Giving Tuesday: The Organizations and People Making a Difference for Running in Silence

There are a tremendous number of people have been with Running in Silence since its beginning 7(!) years ago, and even more-so now as a 501(c)3 nonprofit. On this Giving Tuesday, I want to acknowledge everyone who has given their time, donations, and efforts to support!

When I first posted on this website, my very own college coach Mike Wojciakowski immediately expressed his support. He was willing to work with me through my recovery as I continued to run for the team. He was even one of the first to offer a place for me to speak on this subject at RunGR!

Lize Brittin, author of Training on Empty (the book and blog) began her eating disorder recovery advocacy work in 2009. She has been nothing but supportive since the beginning of my own endeavors with Running in Silence and continues to be a very important voice in the athletic eating disorder community!

Strong Runner Chicks and Founder Megan Flanagan reached out a few months after I started the website, and we discussed ways in which we could talk about eating disorders in sport. She has since helped to share Running in Silence while ramping up things with SRC!

Kernie Gilliam of MITCA was the first to bring in the Running in Silence presentation to coaches. To say I was nervous on that day is a big understatement. It was the first time I was reaching an audience I’d been working to reach for months (if not years), and it was a packed room. This led to connecting with Jay Ivory of the ITCCCA clinic, who also brought me in to speak twice. Each presentation has been a game-changer for me and many who attended and expressed that this needs to be a topic at all coaching clinics.

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How Should Eating Disorder Recovery Stories Be Shared? Q&A with Dr. Quatromoni

This is part of a Q&A series with leading expert in eating disorders and sports, Paula Quatromoni. For more Q&As click here.

Q: How should eating disorder recovery/stories be shared in presentations? How do we share properly, avoid triggers, address concerns, and raise awareness?

A (Paula Quatromoni, DSc, MS, RD, LDN): I was recently looking for something on-line and came across some “guidelines” for eating disorder prevention talks in schools and one of the top recommendations was to not bring in an individual to tell their recovery story. I wish I could remember the source of that ‘tip,’ but clearly, I dismissed it because in my opinion, “it depends” entirely on the audience and also on the individual sharing their story.

I do not believe in making a hard and fast “no, don’t do it” declaration. At the same time, I would not give an unconditional, “do this!” recommendation either. What works for one person and in one setting may not work for another. There are never any guarantees that what we deliver in an educational session will meet everyone in the audience’s needs. One speaker may do a great job and a different speaker may not do the topic justice at all. That is true in any educational setting and the same can be said of teachers, in general. It is also true of counselors, therapists, dietitians, doctors, etc. Some patients or clients may describe their interactions with a health professional as “outstanding” or “super helpful,” but others may find their interactions to be not very therapeutic, effective or individualized to their personal needs.

What we do need to ensure is that first, we “do no harm.” So there are some important considerations and a need for heightened sensitivity when a recovery speaker is planning to address a school community.

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Breaking Silence, Sparking Conversation: Talks to Coaches, Students, & Parents

The first trip of the year for the Running in Silence nonprofit started off near Chicago, IL Friday January 11 with a presentation at the ITCCCA clinic—the Illinois coaching clinic that brought me in to speak for the second year in a row.

This year I was pleasantly surprised to see a larger group of coaches come in, pens at the ready. Many approached afterwards to thank me for speaking on this topic (some having struggled themselves), said that it was “really powerful,” and grabbed the resource materials I had available. I don’t say any of this to boast, but to emphasize the importance of raising awareness and helping coaches to better navigate this little-discussed subject (I’ve seen how many coaching conferences don’t have the mental health component we so desperately need).

The next day I was off to Boston for two more presentations at Dana Hall, an all-girls high school and middle school; this was a trip of back-to-back-to-back presentations addressed to coaches, then students, then parents!

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McCallum Place Victory Program Eating Disorders in Sport Conference 2018

A year ago I attended the Victory Program Eating Disorders in Sport Conference in Missouri knowing no one. I remember feeling nervous and unsure. But I was also eager to gain more knowledge, meet the professionals, and see what I could do to keep raising awareness as a coach and athlete.

All my luggage for the 2017 EDIS Conference! #flashback

This year the conference moved to Berkeley–a longer distance to travel, but an amazing location. And not only was I now speaking this year, but I also actually knew a few people ahead of time!

The adventures began when I attempted to figure out the BART system to get to Berkeley from the airport. I ended up bonding with a woman from New Jersey to figure it out (shoutout to Emma who sterilizes the air in creamer containers!).

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MHSAA Women in Sports Leadership Conference: Making Change

I felt honored to speak to a group of strong young women last week at the MHSAA Women in Sports Leadership Conference. I loved seeing these ladies interested in mental health and asking thoughtful, important questions.

And it struck me, looking out into the audience, that these high schoolers are the future of sports. These are aspiring coaches and athletic directors.

They will impact lives.

I saw great potential, but also heartbreak. A few tears were shed in the audience as I shared my eating disorder experiences. Having spoken about my own story for years now, I’d forgotten the impact it first had on me, and how new it is for these students to hear. I’d forgotten how scary it was when I first admitted that something was wrong, because now it is so easy to talk about, and I am so far into recovery.

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Book Tour: The Final Day (Walden Pond, Boston University)

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 read the first entry here, the second here, the third here, and the Rhode Island trip here. The following details my final day on Wednesday 12/6:

For my last day in Boston, I visited Walden Pond.

I had learned about Henry David Thoreau in school of course, so I knew about his two-year stay at Walden Pond and what an important role that played in literature and environmentalism.

I didn’t know that standing before Walden Pond would bring me to tears.

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Book Tour: Day Trip to Rhode Island

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, the second entry here, and the third entry here. The following details my journey Tuesday 12/5:

My third talk was at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston. When scheduling this, I made sure to connect with Jill Puleo of the YouTube channel A Case of the Jills, because when we found each other on social media a few months prior (and messaged briefly), she mentioned that she was living in Rhode Island.

If you have not looked into Jill’s YouTube channel yet, then you should. She discusses a side of exercise/training I had never looked too deeply into: amenorrhea (cessation of the menstrual cycle). And her discussion of amenorrhea is not limited to women, either. Even through our talk together that day for lunch, I learned so much about what men experience with overtraining (not necessarily amenorrhea of course, but certainly clear signs of a body deteriorating from the stress of overtraining).

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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: Boston, Day 1

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 read the first entry here. The following details my journey on Friday 12/1.

Driving back through Vermont toward Boston was a magical experience once again (great views, easy driving). Driving through Boston, however, was a different kind of magical.

I know I’ve been told DON’T GET A CAR IN BOSTON, but with all the traveling I needed to do for speaking engagements, it was a requirement for this trip.

I had a mix of awe and jolts of fear entering the city. For someone who’s already anxiety-prone with driving, I was testing my limits–because not only were the roads busy (I was warned about the traffic), but my GPS seemed to go haywire (“turn right, MAKE SURE YOU ARE IN THE LEFT LANE OF THE TURN RIGHT [too late], now SHARP LEFT, make sure you’re in the middle lane”…). With the constant curves and tunnels (my GPS lost signal, of course), it was tough to make the drive mistake-free. So a big mantra of this trip has become “Just take one thing at a time.”

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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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