top of page
  • Writer's pictureSarah Rose

Changing Your Relationship With Your Body

[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.]

woman's back with leaf

"You're in such great shape," one of my friends said the other day. I was telling him about the race I recently signed up for, a 100 mile run in central Washington. The race promises grueling climbs, hot, exposed sections, and stunning vistas of...granite. I took a moment to let his words sink in. I've been training so hard I haven't even thought about how much my fitness has improved. More importantly though, it isn't something that really matters. In 2014, I had surgery for a labral tear in my right hip. My coaches, athletic trainers, and physical therapists all echoed the same sentiment: I would never be the same again. The surgery was arthroscopic and not that invasive. I hated what they said, but a part of me believed them. At the same time that I was recovering from my surgery, I was also spiraling deep into an eating disorder. My body shrank, and I loved it. I loved buying smaller clothes and loved that my muscular thighs shrunk from months of disuse. My body dysmorphia was strong, and even at my lightest weight, I was convinced that I had more to lose.

My sick mind loved being small but hated being weak, and weak was exactly how I felt, all of the time. My brain was foggy, my body always fatigued. Life wasn't enjoyable or fun. All I thought about was food and getting smaller and how everything would be perfect once I lost another five pounds. I struggled through my fifth and final season of collegiate athletics, thinking that once my last track meet ended, I might never run again. I was too weak and too goddamned tired.

A few months after I graduated, my therapist implored me to rest until I gained some weight. The next therapist encouraged me to incorporate gentle exercise into my daily routines; walking, yoga, bike rides along the lake. Eventually, I started running again, at first to remember what it felt like, and eventually, to remember what it felt like to run and be happy at the same time.

I moved to California six years ago, and running was low on my list of priorities. I still wasn't fully recovered, and I was working different freelance jobs in addition to my day job to make ends meet. I never thought I would run 50 miles, or 60 miles, or 100. At the time, I was content with a few early morning jogs each week.

After I started seeing a dietitian, I began to understand just how much stress I'd put my body under by under-fueling and over training; imbalanced hormones, an absent cycle, adrenal fatigue, and thinning hair were just the start of it. My eating disorder ravaged my body, and it took a long time for my hormones to return to a healthy state, for my weight to stabilize, and for my cycle to return. While I was focused on recovering, I couldn't think about running fast and I also couldn't worry about what my body looked like.

It's important to underscore that I never thought I would run far again, and I grew to be okay with that. I never thought I'd be competitive again athletically either, and that was okay, too. For a while, I let the voices of my trainers and coaches and physical therapists ring true; I never would be the same again. It took me a long time to understand that being the same was never the point. I could be better, I just needed to heal first.

After running my first 50 mile race, the importance of nutrition slapped me in the face. My body was strong and my mind was happy, but I didn't know how to fuel. It took some trial and error, but I eventually figured out how much fuel I needed to consume not only prior to racing, but during and after. Once I was able to understand food as a valuable resource, I stopped obsessing over it. And once I stopped obsessing over food, I stopped obsessing over my body as well.

The point of your body is to be a healthy vessel to carry you through this unpredictable, confusing, and beautiful world. The point of exercise is to keep your body healthy and strong so you can enjoy life to its very fullest. And the point of me writing this now, is to underscore that it can take years to transform the relationship you have with your body. I feel like I'm in great shape now, in part because I've stopped obsessing over it. I train to feel strong, and that has had the happy side effect of increasing my fitness.

The point of this is also to underscore that you don't have to believe what other people say about you, your life, or your body. Being the same as you used to be should never be the point. We should all be growing and changing; getting stronger some days and resting on others; finding new ways to challenge ourselves and new ways to experience this one and only life.

P.S. Read more about Body Dysmorphic Disorder here, read some ways to love your body here, or listen to Sarah Doyle's Ted Talk on how to love your body here.


Sarah Rose

42 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page