By Sophie Wolfe
A journal excerpt from January 2, 2010 (age 16):
“I would die to be able to run without thinking about the calories I am burning. I want to be free. But I have faith. I have faith that I am beautiful and one day I will believe it, and that recovery is possible. I have faith that I’ll have a happy and fulfilling life, this will just be one chapter in my history, and that one day I will eat a hamburger and French fries with no guilt. I have faith that I will set a good example of body image to my future children, I am strong, and I will survive.”
As a track and cross-country runner since age 12, my battle with bulimia, anorexia and depression stole many years from me. Thanks to my supportive family, some really awesome healthcare professionals, and a little bit of faith, I am proud to say that today at age 22, I am fully recovered.
Finding a healthy balance between mind, body, and soul was certainly a challenge. I remember hearing that negative body image issues would be the first to come and the last to go on my journey to health, and that was definitely the case for me. However, I’d go as far as to say that today I have a healthier relationship with my body and exercise than most.
Running my first marathon in 2013 allowed me to realize a dream I had ever since I started running as a little girl. It’s a dream that almost slipped away when I had to stop running as a result of my eating disorder in high school. Since then, I have run 3 more marathons, each and every mile representing the latest indication that I have overcome the challenges that might have otherwise defined my life.
The last piece to my personal puzzle was falling in love with the practice of yoga, which not only led me to achieve my 200-hour teaching certification this past summer, but also opened my world up to a whole new life of happiness and joy.
To my 16-year-old self and to the many others still fighting their battles, I’d say this: wherever you think you are on your journey, I promise there is always a beginning, a middle, and a new beginning that is bright and beautiful.
My favorite yoga mantra is one from the Jivamukti tradition, which is translated as “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”
Yoga teaches me that in order to share my love with others I must first love myself (every single inch of me!) This is my ultimate freedom.