Finding the perfect balance of anything can be difficult. The goal of this blog, and my life, is to define that happy medium of positive body image, healthy eating, and fitness. But, there will always be naysayers who may see my blog and believe I’m being contradicting in terms of promoting eating disorder recovery by running long distances. My intentions are not to encourage those with eating disorders to run marathons – the theme of my blog is more metaphorical than that! Of course it’s literal in the sense that I do train for marathons, but it’s because it is what I love to do and I don’t do it to lose weight or anything like that. There’s also more to my title and tagline than it entails! I run because it’s what makes me happy. I run because it allows me to do something for ME, to go out on my own and think, to chase away my negative thoughts. Of course running keeps me fit and healthy, but I do not obsess over losing a certain amount of weight or inches – I run to RUN!
In the more metaphorical sense, “My Marathon 2 Recovery” entails that recovery is not a SPRINT. You cannot be anorexic or bulimic one day and then the next be fully recovered. This is true for ANY type of recovery, be it alcohol and other substance abuse or any type of physical or mental illness. Eating disorders are mental illnesses and they do not just simply go away. Instead, it’s a journey, it’s a MARATHON! Hence my tagline – “The road to recovery is not measured in pounds. It’s measured in miles.” Part of the diagnosis of an eating disorder, such as anorexia, is based on a 15 percent below normal weight. However, once that person gains weight and is categorized as “normal” again, that does not mean they are RECOVERED. It simply means they have gained weight, that’s it. Pounds do not measure recovery within the brain of an anorexic, or bulimic! Instead I use mileage to better describe the measurement of recovery because miles represent distance, how far one has come. That is what matters. This what my blog represents. How far I have come and will go.
Now that I have that explained, let me tell you a little bit about finding my own happy medium:
Exercise and eating in moderation is important for EVERYONE’S health. I truly believe that running or any form of exercise (be it cycling, yoga, pilates, basketball, tennis, etc.) can be a form of healing. It can make you feel better about yourself no matter how broken you are. Those endorphins that are produced during vigorous exercise create a feeling of well-being, like a natural high. It helps take your mind off of things and allows you to become one with yourself, to appreciate yourself.
I think the key in finding that happy medium is not to obsess too much over any aspect over your health and being OK with failure. Sometimes 20 miles comes as a “walk in the park” while other times it’s a struggle or just doesn’t happen. This past April I was training for my second marathon (the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon) and was to run two 20-milers and my knee was absolutely KILLING me. Instead of sucking it up as I would have normally done when my eating disorder had consumed my life, I skipped out on that 20-miler. I ended up just needing a new pair of running shoes! So, after two more weeks when my second 20-miler was scheduled I ran it in 3:01 – great timing for my goal race pace of four hours or less! So, what I’m getting at here is that not every workout will actually work out. Sometimes it’s OK to take that extra rest day, to recharge your body, and let it recover. It took me a while to figure out that happy medium, and I’m still learning to maintain it. I just have to remind myself that I am human, not super woman.
I also try to remember the message I want to portray, that nobody is perfect and it’s perfectly OK not to be! That running is what keeps me from relapse, not to go straight back into that dark hole where my eating disorder consumed my life. But, I don’t want running to consume my life either. It’s important for me that running and I maintain a healthy relationship. 🙂
And that’s the way it should be with EVERYTHING in your life. Moderation is key!