Saturday, February 28, 2009

coaching the eating disordered

A few times week I am asked about coaching athletes with eating disorders, mostly from other triathlon coaches, sometimes gymnastic coaches, a lot of people. I do a lot of speaking around here about it, parents often use me to help when intervening with their kids, that kind of thing. I was even once asked me not to write about it.

I think it's far too important to not write about it. It's the big elephant in the middle of the room.

Let's face it, triathlon and eating disorders go hand in hand. Almost as bad as dancers and eating disorders. Because I have been in recovery from an eating disorder and I coach triathletes..... there are times when people who are still active in their "EDO"'s....... come to me. Sometimes coaches come to me and ask for advice.

Don't get me wrong..... I understand EDO's. I even have a career in the medical profession which qualifies me a little bit to work with this disorder. The mistake happens when people come to me thinking I can cure them, or I will help them perpetuate their illness.

I am notoriously tough on EDO's. I don't tolerate them well. If you are a coach, you shouldn't either.

Because a long time ago...... someone did that for me. And a long time ago, one almost took my life.

I once coached a girl who, in our initial meeting rattled a list of stress fractures so long I stopped her and asked her how long she'd had an EDO. She seemed surprised, and maybe she even felt relieved. Misery loves company..... or so she thought.

Her goals were lofty and she had the ability. Trouble began when I'd plan a week for her, she'd hit everything. But then there would be a whole lot of "added time". Not 20 minute dog walks..... four hour ones. Injuries upon injuries would begin to surface...... I did the best I could, tried as hard as I could but eventually we had to part ways. I couldn't be a part of the illness.

That was very hard for me to accept. Just because I have been recovering from an eating disorder does not mean I can cure someone and doesn't make me an expert. I can want to save someone, I really wanted to help her. It hurt me very deeply because I found a path for myself but she couldn't even see the light at the end of the day much less the tunnel. It hurt me because I cared so much. I didn't want her to live in that hell anymore.

To this day the girl won't even speak to me. And I see her twice a week.

She hates me, and I mean hates me. What I have to realize however..... is that she does not really hate me. She hates what her illness has done and she hates her illness and she hates what it has done to her whole life. When it comes down to it, her anger and hatred have nothing to do with me.

I use this as an example to make the following point:

So you coach this girl. And she digs herself into a hole of injuries and over training (even though it's not what you plan for her). Because you care you try to help her. You set calorie gaols for her..... now are you a Registered Dietitian? Remember that for later on........ you set binge / purge goals for her....... (WHAT?) ...... there are a hundred tricks I have heard coaches use. And I don't mean just triathlon. I know some gymnastics coaches who have told their athletes "If you have only one episode per week for four weeks..... then you can ______".

Are you a therapist?

After months of coaching this athlete she doesn't get better. You find it eating away at you because you want her to get better. You really do. You may be like me and you have been through an EDO so you know that there's recovery..... which makes it so much harder than not having the experience of an EDO. If you've been there are you are recovering..... you know there is hope. If you have never been there..... then you just don't get it..... believe me that's the safer place to be.

You might refer her to a Registered Dietitian. You might refer her to a psychologist (good move). You might do what I do and refuse to coach her until she beings you a note from her medical doctor who is aware of her condition and gives her permission to train XX hours per week.

And then you call that doctor to verify.

Oh yes, that's exactly what I do. Remember that someone did this for me.

Because let's say this girl is me, and has a heart attack. Is in a hospital bed and in a coma. Her parents / family blame the triathlon coach because for the past 8 months all this athlete has talked about is her coach who does the Ironman and who trains XX hours a week too.

They might try to sue you. It won't be a very strong case but what if it is?

So you sit on the stand (and trust me this is such a weak case to begin with it would likely never get there). Every training log has been opened, reviewed by lawyers, everyone.

Imagine the cross examination., of you, the coach.

What is your degree in?

I have a degree in Economics.

And you coach triathletes?

I am a level II USAT Coach.

And you thought it proper to prescribe XX hours a week of training for this athlete who suffers from anorexia, has had 8 stress fractures, who occasionally binges?????

Yes sir.

Because you are a level II coach.


Do you have training in nutrition?


Training in eating disorders?

No. But I had one.



Medical degree specializing in eating disorders?


So when you have this girl the goal of XXXX calories per day....... were you really qualified to make that assessment?


Did you refer her to anyone for help?


Not even to her doctor?


See where this is going???????

Again it would be a giant long shot to even get to court but the whole point of this..... is that you have to know where to draw the line.

