Eating disorders are often swept under the rug, but it shouldn’t be like that. Sarah shared her story with us.
Sarah has battled anorexia and bulimia for thirteen years. The fact is that all kinds of eating disorders disproportionately affect women, and athletes are at an even higher risk because of the pressures to lose weight in order to improve performance.
We often think that if we lose a few more pounds, our personal best may be just around the corner. Sarah has also struggled with this thought process—but running has given her much more than it has taken. When you’ve been suffering from an eating disorder for more than ten years, it might seem a losing fight. However, when she thinks back to where she was just two years ago, she remembers how far she has come and the very important role that running has played in her recovery.
For several years, as so many women, she focused all of her attention on how her body looked. As her eating disorder took hold, becoming thinner was the only thing that mattered, regardless of the consequences. She started running with the goal of burning more calories to feed her disease. But what occurred along the way was surprising. She found herself focusing less on her body’s appearance and more on its fitness.
Her newly found passion for running brought many other things: insatiable hunger, for one, which made the idea of not eating impossible. Running also brought with it a tremendous sense of accomplishment. As she got better from week to week, her self-esteem improved too.
She fought to nurture her body with the fuel it needed to succeed. Although she would like to say that was an easy choice, it was—and still is—not. No person will probably never hear anyone who have suffered from an eating disorder shouting, I am completely free from my eating disorders! For Sarah. this is an ongoing process as well.
What Sarah will continue doing is pursuing her inner strength through running, therapy and any other means she would find necessary. Sport is a tremendous metaphor for life—and Sarah sees so many parallels with her eating disorder recovery. Sometimes, the miles fly by and she feels like she could run forever, while at times, she has to force herself to dig deep and push through incredible pain. Like those hard-fought miles, recovery is worth the effort.