I grew up an active athletic child and remain so (although slightly less childlike) today. I ate not only to support my athletic endeavours but also for the love of food. There were always cookies, treats, pizza pops in the house for after school snacking. I'd even hit up the local 7/11 regularly for a slurpee and a bag of penny candies.
I was early to develop and very muscular from a young age and as a young girl never felt comfortable in my body. Every girl goes through feelings of self consciousness but I started very early on. I would try and cover up my body in attempt to avoid any attention to it at all.
Once school was over and therefore so were organized sports, my activity level dropped. I continued to feed my not so healthy, large appetite. Like most girls of the high school grad age - my desire to stay slim was huge. I began solo activities such as running and training in the gym as well as overhauling my diet. I soon became obsessed with exercise and controlled by it and food as a way to control my weight and a defacto control on my happiness. I measured everything I ate, and tracked my burnt calories. I felt so in control of myself. Proud of my discipline all the while I was abusing food and exercise as one might do with drugs, alcohol, sex or shopping. The endorphin high from exercise was something my mind and body came to crave on a daily basis. Eventually my strict eating gave way to binge eating binge before I would "come to my senses" and redouble my efforts to control my calorie intake and increase my exercise output. This viscous cycle eventually led me to experience adrenal fatigue as I was burning the candle at both ends. Stressing my body out with over eating, eating too many refined foods loaded with lots of sugar and fat such as ice cream, chips, cookies and way too much exercise. I could no longer out train my diet and was forced to look at my relationship with food if I was to heal my body, regain my energy, keep the weight off despite a temporary break from exercise. I had become a slave to food and exercise and I had to put a stop to it. Time to stop running and start living.
And so began my journey to a deeper understanding of the relationship between food, my mind and my body. Already a full time personal trainer, I enrolled in a Holistic Nutrition course that would change my life for ever. Through out the span of the course and during the many years to follow as a Practising Nutritionist, I learned to be more loving and gentle towards myself. How to find the healthy balance between exercise and gaining nourishment from food. I stopped abusing my body through excessive exercise and over eating - which I now realize were both ways to distract myself from deeper issues.
Running away from my feelings through exercise addiction and stuffing my feelings down with food slowly dissipated. I felt freedom from the hold they had had over me for all that time. I took their power away by accepting my emotional ups and downs. I slowed down and learned to turn towards my emotions rather than away. This process was not without it's challenges but has brought me great happiness. In time, my struggle with food and exercise have ceased and in its place I now have a healthy balanced life. They no longer have a hold of my mind or my body. I can see the role of food for what it is intended to be - to fuel our mind and body and to present a platform for social engagement with others.
And exercise, well exercise can be many things. A mental boost, therapy, performance enhancement, healthy weight loss. The list goes on and on. What exercise should not be, is a hiding place from social, emotional or psychological issues.