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Building a Better Relationship with Exercise

Being the center of attention is not where you are likely to find Danielle. She is a listener who reflects deeply her observations and thoughts, which has led to self-discovery. Things were not always that way for her.

Stop expecting Perfection:

In middle school, Danielle often obsessed over her body image and the expectations of others. Not allowing herself to rest, she would sometimes go up to three days without sleep. She could not concentrate on anything else. The transition to high school only amplified the expectations and the anxiety she experienced.

During this time in her life, she had limited access to therapy and very little in the way of a support network. Internalizing her experience, she buckled down, thinking that she had to do things for herself. Yet, that also proved difficult. When left to her own devices, even healthy habits became problematic as she hyper fixated on health trends, going to extremes.

This left her in the middle, feeling like she could not rely on consistent therapy and mental support while also not trusting her own boundaries when it came to developing healthy habits.

I will Survive:

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she was in college. The time for her was transformative, and the forced isolation pushed her to examine her situation. “In the end, I was forced to learn about myself, to learn who I am. That opened me up to the potential of healing.”

She took the time to get back into a routine of exercise and health while attending classes online. Her goals had shifted: new mind, new ways of thinking, new person. When in-person classes resumed, they brought opportunities to test her new mindset.

“I met this boy, and he was the most perfect person I’d ever met in my life.” For a while their relationship blossomed. “Unfortunately, you know, not all good things are good forever and at the end of the semester, the relationship ends. And I’m in a rut, and I’m in a very hard place.”

The end of the relationship brought back all the depression and anxiety that she thought she had overcome. “I really lost myself. I didn’t know what I was outside of that relationship. I started to realize that I’d been changing myself to fit in for other people. So now, I’m trying to build a relationship for myself.”

Finding the right fit with the Starting Line Scholarship:

Finding The Well Being, a mental health practice in Grand Rapids, MI, was a perfect match for where she was in the development of the relationship with herself. “I always separated my mental and physical health like they were different things.” Danielle finally found the help she had been searching. “I don’t think I’d had the kind of therapy or the amount of support that I found [at the Well Being].”

One of the counselors then encouraged Danielle to sign up for the Starting Line Scholarship with Still I Run. “I can remember thinking, ‘that sounds like something I can do for myself’....this is something that can help me take control of my own situation.”

In her search for support, Danielle tried many types of fitness groups but had not tried running. Claiming that she has "never been a runner,” she already notices the benefits of the activity, describing it as calming and meditative. “Just the other day I was in a negative space, and I thought, ‘I need to not think about this, I’m going to go for a run.’ And that’s completely new.”

She credits the Starting Line Scholarship with creating a better relationship for her with exercise, one in which she considers both her physical and mental health. A relationship that leads to a goal that is so much more than losing weight.

As she moves forward, Danielle has a growing sense of relief from the difficulties in her past. “This is helping me take control of my whole situation. It has really shown what I’m capable of on my own.”

If you or someone you know would benefit from the Starting Line Scholarship, we invite you to check it out at our website here! Applications are selected on a rolling basis!


By Jason Holton

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