Intuitive Exercise for Athletes with Eating Disorders
I’d like to introduce you to Emily Johnson, who is a Registered Psychotherapist and an EDIT™ Certified III – Eating Disorder Treatment Clinician. Emily completed her internship and continued to work under my supervision for several years, at my previous office location in Denver, Colorado. She is a knowledgeable and compassionate clinician, who is passionate about helping athletes in recovery from eating disorders. She is an amateur athlete who has overcome her own eating disorder, and finds “intuitive exercise” to be a healthy part of her recovery.
– Dr. Dorie
Do you exercise regularly? Do you play a team sport? Do you consider yourself an athlete? My name is Emily Johnson, and my view of sports is that they give so much more than the physical benefits of exercise. I see how sports give people endurance, empowerment, and a sense of purpose. It doesn’t matter whether you are walking 5Ks or running marathons, bouldering in a gym or scaling El Capitan – if you find that your activity of choice is part of who you are and what you value, then by my definition you are an athlete.
Healthy athletes have a sense of wonder at their body’s ability to jump as high as they can, navigate curves at high speed on a bicycle, or move in spectacular ways for their particular sport. If an athlete loses this awe and instead focuses on “awesomeness” and winning at any cost, this opens the door for eating disorders to enter. Competitive athletes are often under extreme pressure from coaches, parents, and teammates. Sometimes weight and size become a part of that pressure. Runners are told if they lose weight, they’ll run faster. Gymnasts and ballerinas are “supposed to” be petite and slender, in order to get the highest scores or earn the best parts. This focus on weight and size can lead to dietary restrictions and excessive exercise patterns – and the development of Anorexia, Bulimia or Binge Eating Disorder. Personality traits that make the best athletes – such as coachability, perfectionism, and selflessness – are the same traits that are common in individuals with eating disorders.
So how does one ditch eating disorders and excel as an athlete? The focus turns back to what you, the individual, get from your activity of choice. Quieting that Eating Disorder voice that tells you that your value is based in your weight, your performance, or how perfectly you can stick to a training program. Reclaiming that sense of wonder about your body as it moves, and enjoying the feeling of healthy competition.
PS – Yes, that’s me in the photo! This was taken after my first triathlon, the Las Vegas Century Ride, September 22, 2012.
Looking for guidance with INTUITIVE EXERCISE? EMILY JOHNSON, MA (the author of this blog article) is an EDIT™ Certified III – Eating Disorder Treatment Clinician, and is currently employed by an eating disorder treatment center. Although she does not work with clients unless they are patients at the center, Dr. Dorie is available to meet 1-on-1 with athletes with eating disorders.
Interested in a FREE consultation with Dr. Dorie? Dr. Dorie is passionate about her method of Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy (EDIT)™ to help people overcome eating disorders and addictions. She provides customized counseling for eating disorders and alcohol / drug addiction at her Positive Pathways treatment center in Evergreen, Colorado – and EDIT™ eating disorder training and certification for coaches and clinicians worldwide. CALL 303-494-1975 – EMAIL DR. DORIE