November 17 2017
Five years after admitting defeat during a high school race, this runner reflects on her eating disorder recovery.
In many parts of my life, I have always had an all-or-nothing kind of mentality. It is probably the perfectionist in me. In elementary school, if I made a mistake when handwriting a homework assignment, instead of crossing it out, I would rewrite the whole paper so it didn’t look ‘messy.’ In relationships, I was always all-in (even if it was clear the other person wasn’t). With food, I did this as well—I’d start off the day with a healthy breakfast and then the day got away from me and by lunch I was in the drive-through getting something quick and cheap. In my head I would say, Well, the day is ruined. I guess I can eat whatever I want tonight and I will start over tomorrow. Only the next day, the same thing would happen.
Because of this, whenever I made a ‘mistake’ or, in the case of relationships, didn’t see what was right in front of me, I would beat myself up. Why couldn’t I just do better? Why did I make that choice? Why did I mess up? There have been many nights I have been unable to sleep, thinking about choices I made as a young child that probably would have no affect on my life now but resulted in an unfavorable outcome.
I decided something needed to change, so I started addressing this behavior. In the case of food, frustrated at my ability to only eat complete junk or a salad, I decided to go see a nutritionist. Now that I have been with her for almost a year (I started out going every two weeks for three months and now go only once every other month), I have learned a few lessons that not only apply to my relationship with food, but in life, as well.
The most important one that is helping me be kinder to myself every day? Find what works for you.
What works for you may not work for someone else—and that is okay. When it comes to food (and running and life…) it is okay to experiment. You may make a mistake. Something may not work for you. But, you’ll learn from it and move on.
For example, some of the material my nutritionist gave me said a glass of wine every other day was fine, but that’s it. What if I went out with friends and wanted two one night and didn’t drink for a few days afterward? How could I stick to that schedule? My nutritionist said she didn’t follow that rule either, and instead give myself a number of glasses of wine (or drinks) to stick to every week. That way, if I am watching The Bachelor with my friends and have two, I’m not upset with myself for not following ‘the rules.’
This can apply to running too. If you get a training schedule that has you running on days that just don’t work for your schedule, feel free to move a few days around. You’re still getting in the workouts and you’re making it work for you.
Basically, remember that life isn’t always all-or-nothing. There is room for you to be healthy and live a life you love (which may involve eating french fries every once in awhile). You do you.