I’m Jason and I’m in recovery from orthorexia. I’ll stop there.
That’s usually about as far as I get into a conversation with someone before they ask what orthorexia is. Either that or they’re shocked that a guy can develop an eating disorder. I can’t blame them. I felt the same confusion when I came to terms with my diagnosis of an eating disorder, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
“You are the runner, right?” people sometimes ask me when I first meet them. I always answer along the lines of “yes, I love to run”, but prefer to avoid the restrictive term “runner”. I see running as something I do – something I have done most of my life with great joy. But I don’t see myself as simply a “runner”. Running is something I love to do, something I am good at and something that has provided me a life rich in travel, personal growth and relationships. Running has also provided me an education, financial means and public recognition. It’s easy to identify as a runner when it is a major part of your life and livelihood, and when it’s how many people define you. But I don’t see it that way at all. I am more than that, and I work hard to keep my identity as a person separate from my identity of what I do.
Hi! My name is Emma Bulawka. I am currently 18 years old and a Canadian national level elite athlete in the sport of figure skating. I reside with my family in beautiful Kelowna where I have lived and trained for the past seven years.
Let’s go back to the beginning and where it all started...
All of us have heard it. Most of us do it. Some don’t understand it (and I’m jealous of you!). What am I talking about? The “I am a” syndrome. When we define ourselves by what we do, rather than who we are. Lately I’ve been trying to understand where this comes from; that is, the sense that we must accomplish something impressive to be “worthy” of love, recognition, or contentment. For most of my life I’ve identified as an athlete; first, a figure skater, and then as a runner. For the majority of my adult life I’ve also identified as a physician. Others also seem to identify me that way. “There’s the runner! There’s the doctor! There’s the doctor-runner!” And, you know what? I actually LIKED that. It made me feel accomplished. It made me feel worthy, it made me feel like a success. Over the past couple of years, and even more so recently, I have begun to see just how problematic that was.
It’s funny how as you get older you realize that the strangest lessons can stick with you: when I was in grade 10 my teacher taught us about goal setting, and had us write long- (where you’d like to be in a year or so), medium- (a mid-length goal to check-in on your journey’s progress) and short- (immediate goal, in the next few days or weeks) goals. A critical piece of advice we were given was that if you achieve all your goals, you are setting them too easy, and if you fail to achieve any, then you might be setting them out of reach. At that point I was just starting into distance running and was completely captivated by it.
My name is Tamara Jewett. I started my athletic career as a middle-distance track runner (1500m to 5km) expecting to compete at an elite level until somewhere around age 26 and then focus on a career in law. Almost a decade of severe athletic injuries, culminating in 18 months unable to run at all, derailed my goals for track. But, at age 31, my athletic career is on a roll again, and I am succeeding at the highest levels of pro long-course triathlon (focused on Ironman 70.3s).
My name is Sam Cruickshank, and I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Miss Kacee Carter on behalf of Winning Within. Kacee is a 14-year-old gymnast from Kelowna who already shows inspiring dedication to her sport. Kacee was a natural and answered the questions with precise and meaningful responses (much better responses than I would have come up with on the spot at her age). Below you will find our delightful discussion!
Hi, my name is Rachel. I’m currently 24 years old, but it started when I was young. “It” is in reference to my perfectionist tendencies. I started to have high expectations for myself in all aspects of my life in high school and was starting to come to think that others held these expectations of me as well. I was a high achieving academic and athlete in my youth, and the external praise I received encouraged me to keep going. I’ve always played at the top level of sport. I played at the highest level club available for soccer in high school. I competed in the USport league for cross country in university. I’ve never received a B in school. I have been a straight A student since elementary school, and that continued into my university degree. I wanted to be the best, always. I never thought that would have been a negative thing.
Given how cathartic it was to write this article, let’s lead it as the therapy session it is. On that note:
Hi. My name is Christy, and I’m a 40-something-year-old marathon runner, lawyer, businessperson and mother of wolves, with a general aversion to moderation. Also, I travel through my days with my constant companion, Disordered Eating. (We’ll call said companion “ED”, for ease of reference.) What is Disordered Eating, you wonder? It’s a term used for a wide range of unhealthy eating behaviours and worries about body image, including extreme control and rigid routines surrounding food and exercise. It’s complicated, addictive, and all-consuming, and oddly enough, something I am quite good at.
My love for running comes from deep within myself. Running for me is an indescribable sensation that, to this day, I believe to be my true gift and calling. In the middle of a race or a hard tempo I used to physically get the chills. It felt like an external force ran over and through me, lifting me out of myself and transporting me to a different dimension. To this day, when I get the feeling of absolute serenity in the middle of a run, I take a moment to thank whatever force gave me the capacity to use my body in a way that makes me feel so deeply and utterly connected to myself.
My name is Delilah Topic, and I am the founder of www.winningwithin.ca
I reside in beautiful Kelowna British Columbia, where I practice as a Medical Oncologist
and as a professor at UBCO medical school. I have also been an athlete for most of my
life! I was a competitive figure skater from the age of 6 to 17, after which I took a break
from competitive athletics for a few years. I got into running when I entered university at
the University of Toronto. The majority of my running career has been in my 30s (I am
now 41) when I joined the Master’s Track and Field team for Canada. I have been
fortunate to compete all over the world in international competitions, winning several
national and World Masters Games medals.