I’m not sure where to begin with the journey I have been on the last couple of months, but I have to say it has been an emotional + physical one. To explain what this challenge means to me I have to start from the very beginning.
I was always the super bubbly confident girl in high school. That wasn’t the case in college. As a VCD major, I became scared of failure, + the pressure of being perfect weighed on me both physically + mentally. As the next few years went by I started to lose myself slowly until one day I looked in the mirror + I didn’t recognize the person looking back. I had become so worn down until there wasn’t much left, + I realized that I needed to find my confidence again.
but there was one problem.
Unfortunately over the course of my college career, I developed an eating disorder where my mentality about myself had become completely warped. The ED [Eating Disorder] thoughts were very persistent, + didn’t let me be able to workout in a healthy way. By January 2014 the Eating Disorder had started to warp my love for exercise. I would be in the gym for 3 hours a day losing sight of why I fell in love with exercise in the first place. My parents started to worry again, but I was loving how “healthy + strong” I thought I was becoming. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case because I wasn’t going about it the healthy way.
IN FEBRUARY, I FOUND SOMETHING THAT WAS GOING TO CHANGE MY LIFE. I WAS IN THE GYM WALKING AROUND THE TRACK SCROLLING THROUGH INSTAGRAM, WHEN I CAME ACROSS CHAARG. I STALKED THE CHAARG ACCOUNT FOR ABOUT AN HOUR + REALIZED THAT THIS MOVEMENT PORTRAYED EVERYTHING THAT I LOVED ABOUT FITNESS//EXERCISE + I FELL IN LOVE.
I realized that I wanted to be a part of this movement in some way, + that is when reached out to Elisabeth to become an intern. I realized that these girls were going about exercise in a different way than I was. They were doing it because they loved to be strong, not because they felt that they needed to do it to lose weight.
One day I was at the gym + I realized that my friend Amy who worked out with me was going through the same thing + shared that she was in treatment at Cleveland Center for Eating Disorders + recommended me there. Next thing I knew I was carrying a bin of food into day treatment + I was terrified. I knew that I was doing this to get better, but I knew this was going to be way harder than I thought. The therapists had told me that I would have to be on exercise restriction until further notice. For someone who worked out three hours a day, hearing this made me sad, angry, + terrified. I knew that what they were doing was best for me, but I was scared that I was going to lose the “strength” that I had gained over the last four months.
CHAARG CAME INTO MY LIFE AT THE SAME TIME AS RECOVERY, + THE THERAPISTS AT TREATMENT WERE SO SUPPORTIVE IN MY WANTING TO BE A PART OF CHAARG BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED THAT CHAARG’S MISSION WAS INSPIRING + WHAT GIRLS SHOULD BE LOOKING TO FOR MOTIVATION + SUPPORT.
The CCED team was all there when I had sent in my application for CHAARG + I couldn’t have been more excited. When I had become an intern I realized that it was going to be hard to accept that I wasn’t going to be able to workout + watch all these other girls participating in activities that had defined who I was for the last year. This was a very emotional time for me + at times I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to exercise in a healthy way, but by the time July rolled around I had finally learned what was really important.
I had learned that exercise was a part of me, not what defined me.
Once I had been given my privileges back, I didn’t know if I wanted to start working out because I didn’t want to start at the bottom of the totem pole again, so I held off, but then the CHAARG Retreat 2014 happened. That weekend had given me so much confidence + support.
I REALIZED THAT EVERY GIRL HAS THEIR OWN JOURNEY + WE ARE ALL A COMMUNITY THAT IS HERE TO SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER.
So when I got home from that weekend, I realized that I wanted to make my CHAARG girls proud + prove to myself that I could take what I have learned from both CHAARG + treatment + keep it with me everyday. Monday morning I got up + began my first run — it wasn’t easy. I was out of breath + not feeling very confident, but I knew that the CHAARG community was behind me no matter what.
Each day I got a little farther, + I realized that this is what it is all about — being the best you that you possibly can. I am becoming stronger each + every day + I have CHAARG to thank for that. I hope that girls can learn from me that it is not about what’s on the outside that counts, but it’s the healthy mentality that is priceless. I will keep moving forward with CHAARG by my side + know that I am not alone.
// PHOTOGRAPHY — SARAH AT SARAHANDSUNBEAMS.COM //