Thursday, February 27, 2014

Eating Disorders and Athletes

It's eating disorder awareness week. I think most people think of eating disorders as something that affects the fashion industry. It's also a huge problem in sports.

I started gymnastics young and by 9 years old I was being told by coaches to diet. I was in a sport of perfection and judging, and I wanted to win and be accepted. I am also extremely competitive. I wanted to be the best at sport, at being skinny, at schoolwork, etc. Once I got off track in the eating category I spent years not knowing what "normal" eating was. I skipped dinner to lose weight, cut out calories, convinced everyone I hated bread, etc. The crazy thing was, most people had no clue and just went along with everything I did. I didn't look like a waif most of the time. When I lost weight I got more compliments and sometimes improved in sports. I also got injured more. I lived in a world where calories ruled my thoughts and I didn't have time (or energy) to think about much else. It's a horrible escape, but it somehow went on for way too many years.



Eight years ago I finally admitted I was tired (exhausted actually) of having an eating disorder rule my life and went to get help. It took me over a year to actually pick up that phone and ask for help, even though I really wanted to. It was all I knew and I was scared of letting go. In the beginning I went to therapy every week. I dreaded it the entire day before. But then I realized we were sorting things out and making sense of my crazy life. I can honestly tell you I never believed I would be able to eat normal, but I knew I had to try. 

I am happy to say that food no longer has control over me. I learned that eating disorders really don't have anything to do with food at all, and a whole lot to do with everything else in life and learning how to deal with it. I learned to eat intuitively. I learned to fuel myself for workouts and not workout just so I thought it was ok to eat. I stopped comparing myself to everyone else. I learned what my triggers were and how to avoid them. I got rid of my scale. To this day I have no clue what I weigh, and really - does it matter? No. 

If you struggle with an eating disorder I urge you to take steps to get healthy. If you don't know who to contact for help email me. Life is way too short to let food dictate your feelings and self worth. Plus, I can promise you life is way more fulfilling and fun when you let go of it.

9 comments:

Steve said...

WOW!! I had no idea. I imagine you only told a few close friends, until now.

I never step on a scale hardly either. I bought one a while ago, because I was going to start, just to check once/week. I checked once when I bought it, and that was it. :) LOL

Guys probably are a bit different than girls a lot of times when it comes to that. Also when I stepped on the scale for the first time in however many years, I guessed my weight to the pound.

You are a confident and courageous person.

Krystin Clay said...

And now Charisa, you are a HOTTTTTIIEEEEE! :) haha. Love you girl!!!
Weight is just a stupid inaccurate number anyway!

Running Bums said...

Kudos for sharing this! No one is alone in this battle, but it takes brave individuals like you to speak up and give others hope! :)

Damie said...

great post, C!

GoBigGreen said...

Thanks for sharing Charisa...take care:) I know far too many people ( men and women) with disordred eating. Ive been thru the entire ED thing and like you am open to talking to anyone about it....

J. L. said...

Thanks for posting this..I'm sure that wasn't easy and kudos for being strong and getting help and being healthy! My daughter is 12, and in just a month I'm noticing some behavior that makes me nervous. It's hard as a mom to know what to do...where the line is... And now she's getting a lot of compliments ... When does sharing my concern with her turn into giving her ideas? I'm still looking for that "How to raise a happy healthy daughter" manual. It did make me smile when she asked if she could borrow my Zoot shoes, though!

Jackie said...

Thank you for that post!

Jennifer Ward Barber said...

Thanks for sharing Charisa! This definitely plagues the triathlon world and it's hard not to get caught up in it. It's something I struggle with daily, and probably too often try to cover up with things like "performance gains" or "body fat %" or "racing weight." I love having friends like you who eat grilled cheeses and chocolate croissants and look fit and strong. So inspiring!

unconventionalview said...

Thanks for posting this - it's really hard to talk about, and this absolutely took a lot of courage. Thanks for all the love and support - I will always be grateful. Too many people struggle with ED, but posts like this show that we are not alone and there is hope.