I was recently asked by Ann Gaffigan, USA Steeple Champion and Co-Founder of Women Talk Sports, to do a radio show on eating disorders in the sport of women’s running. This issue really fires me up for lots of reasons, so my first reaction was to say “Bring it!” But as I sat there thinking about it, I started to worry that what I had to say may not be very well received.
For example, my natural reaction is to want to kick anyone who starts talking about the “Female Athlete Triad.” Considering that the Triad is the primary philosophy by which we are proactively identifying at risk girls and intervening, there is a good chance I’d piss some people off. Don’t get me wrong, I want to proactively intervene, but as a holistic-minded human biologist and educator, I think the triad is too simplistic and vague, and essentially casts such a wide net that pretty much every weight conscious woman (not just athlete) is touched by part of it.
Whether I was at the gyno, the orthopedist, or in for bronchitis, I’d end up in a conversation about the triad and probed about my eating habits. In the end, there was rarely anything that came out of it for me except the feeling that I was being judged.
In deciding whether or not to do the show, I realized that any good radio talk show has a variety of opinions, so what the hell? I agreed, and I’m so glad I did. From the get-go, the subject was approached with the respect it deserved. Lize Brittin brought the perspective of a runner who almost lost her life to anorexia, and we discussed the way the culture of the 80’s, her team environment, and her high achieving personality all played a role in the process. I was very struck by her story, and with Ann’s hosting skills tying it all together, it ended up being quite a memorable discussion. I added what I could, and I recommend the broadcast for those who are interested:
Click to listen: WTS Radio Show with Lauren Fleshman and Lize Brittin (opens in new tab)
However, you don’t need to listen to the show to give an opinion on the subject…a subject that is shaped everyday by millions of women doing the best they can to stay fit in a food-overloaded country. The issues of body image and diet are complex for female AND male runners, and too often men are ignored. On this blog, I’d rather hear what the readers have to say about the matter. Feel free to disagree with me people; I love to discuss more than I love to be right.