Going THERE – On Weight, Fitness & Distorted Thinking

45 minutes on the bike
1 mile steep incline dreadmill
Steep Strides

So the other day I made a big mistake.

An email notifying my of a new post from Hungry Runner Girl, I read the post then hastily posted a comment on a blog that I didn’t think through before I posted it (#fail).  And I have felt terrible about it once I realized the mistake.

Which got me thinking about my story (one of the many…we ALL have lots of stories)…so once again things are going to be a little more real than funny here, but bear with me because I think it’s important.  And be nice…I don’t like talking about this much at all.   But I’m realizing just how pervasive any disordered eating/body image issues are nowadays.  Thank you photoshop & mass media…but that’s a whole other post.

This issue is on the rise in athletics.  I did a bunch of research and found somewhere between 30-60 percent of athletes have some sort of disordered behavior regarding food.  The numbers vary greatly from publication to publication.  YIKES!  It turns out there’s a fine line between fitness, healthy eating & self-control and disordered habits -particularly amongst fitness gurus, aficionados and health nut extraordinaires.

Rockin’ the 80’s Big West style – that’s me on the right with my shirt falling off my shoulders and my pants bunched tight with a belt.

As a kid my nickname as a kid was BOB – Bag of Bones.  When you spend half your life with your knees bigger than your thighs, you learn to rock the scrawntastic look.  It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I realized how much my small size had become a large part of my identity.

So, as early adulthood forces one to face a lot of uncontrollables, I found there was one thing I could control and distract myself with – what I ate.  At  times I flirted with the -exia family – obsessive about what I ate (or more accurately didn’t eat), what my weight was and what not.   During periods of life when things were waaaaay out of control I would get worse about it.

At the worst (and might I add ultimate low in my life), as you read above from my comments- I was not exactly a healthy weight or even close to one.  No bueno.

It is by the grace of God that things didn’t spiral too far out of control.  I attribute this to a few things:

1.  Awareness.  When I noticed myself getting disordered I talked to a counselor/therapist right away.  I spent a summer during college in the Rocky Mountains working and talking to a counselor about how it bothered me I thought about food so much, had modified my eating habits significantly, and had a disorted view of what my body actually looked like, etc.  I still am very aware of my tendencies and watch for warning signs of past behaviors in case anything is to rear it’s ugly head again.

2.  Family & Friends.  My family has always watched & intervened.  Sometimes it annoyed me and sometimes they were wrong.  I’ve always been slender and sometimes I just shed wait from stress or what not and I get uber annoyed when they get suggestive, but better that than nothing at all.  They usually don’t push or aren’t too overt about it, but I always know they’re watching.

3.  More counseling.  Enough said.

4.  More Awareness.  I am hyper aware of my tendencies and try to realize when my thinking or perception is a bit distorted.  As I’ve gotten emotionally healthier and have worked through a lot of other things in my life, it has gotten easier to navigate through these waters.  One of the best things my counselor made me do was schedule an appointment with my physician who showed me lots of numbers and charts indicating what a healthy body weight is for me given my body type, personal weight history, calories consumed per day, physical activity, etc. (it varies for everyone).

5.  Running.  Going from recreational runner to actually competing and trying to improve has allowed me to focus on food as fuel.  If I want to perform well, I need to eat well.  I cannot reiterate enough how important this is for me.

6.  Ice cream.  I’m not even kidding.  Even at my worst, my sister knew this was my weakness and would bring it to me, invite me out to go get some, etc.  I might have only had a handful of almonds to eat all day long, but I could rarely resist the frosty treat when I knew she was watching me.  I’d go into people pleasing mode and eat it anyway since I knew she had her eyes on me and I have a really hard time letting people down.

If you or someone you know struggles with distorted body image or any eating disorder, please encourage them to seek help from a licensed counselor or therapist.  Or at the very least, ask them to talk to a nutritionist or their physician to get help.  If you think you might, sorta be pushing that fine line – talk to someone as well.  

I know I’ve been riding the “heavy town” train a bit here this week, but this was an unexpected, but necessary stop along the way.  I promise we’ll be back to Pleasantville ASAP.


5 thoughts on “Going THERE – On Weight, Fitness & Distorted Thinking

  1. I have noticed that a past eating disorder (or disordered eating behaviors) is incredibly prevalent in the running/ healthy living blogging world. I think it is interesting to see that the line between being health-conscious and being obsessively unhealthy is a thin one (no pun intended).
    I, too, have battled with anorexia for most of my teenage years, and even into my early twenties, before finally achieving sustained recovery. Just like you said, I think running is something that really holds me responsible for my nutrition; you can’t run marathons on apples and carrot sticks!
    Good on you for addressing this important, but difficult, subject 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing your story – and yes, I see the prevalence all of the time. And you’re so right – you need a lot more calories and a balanced diet to participate in endurance sports!

  2. It IS a difficult subject, but pretty cut and dry. Thank you for your honesty and real-ness. You sharing your experiences is beneficial for your readers and yourself, I would imagine. I’m glad you have a healthier outlook and a good support system.
    also, do you still have that hat? It’s hawt!! 🙂

    • Yeah, I’m not sure how cut and dry it can be. I think there’s such a fine line and a lot of gray around the line. I mean, even defining “disorder” can be dicey.

      And I got rid of the hat unfortunately #majorregret

  3. Pingback: Going THERE – On Weight, Fitness & Distorted Thinking | Jim's Box

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