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Lake Effect Series: I’m Healthy Now

Note from Hollie: Today is the day that I run the Lake Effect Half Marathon.  It is hard to believe this is the result of three months of fundraising and eating disorder awareness.  We did it though.  We raised over 2500 dollars and we raised even more awareness about eating disorders.  Thank you everyone for your support.  It’s not too late to donate or enter the giveaway.  I will be doing a final post sometime this week to recap the campaign as a whole, announce giveaway winners and provide a final closure.  It has truly been an incredible experience and I never would have dreamed we would have raised 2500 dollars together. 

The final story is the most emotional and the most graphic.  Thank you for sharing.

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When Hollie asked me to share my eating disorder story, I jumped at the chance. Of course I’d help. After all, having a distorted relationship with my body and with food is all in the past. I’m healthy now. I’ve moved on. I’m recovered. Sometimes it’s hard to put yourself into the mindset of someone who has an eating disorder, even if that someone was just you at a younger age. Luckily, I happened to have kept an online diary during some of my darker years, and the entriesserve as a constant reminder of what that life was like, and how miserable it was. Some of the entries are truly heart breaking, and are hard to read, but I’ve included a few passages to paint a better picture of just how distorted your head can get when you’re suffering from an eating disorder.

Like so many others, my issues with food evolved over many, many years. At age 8, I determined that my thighs were too fat, and by age 10 I was trying out my first fad diet (Cabbage Soup). I’ll never forget going to McDonald’s with my friend’s family and passing on French fries. I felt triumphant; as if I belonged to a special society of people who were too good to put such trash in their bodies.

“I like going to bed with my stomach empty. Makes me feel…less like a failure”

During my adolescent years, I slowly started on the downward spiral towards food obsession. I went on numerous fad diets, counted calories and fat grams, skipped meals, went on fasts and eventually even tried to make myself throw up. At first I considered vomiting only as a last resort. Something I’d do in “emergency” situations where I had eaten something unplanned and “bad.” Most days I’d restrict my calories to practically nothing, only to binge on whatever I could find once I got home from school. Then, as I could feel my stomach churn at the presence of food, I’d rush to the bathroom in a panic, intent on removing as much of the offending substance as I could. But I hated puking. It was logistically difficult to manage while living with parents and it was just plain gross. There is nothing glamorous about vomit. I kept hoping that if I could just get a control on my diet, then I wouldn’t need to throw up anymore. If I could just get my weight low enough, then I wouldn’t need to diet at all. But the weight didn’t drop off like I wanted to, and instead, primarily due to my horrific eating habits, it increased.

“I want to see skin hanging off my bones. It’ll make me feel like my skin is more like a large sack and I can hide in it” 

My downward spiral continued into my first year of college. Surrounded by thin, beautiful, attractive classmates, I became painfully aware of everything that I was not. My body image plummeted, and I found myself increasingly turning to food to numb how I lonely and depressed I felt. I’d go to the dining hall and pack a to-go carton FULL of food. Starches were my favorites. Garlic bread, pizza, cookies, hot dogs, cakes, bagels. Not to mention drink containers filled with frozen yogurt and soft-serve ice cream. I’d sit in my dorm room alone and eat and eat and eat until my stomach literally couldn’t distend any further. Then I’d head to the bathroom where I’d wait until I knew I was alone and I’d vomit everything out. Over time I learned which foods came up the easiest, and which ones were difficult. I learned how to be quick and how to be quiet. I concealed my secret very well, but to my despair, my weight refused to drop, and instead, continued to increased.

“I feel like I’m falling apart. I’ve really come to detest what I’ve turned into. Physically, I’m really gross. I can’t even describe it. AHH! I can’t handle myself anymore! It’s like I’m teetering on the edge of this huge cliff. If I let myself go then I’ll plummet back into the world of extreme depression and unattractiveness. If I can manage to get myself on stable grounds then I’ll be okay but I’m just sort of handing there, my fingers grasping at the rim. But they’re losing their grip and I see it all just slipping away. My face.My hair.My ideal body.My grades.My friends.My future. I don’t know what to do. It’s like I’m too far gone. It’s too bad they can’t put me into solitary confinement for a month so that I can just slowly wither up and die. Or at least get thin.”

