• Posted on January 20, 2014 4:41 pm
    McCall Dempsey
    4

    Yesterday, I crossed a finish line. Yep, that was all it was, a finish line. A man-made line in the street to declare the race complete.  Nothing more, nothing less. Of course completing a half-marathon is nothing to laugh at.  I am super proud of my husband and myself for completing our first race together. But for the first time that finish line meant nothing to me and I say that because finish lines, at one time, were everything to me. A little over three years ago I crossed my last finish line at the Big Cajun Triathlon in October 2010.  I began racing in triathlons in the Spring of 2009.  I thought crossing the finish lines would make me 'healthy,' happy and well, let's be honest here - skinny. It was my eating disorder that fueled my desire to race.  In my one year of racing I crossed nearly fifteen finish lines. I never found that elusive health or happiness hiding under the finisher medal table.  Nonetheless, I cried at many finish lines because I thought they were my 'full circle' moment and that crossing them meant I was healthy and recovered. But by the fall of 2010, my body, both physically and mentally, only continued to decline in health. As I left for treatment, I knew I would be back in a few months and would return to the sport.   In treatment, there were a few issues I was hard pressed to discuss, one of which being my relationship with exercise and the sport of triathlon. I was adamant to return to the sport and I told my therapist that I would eventually race again. Maybe not right away, but definitely within a year.  She said I would be "playing with fire." I responded that she was wrong and ultimately I would find a way. As I returned home, I soon realized that she was right. Returning to racing or rigorous exercise would be playing with fire.  I will never forget the day I packed all of my racing gear in a box and cried over it. I had to mourn yet another thing stolen by my eating disorder. Part of my heart was ripped out that day and I was left trying to piece together my life in recovery, which sadly meant no racing. But I had made a promise to myself to always put recovery first and that meant saying good bye (not see you later) to the sport. I stayed close to my racing family, continuing to help at events and joining in on Facebook antics. Of course, it was not the same and watching others race stung like hell in the beginning. I had to accept that even though it hurt, I knew I was ultimately making the right decision for me and my recovery. This past fall, my husband and I started talking about running in the Louisiana Half Marathon.  We got excited about the prospect of training and doing something active together. I never doubted that I was of healthy mind and body to take on the challenge.  What I did worry about was you, my readers and followers.  I know there are so many of you who read my posts and follow me that are fighting for recovery or searching to find peace with food, body and exercise.  When we decided to enter the race, I explained my decision in Find Your Play. In overcoming my eating disorder, exercise was THE hardest thing for me to find balance with, as I am sure many of you can understand. Exercise is good for you, right? Well, sure! So your eating disorder uses that to do it to extremes.  I know mine did. My ED excercise brain was based on numbers: calories in/calories out, miles run, etc.  There was no joy in body movement, only constantly calculations and a cruel voice in my head saying, "Run Faster. You're lazy because you didn't workout today." I can't stress enough that exercise is something that you MUST trust your treatment team on. You have to be honest and open to their recommendations. I knew for sure my therapist was wrong, but ultimately I knew the truth. I needed to put recovery first and that meant hanging up the running shoes and learning to find peace in my body through other forms of body movement. Many years of therapy, patience and recovery work later, I finally felt ready to lace up my shoes once again and stand at a start line.  How did I know I was ready? Because for once, the finish line meant NOTHING.  I knew crossing the finish line would not make me healthy or happy or at peace with my body.  I already was all of those things.  I knew I was ready simply because it sounded fun. And that is what exercise should be - FUN. Colleen Daly said it best at SmashTALK: Carolina, "If you love to run, run. If you don't, DON'T. If you love to shake your booty, do Zumba.  Find what YOU love." Can I get an AMEN?! Amen, Colleen, amen. Yesterday, Jordan and I lined up with 5,000 other runners in front of the Louisiana State Capitol.  It was a perfectly crisp and cloudless January morning.  The gun went off with a massive BOOM at precisely 7:00am. As the herd of runners slowly began jogging, my heart was happy.  My eyes welled with tears as Jordan and I crossed over the start line. I was overwhelmed with joy that finally I was starting a race where I I wasn't looking for anything at the finish line. It was an unexpected simple and beautiful step in my recovery journey. I never dreamed that making peace with exercise would come back to me in this way. I was prepared to hang up my racing shoes forever. But in my journey to find myself and what makes me happy, I discovered a small part of that is moving my body. I enjoy running, so I run. A seemingly simple notion that took me years to accept. Today, I am typing away with some pretty sore legs and tired toes, but a definite peace in my heart. Jordan and I crossed the finish line, hands clasp together in the air. (Yes, we were that cheesy couple and I don't care one bit!) He gave be a big ole kiss when we finally stopped after crossing the finish. We laughed and screeched, "We did it!" There were no tears at the finish, only hugs, laughs and high-fives. I had nothing to find at the finish because everything I had always searched for and set out to prove in my racing was already inside me. For the very first time, the finish line was meaningless. The Louisiana Half Marathon finish line was beautifully empty.

