Why Body Positivity Matters to Me: The National Eating Disorder Association 2016 D.C. Walk

Those who have trained with me or have taken fitness classes with me know my relentless body positivity. The constant reiteration of self-love principles and explanations of what real health is. This is what I stand for. This is how I train. This is who I am, but it hasn't always been like that. My journey is both unique and all too common. It started with calorie counting in high school. I can't recall a specific moment when it all began. I just started weighing myself and reading nutrition articles like a madwoman. I started counting calories on MyFitnessPal. Religiously. To a point where going over my calorie goal was a devastating letdown.mmacrosapp

Every time I stepped on the scale, it was a test of my willpower and dedication to my "health." If I wasn't on track when I pulled out the scale at the crack of dawn, my day was ruined. Calorie intake was adjusted. Minutes of additional activity on top of sports practice were added. Everything tracked. Everything organized.

Time and commitment had me with a slender, sculpted fitness-model-level body. Six-pack and all. To everyone on the outside, I was a superwoman role model. To everyone, I was what healthy looked like. What they didn’t tell me is that I would also lose my period, screw up my hormone levels, and still not be happy with my body.

Four years of high school passed and four years of obsessive-calorie-counting passed before I discovered that my experience has a name –orthorexia nervosa- also known as unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. This is also when I discovered I wasn’t alone. Men and women everywhere suffer from eating disorders, and most go unnoticed. Eating disorders don't have a shape, size, or color, and too often our miconstrued understanding of health keeps us from seeing it.

2016-02-27_222559756_E3D3E_iOSThere is a lot more to my story, but I'm going to get to the point.

Right now after 9 months of recovery, I feel strong. In my everyday life, self-love is not perfect. It’s a process. I don’t always wake up loving my body and feeling enough. I certainly have more good days than bad days, but t2016-02-28_001620000_CC78F_iOShose outside sources are still very much present. It takes a concerted effort to think clearly about my self-worth with all of these distractions. It’s frustrating to dispel these myths that are so ingrained in the way we think about ourselves and our bodies.

Today, I am a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and wellness ambassador working to help others find their own strength. I gave a TEDx talk at American University about my story and these myths this February (video coming soon), and I continue to let this experience motivate me to help others.

paradigmmalibuThere are some triggers that pull me back. Certain foods, heart rate monitors, and bodyweight scales - I go back to that place. The place where the numbers on the scale dictated how the rest of my day would go. The dysmorphic ideas I had about what I looked like in comparison to others. The unrealistic expectations I had for myself that caused me physical harm instead of improved wellness.

When I go back to that place, I can’t stand to imagine any other woman having to go through it. However, there are women who are going through it. There are women who are going through a heck of a lot worse. There are young women who are just starting to see it, and there are unborn babies who don’t even know what’s coming. This is what keeps me going – as a fitness professional, as a role model, as a friend, as a sister, as a peer.

NEDAWalkThis weekend, I will be walking for the National Eating Disorder Association which does so much amazing work helping individuals who are suffering from disordered eating and exercise. Please support me by sharing this post, donating, or walking with me. You're support means more than you know.

The student fee is $15, but even a small donation goes a long way.

National Eating Disorder Association Washington D.C. Walk

Walk Venue: American University - Eric Friedman Quadrangle Walk Location: 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016 Walk Date: Sunday, April 17, 2016 Check In Time: 9am Opening Ceremony: 10am Walk End Time: 11:30am Walk Fundraising Goal: $65,000

(Body) Peace,

Erin

ReflectingErin Thomas