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.

Order your copy of Running in Silence: My Drive for Perfection and the Eating Disorder That Fed It here.

Video: How Dad Responded to My Eating Disorder

For Mother’s Day I shared videos from my YouTube channel about how my mom responded to my eating disorder, and I figured it was good timing to interview my dad for this past Father’s Day. Both of my parents offer different, but very important perspectives of their understanding of eating disorders. I was also blessed to have parents who were willing to support me through it despite their confusion from the onset.

My dad, as you’ll notice in the videos below, has been a great source of laughter and joy through my difficulties. I am so thankful he was brave enough to do this with me, and he not only makes our conversations on the subject interesting, he makes them entertaining! You can read from a previous conversation we had years ago in The Difficulty in Understanding as well.


Order your copy of Running in Silence: My Drive for Perfection and the Eating Disorder That Fed It here.

Eating Disorder Recovery with my Mom: A Video Interview

From the first few chapters of Running in Silence my mom doesn’t suspect anything is wrong as I embark on a raw food diet. She doesn’t question my intense obsession with food and running fast, mostly because I kept the worst of the obsession to myself. I didn’t open up. I wasn’t myself, and HADN’T been for her and my dad for my whole life.

And then you get to the chapter where I come out about my binge eating disorder, but we both don’t know what monster we are dealing with. We are BOTH confused and lost, and she gives the typical answers to “cure” what I’m dealing with by telling me I can just eat less to lose weight again–a “normal” response from someone who doesn’t understand and just wants to help.

What my mom did right in that critical moment when I asked for help? She offered to get me the proper, professional help elsewhere. My mom brought me to an eating disorder support group to see a therapist and dietitian. My mom took on the role of eating disorder researcher, attended the parent support group meetings, and listened to me talk for hours on end about my fears, doubts, and why my brain was thinking the way it did.

Read more

When Loved Ones Can’t Understand Your Eating Disorder

When I first told my mom about the eating disorder, she seemed to continually ask the wrong questions and make the wrong suggestions (“Well let’s step on the scale to see where you’re at!” and, “But did you throw up all your food?”). It’s tough to get off to a good start when someone hasn’t experienced an eating disorder. My dad probably had one of the most difficult times trying to break it apart.

“How can you physically keep stuffing in more and more food?” he asked one night when we had agreed to sit down to talk. “I mean, I get to the point where enough is enough in one meal.”

Read more

Food Fights and Friends: Supporting Someone With an Eating Disorder

I often think about one of my high school cross country teammates who may have dealt with an eating disorder. I couldn’t understand it at all back then and tried to encourage her to eat foods like cheese (“It has calcium for strong bones!”) but our discussions never went much beyond that. I didn’t know how to help her, and she never fully confessed to me about her possible eating disorder. I only know from mutterings here and there that she had some nutritional issues and couldn’t race a few times because of it. I can only guess that if we had talked about it more, I would still have been at a loss as to what to do for her. Thus I believe it takes a very special person to have sympathy and patience for someone with an eating disorder. This post hopefully not only gives insight into what it takes to be a supportive friend, but it is also a thank-you to the amazing people in my life who have been there for me with my own experiences with the eating disorder.

DSC00138

Me, Alina, Rachel

Read more

A Father of Food: My Dad Dealing with the Eating Disorder

My dad loves food. Like, loves it. He has encouraged this same love for food in our family by cooking us meals and taking us out to fancy, unique, and cultural restaurants. Thus, going on my raw diet and eventually telling him about my eating disorder probably wasn’t his idea of a fun relationship with food with his daughter.

But, my dad has prevailed. Our relationship is still strong, if not stronger–and it is thanks to his support.

We have a great father-daughter relationship. But the eating disorder? He doesn’t get it. He tries, I’ll give you that. But it is no easy task. I had a long conversation with him about it last summer, which didn’t get us much anywhere, but it was a good effort on his part and a good way for me to practice being more open with him about it.

Read more

My Relationship With My Mom: Eating Disorder Triggers

Months ago I watched a video clip on YouTube of a woman who had anorexia being interviewed by a reporter. When the woman revealed her daily food intake, the reporter commented by saying, “Well that’s actually more than I thought it would be!”

I stared, shocked. The reporter had no idea what she had just done, but I knew instantly how the woman must have felt hearing that. I knew the woman’s internal thoughts, but I also knew that the reporter had expected to see something like only a half an apple a day, instead of the (still) measly portions the woman was allowing herself.

Read more