The hard part is that we care about the athletes we coach. We care a lot. But caring doesn't mean curing. You have to know where your limits are. Your limits are a lot closer than you think.

While I do a lot of speaking about my story, and I am in the medical profession and I am working towards my Masters with a focus in EDO's....... I am not qualified to be dealing with athletes who have EDO's. I can listen. I can relate.

I have an athlete who currently is in treatment for an EDO. She's okay with me writing about it.

I asked her to show proof that she was under the care of a medical doctor, a therapist and a nutritionist. I am delighted to be on her recovery team, I feel very honored she chose me to help with this process. I work within parameters set by her doctor, she records her nutrition in Training Peaks and her doctor, therapist and nutritionist all have access to and look at her nutrition and her training. We all require her to record her daily parameters of sleep, heart rate, blood pressure, weight..... all of those.

She's doing very very very well. Her entire life she has been haunted by this disease and when she came to me she had already begun the process of recovering. She's flourishing.

The key to her flourishing.... is that she wants to get better. Notice my first example.... she didn't want to get better. My current athlete wants to. She wants to have children in a few years. She has a lot of talent. She sees the writing on the wall.

We have to have the motivation to get better.

Be careful with athletes who do suffer from EDO's, realize what you realistically can and can not do for them. Don't hide behind the "I don't' understand EDO's" because they are not for you to understand..... they are for you to help get help for.

Understanding an EDO is not going to mean you can cure one. You also have to understand that you can't force someone to get help. There are circumstances where you have to walk away. That sucks. REALLY SUCKS. I have done it.

As a coach your responsibility is to get them plugged into places where they can get real help, and they have to want to. As much as I love Training Peaks and as much as I demand honesty from my athletes those two things have never been proven to cure an EDO.

It is your responsibility to not buy into the EDO. There is no goal binge or purge. Just like for an alcoholic there is no minimal drink they can have.

The hardest part is this: it is your responsibility to let them go if they can't get help and show you they are. EDO athletes are a tricky bunch. I was one of them. We will create a story about why and about how and we will not always be truthful about it. We've learned to hide the disease and just because I might be paying you does not mean I will not do what I have always done in covering up my disorder.

If I haven't been honest with myself, with my family..... what makes you think I will be honest with you? Because you are a level II USAT coach who won your age group in Hawaii?

Good try, but I don't think so. If anything that places more pressure to hide the truth.

Your responsibility as a coach and as a friend is to try to plug the athlete into places where they can get help. You can listen. You might want to advise. Under certain circumstances it might be appropriate to advise.

You can't cure an eating disorder by coaching someone to an Ironman. We all have limits to what we can do, and as a coach..... you must know yours.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

loosen your grip

It's interesting that as a society we either "flail or sail" with changes in our lives. I recently read an article that pointed out that as a culture we are trained to love change: "Change is good." Some say "Everything happens for a reason." But what about when things happen that aren't necessarily positive? It could be the small yet frustrating things like a furnace breaking, or a flat tire in the beginning of a ride, goggles that leak. We all have our own spectrum and where these things land on that spectrum is variable person to person.

Some of us have a grip on our lives and when unplanned, unscripted change occurs..... we sometimes find ourselves trying to grip onto the sliding mud.

The example of a flat tire during a ride is an easy example. It's good and light.

You start off the ride and you are nailing it. Feeling good. Right in the zone.

PSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSST. The flat happens. Yeah, frustrating. Annoying. It's cold, your hands are frozen but you manage to get it changed. Back on the bike, back in the zone.


You must be kidding me, you think. How could this happen again?????? You have a handle on things but your patience is wearing thing. You simply did not have this in the plan today and the energy of frustration and disappointment start to mount. Perhaps even anger.

This kind of change is the change I am talking about. And let me remind you.... a flat tire isn't a big deal even if it is a breakthrough workout. It's a simple example. If you can do it on a bike you can do it in your life. Sport once again is a metaphor for our lives.

Returning to the flat tire.... you can see how you are still gripping, still fighting, still allowing the emotions to bubble. Your boat that normally sails the seven seas with grace is not slamming into every single wave like it has forgotten how to even sail!

Step back. Take a deep breath. Take a few.

Get quiet.

Get really quiet.

In times of turmoil when we can just quiet our head, we realize that within ourselves lies the answers that we are seeking. Doesn't mean we have to comprehend it, but what if we just rolled with it. What if we just loosened our grip.

In the superficial example of the double flat tire...... instead of allowing anger to overcome you because now you are off target, off time, off this off that...... step back, take a few breaths. What can you do to make this a better and more positive outcome than coming home and bitching about it?