A couple of months into my sophomore year, I hit a breaking point. I couldn’t say exactly what changed, but something inside me snapped. I stopped eating.  I lost all focus on school or relationships and instead became entirely fixated on my weight. I weighed myself almost hourly, making sure that I didn’t magically gain a pound when I wasn’t looking. I hardly ate anything and what I did eat I immediately threw up. My hands couldn’t stop feelingmy hips, stomach, thighs, and collarbones, searching out for areas that felt thinner or bonier. I’d try on and retry on clothes to see if they fit any looser than the day before.

“I hate the way I can’t think about food normally. I hate how I can’t stand the way it feels inside me. I hate the way my mood is so dependent on those three digits the scale reads. I hate how throwing up doesn’t seem like a bad idea to me. But I couldn’t imagine living any other way. This way of thinking is too infused with my way of thinking. So throwing up food isn’t particularly good to a number of my body systems, but it gives me some sort of mental comfort, like some sort of accomplishment. Sick? Yes. But I can’t stop. If I did what would I do?”

By that spring, I had lost about 30lbs over the course of 3-4months. I was feeling good and in control. I just wanted to lose a little bit more.If I could just lose a little more, then I could give myself permission to be happy, because only then would I be worthy enough.But while my weight was still well within the normal range, the weight loss began to attract attention. My parents became suspicious and shortly thereafter figured out what was going on. I would like to say this was the point at which I finally got help, finally started getting better, but that was still a long ways off. Instead, I was forced to see a social worker and then a therapist. I know my parents were only doing what they thought was best, but I was not in the right mindset to receive help, and instead I resented them for it, and quit going shortly after only a couple of sessions.

“I have so much emotion stored up in me and I HATE having it come out. Crying is weak and therefore I am weak. I detest weak people. I want to be strong and resilient and independent and not need anybody but I’m nothing like that. But food helps me pretend. It gives me a focus. By constantly focusing on weight and good I can take my mind off everything else that I hate about myself. Because if my weight was perfect, then I’d have to find some other part of me that wasn’t and try to fix that too. Because there has to be a reason I’m so messed up. There has to be something wrong with me. But I can only fix one problem at a time because otherwise I’ll get so depressed and frustrated I’ll just give up and succumb to the sadness.”

Over the next year and half, I continued to struggle with my eating. I frequently found myself in debt after spending entire paychecks on food that would be gone in a night. I isolated myself from friends and avoided social situations, but I also became increasingly frustrated and angry with my situation. I hated that I had become so controlled by food, and gradually I tried to release myself from its grasp, which was of course easier said than done. I’d start off Monday promising myself I’d eat healthy and nutritious and in moderation, but by Friday I’d be consuming an extra-large pizza by myself. It seemed hopeless. I was hopeless.

“I’m sick of this. I’m sick of binging. I’m sick of throwing money in the toilet. I’m sick of wondering when I’ll get my next “fix”. What it will be, when and where I’ll do it. I’m like a drug addict.”

However, I did make tiny steps towards progress. With graduation looming, and threats from parents, I finally decided to commit to getting better. I bought myself a book on recovering from bulimia as well as a few books on intuitive eating. Despite appearances, I was still a somewhat rational person and knew that I needed some nutrition. So I started there. In between my massive binge/purge sessions I’d force myself to have an apple, or maybe some carrots, and let that sit in my stomach, repeating to myself over and over that while uncomfortable, the nutrients were necessary. Using the books as a reference, I relearned how to eat and how to recognize fullness. Once my eating had somewhat stabilized, the real work began. My eating disorder was an excuse for me to ignore some very painful emotions that I had hidden from myself. For years I had believed myself to be unworthy and incapable of so much. Identifying and confronting those beliefs as false has taken years.

“I’m slipping. I can feel my thoughts changing. I’ve been trying to stay so positive and so on top of things but it’s getting too overwhelming. I don’t know if I’m doing things right. It’s like standing on a point and being told by a million different people that in order to reach your goal you should go this way or that way or no this way over here. So you pick one, hoping it will lead you in the right direction, but now you’re feeling even farther away than you started and you being to think you chose the wrong path so you start to doubt everything you’re doing and try to backtrack or maybe hop on another path. But how far do you try out one path before you give up? How long do you go without your goal in sight before you try a different strategy?”

