Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Missing the Point

Writer's block has struck hard. In an effort to break on through to the creative side, I'm going to spit a bunch of letters onto the computer screen, stream of consciousness style, sort of.

The other day I read an article about ultra runners and eating disorders. I don't remember who the author is, but in the piece, there were quite a few quotes from people I greatly admire. As always, Diane Israel had some worthwhile things to say. Diane has a way of conveying to others the main issues that contribute to eating disorders and compulsive behaviors in a way that nobody else can. It might be, in part, because she struggled with anorexia herself, or it could be that she understand more thoroughly than most what leads to disordered eating and compulsive exercise. In any case, she did a great job of describing why some people and athletes in particular can easily fall into a pattern of unhealthy eating.

I was surprised that one of the other ladies quoted in this article mentioned something about not winning a medal for being thin but winning them for being the best. The idea is that if you want to win, your goal can't be to be the thinnest, which makes sense. There are a few problems I have with statements like this, though. This one rubs me the wrong way just like statements about how people should realize that being anorexic thin isn't attractive to potential partners does.

In talking about winning medals, not everyone is destined to be number one, and it's a sad state of affairs if that's the main goal in running. Of course, this overly simplistic approach to dealing with potentially life-threatening and complex illnesses makes it seem like getting over an eating disorder comes down to a quick choice. Either I continue starving, or I go out and win races. Either I continue throwing up, or I get dressed up all fancy and find a date. It's not that simple. In fact, I would guess that at least some people fall more deeply into the illness when they realize that they are not going to win any medals or can no longer win them.

I'm sure that kind of statement isn't meant to come off as discounting those who suffer, but, when it comes to eating disorders and addiction, I think words should be chosen wisely. Just like I would never assume that telling an alcoholic he can only find success in a job if he stops drinking would actually help him recover, I doubt that telling someone with an eating disorder that dropping the unhealthy behaviors is the way to win medals will accomplish much. The issues are just too deep for that, and I'm pretty sure that anyone in the throes of the disorder is aware that unhealthy behaviors take their toll, emotionally, physically and even spiritually.

Besides, there's no guarantee that giving up the illness will lead to winning medals or success. What are the chances? What if that's not your true calling or passion and is just a symptom of the illness? I get the point, but telling that to a group that tends to err on the side of perfectionism probably isn't the best idea. When medals are lost, can you still love yourself and remember who you are, running aside? The focus in recovery should be more on inner peace than medals, job success or outer appearance. Sure, cute sayings like that are the norm, but I fail to see how they help.

Rant over.

In other news, I've decided to let my hair go gray. When I look around, I see how unnatural dyed hair looks on older people, especially when it's combined with other attempts to look younger, like using fillers, getting plastic surgery and applying excessive makeup, all of which apparently lead to having a strong urge to post a million playful selfies on facebook. I also realized how much I admire and like the look of natural hair on those who accept the aging process. A few people have said I'm brave to do it, like it takes some balls to not buy into the beauty standards other people set, but I don't see it that way. In addition to being lazy, it came down to a few simple reasons:

1. I was tired of looking at the environmental impact my insecurity was causing. Plastic bottles, boxes and dyes are not good for the planet, no matter how anyone rationalizes it.

2. I'm giving less of a fuck about what people think these days. The world has become a difficult place to live in, and the more I stay away from people and their judgments, the better.

3. The dyes were ruining my hair. Call me crazy, but I would rather have gray hair that no hair.

4. I don't have to worry about my roots showing, and I don't have to take all that time I was wasting to cover them anymore. It's a fucking relief. Now I can waste time doing or not doing other things.

Of course, I'm in that awkward in-between stage right now, so it's not as easy as it sounds to be 100 percent OK with this change. And I look older, which is hard to face. On the other hand, I think I will be happy once my hair has grown out a bit.

In still other news, the weather sucks elephant balls, my birthday is creeping closer and I am getting a third opinion about hip surgery in May. No, I haven't really been running much, but I am working with some of the best people in Boulder. They may not be able to fix me with PT, but they are doing some amazing things and incredibly kind and understanding.

Maybe now I can get back into blogging about cheese, something that usually brings me happiness but has been a struggle lately.

Writing exercise over.


  1. I always enjoy your "writing exercises." They're honest (usually brutally so) and insightful. Please keep it up, writer's block or no.

    1. Thank you so much, Shannon. I follow your blog and always love reading your thoughtful posts, so your comment means a lot to me.

  2. Grey is okay. If the numbers of women doing it matched the numbers of men it would be the new norm. Men have it easy.
    Heard an interview with a writer today - Belinda Alexandra. She wrote wherever and whenever she could while she was working. Wrote her first novel (which must have been good) as publishers bid for it. If I find the podcast I'll send a link.

    1. Thank you, Ewen!

      I'm interested in the Belinda Alexandra story, I think Stephen King was another one to write whenever and wherever he could too.


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