The alarm on my phone startled me at 0530. Sleepily, I rolled over and turned it off quickly, as not to wake my sleeping husband. Tiptoeing to the living room I put on my long sleeve Nine Line Apparel EOD shirt, thick hiking socks, and Keen hiking boots. The dogs watching me as I pick up my rucksack, pink reflective belt, and headphones then slip silently into the darkness outside.
I never thought I would be the mom who would wake up before dawn to hit the pavement, but sometimes I surprise myself. After spending six years as an Army National Guard officer, physical fitness is ingrained in my body and mind. I love physical training and I’ve always been athletic. However, when my daughter was only fourteen months old I was admitted to intensive treatment for an eating disorder and everything changed. While in treatment I was no longer permitted to go running, lift weights, or do any of the physical fitness activities I had been conditioned to do. Instead, I had to choose new activities such as yoga, slow walking, and light swimming. Don’t get me wrong, those are all wonderful, mindful activities that I enjoy often, but there is something deep in my heart that yearns to leave all I have on the pavement or in the weight room.
After spending 18-months focused on these slow, mindful activities while in recovery, I grew eager to get back in the gym and train for something…anything. However, each time I tried to get myself back into a physical fitness rhythm, my good intentions were thwarted by the ever-present voice of the eating disorder. Each time I was forced to quit running or stop going to the gym because I could not control the obsessive, torturous voice of the eating disorder I became a little more discouraged. The eating disorder always managed to take something pleasurable and turn it against me as ammunition for its vengeful weapon. Finally, I decided I would never be able to set foot in a gym again in order to protect myself and my recovery. I gave up; determined I would be a yogi-mom to set an example of peace and harmony with my body for my daughter, while I continued to battle the eating disorder. Each day I would do yoga and meditate on finding inner peace with myself, and the reality that I would forever struggle with the eating disordered voice forcing me to stay away from the gym. Even though I enjoyed yoga, I still felt defeated by a disease because I could no longer belong to a gym for fear of spiraling out-of-control and surrendering to the disease. I thought sure my days of finding joy in running or gaining muscle were over. That was until I discovered a motivation and a passion greater than the disease…patriotism.
Two years after entering treatment for the eating disorder, I was back in the gym and pounding the pavement with a passion I had not experienced in a long time, if ever. For once the desire to run, lift, and ruck was not to burn calories and lose weight, but to honor the heroes of this Great Nation who lost their lives in combat, or as a result of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Two years, to the exact day, after being discharged from intensive eating disorder treatment, I registered for the Ruck to Remember 60 to 60 event that takes place over Memorial Day weekend. For the event I will be walking 60 miles over three days with a 40-pound rucksack on my back. Suddenly, I had a renewed and strong motivation to train for something greater than myself; much like when I decided to join the Army, only this time I did not have a weight standard to meet.
Therefore, I am the mom that wakes up at 0530 to train for something greater than herself. Two days each week I wake up and put on my ruck, the weight a constant reminder of fellow soldiers who lost their battle with PTSD and in combat. Keeping my mind in check takes a great amount of work, as the eating disorder will always take up space vying for the number one motivational spot. Training for a 60-mile ruck takes heart and determination, as I slowly rebuild my strength and endurance without forcing myself too fast. Pounding the pavement after taking years off to heal myself mind, body, and spirit means walking a fine line to maintain my recovery and regain my former physical fitness level. However painstakingly slow my progress, I couldn’t be more proud that I’ve found motivation in something greater than a disease. Now, I only listen to my voice when I’m out there pounding the pavement, pouring my heart and soul into physical fitness while remaining solidly in recovery.