Connection Instead of Coach
Updated: Feb 17, 2019
Exercise or movement has been a piece of my recovery that has been difficult to navigate. I have been an athlete my whole life and played sports competitively. Over the years it has been hard to know if I am moving because I enjoy it, want to punish myself, or feel the need to compensate because of the calories I have consumed during the day.
In the early days of my eating disorder, I struggled with restricting and over exercising. It was during this time that my eating disorder took on the name of “Coach”. Coach told me what I could or could not eat. Coach dictated when I ate or if I could eat. Coach told me how much I needed to move. As the years passed by the behaviors morphed into bulimia. In my case, it also caused my body shape to change into a bigger body. This change only triggered more behaviors and lies I believed about myself. I believed that I was worthless. I believed I was lazy because I could not move in the ways that I used too at the gym or on the court. Diet culture and society convinced me that my life didn’t matter because I was now in a bigger body.
I went through a time where I couldn’t find clothing that fit me, especially athletic clothing. All I could focus on was that in order to fit in athletic clothes again, I needed to eat less and move more. I needed a different body. The message I took away from clothing companies was, “Mindy, if you want to wear our brand then change your body.” Unfortunately, this only increased my eating disorder behaviors, kept me out of control, and emotionally unstable. The never-ending cycle tortured me.
Even after years of recovery, I still catch myself hearing the old message that my body is the problem. This has been coming up for me recently when trying to find ski clothing. When I shop now, I’ve started telling myself that the problem isn’t my body. The problem is the retail industry! In addition to the inability to find athletic clothing that fits, I used to feel shame engaging in movement in public or at the gym because it seemed like no one looked like me or had the same struggles I did.
About two years ago, I came across the story of Mirna Valerio on Facebook. I finally found someone that looked similar to me and loved to be out on the mountain moving. Hearing Mirna’s journey and seeing how much she nourished her body, loved her body, loved life, and loved being outside moving was the extra push I needed to try something different in my recovery. Mirna even talked about how comments from others hurt and negative thoughts were in her head, but she kept doing what she loved and taking care of her body. She was living a life so free! I was so intrigued and didn’t understand.
Over the past year or so, I have gotten to know Mirna as a friend. She is one of the catalysts that pushed my recovery in a new way. The way she lives her life with so much joy, freedom, confidence, and laughter IS SO contagious. She’s helped me realize the LIES of diet culture! She has taught me the JOY that can be found in sharing a meal. She has showed me the FUN of movement again! She has taught me the beauty of friendship and CONNECTION!
Thank you Mirna! You are an inspiration to me!