I’m going to be honest, with everything going on in Afghanistan right now, it feels really irresponsible and insensitive not to talk about it on this blog. However, I am in no way knowledgable enough about the situation to add anything of value to the dialogue. All I know is that my heart goes out to all the Americans still over there, as well as all the Afghan people who helped our country in the past. I pray that the Taliban show some mercy towards them, and make a shift away from their track record in the past.
Onto tonight’s post.
Being a runner in New York City is quite a fascinating study in people watching and human behavior.
Because, as this city is full of your “Type A” personalities, everyone always takes the same route, at the same time, every day. We’re talking, down to the minute.
And so, as a result, I have gotten pretty close with my “route mates.”
I mean, back in the day, I used to wave to fellow runner and YouTuber, Casey Neistat every single day, until he moved to Califlornia.
But I’ve got quite the cast of characters. There’s the 80 year old man who sits in his foldable camping chair every afternoon and listens (and snaps along) to his “big band” jazz radio station from his 1980s walkman.
You’ve got the Paris Hilton look alike that makes taking a walk look like a New York Fashion Week event.
You’ve got the dog walkers, the personal trainers doing outdoor sessions with resistance bands attached to trees. You’ve got the outdoor children’s music hours, where a handful of toddlers and their nannies are being serenaded by two Steve-from-Blues-Clues-looking adults with guitars. You’ve got the roller blader guy, crooning down the sidewalk in such a smooth undulation of his 60-yea-old-body, I wonder if he was an ice dancer at one point in his life.
And then, you’ve got the two women, with eating disorders.
Now, I know I’ve been light hearted up until this point, but this is not a matter I take lightly. Nor is this some armchair-specialist speculating that a too-skinny girl has an eating disorder.
No. Sadly, that’s not the case.
As someone who has seen the dark side of anorexia – who has been down to 78 pounds, spent months at an inpatient treatment facility for adults with eating disorders, who knows the warning signs and the “tells” that only people who once had an eating disorder can recognize, I can fully say that these women are suffering. And it breaks my heart.
In fact, I have brought my BeautyBeyondBones business card with me on several occasions with the intention to give it to them, but then have never worked up the nerve.
But every day, I see them out there, gaunt, sickly emaciated, gray skin, sinewy legs where I can see every tendon, and a dead look behind the eyes of suffering. They have a frantic energy, as the one power walks and the other runs with a destructive look of defiant determination that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.
It is a common manifestation of anorexia: the over-exercising. And sadly, I knew it all too well.
And having been there, my heart just goes out to these women, as they dangerously push their bodies to the brink.
This past week, I partnered with a brand on Instagram that makes a pre-workout supplement and recovery gummy, and while creating the content for them, involving my love for running, it really made me reflect on my relationship with exercise, and the journey that’s been.
One that, I’m so grateful to be in the place I am now.
You see, I can joyfully declare that running and exercise has taken its proper place of importance in my life.
I no longer am enslaved to my sneakers, or let my workout be the difference between a good day and a bad day.
I no longer let a workout be the deciding factor of if I nourish my body that day.
I no longer feel a franticness if I don’t push my body to the breaking point with exercise.
I no longer sneak exercise in whenever I could throughout the day, and I mean, literally sneak.
I am free. I move my body out of enjoyment. I celebrate it for what it can do and what it has overcome. I listen to it, and take days off! I will cut workouts short, or just skip them all together. I nourish my body before and after, so as to burn fuel, not body fat. And I am at complete peace.
And not just any peace: but the peace that comes from the Holy Spirit. That, friends, is how I maintain this equilibrium.
And…I learned to trust my body.
This is the biggest thing. That, if you’re struggling with exercise addiction or are abusing movement, this is really huge:
In order to kick my exercise addiction, I had to go cold turkey for an entire year.
During my Ulcerative Colitis flare back in 2010, I was on bed rest for 11 months. ELEVEN MONTHS — I couldn’t run, couldn’t take a walk, I literally could only get up from the couch to go to the kitchen, the bathroom, and bed.
I was certain that my body was going to “balloon up” overnight, because…*gasp*…I was eating and not burning it off.
But you know what? I didn’t.
God made our bodies to be incredible processing machines, able to use calories to fuel our bodies’ functions, allowing us to grow and thrive, and get rid of the rest. It’s a self-regulator.
If you take care of it, it will take care of you!
And in that year, of literally not moving, I learned to completely trust my body, and that was the catalyst that helped me kick my over-exercising.
So where does that leave me today?
Well, for one thing – I am grateful for the mysterious ways that God works. For it is because of that season of bedrest, that I am free of the enslavement to exercise. I also learned how to take care of myself – I adopted the Specific Carb Diet, which has kept me in remission from UC for 11 years and counting. I got to bond with my parents in a really special way.
Which just goes to show that God will always use everything — even seeming bad things — for good.
And the two women on my walk? I place them in God’s hands. May they seek and find the peace that only He brings, and may it wash over them, and lead them to surrender their hearts to Him and His healing.
And to watch my story, click here!
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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