    Body Image, Eating Disorder, Exercise Addiction
  • Posted on September 16, 2013 9:43 am
    McCall Dempsey
    No comments

    I have this extraordinary friend. Like really amazing. She is unlike any other person that has entered my life and I know God placed her on my path just when I needed her most. She has been a guiding light of the person I want to be. To say her heart is made of gold is a gross understatement. She is a giver and humble beyond words. Her weakness lies in her inability to see what courageous strength she has within. Not only does she stand strong and persevere through life's challenges, she does so with a beautiful light of vulnerability, something so rare in our society. She owns her shame story and embraces the power of connection. It never fails that the two of us will turn a quick lunch into a three hour heart to heart sharing secrets, struggles, hope, tears and laughter. On Thursday, we were deep into our daily chat about neon signs from God. Little did we know, she would get hers in the form of a tragic accident. Friday evening she received a call no wife wants to ever get. Her husband had been in a serious car accident and was in ICU nearly three hours away. It is no secret we hurt when our friends hurt and my heart is simply broken. And like most of life's toughest situations, there isn't a 'How To' book on how to handle these horrible times. It is a sad reality that there aren't enough flowers or food (casseroles in particular for this dear friend) in the world to 'fix' this. The answer is simple: prayers, thoughts and love. It is simply 'showing up' in those seemingly insignificant ways. But that does not make the pain in my heart go away. That does not dry my distant tears or ache to be next to her. So here is my prayer for you, my dearest friend:May God give you the strength to shed those painful tearsMay He give you peace in your heart knowing there is a path for youMay you find comfort in cuddles from your three C'sMay you give your body permission to restMay you find solace in a simple hand squeezeMay you know you in your heart and feel in your soul that you are brave, you are strong, you are loved.Sending my love today and always, dear friend.And to my many readers who believe in the power of prayer, please lift one up for my dearest friend and her family. 

    Eating Disorder, Girls on the Run
  • Posted on May 5, 2013 10:18 pm
    McCall Dempsey
    No comments

    The first Saturday in May.  My favorite day of the year.  Girls on the Run 5k!  I was out the door before sunrise, locked and loaded with everything 'She-Power'.  Sparkle headbands, braided pigtails, crazy running pants and of course a tie-dye one of a kind GOTR T-shirt.  Bring it.  I was ready to GEAUX.  But no matter how prepared I was with glitter and pink, nothing ever quite prepares me for the magic that is Girls on the Run of South Louisiana.  To be quite honest, it is difficult to put into words.   I've always been 'that' girl who tries to sneak her way on stage to steal a drumstick, play the cowbell or sing with the band.  My stage glory never lasted long since I was always bounced off by security.  Deep down, I just knew there was a stage for me, but I never found it...until now.  The Girls on the Run stage...my mecca.  The place I was meant to be.  The platform that gives me the permission and freedom to shine.  Until recovery, there were few times in life where I could really let my inner sparkle shine.  My beloved Camp Green Cove was the only place growing up I could truly own my sparkle.  My eating disorder and lack of confidence made it very difficult for me to really shine and be me.  I was always conforming and dulling that sparkle within.   A GOTR 5K makes you stop and pinch yourself because it feels like you're floating in a glittery dream.  Standing on the Girls on the Run stage Saturday, looking out over the thousands of racers and supporters, it was impossible to contain my sparkle.  It was bursting out of me.  I stood beside my fellow Girls on the Run Board of Directors and I could not stop my happy feet from dancing all over the stage.  For the first time, I cared less that there were people I knew out there seeing me be silly and fun.  Because I knew in my heart they were smiling and having fun too, energized and buzzing from a pink high. Isn't that what Girls on the Run is all about?  Isn't that what life is about?  Not only does this organization give me the freedom to shine and sparkle, it gives millions of girls across the country to own their inner sparkle - and that is simply magical. As I left the Girls on the Run race on Saturday, my heart and spirit were so full of joy I could hardly sit still.  Saturday evening we had a formal event at my husband's place of work.  With this black tie event, the old McCall (the ED) would have been in full panic/numb out mode.  My day would have been planned to the minute, my entire week would have been planned and properly mapped out in terms of food, exercise and outfits.  This week was SO different.  This was the NEW McCall...and damn I like her.  I realize it has been two years since I left treatment, but here is what you might not realize: Eating Disorders don't just 'go away' post treatment.  I've had to work REALLY hard to get to where I am today.  It has taken so long (a lot longer than I ever anticipated) for my wounds of the past to heal...and many wounds still have some closing up to do.  So when days like Saturday happen, well I don't think life can get any sweeter. Recovery is a magical thing and it is always bringing me new experiences.   I returned home to rest a bit before my the night's gala.  I showered, napped, painted my nails and just took my time primping for the evening...all the while enjoying myself along the way.  As I slipped into my gorgeous dress, I could not help but smile.  It wasn't the beautiful couture dress nor the fancy hair or make up, it was the joy and confidence in my spirit that made me grin ear to ear.  This is a yearly event.  And each year I have gone, my nerves were always fried, I was tired, malnourished and simply lacked the confidence to stand tall and let my inner sparkle shine.  Not the case this year.  There was no ED nor person that could stop me from shining.  I was happy to my core.  Joy radiated from my soul and it felt extraordinary.  I think I floated into that room Saturday night thanks to the Girls on the Run sparkle high and to the beauty that is recovery.   My life is simply surreal these days.  It isn't perfect, nor do I strive to make it that way.  I still struggle and have bad days, but I am gentle to my spirit on those days.  Today, I stand strong and I know who I am.   I no longer try to conform to anyone else's standards or expectations.  My life is MINE...and I am in love with it.  I am in absolute love with the person I have finally discovered within.  I am in love with my inner sparkle and beyond grateful to my Girls on the Run family for helping me cultivate its shine.  

