Thank you to Kristie of Recovered Living for sharing this post with us today.
When I was an elite athlete (weightlifting), my athletic abilities were my identity. I would do all sorts of ‘extra’ things – running, climbing mountains, pushing myself to the max. Secretly I hated pushing myself that hard. I didn’t enjoy it, it hurt, and truthfully, I wanted to curl into a ball and cry but the praise and admiration I got for my abilities fed my eating disorder. I believed unless I pushed myself hard, I wasn’t special.
Weightlifting has bodyweight categories, so weight was a constant part of my everyday life and my sporting career. If I could go back to my fourteen-year-old self, I would tell her that her bodyweight wasn’t important, what was important was enjoying the pursuit of competition. I would tell her rather than trying to keep her body one size and weight so that she could compete internationally, it was worth waiting to see where her body wanted to land naturally, rather than waiting for 14 years to recover from an eating disorder as a result of manipulating her body. I would tell her its ok to struggle with food and weight because the nature of having to weigh a certain number for a competition is inherently disordered, so I was having a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.
I am no longer an elite athlete but that doesn’t mean I have stopped challenging myself. Rather than lifting weights, I lift others up (I am an eating disorder therapist now). Rather than pushing my body to the max, I push my dreams to the max and go big! Rather than pushing myself to change my body, I push myself to change the narrative in sport around food and bodies.
I don’t exercise anymore. I play. I will probably never do a set or rep again in my life because I have done many millions of those, and they don’t interest me anymore. I will however throw a ball, ride a horse, or paddle a kayak. These things fill my soul and bring me joy. The high I get from a good day on the river far outweighs the very best day I had as an athlete on the world stage – because the joy was always tainted with ‘and now I have to make weight for the next competition’. After a good day on the river, I go and have lunch with my friends and that is the greatest gift of all.
One of my biggest joys is working with athletes or retired athletes, in their recovery from an eating disorder. There is a lot of unlearning to do, grieving, exploring, and lots of recovery wins! Recovered Living is a recovery coaching organisation I created whereby every coach who works with clients is fully recovered from an eating disorder. A coach is literally like a sports coach…but for recovery. They make a plan with you (the training program), they are with you while you execute it (the training sessions) and are there in between to check in with by text or email (the coach/athlete relationship). We want to coach you to your greatest achievement – your recovery. Please reach out if you want to find out more about recovery coaching www.recoveredliving.com
Recovered Living is an amazing organization, check out their website link above and follow them on Instagram @recoveredliving. They also have inspiring videos on their YouTube page of recovering and recovered individuals sharing their story.