Ooh. Good question. There are some ED trigger warnings halfway through the post, so be aware.
Fitness- I was never athletic. When I was 5 I was kicked out of ballet class for being too rowdy. I have a poor sense of balance from a minor birth defect that’s been, for the most part, corrected. That meant I was late to walking, and late to a lot of other little things like bike riding, etc. I was all around just bad at athletic attempts for a long time.
I grew into an athletic person after joining the rugby team freshman year of college. I was in okay shape and had been doing some minor stuff up until then: light running, sit ups. “Girly workouts” as suggested by bad teen magazines. I wanted to be as badass as I felt I was, so I joined the team and began playing. When I first started, I REALLY sucked. I was having a hard time keeping up; and though I wasn’t a big girl, I was really out of shape. I still made it to the A-side and learned the value of being athletic at the cost of being part of a small cult. I also drank like a fish.
In the winter that year, I joined indoor track and learned to love running. Actually, I hated sprinting and my coach let me hang on until the end, and asked me to never come back. She did that to a few of the better runners as well, so I wasn’t too hurt. I still sold her my spikes (minor regret, they were sexy and I would have used them!) and gave her the finger. I rejoined rugby for the spring, remained on A-side, and was much improved from the sprint conditioning I did all winter. For reference, our team has an A-side and a B-side, much like first and second strings for football.
That summer was the beginning of running. I joined a gym to stay in shape and would run on their treadmills when it was boiling outside. I learned quickly that I could run 30 minutes without stopping (when before the furthest I ever had to run in one go was maybe a mile) and signed up for my first 5k. I finished in ~31 minutes and vowed to break the 30 minute barrier. I ran two more that summer, rejoined rugby in the fall, and promptly separated my shoulder (AC joint separation) during the first game of the season. For two weeks I did rehab and fought wearing a sling so that I could go back. Two weeks was not enough rest and I ended up tweaking the injury multiple times before the season ended. I was starting to realize at this point that I was not a team player. I’d played for three semesters and loved the team, but I was more of an independent person. Running satisfied that need for solitary activity, and the two weeks off from running nearly killed my soul. After that, I decided to take the winter and spring off to do whatever I damn well pleased.
I’ve now ended up loving running, I’ve completed two official marathons and half marathons. I started lifting to supplement (something I learned during track) and it ended up helping my AC Joint separation (I had a grade 2 shown above), to the point where I no longer think about wearing a brace when I exercise. Doing marathons has lead me now to doing triathlons, which I’m training for now.
Weight- I’m going to keep this one short, but I was always a “husky” child. I was overweight and so was my father, and we enabled each other. When I was in middle school, I was violently ill for an entire year and barely ate. I don’t remember a lot of it besides the medical procedures, but I had unending stomach pain and refused to eat. Nothing came up on the tests, and my father has a theory that I was subconsciously anorexic. I have never had anorexic thoughts, I simply did not wish to eat, and so I did not. I say that I didn’t have those thoughts because my concern was not losing weight, it was the pain, which was likely caused by not eating and turned into a cycle. I lost a whole lot of weight and suddenly fit into clothes that I hadn’t worn since 4th grade, as an 8th grader. During high school my metabolism evened out and I turned out an okay shape and size. Boys were into it and I ended up being very roughly treated. That is another story.
I always sympathize with ED sufferers, but it’s still unclear to me if I actually had one. With respect to the definition of an eating disorder, I did, I suppose. Since then I have not had issues with my weight. Poor body image, yes, but that was a large product of having no idea what size my body was after having lost so much weight so quickly. I also let others take advantage of me which further deteriorated my self-worth. That was always more of an issue to me, and still is. Some days I do not feel like I’m worth the skin I’m shoved into. Those days I have to remember that my insecurities are all in my head. I’ve grown and come a long way since high school and gained a lot of self-confidence, but the majority of my growth was more recent with the horrible break up I had last year with an abusive ex. Woooo.
"How do you juggle fitness, school, and social/love life?"
I’m addicted to time management, and coffee. I’ve learned to say “no” to doing things that will help others but hinder me. My friends are people with similar ideals to me, so I can run or workout with them as well as study. Study and gym dates have singlehandedly saved my relationships with some of my friends while allowing me to get everything I need to get done, done. The bottom line is that you will make time for what is important to you, so prioritize wisely. I may not see my friends as often as either of us wish, but I still do, so not all is lost.
Last thought: my athletic endeavors support my academic goals. By being active with my body I prepare myself for similar endurance struggles (don’t tell me a 5.5 hour test is any less grueling than a marathon). I don’t drink to help my body recover, which helps me not be too hungover to study. It’s interconnected in a great positive feedback loop, where when I treat my body well, my brain gets the benefits as well.