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**Trigger Warning- eating disorders **

As a young girl, I never thought of myself as an athlete. I was always active and loved being outside, but I never really got the hang of any team sports I tried, including softball, soccer, basketball, and cheerleading. I was quiet and shy and didn’t know where I fit it.

After being one of the only seventh graders cut from the softball team, I was devastated but decided to join the track team. There were no cuts there, so I was safe. I refused to run any distance races, even though I came in dead last in every sprinting event. Finally, I’d had enough of last place. My coach suggested I try the mile and two mile events. Much to my surprise, I started winning! I was encouraged to join the cross-country team that fall and after the first few days of practice, I knew without a doubt I had found where I belonged.

I had never felt so strongly that I was made for something. Running is what I was made to do. I had found my people and I had found what brought me pure joy. Unfortunately, my desire to be the best runner I could be led me towards an unhealthy relationship with food and I became very controlling and restrictive of my food intake. I had a very successful high school and college cross-country and track career filled with tremendous joy, but underneath it all I was still struggling to be noticed.

I’m not sure the desire to be noticed has ever left, and my struggle with healthy eating has been up and down throughout my adult life as I navigated a difficult marriage, a divorce and several moves across the country. Restricting food has been my way to find control amongst all the uncontrollable situations in my life.

Through it all, however, I’ve kept running because running is where I feel most at home. After my divorce, I joined a running group and was able to successfully complete several marathons and I was having the time of my life. However, when I injured my ankle and suffered for two years before getting surgery, I knew I had to confront my biggest fear. I knew I had to find freedom in eating again so that I could be a strong and healthy runner.

As a young girl, running led me toward unhealthy, restrictive eating, but as an adult, running is what leads me towards a life of freedom where I am a strong, powerful athlete capable of running up and down many mountains, both literal and figurative.

Recognizing how much I love running, how much I want to continue to run for the rest of my life, has led me to recognize that my eating disorder is no longer serving me. If I didn’t have running in my life, perhaps I wouldn’t have such a strong desire to pursue that freedom from restriction. It has been a challenging journey that has taken many years, but my desire to be healthy and strong is finally overpowering my desire to be skinny, fast, and noticed. I can’t say it’s easy yet, but I’m excited to keep progressing, to keep learning and growing, and to keep developing into the strong, powerful, and thriving woman that I envision.

If you're struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Helpline toll-free at (800)-931-2237, chat with someone at, or text NEDA to 741-741 for 24/7 crisis support.

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