November 8th, 2016. It was a dreary day, literally and figuratively. After a long, somber workday, I rushed off to a local coffee shop to meet an area dietitian. We were meeting so I could interview her and fulfill an assignment for a grad school class of mine. Frankly, I was not looking forward to it. Not because I wasn’t excited to meet her, but because it was the kind of day when you just want to get home and have a sizeable glass of wine. But here we were. Enter, Heather.
We both painted on smiles and masked the overwhelming disappointment of the day with pleasantries. We got to the interview and Heather shared a wealth of knowledge with me. It was a great conversation (at least from my perspective) and I was fascinated by what Heather does. But the real conversation didn’t start until the interview assignment was over.
We got to chatting about running and connected over our recent Marine Corps Marathon Finishes. We talked Oiselle, Lauren Fleshman, and finally disordered eating in the sport. That conversation didn’t go deep, but the connection over disordered eating was strong, as we both hinted at our own experiences with it. As we left, Heather planned to connect me with Sam, a friend of hers, as well. That night the wheels in my head were already turning.
A couple of Saturday’s later the three of us were trotting along the Mount Vernon Trail while sharing more than just miles. As I got to know Heather and Sam, we began opening up about our struggles with eating disorders and injuries. For me this felt uncomfortable, but relieving. I’d never opened up about my eating disorder before. I never thought I’d been sick enough, so I didn’t think I had a right to talk about it. Talking about it for the first time was powerful. After that run, over shivers and coffee our ideas started to boil. Our connection over this issue was so strong and our passion to help others was deep, we knew we needed to do something. But what?
With time and many meetings, the seed began to grow. We quickly went from we should do something, to let’s to something, to this is what we’re going to do. We didn’t have it all figured out, but we had a start and that’s all we needed. We began by deciding on a name, a project in itself, and finally settled on Lane 9 Project. It started to feel real, but we still didn’t know where we were going. So we started to write.
We wrote our personal stories and reflected on how similar yet how unique they each were. We recognized the therapeutic nature of writing and how healing it was to lay out our journey toward recovery for everyone to see. We found that simply talking about our experiences had the ability to keep us on the road to recovery. We decided that giving other women a place to let their voices be heard as well would be the perfect place for us to start.
So, this week (NEDA Week) one year ago we launched and this year’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week motto is “Let’s Get Real”, so here it is: we had NO IDEA what we were doing. With crossed fingers we posted our first blog on Medium and started sharing to social media like crazy. We had no clue what to expect, but we certainly didn’t expect the response we received. On Sunday we pressed “Publish” and said “let’s see how this goes”. Within a week we had a mile-long to-do list filled with logistics and ideas to keep the momentum rolling.
So here we are now a year later as a non-profit we didn’t realize we’d become. We’ve stuck to our original mission of providing a platform for women to share their stories but with the support you’ve given us, we’ve been able to do so much more. We’ve increased our social media presence with the goal of spreading awareness far and wide. We’ve created a bi-weekly newsletter to share anecdotes of our own lives’ and great content we come across throughout the week. We’ve featured coaches, advocates, social media influencers, and even elite athletes in our “9 Miles With” series”. And we’ve had the opportunity to meet many of you at our group runs, not only in D.C. but in a number of other cities as well. It’s been a busy year and we’re still figuring it out, but we’ve got lots of ideas and big goals we’d like to accomplish.
If I’m personally being real, a year ago I wasn’t sure about any of this. I was ecstatic, but uneasy. Taking on a passion project in the midst of grad school, teaching, and marathon training was a big risk and I’ve never been much of a risk-taker in that sense. But thanks to all of you and the hard work of my co-founders, it’s been one of the best parts of my past year. Not only has it been rewarding to see the way this community has evolved and helped others, but it’s help me tremendously. Looking back to a year ago, I thought I was recovered from my eating disorder but now I know that my recovery is a process and one that will continue for many years to come.
Recovery is hard work and the reality is that it doesn’t happen fast. I thought I was recovered then but looking back it was only the beginning. The real healing began the minute I started talking about my experiences.
This NEDA Week, we’re celebrating a year of getting real. If you haven’t yet, take some time to read our stories and the stories of our many contributors. If you like what you read, subscribe to our newsletter and let us know if you’re ready to get real by sharing your story, too. We hope that this community has helped you to be real with yourself and those around you if you’ve struggled with disordered eating or mental illness of any type. Last year’s theme was “It’s Time to Talk About It” and guess what-people are talking. Join us in keeping the conversation going and starting a movement to change our culture for the better.
Thank you for supporting the Lane 9 Project this year!
National Eating Disorder Association Helpline: 800–931–2236
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 here and say hi 👋 on Twitter.