Sunday, July 17, 2011

Wading across a cautionary line

Some of you know I joined a local running group back in late Jan./early Feb. I had reservations at first after many years of solo training, but so far I have enjoyed it quite a bit. There are a variety of ages there, but quite a few of us in our late twenties/early thirties.

In general, this group is small compared to some of the other local training groups. Within the past several months, however, there has been an increase in members, especially if they have started to train for a specific race, like a 5k, 10k, half-marathon, or marathon. One new person is a young woman who stands out quite visibly due to her thinness.

I try not to speculate whether this woman has an ED/has had an ED/is in recovery from an ED, but I seriously keep thinking to myself whether this woman should be running at all. She is very tall which can easily guise for thin, except that her hip bones are easily visible through her shorts, her face is gauntish looking with a pointy chin, giving a "lollipop" appearance, has stick thin arms and legs, tiny waist, and a slight hunch/ rounded shoulders in her upper back.

I've only talked with this woman a few times, so I don't know her well enough to broach this intimate subject, but it really does cause me concern. She has a young daughter who is almost three, so I wonder too how much of this could be a backlash of trying to be healthy o perhaps pregnancy weight loss. I learned recently that she is vegan, but I'm not sure what the reason is or how that reason came about.

I know a number of us have dealt with similar situations or seen the "avid" gym-goer, so what do you do? I had a similar post awhile back about gym observations and mentioned seeing an underweight woman there. That situation felt different--there was a distance, and I did not know this woman from adam. This situation is slightly different. Our group meets a few times a week, I've talked with this woman a little, she friended me on facebook, etc.

It's one of those cautionary lines--you never know how much to ask so as not to be offensive, but at the same time to show concern. I struggle with approaching the subject to her, but I would feel awful to turn a blind eye too.

Thoughts? How would you react?


Katie said...

Honestly? I would say something because I'm me, and that's what I do :P I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut. I would probably casually mention my own ED history (easy to do - alongside my paid job I volunteer for a local ED charity so it comes up whenever someone asks what I "do") and see how she reacted rather than asking her questions. But I don't know that there's a right answer! It's one of those very individual things - some people would never ask, some people would always ask, some people would react badly to being asked, some people would open up immediately on being asked. No way of predicting the outcome, really. I hate situations like that, issues with definite solutions are much easier!

Tiptoe said...

Thanks for the input Katie. It is hard one. On one of our runs awhile back, somehow the topic of osteoporosis came up, and I casually asked her if she had it or ever had a Dexa scan. She said no but thought she should since her posture is poor.

I don't think I'd directly ask her. But somehow ask other related questions plus just observe her as well. My feeling is that I am not the only one the suspects in our running group but again no one asks.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tiptoe,
I think I am like you and I won't ask directly and at the same time I won't be able to not comment on some things related to her thinness...

But if I try to imagine myself in the position of the woman (in case she has an ED), I think I would prefer to be asked directly. Actually it has happened to me that someone was trying not to hurt me and care at the same time and it was quite unpleasant, because I didn't know if it was just me/my paranoia or the person was really trying to address my ED.

It really is hard. Can you speak about it with someone from the running group?


Tiptoe said...

ola, thanks for your thoughts. I've thought about asking some others in the running group and I may e-mail one. I'm a little hesitant overall since I'm not truly close to any of them yet. We'll see. I'll post an update if I find out additional info.

Sarah @ Bearing, Eating, Being said...

This is always a tricky situation. I don't usually bring this up, just because I feel so awkward, unless I have some proof (like if I have noticed odd eating behaviors, not just thinness.) My sister and one of my close friends are both very thin and are sometimes accused of or suspected of having eating disorders and I have heard how much it hurts them. I don't approach people unless I have noticed overexercise or inappropriate eating behaviors or verbalized thoughts, but that's just me.

Tiptoe said...

Sarah, yeah, that is my fear. We haven't had any food gatherings or social events, so I haven't been able to observe any eating behaviors. I've only seen a few pics on facebook from a year or so ago where was she not as thin, and her features did not seem accentuated. But it is truly hard to say. It's all awkward these days!

Missy said...

I would try and get to know her more without judgement. Don't be "looking" for signs or symptoms. Just make a friend. If there is a problem it will surely be evident and at that point you will be in a good place to deal with it, and she will be more receptive to your concern.
Keep us posted.

Tiptoe said...

Missy, thanks for your response. I know you were recently asked a similar question. I certainly agree about just trying to be her friend. It'll be interesting as we have are having happy hour this week. I'll be interested to see whether she comes.