How I learned to recovery from an eating disorder with the power of running

L9P Community Member Post: Heather Clancy

Boston Marathon 2014

For so long I’ve felt like I’ve had to lie about my past; where I was for months on end when I left high school and college, why I had to miss track practice every Wednesday, and why I needed to go home early to eat dinner instead of eating out with my friends. But I’m done lying. I’m done hiding. Now, I feel empowered to talk about it. I feel empowered to share my experiences going to an inpatient care center to get help for my anorexia and bulimia.

I feel empowered to encourage others to start being honest and to get help for themselves. For this reason, I am compelled to share my story with with Lane 9 Project community.

My first memories of having a distorted body image and low self-esteem are from first grade. I remember being made fun of for the lime green shorts I was wearing and somehow internalized that as if they were making fun of me because of how my body looked. After that incident, I become extremely self-conscious of what I was eating and how I looked. Growing up, being thin became my identity. My friends’ moms used to call me “skinny minnie” and say things like, “I wish I could have your metabolism,” not knowing that I was already restricting my food intake at age 7.

My disordered eating became anorexia and bulimia by the time I was 13 years old.

I lied until I couldn’t lie anymore, and I was admitted into an inpatient hospital. Little did I know, this would become a trend for the next decade of my life. In high school and college, I ran track and cross country and became consumed with burning calories and eating less. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with osteopenia (low bone density) that I realized the damage I was doing to my body.

This was the moment when running became my source of empowerment.

I started working with nutritionists, and talking to other runners, to understand how I could restore and take responsibility for my health. Over the past few years I have been able to use running to accomplish my goals and show gratitude for my body and the amazing things it can do when I take care of it. When I am on the trail with my border collie, Annie, I feel completely fulfilled. The smell of the air, the sound of the wind, and the bravery to be me.

Running is my source of strength, empowerment, and self-love. It makes me who I am and brings me closer to nature and more in tune to the needs of my body. My journey of running through my eating disorder (ED) with injuries, and the diagnosis of osteopenia, has provided the opportunity to embrace and appreciate every single step on every single run. I am overcome with the gratitude, and God’s radical grace, that I experience every time I get to escape to the trails. When I’m running, I don’t need to reach any standards, look a certain way, or have a certain job; I can be me. I can be good enough.

Running is my source of strength, empowerment, and self-love. It makes me who I am and brings me closer to nature and more in tune to the needs of my body.

I would love to break the silence and eliminate the shame associated with eating disorders.

I hope to use my story and my passion for running as a platform to reach out to other women and athletes who are struggling with similar issues. I would love to encourage everyone to change the narrative about food and exercise from a punishing story to a message of empowerment and strength. Setting aside our biases and finding one person to begin a dialogue with about food and running is a great place to start. So, this is me joining the dialogue, and joining the Lane 9 Project community.

If you’re an active lady or lady health activist, coach, mentor, parent, or healthcare provider, let us know through our community form. If you want to share your story, get in touch with us through the form or by emailing Lane9Project@gmail dot com. If you just want to follow along, stay tuned hereand say hi 👋 on Twitter.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s