My recovery from an eating disorder, like my descent into it, was a gradual process. I still have days when my demons rear their ugly heads, attempting to lure me back into the darkness. Luckily, I’m stronger now than I once was, and I know how to face them. I still occasionally worry about weight, but I try not to let those worries consume me and my former obsession with food has even evolved into a loveof all things cooking and baking. I guess that a silver lining?

A big thank you to Hollie for letting me share my story with you all. Hopefully you gained a better perspective of what it’s like to be in the mind of someone with an eating disorder. If you have, or are currently suffering from, an eating disorder or eating disordered thoughts, my heart goes out to you. You are worth so much more.

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Lake Effect Series: You can’t “not eat” and train for a marathon.

Note from Hollie: Thank you for sharing as always.  It’s such a reminder that even those who appear healthy often times are not.  Appearance does not tell the whole story.  
Only a few more days to donate.  We are 40 dollars from 2200 and I truly believe we will reach that goal.  Please feel free to share any or all of the stories and enter yourself in the giveaway.  A single donation or share is all you have to do! 
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I was always bigger. Not necessarily overweight – but everyone in my family is German and 6+ feet. I’m not quite as tall, but still have the same bone structure. I was very active in high school, but I still had that ‘nagging’ feeling that I just wanted to look like everyone else.

When I went away to college, I realized I could reinvent myself. I’ll diet! I’ll workout even more! What started off as good intentions turned into skipping class to spend hours at the gym and adopting a strange, extremely strict food regiment.

It didn’t take me long to start realizing that I was headed down a slippery slope. But, all the girls on my hall were so IMPRESSED with my dedication and discipline! “Oh, how I wish I could be like you!” “Oh, you’re so diligent, that’s awesome!” How can you possibly start breaking a bad habit when everyone applauds you for it?

I’d strategically eat one piece of wheat bread with a scoop of trail mix on top of it and consider that most of my daily food. Healthy fats, good carbs, protein…who cares that its only a total of 200 calories? It’s well-balanced!

My behavior continued all through college…each year brought new challenges. Engineering classes were hard, I joined a sorority…every new challenge drove my perfectionism harder and harder. I figured that once I graduated college, it would all go away. I figured that “adults” don’t deal with these kinds of problems! I’d just wake up and be normal.

Well, I graduated. And I got a good job. And the behavior didn’t stop. I’d spend all day at work just chugging water hoping I didn’t pass out. Our company did a free health screening…and mine came back bizarre.

My blood work was all over the place. I was lacking tons of nutrients, had wild levels of certain horomones, had stress on my kidneys. Not to mention my hair was falling out by the lock, and I developed awful insomnia. I finally realized – “adulthood” wasn’t going to solve my problems.

My main vice in my times of disordered eating was over-exercising. I’d run for hours and hours just to watch the calories on the machine count up. I’d skip meeting friends because I had to burn more calories. Would get up and run in the middle of the night because I had to burn more calories. Would go to the gym with the flu because I had to burn more calories. I decided to apply for a cognative-behavior therapy study taking place at a local university. I was accepted, and entered into a therapy person.

As my therapy went on, I realized that I really liked to run, when I wasn’t using it as self punishment. My therapist helped me channel my ‘perfectionism’ a little bit into my running. Okay, great, I can stay on a treadmill for hours…but can I run a fast 5k? A 10k? How about a marathon?

Here’s the catch: You can’t “not eat” and train for a marathon. I think this was my saving grace.Towards the end of 2012 I became focused on completing the Pittsburgh Marathon in 2013, and I did. Properly fueled and all.

In 2013 I ended up running over 15 half marathons, the marathon, and a half trail ultra…plus a sprinkling of local 5 and 10ks. And get this, I WON some. I finally started realizing that being proud of my body’s physical strength and power is a lot more impressive than my jean size.

