This was my first Hungry for Hope Conference. Constance Rhodes told me about the conference last year and I knew it would be a priority to get to it this year. I was not disappointed at all. This conference is billed as: “The premiere Christian conference for eating disorders and body image issues.”
The conference began on Friday evening with Constance speaking on the theme of the conference: REALationships. The REAL stands for
R-reflect truth; E-embrace brokenness; A-authenticity trumps performance; L-love (and let love). She states that these are necessary for REAL relationships; and for me, the concept of being authentic and not relying on what I can do is a terrifying concept.
She also shared with us a song that she had written for the conference. she is so wonderfully gifted and I felt blessed that she shared that with us.
Just seeing Constance again reminds me of how far I’ve come in my recovery. Some day, I will get around to writing down the entire story of how she became so influential in my story.
Saturday morning we had the pleasure of hearing from Ann Capper, who is the nutrition editor for Findingbalance. Her topic was a loaded on for anyone who has ever struggled with eating issues: “It’s not alive: Putting food in it’s place and moving toward balance.”
She talked on things like “Why do we need to eat food?” “What power does food have in your life?” “What role does food play for you?” Listening to her talk about the different relationships that people have with food uncovered some issues that I didn’t know I still had. I had honestly thought that I was completely over the weird food issues that used to control me. Ann gave me a lot to think about. I have come so far over the past few years, but every once in a while, ED’s ugly voice will start whispering in my ears. Like I mentioned to several people this weekend, I am not recovered, but I am in recovery. I’m about 85%. Most of the time, I live my life with a “normal” relationship with food. But there is that 15% of the time when the old tapes start playing in my head, and I become susceptible to the old thought patterns. Most of the time, I am able to stop those tapes and tell myself the truth, but I do hate that those thoughts still exist.
I was also able to take a few minutes to speak with Ann after her presentation about my vegetarianism. I am concerned about how my family is going to view my new lifestyle through the veil of what I’ve gone through with my eating disorder. She suggested a vegetarian resource website that may help me explain to them why I made the decision to implement this lifestyle change and that it isn’t a change that has anything to do with my history of the eating disorder or anything else that would be unhealthy. (To read about why I chose this lifestyle, go here.)
The second session Saturday morning was one that I had been looking forward to since I first saw the schedule for the conference. Chris and Lee Blum were speaking at a session titled True Companion: A Husband’s Perspective. I had heard them both speak at last year’s NEDA conference I was so inspired by how Chris described his journey along with Lee during her struggles with her eating disorder. This weekend they shared more about their story and how they both ended up speaking about this topic.
Christ does an excellent job of explaining what he was going through at the time. I am always convicted when I hear him speak because he describes the eating disorder from the perspective of someone watching from the outside. There is a lot of guilt in hearing that. When I was in my eating disorder, I never took the time to think about what I was doing to my husband or to the other people who cared about me. I was so caught up in my own head that it was beyond my realm of comprehension that I could be hurting someone else.
After their session, I hung around for a little while to talk to Chris about my marathon training. He is a strength and conditioning coach and I was wondering if he would have any insight for me. While I feel completely confident that I am being responsible in my training plan, I know that I have a history of addictive activities (i.e. severely restricting) and I want to be certain that I don’t let my training plan take over in an unhealthy way. Lee was also really insightful, since she has run marathons in the past. I explained to them that I was going about this training in a healthy way, that my long runs were a way for me to worship God while enjoying his creation, that I was ensuring that I was getting enough fuel to properly train at the intensity I was training. They both reassured me that since I was aware of my tendencies, they felt I was on the right path. They said that it might be a good idea to find someone who could help hold me accountable and ensure that I wasn’t going overboard.
Then Lee said something that really resonated with me. She said that after my marathon was complete, and when I was done training for the season, that I should take some time off running and see how I felt then. To see if I was able to keep running in it’s proper place in my life. To see if I could continue in my recovery lifestyle without running. It is a really interesting concept. I know that I am planning to take some downtime after I run the Staten Island half marathon in October. It is impossible to keep training at a marathon training level all year long. I know that my body will need some rest. But, to stop running completely? I will definitely have to give that one some thought. I feel like I finally discovered something that my body loves and I’m not sure I’m willing to give it up; even for a season.