Where I’ve Been & Where I’m Going!

Long time, no post friends!

My last post was September 22, 2020 to be exact… And wow has a lot happened between then & now.

To say it’s been the hardest 1.5 years of my life in my almost 30 years is an UNDERSTATEMENT. 😦 Between living generally in a pandemic, finishing my unpaid dietetic internship (DI) in a pandemic (the last step needed & now I’m eligible to take my boards exam to FINALLY become a RD), suffering a foot stress fracture, learning I have low bone density at age 28, not being able to run most of the last 1.5 years, & various random health issues like low iron levels & mysterious abdominal pain, I thought things were as tough as they could get. BOY was I wrong. In May 2021 my life changed forever when I learned I have a hereditary cancer syndrome called Lynch Syndrome. Learn more about what that means for me from this post on my Instagram in May since I don’t want to retype it all now. It’s not even the main focus of this update. I’m sure I will write more about Lynch Syndrome here in the near future. I will say despite all the hardships there were two big pros the last 1.5 years: graduating from my DI & becoming a homeowner (my husband & I bought a condo in July)! But everything else has been a challenge. 😦

Virtual White Coat ceremony for my DI in August 2020 (while in a boot due to a stress fracture)

And the real reason for this update is to share a story I haven’t shared before. At least until I shared it last week on my Instagram. But I wanted to share that here too, as it’s easier to read here. And it’s a doozy. It’s my eating disorder (ED) story. It relates to everything that has happened the last 1.5 years because all of it, especially my Lynch Syndrome diagnosis, led me to relapse into an illness I thought I was over with… I shared on Instagram because last week was NEDA (National Eating Disorders Awareness) week & I felt inspired to finally share my story, but we should be raising awareness on EDs 365 days/year as they affect people of all sizes, genders, socio economic statuses, sexual orientations, ages, etc.


This is my first time publicly sharing my eating disorder story. The reason I haven’t shared yet has been due to fear, shame because of the profession I’m entering, & because my story is still being written. But I was inspired by runner Allie Ostrander’s instagram post on Feb. 23, 2022 where she challenged her followers to share a story to change a story. If my story helps one person feel less alone or seek treatment than it will be worth it. 💜 So here goes nothing!⠀

It started at the end of 7th grade. I had just gone through puberty & started my period a few months prior. I had gained some weight. Someone commented on my weight & encouraged me to lose a few lbs. I did not think much about my body prior to this. In fact, I’ve been a petite individual my entire life & was at the time of the comment. I lost those few pounds quickly by the start of summer by swapping out my snacks & sometimes skipping meals. I was also very active & on a travel soccer team. I didn’t stop there, though. I’d play dance dance revolution between soccer practices. My struggles mostly flew under the radar. Although one of my travel soccer coaches that summer noticed something was amiss at a practice where I got lightheaded. He offered me Gatorade & asked if I eat enough overall. I lied & said I do. 

By the start of 8th grade I lost my period & by my freshmen year of high school I had lost 10+ lbs. I also joined the cross country team to train for soccer. I ended up being naturally good at running, even more so than soccer. I realized I did not look like some of the other runners (I now know runners don’t have a “look”, but did not at 14). I started counting calories. I was SO hungry. But I was also doing really well in school & sports, so few knew I was suffering. I told my doctors about my period loss & they brushed it off as a normal part of training. I was never formally diagnosed with an ED back then, but as an almost RD I realized I met most criteria for anorexia & probably should have received treatment. 😔

Little Amanda at the 8th grade dance circa 2006. Sorry for the poor quality photo, but this was well before I had an iPhone!

By my sophomore year of high school I became curious about nutrition & decided I wanted to run competitively in college. I realized if I wanted a chance at it I’d probably need to gain my period back & maybe even gain some weight. By my junior year I gained ~10-15 lbs & my period returned! I thought I was cured of my ED….But what I see now is it just moved more toward general disordered eating, & bad body image. This was a spot I stayed at for YEARS. I was able to go out with friends or my boyfriend (my now husband!) & eat, but I tended to pick “healthier” options & stress about what I was eating under the guise of caring about food/my training.

I had horrible body image, especially once I went to college to run for a D1 school. I felt like I did not look like the other girls I ran against. I under-fueled for my activity levels & remember trying to stay at or under 1500 calories when I’d log my food. I wasn’t always logging my food, though. I was still going out to eat, having fun, etc. but definitely thoughts about food & body image occupied a fair amount of my time. By my junior year of college I lost a little weight again & some people noticed. They’d say I looked “fit” & I LOVED the compliments. I also had my best season so far. I stayed around this weight for years & in this weird spot of being aware of what I ate & sometimes tracking, but not always. Bad body image thoughts occupied less space in my mind, but they were still whispering. Then, by the time I graduated from college. I was so burnt out from competitive running (and likely years of under-fueling) that I did not run much for a few years.

Junior year of college at the Midwest Cross Country Regional meet. It was 2012 & I was 20 years old.

It wasn’t until after I turned 25, got married, went vegan, & decided that I would train for marathon that I felt healthy & at peace with food compared to the last 12+ years. I also decided to go back to school to study to become a RD, as I was not enjoying the teaching profession. I still had some struggles but nothing like it had been. But then the pandemic hit & in June 2020 I was diagnosed with my 1st ever stress fracture. And I learned I also have low bone density at age 28. I’m shocked I made it that long without a stress fracture considering everything. I was so angry at past me for not taking better care of my body. 😡 Of course I know it wasn’t really my fault, but it was & still is hard. I vowed I’d do better moving forward, so I wouldn’t suffer another fracture, improve my bone density, & reach all my running goals. Unfortunately life didn’t quite work out that way. ☹️

A photo from our wedding on July 14, 2017.

