Sometimes, blogging seems so ultra egotistical. I mean, look at me and my awesome life! But that’s not at the heart of why we do it. I would say most bloggers I know are the opposite of egotistical. We are just doing something that makes us happy and that we find fulfilling. It’s our outlet to the world and a way to process information, experiences and feelings. That’s why I write about my favorite books, fundraising projects, relationships and more.

So when Degree Women approached me about writing a blog post about being “unapologetically strong” for their campaign, I was stumped. I thought, what’s so “strong” about me? I’ll admit, I’ve often called myself weak in the past — weak willed, gullible, naive — a host of negative words women sometimes throw at themselves.

When I thought about what makes me strong, only one thing came to mind. And, as Chumbawumba would say, “I get knocked down but I get up again.” That song seriously popped into my head when I was thinking about this so…there ya have it.

This correlates strongly to my battle with eating disorders. The first few years of my eating disorder, I wasn’t getting back up again at all. I was digging myself deeper into a pit of irrationality, obsession, depression and angst. But, one day I decided to get back up and I’ve been doing it ever since.

It hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t been perfect. In fact, the first few years of “getting back up” from my eating disorder was more failure than success.

I made the hard decision to join an intensive outpatient treatment program. I was extremely hesitant and went in thinking there would be a room full of emaciated girls — that I’d be the fattest one there by far. I wasn’t dying…did I really need this? Turns out, I did. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. By the end of the program, I wished it wasn’t over yet because it had brought me so much support, encouragement and rationality.

Thank God I chose to “get back up” when I was 19. It was there that true healing began to take place. But it wasn’t magic and it took years to truly “overcome.” I remember so many nights following an episode that I’d cry and collapse disgusted with myself, promising to never to do it again.

So many “morning afters” waking up feeling dehydrated, sleep deprived and bloated but choosing to “get back up again” that day knowing that some demons can only be conquered one day at a time. I remembered the times when I didn’t even pretend I could get through this. As time went on, episodes became more few and far between until one day I realized I hadn’t had one in recent memory.

That’s simplifying it for sure. I have the journal entries to prove it — when I would write pages about my weakness, inadequacy and failure. Despite what felt like a horrible burden to carry, I continued trying again.

Eventually, I stopped writing those journal entries. Eventually, I chose people and friendships over a lonely addiction to food. Eventually, I realized that it only controlled me if I let it control me. Eventually I realized that running made me feel 1,000 times better than an eating disorder. Eventually, I let people in and stopped being afraid of men and awkward moments and realized that even when really sucky stuff happens, life still goes on. I realized that no one is normal and everyone has their “stuff.”

I still have to overcome my eating disorder sometimes. It’s not everyday but it’s there — and sometimes I still screw up. It takes on different forms now — maybe in the form of a way of thinking or being irrational about a failure at work or in my relationship. Sometimes, it’s still food. But I’m here to tell you I kind of get why they say your 30s are better than your 20s. Today, at age 30, I know how to “get back up again” like a pro. I know how to snap an irrational thought into line. I know how to say, “it’s okay” sometimes to screw up. I’ve learned how to let things be okay. I’ve learned how to be unapologetically strong.

I know this post was supposed to be related to fitness — and running has been a huge part of saving me from the depths of my problem. It gave me freedom and confidence and inspiration all wrapped into one. I credit running as a big part of my recovery and consider it an essential part of my fulfilling life today. My fitness goal — and what I would use the $5k for — would be to run an International Marathon of my choosing (maybe this one or…this one). At this point, it’s just too much money to plan an international vacation and marathon together and this would be an absolute dream come true — the cherry on top of my long journey to recovery.

Here’s Erin Andrews talking about her journey to being unapologetically strong:

Are you unapologetically strong? Enter Degree’s Facebook contest for a chance to win $5k to reach your fitness goals.

I participated in this campaign as a member of One2One Network, I received product, and am eligible for a prize drawing. All opinions stated in the post are my own.

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