While I was trying to think through what I wanted to share through Running Towards, and what I wanted this space to represent, two of the words that kept coming back to me were bigger and fear.
Really quick background about my eating disorder: I’m now 23 and have been in remission from anorexia for over 6 years. But I struggled with restriction of food, exercise compulsion, and associated depression my first few years in high school. I had friends and family who lovingly pushed me into treatment, and with the help of an eating disorder specialist, psychologist, and dietician, I slowly recovered.
When I was in the darkest part of my eating disorder, one of the things I was most afraid of was getting bigger. Physically, I was terrified of weighing more, of filling out my clothes more, of having my stomach arc up instead of down below my hip bones.
I was convinced that my value would decrease if my size increased.
Through my recovery, I have learned I need to accept being bigger. Accepting my body at its natural size is part of that. But along with becoming more confident in my physical self, I have also become more confident in myself as a woman in general – what my needs are, my dreams, my tendencies, and how I want to behave. Perhaps it’s pretty Freudian, but I will never forget when one of my therapists tried to explain to me that by restricting my eating and my size, I may have been restricting my ability to fully be a woman. By not eating enough energy or fats, I was not allowing my body to develop, to grow breasts and a full belly and hips.
I was also not allowing myself to have enough energy to function as fully as I could, either.
Something people often don’t know about eating disorders is how much they fully deprive patients of mental capacity. Psychologically, you are prone to depression and anxiety. But you are also preoccupied by constant thoughts of food, fear of getting fat, how you are going to workout, how many calories you took in, what your next meal will be.
I was living in fear – of becoming fat, of losing control, of cookies for fuck’s sake.
I was overwhelmed by thoughts of how many almonds I should be eating. I was running only to burn calories, to run away from fat. Instead of working towards the fully realized woman I could be. Instead of using my mental energy to think about how I could better love my friends and family, how I could learn more, how I could contribute more to my community, I was using my energy to fear food and fat.
So, I want to run towards.
Instead of running away from fear of imperfection, of fat, of food, I want to run towards. I want towards joy, satisfaction, love, confidence. I want to run towards the joy of eating. I want to run towards delicious ice cream and biscuits and eggs and bacon and salads and tartes and lattes. I want to run towards becoming a better friend, a better daughter and sister, a better girlfriend. I want to run towards fear to become a stronger version of myself.
I want to run not because I want to burn calories, or because I dislike the way my body looks. I want to run to celebrate that my body can move. I want to run to enjoy a beautiful day. I want to run to destress and think. I want to run towards uncertainty. I want to run towards learning, towards the scary experiences that will teach me so much. I want to run towards more intuitive eating and exercise, towards believing in my body’s innate ability to tell me what it needs.
Join me in running towards larger, more powerful versions of ourselves instead of running away from fear.
What do you want to run towards?