I find joy in eating. It literally makes me happy. Which can be a good and bad thing. I definitely would label myself as an emotional eater, but I’m also not convinced that I really understand what that means. Nor do I necessarily think it’s bad...Maybe I’m in denial.

Eating is actually one of the reasons I love exercise. The more I exercise, the more I need to eat in order to satiate my increased appetite. It’s strange, but when I’m training to run a race I find myself thrilled over the feeling of being hungry more often and for more food. When there’s something scrumptious prepared for dinner, I get to enjoy even MORE of it than normal because my body is begging for it. And can handle it! I can hear the angels singing...It’s a spiritual experience. Am I the only one getting lost in a daydream of pasta and garlic bread?

While mentally preparing myself for the marathon we ran two weekends ago, I actually started thinking about all the gummies, gels, and bars we would be ingesting along the way. It hit me that the following four hours would basically be three of us friends eating together. Like a really prolonged social snack. That got me pretty pumped.

I could go on and on (and maybe I will in future post) about how much I freakin’ LOVE food and exercise (mostly food though), and how they work together so well. But I actually want to talk about something that happened this past week while I was visiting my family.

See, when my sister was first diagnosed with anorexia at about thirteen years old, my mom had told me that she didn’t want me to ever worry about how much I was eating. Prior to her making that statement, I didn’t worry about it. But for some reason, from that point on, I started worrying. There was a short period of time at the start of my own struggles with eating disorders that I would purposely overeat because I was so concerned about my mom’s opinion of me. I didn’t want her to worry about me restricting my food, so I overindulged. I remember going to bed at night with stomach aches from eating too much. Honestly, it’s no wonder that I struggled with both bulimia and restricting food...I couldn’t seem to find a happy medium, or maybe I didn’t want to.

Well, the other night, I did it again. When I’m home with my husband and son, we usually eat dinner somewhat early. So, my body’s in a sort of routine when it comes to getting hungry. I also don’t do hungry well. Anyway, I was at my mom and dad’s house and they left to go feed our horses. Which meant I’d have to wait a little longer before dinner would be ready. So I decided to snack. When I say “snack” what I really mean is I began to eat the equivalent of a full sized dinner, only utilizing snack foods. My parents returned to the house, prepared dinner, and we all sat down to eat. I was no longer hungry, but decided to eat anyway. Why, you might ask? Because just like my thirteen year-old self, I didn’t want to worry my mom or have her think I was starving myself again. Silly? Ooooh yeah. Guess who went to sleep with a massive stomach ache that night?

The whole thing got me thinking about how easy it is to sacrifice our health for the opinions (or moreso our perception of their opinions) of others. Our bodies do a darn good job of telling us what they need, and yet, we choose to ignore them for the sake of appearing a certain way. I know what it’s like to undereat so that I can feel “pretty.” I know what it’s like to overexercise in order to feel “slim,” and I know what it feels like to overeat so as to look like I’m not “struggling.” BUT, I also now know what it feels like to provide my body with a healthy, adequate amount of real nutrition. Honestly, I don’t have the time (and I hope you don’t either) to care so much about what I think others think of me. The opinion that matters is mine.

And my opinion is this: that my body deserves to be listened to and respected, and to be given the best nutrition I can provide it with at this point in time. Because you know, I like actually being able to run marathons...And eating. At the same time.

Personally, I think you deserve the same.