In May 2021, toward the end of my dietetic internship, after experiencing some weird health issues, I found out I have a hereditary cancer syndrome called. Lynch Syndrome The news DEVASTATED me. 😭I withdrew from most people & fell into a deep depression. I have a history of anxiety & depression since age 12, but this was the worst it had ever been. I was struggling to eat & I became afraid of most foods I used to love, even black beans. I lost weight & people noticed. I felt so lost, embarrassed, & ashamed. I blamed it on my depression. What I did not realize at the time was that I was relapsing into my ED. It was just in a new form. The lynch syndrome diagnosis + pandemic stress were the triggers.

This photo was taken in June 2021, about a month after I learned I had Lynch Syndrome.

 I sought extra help when I realized my issues might be more than depression. In December 2021 I was diagnosed with ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder). My food fears were/are mainly due to fear of cancer & sickness rather than a desire to change the shape of my body. Although with my past history of a restrictive eating disorder & some body image issues, I technically have ARFID “Plus” (a combination of ARFID & a restrictive eating disorder).

I am currently in outpatient treatment (this includes a therapist & RD) & I am chasing recovery. I am still going to reach all my running goals & then some + I’m going to be a sports & plant-based RD very soon! Expect some changes to this website when that happens. And If you want to be a future client of mine you can hop on my waitlist. Furthermore, I’m going to go through my Lynch Syndrome screenings each year as bravely as I can & hopefully I don’t develop cancer. Being the healthiest version of myself will only help in all areas of my life!

Thank you for reading if you made it to the end! 🤗 And if any of you are suffering NEDA is a great place to find resources. You deserve recovery too. 💕

The Top 5 Reasons to Run Gazelle Girl in Grand Rapids, Michigan on 4/19/20

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post in partnership with Gazelle Sports in regards to the upcoming Gazelle Girl half marathon . All opinions expressed in this post are my own. I only work with brands and companies that I stand behind and trust, but I wanted to be 100% transparent about our partnership.

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Gazelle Girl is a female only race and weekend experience in Grand Rapids, MI on April 19, 2020. This race was started in 2012 by Gazelle Sports to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Title IV and to celebrate women’s health. This race was founded on the belief that healthy women contribute to an overall healthy family.  2020 will be the 8th anniversary of this unique race and we hope many of you can join the fun! 🙂

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Need even more reasons why you should run? Read my top reasons to run Gazelle Girl below!

Top 5 reasons why you should run Gazelle Girl this April

 

  • It’s an all female race. Yes, you read that correctly! You must be female to participate in the race. If you’re a male reader I’m really sorry, but consider encouraging all your female family and friends to run the race, or sign up to volunteer! 😉 

 

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  • 100% of the proceeds go to charity. Charity runners are not a new phenomenon in our sport, but how many races can you think of that contribute ALL their proceeds to charity? 😱 I cannot think of a single one. Until now with Gazelle Girl! Some of the charity partners include: Gazelle Sports Foundation, Sole Sisters, Make-A-Wish, and Women at Risk International, just to name a few. You can choose which of the 2020 charities you want to partner with and feel good knowing you are helping women and children in Western Michigan and beyond. How rewarding is that? 

 

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  • There are multiple distance options. Does a half marathon sound like a fun challenge or intimidating? No matter the answer to your question Gazelle Girl has you covered! In addition to a half marathon, there is a 10k and 5k option. Whether this will be your first ever race or your 50th, we have you covered with training group options and training plans. Whether running Gazelle Girl will be your first race or a race will you earn that coveted new PR, we are excited to celebrate with you! And if you are in Chicago specifically, reach out to me for ideas of groups to train with. 🙂

 

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  • It is easy to travel to based on its location in Grand Rapids, MI. Most of you live in Chicago and the greater midwest. Grand Rapids is just under a 3 hour drive from Chicago and easy to access from other midwest states via I-196. This is the perfect distance for a little weekend get-away race without having to spend too long traveling. And if you live outside the midwest, Grand Rapids is easy to travel to via the Gerald Ford International Airport. Make a weekend out of the race with the Weekend Experience option complete with happy hours, a city lights tour, yoga, and a shakeout run, just to name a few of the fun events. 

 

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  • It has a super rad expo (expotique) and finish line experience. At the expotique you can check-in for your chosen race, add in a late entry if spots are still available, and shop for some for some beautiful and limited edition apparel. The website will be updated soon with more information about the expotique! Post-race, join all the other amazing women who ran with you in a fun finish line party complete with gin-cocktails and delicious food. 

 

expotique Gazelle Girl

I, unfortunately, cannot run the Gazelle Girl this year due to my already full spring race schedule :(, but I plan to run it next year!  I cannot wait to cheer for all of you who are running from afar and to hear all about your race weekend experience after you cross the finish line! Stay in touch about your training and if you are in the Chicago area maybe we can share a few runs! 🙂 

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So, what are you waiting for? Go sign up NOW! The prices for the half marathon will increase to $95 on March 9th ($55 for 10k and 45 for the $5k), so you better act quickly. 😉 

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Have you run Gazelle Girl before? If so, how many times? If not, are you going to sign up for it this year?!👇🏻