Friday, February 02, 2007

How to help...

I got an email the other day from a woman I train. She'd done really poorly at a race last week because she was sick. In the email she sent me she confessed that she was actually bulimic and had been going through a rough few days...and that was the real problem. Today she called me to tell me that she wanted to stop running, that she was quiting. Before she called me on the phone, I was going through her email in my head for most of the day. I just kept thinking that I know very few women (and quite a few men) that do not have some sort of an issue with food. There's the one's that eat too much and then one's that don't eat enough. Being in a sports enviroment I've seen quite a few people who "race" in order to eat, or eat nothing in order to race better. Two extremes, the same problem. Now I'm certainly not a bulimic specialist or even a counselor but what I told her when she phoned was that giving up on herself was not an option. You make a mistake on Monday, you pick yourself up and try again on Tuesday, even if that means on Wednesday it happens again. If there is one thing I have learned in all the weird overeating and undereating is that the problem is not the food. The problem is somewhere else, the food is just a dulling tool to take away whatever pain you have in that moment. I gave her the number of a really good psychologist I know and made an appointment with her to go running next week. Running is not the answer to her problems, but I've always found it to be a good tool in these situations.

It make me feel sad to see how f**cked up this society can be in terms of body image and what we should all look like or what the ideal body shape is. I know so many women who strive for something that they will never be able to obtain rather than just trying to be the best that they can be. Strangely enough I find this easier to do the older I get. Maybe because I don't have to look like a twenty year old beauty queen anymore, I can just be a strong-kick-ass-going-towards-fifty year old. Now that's an image I like!


nancytoby said...

I think you're on the right track, Julia! I don't think running can solve the problem, but it could help her general outlook on life and herself.

ironjenny said...

You are a good friend in addition to a good trainer. If only she could love herself, and surely she deserve to be, then this would finally be a part of her past. Check out the blog of IMABLE, from a couple days ago regarding shame. It's very insightful and although it is about alcoholism, I think it can be related to bulimia or any other destructive addiction. I have a link on my sidebar that'll get you there.
Have a good day. (And if not, pick again tomorrow and have a good day then... that was great advice, by the way ;-)

Anonymous said...

had a similar problem with an athlete of mine, once. She's still fighting with her disease, but keeping moving as she could helped her to keep her perspective. Now she can't do almost anything with her body, but she conserved the sport attitude, and always thanks her gods for this. So, IMO you're doing an excellent work, keep sustain her!