I’m gearing up for the marathon in Pittsburgh again, and have already started setting my sights on a BQ sometime in the future. Who knew running could save a life?

I’ve come a long way, but still seek therapy help and suffer relapses. Recovery isn’t a mark in the sand, its a constant forward-and-backward and up-and-down. Kind of like running a marathon.

Question for you:  What nonphysical aspect of yourself are you most proud of? 

Continuing the Success

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about being successful and my own personal meaning about it.  In summary I thought:

Success is doing something you enjoy, being happy and able to make it. 

Whether you are working and doing something completely different then your major in college…

Whether you are taking care of your child and enjoying it…

Whether you are taking risks and making personal changes…

Whether you are doing something you swore you would never do…

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I hinted last week that I didn’t need material items right now to make me feel happy or successful.  I do crave the support of friends and family-both of which I have.  I can honestly say I have the absolute best friends in the entire world.   It is a great feeling to say that both my family and friends would do anything for me and I would do anything for them.

I haven’t always had this mindset though.  In college and even after, I had the mindset to always bite off more than I could chew.  I wanted to be the best at multiple things.  I would rather be a jack of all trades versus specialize in one or two different ideas.

I’ve been asked a lot about the comparison trap and how I stay content with being myself.  I’m not the world’s best blogger, I’m not the fastest runner, I’m still actively seeking a job and yet I feel happy and content with my life-despite it not being everything I had hoped for post college.

I think about how I desperately needed two solid months off of running after the marathon.  I watch as countless runners and bloggers can do shake out runs the day after or even the week after.  I was barely able to move for two weeks after let alone get into serious running.  I needed far more time to both physically and mentally recover from the marathon.

In college you are given an image that you feel you should strive to be.  Post college you should be applying for jobs and be hired within a couple of months for a job full time with benefits.  As far as your social life, you keep good friendships with your college friends.  Your college sweetheart and you get married a few months after graduation.  You make good friends with your new found coworkers as well as people with similar interests outside of work.

Then within a couple of years you have saved enough to put a down payment on a house.  Now you’re set?  Right?  You have a perfect job, perfect spouse, house and perhaps a couple of pets.  (Lord knows I’m not a pet person).

So here you are at the ripe age of 25 living the dream.  Or at least that was the impression that my college gave me.

I’m only 23 so I guess I have a few years to go.  I can guarantee you that probably none of that will be my life at 25.  I hope to have a job, I know I won’t be putting a down payment on a house and I know I think it’s highly unlikely I’ll have pets.

I do know one thing-that I’ll be content with myself.  I’ll be happy if I am working, enjoying my life and enjoying the process that is life. I think the more I think about this topic, the more I realize that there is no single measurement for happiness.  My life is nothing as I thought post college.  My life is nothing as I thought it would be six months ago…and you know what?

I’m okay with that.  I’m enjoying each stride.

Finally, don’t forget to vote friends!  I’m starting to catch up!  🙂

Because I am a Material Girl

I wish I could tell you I had an exciting week but I actually spent it cleaning and organizing.  Though we moved over a month ago (Have I really been a Jersey girl for 2 months now?), we are still finding things that need to be organized.  We are also trying to downsize since somehow we have accumulated a lot of things.

This week has been a week of purchases because I’ve finally found items to use my gift cards on.  I got a lot of gift cards for Christmas, for which I’m very grateful, because it seems like there are a lot of sales right now.

First I used my Amazon gift card to buy a fitbit.  It seems to be a big trend in the blogging world, so I decided to get on board.  Plus they seem pretty cool.  Then of course I happen to get one that is defective so I have to return it.  I was lucky that the customer service was great and I have no complaints but I have to wait for another.

Remember that Christmas post about how I was lusting over Oiselle long sleeve flyte shirts?  My parents got me a giftcard for Christmas and I was finally able to order one.  They actually came out with bright green which I love.  I was also able to scoop up a funnel neck long sleeve which is also very nice.  . I wish I had waited another few days until the Lux side zip and joggings came out…but you live and learn.  Another reason I need to learn to stop jumping the gun.