Suffering through is optional. Loosen the grip, step back. Change the tire with ease. Don't rush through checking the sidewalls, don't rush through the inflation. With a quiet mind just go through the process.

Maybe by loosening the grip you will realize one workout won't break the bank. Perhaps karma stepped in and gave you a flat for a reason. Gave you 2 for a reason. As you roll with the punch you make lemonade out of lemons. Toss in some sugar to make it sweeter.

Someone drives by and offers you a ride. You have an easy out.

You smile, shake your head but thank them for their generosity. You get back on the bike and there might not be time to finish the interval. Plus you are cold. And the bus is coming at the end of the school day. Get quiet and figure something out.

Ride the wave. Loosen your grip on the unscripted change and I dare you.... dare you to go ahead and laugh about it.

We can't sink our nails into sliding mud. But we can allow things to be quiet, we can get blown with the wind but rather than being blown into insanity...... we can be blown into realization, peacefulness, and truth.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

raise your standards

Alan Couzens wrote an absolutley amazing blog this week: you can read it here:

Monday, February 23, 2009


Special thanks to Elizabeth Hartman for her graciousness and kindness during a very fun interview!
Click here for the article! Featuring swim helmet pictures!

never change who you are

It's the advice my father gave me as a child. Among other great nugget of advice. Always tell the truth. Never spend more than you make. Always surround yourself with good people.

But never..... ever change who you are expanded to never change what you believe if you really believe it, never be swayed by what someone thinks of you..... because you should never take any one's opinion of you personally..... and always trust your gut instinct.

My father is an incredibly wise man. He is driven by very simple ethics and values. He doesn't get stuck in his head. He says what he means. He plays the game and smiled.

The man commands attention the moment he walks into a room.

People are always absolutely terrified of him.

Yet he's one giant fuzzball to be honest with you.

It's been a lifetime of amusement for me as my siblings and mine various boyfriends and especially the girlfriends.... have passed before him. The less he says the more intimidating he is. He can send them all into a tailspin with a simple nod of his head.

Yet he never does that intentionally.

People create this story and spin a tale in their mind just based on what they see. An extremely tall quiet man. He and I are often amused at the stories people will create just on that alone. What a weird sense of power. If you just ask him.... he would say..... why don't' you just have a conversation with me...... first?

What he has taught me through my life has absolutely guided me and everything that I do.

The boyfriends and girlfriends would change their behavior around him. Try to act a little more educated, try this, try that. Do you see...... they change what they do, talk about, because of what they believed he perceived them to be.

Have you ever done that?

I can pretty much say..... I have not. If you don't like me.... please move along. You don't agree with or like what I write? Click the red "X" in your upper right hand corner.

I'm not afraid to tell you that I believe in this war, but I will never try to change your opinion about it. You believe in it or you don't. If it bothers you so much that you have to attack me or you have to try to "educate" me on your opinion..... that's your stuff and not mine.

It applies to all areas of our lives. How can we live any other way? If you believe in you, believe in you. Don't look for justifications in other people. Love is much the same.

They love you or they don't.

Love isn't controlling. Love isn't wait and see...... he thinks he loves me one moment and the next........ it's probably why it took me all of .01 seconds to marry my husband. If I didn't love him..... I wouldn't dick around. I'd be gone. And the same towards me.

You should never need to jump through hoop X, Y, or Z to secure love, affection or friendship. They like you or they don't. Jumping through those hoops changes who you are.

Why would you ever have a friend or a spouse who changed who you are? They don't like the way you come? Move along please. Some say it has been my strength through life, but it's also been my curse.

Don't get me wrong...... I feel lucky about it. I feel grateful that I don't have to sit in that spinning wheel of wonder in terms of relationship or friendships. Life is pretty black and white, why do we spend so much time in shades of grey????

Never change who you are. Never change what you believe in. And always trust your instinct.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

knowing when

One of the biggest challenges as a coach is knowing when to recover someone. Today I am speaking of my own coach / athlete relationship..... meaning me as the coach and me as the athlete.

I woke up about 3am with my heart pounding. I took my pulse and my normal 38 beats per minute was 56. Eeks. What's that about.... I wondered? I felt tired (it was 3am.....) now I never wake up in the middle of the night. I am a sound sleeper, this week I have woken up every night. I pulled a 30 hours straight awake stint on Monday that's taken me days to recover from. I am struggling a bit this week.

So me the coach made a 3am announcement. It was time for a few recovery days.

