Adding a definition

I've never really considered myself athletic. For starters, my coordination and grace are pretty minimal (I was voted "Class Klutz" in high school). Second, sports were never really a big thing in my family. Lastly, I always thought of myself as too chubby to play sports (even though I wasn't). I was almost always chosen last in gym class, which ultimately made sports a humiliating experience that I wrote off as quickly as possible.

I started exercising in college to manage stress, but I never really integrated that into my identity. Then I ultimately gravitated to compulsive exercise as part of the eating disorder. Carrie the Gym Rat was very much a part of my identity, but I still didn't see myself as particularly athletic. The actual exercise was fairly irrelevant--as long as I was burning calories, engaging in the ritual, and mentally checking out while exercising, it didn't matter.

That has changed as I've gotten stronger in my recovery. I've been doing a fair amount of cycling, and I took a Pilates class for a while. I've been thinking about taking a kickboxing class, or an Irish dance class, or even a dance aerobics class (I did it a few years ago and it was pretty fun). I would love to go kayaking and learn how to play tennis. I took tennis lessons when I was about 12 or so, but I quit after I nailed my teacher in the nads with a ball--he did say "Aim it at me!"--and I was too embarrassed to go back because I had a big crush on him. I would love to get back into it.

All of these activities has caused me to rethink the absence of "athletic" from my self-concept. I'm not much into team sports like basketball or volleyball. I'm still not at all coordinated, and since I don't like many quote-unquote "sports" (at least as they're mostly thought of in the US), I don't feel entirely comfortable calling myself athletic. But I have started to think of myself as "sporty." I like being active, even above and beyond the eating disorder. I'm not super-adventurous, but I do like to try new activities, especially water sports.

It's been interesting, this learning to think of myself as a sporty person. And I like it. It feels genuine and authentic, a side of myself I never thought I had.

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Sarah said...

This was really cool to read! I love finding new definitions/sides of yourself that feel true and authentic. I never used to consider myself a "writer." I would have used the term "journalist," because to me a "writer" was at a higher level--someone who didn't need to use a formula, someone who was naturally gifted and made people stop and read and feel ANYTHING they wrote even if it wasn't on a "need to know basis." After blogging for 20 months, though, I think I have finally admitted that I am a writer. It feels true and authentic, and just like you it has been really rewarding to learn about this part of myself. Maybe I should do a blog post on this :) Thanks for your steadily wonderful blog, Carrie!!!

Anonymous said...

I think that one of the coolest things for me about recovery is finding out who I am beyond ED. There is a lot about myself that I never knew. I love to sea kayak - it's extremely peaceful. White water kayaking is another story. However, you should give white water rafting a go. That's a lot of fun!! You have the ability to more eloquently voice a lot of stuff that I am thinking/have thought in the past. I appreciate it (it helps knowing that I'm not alone!).

K-pedia said...

I had the EXACT same thing happen with my tennis teacher. He was French, and I was madly in love with him. I just thought your story was funny in that way.

James Clayton said...

Same here. I'm feeling a pull towards sport despite all the feeble hopelessness, inadequacy and bad associations of exercise wth eating disorder hell.

The ability to enjoy being active and wanting to be active without it affecting your mindest and behaviour around food is crucial to ED recovery I guess.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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