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.
Why? Because I know that look. I have been there before, beating my body into submission, punishing my body for every morsel I even thought about consuming.
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.
To view the video I made on my Instagram, click here, or watch below.
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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38 responses to “Resetting my Relationship with Exercise”
Wow, thank you for sharing your experience with running in the city, I feel as though I was there too. I love the photos of you Caralyn, you look so healthy and radiant! ☺️
Thank you John – I appreciate that. Yeah I see all characters on my route! Haha Hugs and love xox
Give my best to all you “route mates”, good one and good post
Haha thank you Alice! Will do!! Hugs and love xox
[…] Resetting my Relationship with Exercise […]
Thank you for the link up! Hugs and love xox
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Thank you for the link up! Hugs and love xox
Just watched your Youtube testimony/ presentation. God definitely has his hand upon your life, and I was challenged and encouraged to stay focused regarding the spiritual battle being waged against me. Thank you. DM
Wow thank you so much DM for taking the time to watch my video. I am definitely grateful for all God has done for me. I appreciate you stopping by and for your kind words! Hugs and love xox
You are a breath of fresh air. Thank you!
Oh my gosh thank you Ivan! I appreciate that! Hugs and love xox
It’s so hard to see people who are suffering like that and know you can’t fix it for them .
I agree – it is heart breaking. They have to want healing for themselves. Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox
Hello from Miami Caralyn!! Love to hear about your physical but especially your emotional and spiritual healing, and how the Holy Spirit has made you a balanced young lady-no differing weights for you anymore. Your were healed so you can be an advocate for many hurting young ladies who suffer with a negative body image. Praying for the two young ladies on your jogging route. Praise God for your life!! ❤️
Give those two girls the card. They may tuck it away or may dive right in. If you have read the five people you meet in heaven I think you’d be a lot of girls’ five people. You never know who all you touch on this side of heaven.
Wait…. trees grow in NYC?? 🙂
I worked as the Faciity Coordinator for a small college and had a work student staff. I noticed a young woman who worked for me who was just as you described – over exercising, way too thin, etc. I pondered and prayed over what to do, and finally said something to the Dean of Women. She took that student under her wing, and the next semester I was short a worker because that young lady got help with her eating disorder.
Give them your card. Just hand it to them in passing, keep going, don’t have to stop to talk, and wish them a great day.
And pray for them. Something tells me you already are!
You go girl. So proud how you just keep going and giving life your all. I’ll add the girls into my daily prayers, with God any and all things are possible. I love the promo; well done. Hugs and Love
Thank you so much HJ!! I appreciate that 💛 yes joining you in those prayers!! Hugs and love xox
Love this so much – thank you for sharing your story 🙌🏾 Very inspiring; I’m always in awe at how God works!
Thank you so much friend. Yes! God is amazing! Hugs and love xox
Your stories are always inspiringly beautiful 🥰
Talking from the cheap seats here, I don’t think I’d lead with the business card or or ED at all. Strike up a conversation about anything else: “Mind if I run with you?” “Beautiful day, huh?” “I see you all the time and thought I’d introduce myself.” Starting with your card or ED may well scare them off. Give them a chance to get to know YOU before you touch on the most debilitating, embarrassing thing they’ve ever suffered.
Dear Caralyn, although your blogs are always interesting to read, I will pass for a while on ones like this as I have friends in Afghanistan, dear personal friends I made when they were my students in MIU (Mongolian Internat’l University) in 2013, and family of some who have immigrated to the US. Thanx for your humility in not trying to address a complex issue about which you know little.
But, as you opened, please pray for Afghanistan and its people. The church in Afghanistan has been the second-fastest growing in the world for the last decade, second only to Iran. God has been calling Muslims to Christ in record numbers, and this will be a trial of fire and blood for such new believers in Jesus.
love and prayers,
Hi CA, gosh, I am so sorry to hear that you have friends and loved ones who are in Afghanistan right now. My goodness, my heart and prayers are with them during this uncertain time. Lord, have mercy. Hugs and love xox
I pray that God opens up a way for you to witness to them!
thank you so much! I appreciate that, and am joining you in that prayer! Hugs and love xox
Regarding the girls on your run, maybe start up a conversation by asking them the time or were would you find a good place for a smootie etc, there is clearly a great pressure for girls to be thin these days but I dont think that means they are all anorexic, in the same way not ever heavy drinker is an alcoholic.
But if you can see the signs and you clearly have the skills to help then by not at least opening up a converastion with them then you will never know if you could have helped them, maybe one day they wont be there?
Great post as always. Have a skill to put your thoughts down is a readable manner. 🙂
thank you so much for this great advice. You’re right- i need to be delicate around this topic, because though i may see telling signs, it may not be the case! Hugs and love xox
Another great blog — keep blogging! I have learned so much about a condition I never knew much about. You weave your Faith into the narrative so well. I think you rightly, “speak the truth in love.” -Jeff
thank you so much Jeff, gosh I really appreciate your kind words! God is so good, and I am thankful every day for the second chance. so glad you stopped by. Hugs and love xox
I love your self-awareness and your faith. Thank you for sharing your story. I know the Lord is using you to touch many hearts. God bless you.
Thank you so much Donna Marie! God has been so good, and I thank Him every day for the second chance He so generously blessed me with. glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox
I was blessed by listening to your testimony. To God be all the glory!
I like what you said about breathing in Jesus and breathing out fear. “No weapon form against you shall proper.”
“No weapon formed against you shall prosper.”
Do not be anxious about anything
But in all things
by prayer and petition
make all your requests known to God
and the peace of God
which passes all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds
in Christ Jesus.
I wish the rain would stop here in Florida. I really need to go for a walk.