Guest Post: Lize Brittin’s Anorexia Recovery as a Runner Part 2

(Read Part 1 of Lize Brittin’s journey here).

After 20 years of struggling, my life started to feel different. Over time, I was able to find joy again. I could run again without having to force myself to be at the top.

During this transition, I noticed a strong correlation between my thoughts and my speech and how I was feeling. The more I switched my focus away from food, calories and miles, the more I could allow myself to be in the moment, and this was a way for me to temporarily forget that I was anorexic. I aimed at avoiding triggering statements like, “I feel fat” and instead tried to uncover what this symptom meant. Was I tired, afraid or lonely? Did this translate into feeling uncomfortable? Digging for the cause of the symptom rather than focusing on the symptom itself was essential to my recovery.

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The Power of Fear

Q: Even though running was your primary goal, when it became evident that the diet was detrimental to running it still pulled you back in. Why do you think it still gripped you even when you knew it wasn’t the direction you wanted to go?

One word: Fear.

When I continually tried to stay on the raw food bandwagon (especially the fruit-focused diet), I felt that I “just wasn’t it doing it right,” that I had worked too long and hard to learn everything about the benefits of raw food (and its connection to weight loss) to stop. After all, what would that leave me with? Cooked food would only cause me to binge more–or so I thought. I was afraid of my own appetite, afraid of how “out-of-control” I would feel eating any cooked food (it just tasted too “stimulating”–now I would happily say, DELICIOUS!). I feared gaining weight, feared putting all the hours of research to waste, feared that if I didn’t at least try this raw food diet, I would never reach my running potential. Wasn’t eating only raw food going to get me to the top? After everything I had learned, wouldn’t it be a waste to just go backwards?

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A Glimpse of Where I Am Now

It feels like it’s been a long grieving process; like a part of me was dying slowly before my eyes for the past few years and I had to watch it unfold. I just couldn’t let her go. No matter how mean, how frustrating, how deceiving that voice was, I could not let her go. Hadn’t she given me success? Hadn’t she brought me glory?

Or had I forgotten that there was pain and fear all along?

After gaining the weight back, I felt I had lost the powerful Rachael, the Rachael in control. And now I’m left with a blanket of fat to cover me up. Or is it the eating disorder covering me? Did I just need to let that past Rachael go? I felt like losing all the weight through restriction and gaining it all back plus some left me feeling that I lost a piece of myself. And every day I thought about bringing her back to life.

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Raw Food Journal Entries 12, 13, & 14: Stomach Problems Surface

May 4, 2011

I ate oranges and apples this morning (about ten fruits in all) as a good food combination. But my mouth was acidic afterwards…it felt strange and “sticky” if that’s the right word for it…

My body must be making up for all the times I refused to go to the bathroom when I was five (It took me away from my play time). To put it simply, the toilet is my best friend right now.

I craved sweets by 2:30pm and caved into my dark chocolate, and then two sugary granola bars. But I only had about 150 calories worth of those–the sweetness was overpowering. I did have a lot of dark chocolate beforehand though. I think that is a “healthier” choice over the granola bars.


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Raw Food Journal 5: Racing Raw

April 16, 2011

I ran the 1500m and the 800m today. My races were pitiful to say the least.

I felt drained. I don’t think it’s from the food–I’ve gotten very little sleep throughout the week, I stood for hours in the cold Thursday night at the high school track meet, I’ve been stressed with projects and homework, and I’ve increased my mileage quickly on top of cross training.

It was cold, windy, and rainy outside—nothing too surprising for spring in Michigan. But the weather reflected my mood and my day–which was just as miserable as my eating habits.

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