    Eating Disorder, Girls on the Run, Recovery
  • Posted on March 3, 2013 3:25 pm
    McCall Dempsey
    No comments

    As my feet continue to try and touch the ground, my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude to everyone who made and continues to make Southern Smash possible. My SMASH gratitude list is too long to Tweet and too important to squish in a Facebook status. Therefore, I felt this was the best place for my thanks rundown. So, in no particular order, here it goes... To my mom, dad, SuSu, GaGa and every adopted family member in between: Thank you for the errand runs, scale schlepping, monster-sitting, donations, prayers and everything you did both big and small. To my Girls on the Run family: Your endless encouragement and love keep me going. I appreciate all the support and daily inspiration you give me from near and far. I am so thankful for the "ShePOWER" office therapy, 3-hour 'Board' Meetings, the Chill Chart, Tear Tracker and the friendships I've found in each of you. To my dear friend, Hydie: You are my mentor, my hero and my 'dearest' friend. You came into my life when I needed you most and you haven't left my side since. Thank you for always encouraging me to share my voice and tell my story. You are truly the inspiration behind Smash and everything I do. You already know my sincere gratitude, but you know I'll always remind you over our next 3-hour lunch date. To Anh: Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to head south and support Smash. It was an absolute pleasure to finally meet the marketing brains behind my favorite house in North Carolina. Each and every person on the CH staff is simply extraordinary and you are no exception. I look forward to a future CH Smash and will be blowing up your email inbox soon. To my sweet boys, Jordan and Manning: You keep me laughing and always remind me what is really important in life: family, our family. Thank you for loving me unconditionally, encouraging me to chase this mission and putting up with a house full of ribbon and crushed scales. To Christy: It is hard to believe it has been two years since we hugged goodbye in your office. Life has certainly come full circle. To have you support and participate in Smash, well, I don't think the circle could get any 'fuller'. All I can say is that it was surreal having you here and I was so proud to show you the wonderful life I have created for myself since leaving the Carolina House. You already know my gratitude and I hope in coming down you were able to get a small glimpse at the massive ripple effect that began with you two years ago. To my SoleSisters, Smash Ambassadors and Scale Ninjas: Thank you for supporting a cause that might not be the "coolest" amongst your peers. You are wiser, smarter and stronger for it. Keep conquering the world a scale at a time. Thank you for your endless support, work and SMASH love. But most of all, thank you for giving me the honor to watch you realize your true beauty and potential and to see you shine in your own skin. To Mary: Nearly four years ago I stumbled upon your couch and my life has never been the same. Every time I was ready to call it quits, your kindness, compassion and genuine sincerity kept me coming back. You always believed in me even though I often questioned why. You gave me the gentle push and permission I needed to truly get the help I so desperately warranted. When I returned back to you, our real work began. My footing in recovery grew stronger every week and you helped me (and continue to help me) on my path to self-discovery. Smash would not exist without you. I would not exist without you. To the panelists, Mary, Laura, Renee & Christy: Thank you for lending your expertise and for taking the time to be a part of the inaugural SmashTALK. Because of you, each and every attendee left touched by your words and advice. Thank you for believing in this unknown advocate and thank you for eagerly joining the SMASH family. To my Anne: Everything has already been said...and what hasn't been said, you already know in your heart. There is no gift worthy nor Hallmark card big enough. You are my life saver, my soul sister, my best friend. Love you always. To Susan, Lizzard and the RKF family: Thank you for believing in and supporting this Rocketchix from Day One. Each of you live life with a ferocious twinkle in your eye. You show us all how life is to be lived. Thank you for helping me find my calling and giving Southern Smash some much needed 'street cred'. To Carley: It is hard to know where to begin. Southern Smash would not exist if it weren't for a lot of people, but you ARE the reason it exists and continues to grow and touch others today. You are the oldest and wisest soul I have ever encountered. I am beyond lucky and honored to call you a friend and my number one Smash girl. Thank you for helping me take my crazy idea and see it into a reality. I'm not sure if the world is ready for you. You are simply extraordinary. You touch everyone you meet and I am no exception. Keep rocking sorority row...I can't wait to see what's in store for you next. To every SMASH Facebook Liker, Twitter Follower and our supporters near and far: This is only the beginning. I hope you find support, comfort and help in our posts, talks and smashes, but most of all I hope you know that you are never, ever alone. To me: Amongst my gratitude list, there is one person I am most grateful for...me. It might sound odd to some, but I used to live my life thanking everyone else and never giving myself the credit I deserved. While so many people have touched my life, I am the one who has done the work and overcome many obstacles to get to where I am today. I am beyond proud of myself for the person I've fought to become, as well as the incredible people I choose to surround myself with. My life is enriched with people and things that fill me up, support me and most of all inspire me to do things I never thought were possible. I can honestly say there is not one thing I would change about my life. My blessings are abundant and I am the wealthiest person I know. My cup runneth over.  