So in reality I bought a fitbit and two new Oiselle tops but I feel like a big spender.   Since I have been making minimal purchases the last two months, I feel like quite the spender even though they are all from gift cards.  Being in the process of hearing back from interviews and waiting is one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had.  Being on a more strict budget is very hard but I know it’s what I need to being doing right now.

But anyways- 

Something I have learned lately is that I don’t need material things to be happy.  That doesn’t make a lot of sense to segway this post into since I just talked about how excited I was to accumulate a bunch of new things.

I have realized in the last 6 months between moving-I don’t need material things to make me happy.  Don’t get me wrong, treating myself is really nice.  Who doesn’t like to treat themselves to a nice article of clothing or another treat but I don’t have to do that to be happy.  I am perfectly happy with my friends, family and enjoying life.  I am perfectly happy saying the only thing I’ve spent nongift cards on this week is food and a wawa coffee.

I would rather spend money on events or going somewhere versus spending it on an article of clothing.  In college I felt I was striving to have the latest and greatest things to make myself happy.  As I have grown older, I’ve learned I don’t need the latest and greatest gadgets to be happy.  I need my friends and family more.   I guess as I grow older and put myself in different situations I continue to learn more about myself as a person.

So I continue to get rid of things I no longer need or use, I’m jumping the gun to welcome the weekend in soon.  Though I do not have a job yet I do look forward to the weekends because the house isn’t as quiet in the day time.

Finally I’ll be adding this to every single post.  As a shameless plug please vote DAILY for me to win a trip to run at the ZOOMA Napa Valley race in June.  I am really excited and hoping for the best!  Your support has been so overwhelming.   My facebook page (that I barely use…and I’m working hard to actually use) will be featuring a daily meme.  Feel free to like it. 

Question for you:

Would you rather spend money on material items or events?

What are you up to this weekend? 

Time Keeps on Ticking…

I always enjoy learning more about bloggers whether it’s their personal life, a random story or question and answer post.  Though to be honest I still could care less what your favorite color is…I will probably forget two seconds after commenting.

Though the mention of swimming on this blog seems like a life time ago, there was a time where I swam and didn’t run (anything before August 2010).  My old lolz swimming identity was lolzthatswim…ever wonder why my email is lolzthatswim?  I never changed it to fueledbylolz (at) gmail…I feel there has got to be a pretty streamline (ha) way to do this…I just don’t know how and haven’t looked into).  Just over two years ago, I quit competitive swimming forever and made one of the best decisions at the time for me.

I swam throughout high school and I swam 3 years of college.  I logged lots of swimming miles…from point A right back to point A…in a circle for hours and hours.  I believe my most famous quote from swim team was (after being asked why do you like swimming the 1000)

“Because I like to start at point A go into cardiac arrest and come back to point A 20 times.”

Lately I have been thinking a lot about my past life.  I often get the question if I regret not running in high school or early college (instead of swimming).  The answer is always no.  I wouldn’t trade those swimming moments for the world.  I met some of my best friends swimming in high school as well as college.  Women I might have met otherwise but our friendships grew strong and blossomed throughout those terrible swim practices.  (I’m looking at you 10X400 IMS…or you 5X1000 timed off the blocks)…so no I don’t regret not running earlier.

If we live our lives in the past and wonder what could have been, we cannot move on in the future.  I don’t regret not running in high school or early college because I don’t think I would be enjoying it as much now if I did.  If I ran and was pressured into speed workouts during college I think it would have not allowed me to develop the passion for running I have now.  I would have burnt out.  I know I would be exercising now but I don’t think I would consider myself a serious runner.

I think for me personally it took a lot of time to realize how much I truly enjoyed running.  Coming from someone who absolutely hated running in the past and nearly failed the mile several times in both middle and high school (shout out to my gym teachers who screamed at me to pass) I could not fathom that in the future I would be writing a blog about how much I enjoy running. 

Who knows, in five years I might enjoy cycling.  I don’t like to live in the past whether it’s my run life, personal life or overall life.  I think we have to move upward and onward.  I loved swimming and will never regret those times or friends I made but my time with that has long passed.  Perhaps one day I’ll get back into the pool and love it…or perhaps I never will.  Only time will tell.

Question for you: Is there anything you wish you started earlier?

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