Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Follow-Up: Victory Without Competition Part II

After my last blog post about suffering through an eating disorder after starting to compete in bikini competitions, someone asked me: "Is possible to compete without being unhealthy and doing all this?"... oh my gosh, YES! 

If you had this thought ^ please read my blog again. I talk about some women who I consider to be great example of how to be a healthy, balanced competitor without developing an eating disorder, or a disorder of any kind for that matter. 
Linked here: My Testimony of Overcoming Bulimia: "Victory Without Competition" 

The truth is, MANY men and women do compete in a healthy way. An eating disorder is NOT the only outcome from competing, but on the same note... sadly for many - it is the outcome. Many factors play into the difference between a healthy and a non-healthy competitor: the workouts (excessive?), the diet (strict? repetitive? unrealistic? too specific?), the person's goals (unrealistic? unhealthy?), the person's disposition (perfectionist?), support system (is there any?), pressure from others (or from self), self-esteem (is it low?), background (problem with food before?) ...etc. Just like not every soldier gets post-traumatic stress disorder after war or every college student gains the freshman 15; not every competitor binges, purges, and/or has bulimia after undergoing a contest prep. I mean no disrespect by the soldier analogy... soldiers undergo a much more valiant pursuit that a bikini show. In either area of "war" though, either against an eating disorder or against depression after war, there is a massive amount of mental trauma. A soldier battles a physical enemy on a battlefield, and later the demons and mental issues in the battlefield of the mind. For me, the physical enemy was myself. Both of us experienced very real traumas. The way someone handles stress and deals with the emotional trauma of pressure, physical difficulty, anger, depression, sadness, etc is unique to the individual and that - combined with a multitude of other factors - produces either a good or bad stress reaction. Mine was obviously very bad. 

Also, I want to just draw attention to the idea that I take full personal responsibility for my choices that led me to where I was; meaning I don't blame the sport, my coach, my teammates, my family...anyone. I personally was the one who made the choice to continue to compete and try to get "more perfect" even after I started seeing problems with food arise.  I do NOT blame ANYONE else for the outcome! I did what I did; and I learned what I'm not sure I would have ever learned about myself otherwise. I really wish I could have gotten stronger through something less torturous... but when I really think about it I am glad for my troubles. I have had amazing opportunities to speak hope into ladies lives who are in the darkest depths of where I was... and encourage them that there is a way out - and show them that way out: counseling, Cognitive Behavioral therapy, adjustments to body image/goals. Through this struggle I inadvertently also taught myself the VERY important lesson that YOU MUST LOVE YOURSELF and NOT see "success" and "perfection" as superior aspirations to JOY and HEALTH. I share my story not to bash anyone or any sport, but to share what I have learned (the hard way) so that it will Lord-willing help someone out there who needed to hear something like this. God will use my story for someone's healing, He already has! I had to first endure it, and then be vulnerable and brave enough to write an honest account of my experience. I hope no one goes through what I did, but if you are going through it now - know that it is TEMPORARY and you CAN escape.

After writing my blog post, some very courageous and strong ladies shared their amazing stories with me and I wanted to pass along their encouraging stories of victory here. They overcame not only eating disorders; but poor body image, negative self talk, pressure from themselves and society, and the perfection rat-race. An eating disorder is not just a behavior you start or stop - there is a ROOT cause. THAT is what must be healed and/or removed to repair the eating habits.

Other blogs:

An amazingly powerful quote from Fit Gal Chal:

" I know how it feels to hate your self, and I also know how it feels to love yourself. I can promise you that loving yourself has so many more benefits. "

Fit Gal Chal also said this, which I can completely agree with in my own story: 
"There is NO one person, or one thing to blame for the onset of my struggles. The possible genes I was born with, my long history in the dance world with the “thin ideal” being my goal, my own insecurities, not handling stress in healthy ways, my need for perfection, and plenty more things all played equal roles as the triggers and onset of my unhealthy, addictive behaviors." 

Bex, of BexLife.com said this: "Body hate knows no size. You could be a 6 foot tall 100 lb model and hate your body.” Which is sadly so so true. I was a 5'10" 130lb bikini athlete and hated my body- it needed so many improvements (in my former, super critical perfectionist opinion). 

Electra said this in her post, "What's Beautiful" on Vanilla Bean Lean (linked above) blog, which is such an empowering and beautiful statement:

"I will continue to walk the walk myself & inspire others that a lean lifestyle is NOT about deprivation but about fueling each day and each intense, sweaty workout session with proper fuel. I will continue to transform my body and remind myself I am beautiful, daily! I will fuel, not deprive. I will be excellent, not perfect."

Amen, Electra!! Below is the YouTube video I published a to thank ya'll of the incredible support I've received since I wrote my testimony/confession of struggling with an eating disorder. 

In the video I also mention some steps I am taking to regain my health after totally trashing it with competing, overtraining, overSTRESSING, bulimia, not sleeping, etc. I have my work cut out for me but I am being kind to my body now and progress will be slow but stead to recover my full health. I have been researching Adrenal Fatigue over at my  Ruthie Harrison Athlete Page on Facebook. Post-bulimia, I've learned things I WISH I KNEW when I competed!! EVERYONE who trains and is looking to improve their fitness (not just competitors) should go read what I've learned about excessive cardio & chiropractic work ... those two things alone will make a HUGE effect on how healthy you are. 

I can't say thank you enough for accepting me, even with a big terrible battle, with open arms! I love ya'll! 



  1. Hey Ruthie! Electra here, I have had somewhat similar experiences ... it's all here: http://vanillabeanlean.com/2012/10/whats-beautiful/

    Keep rockin' girl, so proud of you and all of your honesty.

    1. Awesome post Electra! I'll edit this to add your blog too :)

      You look awesome and much much healthier. I can see it in your face, God bless! xoxo