    Eating Disorder, Pay It Forward, Southern Smash
  • Posted on December 31, 2012 11:28 am
    McCall Dempsey
    No comments

    Well, it's out there.  Southern Smash...a crazy idea that suddenly became my pay-it-forward mission.  I have NO idea why I feel so compelled to put myself out there in such a way.  (Well, a dear friend is partly to blame for being so damn pushy and supportive of my madness.)  But seriously, who is this person I am becoming?  A few years ago, I would have NEVER blogged such personal things, much less post them to Facebook for so many to see.  And now I am taking the plunge to travel, tell my story and create a foundation to raise awareness for a disease I spend my whole life trying to hide. Who is this girl?  This is certainly not the same girl who just two years ago could hardly stand to look at herself in the mirror.  The girl whose world was black and white and defined by numbers on a scale and the size of her jeans.  The girl who was literally killing herself to reach perfection.  The girl petrified to do anything out of the box in fear of utter failure. The girl who was living a slow death in silence. I guess the question is...who was that girl?  Because this girl is McCall...quirky, funny and full of love and an intense passion for her life.  Everyday I put myself out there more and more.  Throwing caution to the wind and staring failure square in the eyes.  If I fail, I fail.  If Southern Smash flops, well at least I tried.  But it has not failed because it has already touched a nerve with many.  If I touch just one person, then I have succeeded in my pay it forward mission. So on this New Year's Eve, I shall look back at 2012 as hands down the BEST year of my life: I finally became a mom when my husband and I welcomed our beautiful baby boy, I coached my first Girls on the Run team, I shared my recovery story of struggle and triumph, I founded Southern Smash, I discovered who I was...and how I want to leave my mark on this world.  I can honestly say I lived everyday of 2012 authentic, real and true to who I am.  Not everyday was sunshine and rainbows.  There were plenty of bumps and tears in 2012, but that is what makes life beautiful, right? I do not believe in New Year's resolutions.  I believe that we should resolve to be a better person each day.  I never want to stop evolving or discovering who I am.  My eating disorder stole many years, but it did not steal them all.  Life in recovery has been a wild, wild ride...and I am forever grateful to be present and healthy enough to enjoy every second of it and plan to make every minute count. Cheers to a SMASHING 2013!

    About, Authentic, Eating Disorder