"Mandi. You don't run." was her return text to me.
--God damnit. I thought...eating disorder, thank you for forever RUINING my credibility. I hate you!
Yet, this is why I love my sister more than words crawling across a screen can describe. In the deepest, darkest parts of my eating disorder, I used to run in secret. I ran for miles and miles, never considering that running requires proper compensatory nutrition in order to support its usefulness. My sister and I were roommates at the time, and I'll never forget the day she discovered my "stash" of workout clothes that I had been trying to hide. I'll never forget hearing my sister crying on the other end of the phone while I lied to her. I will never do that again...
A few years have passed since then, and my sister is still one of the most perfect examples of a supportive family member of someone who has recovered from an eating disorder. She remembers the red flags, and calls bullshit if she smells it. No sugar-coating. No artificial sweeteners either.
I forget how much I have yet to learn on this journey of living life without an eating disorder...
My sister was right, I don't run. I dance. Nia. Nia and more Nia is usually how I respond to a desire for movement. It's in my body, and I can't get enough of it. Nia isn't just dancing. I've danced since I was 3 years old, and it never touched my body, mind, and spirit all at the same time. When I found Nia, I found life without an eating disorder. I learned how to be mindful of my body, my mind, and my emotions. I learned that I could challenge my physical limitations only if I found joy. Whatever movement I did, had to create joy in my body. I had to be mindful of my body to sense joyful movements. It didn't take long before that "rule" traveled with me outside of the studio walls. The Joy of Movement moves me now, in whatever way I choose to move my body...even if I'm not initially aware of it. I knew I had a lot of energy, so I knew I wanted to MOVE! The urge to run was no longer a punitive one or a compensatory weight-focused one. I sent a text to my sister that read, "You're right. I don't; unless I have a lot of energy. I won't 'run' either. I'll "wog" (half walk, half jog).
Putting my earbuds in my ears, I swiped the screen of my iPod and turned up some rat pack-era soul music and zipped up my sweatshirt. Three blocks (yeah, I counted) from the beginning of my "wog," I noticed myself sensing each part of my foot as it made contact with the sidewalk. I felt the crisp November night air flow into my lungs, contrasting the warmth of my chest as it rose and fell with each breath. I felt a smile stretch across my face as I enjoyed sensing two sensations existing simultaneously. I opened my mouth slightly to take in more air. The increased amount of oxygen sparked a deep joy sensation that started deep inside my core and raced to my heart, then filled the spaces in my head. It was at this point that I realized my sister was right. I don't run. I dance. I will always dance.
I mindfully move my body, attending to even small sensations. I seek joy in my movements and want to move myself in ways that increase the joy I express in body, mind, and spirit. It's all a dance, a dance to the rhythm of life. The embellishments are mine to explore.