Jumping Into the Unknown: The Discovery Phase of Eating Disorder Recovery

As I work on my second book this year, I’ve reflected a lot on the time in my life when I set out to find who I was (note, this is still changing/growing–at the time I was figuring out who I was outside of perfectionism and running).

I felt like my body was changing even though my weight wasn’t changing. I was at my heaviest, but it didn’t seem to matter as much anymore.

My mindset was changing without forcing it to happen.

I was enjoying who I was; bits and pieces of Rachael that had been buried under running and the eating disorder emerged. And that’s when I began to feel a different kind of beautiful. I felt I could see that change reflected in the mirror, even though it wasn’t my weight or appearance that changed.

I was happy, and it didn’t depend on what I did–it was based on the relationship I had developed with myself and others.

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Book Tour: The Adventures Continue With a Talk at BU

I took on my first book tour 11/29 through 12/7, landing in Boston, driving to Vermont to speak at Saint Michael’s College, driving back to Boston to speak at BU, driving to Rhode Island to speak at URI (Kingston), and back to Boston for one last talk at BU. You can find the first entry here, and the second entry here. The following details on Monday 12/4:

Paula Quatromoni, for those of you who don’t know, is one of the nation’s top experts on the intersection of nutrition, eating disorders and athletes. We met each other back at the Eating Disorders in Sport Conference in August, where she bought my book. She thought it would be a great idea for me to come to speak in Boston, and when Emily from Saint Michael’s put together everything to have me speak at her college, I saw that Boston wasn’t too far away . . .

So here we were, Monday night December 4, working together!

About 15 minutes before the start of the presentation, Nancy Clark arrived (internationally respected sports nutritionist, weight coach, nutrition author, and registered dietitian who specializes in nutrition for performance, health, and the nutritional management of eating disorders). I have been a fan of Nancy ever since I read her book Sports Nutrition Guidebook back in my freshman year of college (I even mention it in Running in Silence). And here she was, with HER copy of Running in Silence, asking me to sign it.

The presentation itself went well–in fact, I feel like everything I’ve been working on these past five years is coming together. I emphasize all sides of eating disorders–including binge eating, of course–and share the intensity of it (not just physically, but EMOTIONALLY and SOCIALLY), as well as ways in which we as a society (or coaches, parents, and peers) can improve on how we identify eating disorders going forward.

After presentations, I always enjoy meeting with everyone who attended. For this talk, it was students from Boston University, dietitians, athletes (including the whole soccer team who rearranged their practice time to attend the talk), a cross country coach, and others who have struggled with disordered eating. A few of us carried on the conversation at a restaurant across the street.

The people I’ve met and the connections I’ve made were some of the greatest parts of this trip. With that said, I must give a huge shout-out to Paula for being the one behind all of this. I’m thankful for her enthusiasm and belief in what I do, and for all SHE does in the realm of eating disorders in sports. She is the one who continues to push forward with these important issues and is rooting for me (and the book!) all the way. She is likely my biggest promotor for Running in Silence, and has helped me to gain more confidence as I navigate this speaking journey.

Book Tour: First Stop Colchester, Vermont

I recently took on my first book tour 11/29 through 12/7. It begins with me landing in Boston, driving to Vermont to speak at Saint Michael’s College, driving back to Boston to speak at BU, driving to Rhode Island to speak at URI (Kingston), and back to Boston for one last talk at BU. The following details my journey on Wednesday 11/29 through Thursday 11/30.

Book Tour Day 1

I woke up at 3:30am, arrived in Boston by 9am, grabbed a rental car and I was off for a 4-hour drive to Colchester, Vermont!

A quick description of the drive: Miles upon miles of tree-lined roads, Moose Crossing signs (we have deer crossing signs in Michigan), rolling roads, vast expanses of mountains. I was in awe, and the moment I arrived at Saint Michael’s College, I couldn’t stop telling everyone I met about my drive (the student-athlete journalist who interviewed me for the school newspaper, the photographer for the school newspaper, and later my host Emily and the SAAC leader and the athletic director).

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Book Release Aftermath

It has taken five years of writing, editing, and research to make Running in Silence happen. This means that when the Running in Silence book released this past Tuesday, I felt relieved and exhausted.

 

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Part of the relief and excitement comes from how quick and easy it is to offer a tool (the book) to those who are struggling or those who want to understand eating disorders better. Or, even just for those who want a good story to read (I’ve been getting feedback that Running in Silence is hard to put down, NICE!). I’ve received many emails over the years with pleas for help and from people wanting suggestions or insight. This book offers a way to show my story (including the recovery process) so others can perhaps get help in similar ways.

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My Story is Your Story

Running in Silence is not just my story.

It’s a peek into thousands of stories.

I share my journey not to highlight just what happened to me, but to reveal a perspective of fear, darkness, and chaos that either mirrors or closely reflects a community of women and men, thin and larger bodies.

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Book Breakdown Before Publication

When I first received the PDF version of Running in Silence, I was in awe of the layout (props to Koehler Books!). But this soon turned into somewhat of a horror film as I began to make a final round of SMALL EDITS/CORRECTIONS (emphasis, my publisher).

Thoughts: It’s almost a book! So many things to fix that I hadn’t seen before! I can’t publish this right now!!!

I asked my publisher if we could get more time. I asked if we could change multiple sentences and paragraphs, and I questioned myself as an author. I was in what I now call “pre-publication freak-out,” a stage that my editor admitted she experienced as well with her book Looking for Lydia, Looking for God.

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The Update

I’ve been working on editing and revising the Running in Silence book project every day. This has been a long process. Once I divided everything into chapters (there are 65 right now), I assigned myself to revise/edit a chapter a day. Little did I know how much I would get stuck on a few chapters, spending as much as two weeks going back over the same one to edit and revise.

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“It is What it is” and Second Chances

Thank you to BetterHelp.com for sponsoring this post! A link to their website is included in the article below. I received compensation as a thank-you for my participation, and believe offering links to sources like this may be of help to some.
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I am still racing in college–in fact, after coming out about my eating disorder and starting this blog, I am only halfway through my college career. I have two more years!

At this point, I see the final two years of college as a second chance–a second chance to compete for my team, to continue to let go of Rawchael, and to continue to become the best Rachael I can be.

It’s a second chance to be able to live college life free from (or at least lessened by) the burden of anxiety with food. I can’t believe I’ve been consumed with all of this for nearly four years now. It seems early intervention is an important part of recovery. Once I did receive more help, I saw that writing, analyzing myself, and getting the support and help from friends and family sped things up.

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