinas. Check out my YouTube channel (Running in Silence) for extra videos (and be sure to subscribe!). I will keep you in the loop on those upcoming videos via social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter). In the meantime, be sure to comment below (or email me at runninginsilence@gmail.com) if you have questions you’d like me to ask the interviewees!

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National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2017

I can’t believe how easily time gets away from me–it’s already been nearly two weeks since National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAW), and I’m able to update on the craziness at last.

A few days before the NEDAW officially began, Karen Saukas (eating disorder survivor and mental health advocate), Zach Stepanovich (my friend and former Aquinas cross country teammate who also suffered from an eating disorder), Gail Hall (Director of the Comprehensive Treatment for Eating Disorders), and I were all on the Maranda show to raise awareness for eating disorders.

Just days later, early on Monday morning, Zach, Gail, and I we were on Fox17 News for the lighting of the blue bridge in Grand Rapids (huge thanks to Gail Hall for making this happen for the first time EVER in Michigan!). The bridge was lit in the NEDA colors (green and blue), which made us a part of the nation-wide “coloring of buildings.”

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