connecting adventure with body acceptance, part 1

This is for anyone who loves adventure but is struggling with an eating disorder, disordered eating, body insecurities, or shame about their appearance: I see you. I’ve been you. I love you.

I was thinking about turning my thoughts on adventure-readiness, endurance sports, and body acceptance into a video stories, but I opted for pictures + written content.

If you take nothing else away from this blog post, learn this: food is not immoral. Structural suffering is immoral. Shame is unhelpful and disconnects you from your body (and, therefore, makes adventure more difficult). Don’t feel bad about shame. Focus on your goals, rest when you need to rest, and be kind to yourself.

If you struggle with limits in your vision, a text version of the above pictures is available below. <3

hey, it’s Emily. I was thinking about turning my thoughts on adventure-readiness, endurance sports, and body acceptance into a video series here on my story, but I opted for pictures + written content. since it’s quarantine, some of y’all might be in close quarters with family, and I want this to be accessible–even if you have a kid screaming in the corner or your partner is talking on the phone.

I’ve spoken to numerous adventure-lovers and endurance sports aficionados about how body positivity sometimes feels like a far-off, inaccessible idea. the current Instagram #bopo culture seems like a niche sub-culture to many athletes and fitness enthusiasts, and there’s a lot of misunderstanding between fitness/adventure and body positivity camps.

I have some thoughts, people, and they’re for the adventurous souls who feel stuck in an eating disorder, obsessive focus on food, disordered eating, body image insecurity, and a general insecurity with how you perform at your sport of choice.

this is for you.

first, I just want to ask you to consider about how you morally evaluate food. sure, some food isn’t the best for you, and some food is pretty crappy for the planet.

BUT.

it’s not the nutrients in the food that are moral or immoral. they don’t make you a good or bad person. structural suffering is immoral. the rich jerks who perpetuate environmental damage, brutalize animals, and treat people like trash for a quick buck are immoral.

eating some Tyson chicken because you’re a broke college kid and a friend is offering it to you and you just need some protein but need to study for that test is NOT an act of heinous immorality, and it doesn’t change your worth as a person.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t do our part to help make healthy, tasty, and environmentally beneficial food more accessible to everyone: we should do that. but food isn’t good or bad, right or wrong. in fact, I’d argue that assigning moral value or shame to the atoms of food you put in your mouth is COUNTERPRODUCTIVE to your athletic goals.

let’s talk about that.

if you’re at war with your body, shaming yourself for food choices, and feeling high levels of anxiety around food, you’re going to struggle to show up and perform at your full potential. more importantly, it sucks that you’re suffering, and I wish I could give you a hug.

when you’re deep in food or body shame, you’re hyperfocused on that feeling of ‘I am bad.’ this not only is bad for your health, it literally distracts you from your body’s dashboard. you’re looking at a lying billboard rather than cueing into hunger, fullness, satiety, joy in movement, the need to rest, happiness, sadness, etc.

it’s a distraction.

on the other hand, practicing a more gentle, nourishing way of relating to your food and your body allows you to read your dashboard with greater ease and accuracy. that helps you, as an adventurer and athlete and beautiful person, do cooler shit.

tomorrow, I’ll talk a bit about that need/compulsion to do cool shit. but for now, I’m sending you love. shame isn’t the way forward, and food does not define you. focus on your goals, rest when you need to rest, and think about the impact you want to have in the world as opposed to how you need to change your body. because you, dear heart, are ever deserving of love.

you are ever deserving of love.

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