Hooray! Me the athlete cheered.

Now those were 2 things that are new to me.

Prescribing my own recovery before I completely fall apart....... and then me cheering it.

As I scroll through my training last year I realize how little recovery I had. for this I won't blame coach T, because the coach / athlete street is 2 ways. He always gave me what I asked for and there were days I was tired and didn't want to complain. So he was doing exactly the right thing. He was creating the plan based on the data I gave him. His plan was always rock solid, and it's what I base my training on now. The change is that I am being a lot more honest with myself. I was so afraid to disappoint that I wasn't willing to be honest with myself. In the end it hurt only me in retrospect.

I think people sometimes blame their coach for their failures when it ultimately lies within ourselves. A coach can't force you to complete the workouts. A coach can't feed you motivation on a spoon. A coach can try but realize a coach, and even me to myself is just 10% of the equation. A coach, and this is even me to me..... can only work with what they are given.

If you give a coach 10 straight weeks of 15+ training hours, coach may wonder if it's recovery time, but based on your feedback.... might take the risk and keep going forward.

If you give a coach 10% of the weekly volume completed..... if you give a coach nothing but shortcoming, nothing but complaints..... that's what you will get in return.

And I am specifically talking to the Mary / Mary coaching relationship.

My liability is always my work ethic. I will never be one of these people who can barely scratch through 5 hours a week and hope to PR in an Ironman. I will always be the girl who forces through 25 and falls apart at the Ironman.

So I have to look at myself objectively.

I fill in my training log, just like you do. Every single day. My parameters of sleep and soreness and stress are the highest priority. Before I go to bed each night, just like I look at yours...... I look at my own log as if it were one of yours.

I also send myself a daily email. Last night's email was this:

Hey favorite coach.....

As I was about to embark on my 2 hour brick I got a call from work. I was supposed to be there at 4p and not 8p. Which screwed everything up. I see I am losing memory a lot this week!!!! I thought of ways I would get in the workouts when I got home and then realized, I have to bag this round. I HATE THAT! It weighs on me. TWO HOURS MISSED!!!!! TWO HOURS!

Love your favorite athlete......


When I woke up at 3am, went back to sleep and woke again at 6...... I sat down to look at my own stuff. I wrote myself an email back......

Dear favorite Athlete:

Why are you trying to pound through this week????? It's winter break, your 30 hours of sleep stint screwed you for the week, and you are forgetting things. I am cutting down the weekend workouts. Your priority is sleep, and zone 1 workouts. I think we got this before you put yourself in a hole. Be good to yourself.

Love your favorite Coach.

I opened up Training Peaks and reluctantly changed the weekend workouts. I created a few goals for myself. And then I allowed myself to look ahead. I would like to move into a good five week build towards New Orleans with the focus being big bike weeks. My running is coming right along and I am going to begin brick work this week as well.

So we have to be honest. With ourselves, our coaches, what our life affords at this moment. This was a difficult week in terms of sleep and schedule. Life gets out of whack like that. The one thing I have going for me is that I have escaped illness. I have had 3 one day illness days. SINCE November. I work in the petri dish of Pediatric Emergency Medicine. 20 hours a week my hands are in snot, vomit and blood.

That's a case for letting yourself be exposed to that stuff and allowing your immunity to be built up.

So a little R&R this weekend. Making sure nutrition is on the forefront, as that's the foundation of all of this...... and then we go from here!


Friday, February 20, 2009


At some point in my puppy training of Cocoa things got backwards. Somewhere the signals for "go do your business outside" became "Crap on the rug at all times, even after you have been outside for 20 minutes."

But that's how things go I suppose.

There are only certain people who will text me before 5am, and those are either people I coach or train with. everyone knows I am up. Amy typically send me something about 4:30. Kim will check in to see that I'm on the way to the pool, Sarah will text me anytime.... and then there's Bill.

Somehow he knew one of my headlights was out, he's my neighbor too so I suppose we passed at some point around 5:30am today.

"Have a good swim." It read after my headlight alert (I have already been pulled over a few times for this, being a nurse gets you out of things like that....).

I was feeling good this morning. It has been a bit of a long week with Winter Break and a lot of homework and desk work to do. My big training days are Thursday through Sunday. I am rested and I have the time.

I needed a word to describe how I was feeling this morning. A little like I could go get it, turn it on, grab for something. I love those days when I roll down the road towards the pool and I can't wait to get in.

So I borrowed an old saying form the ELF. I haven't heard her speak of him in a while, and I am hoping she soon will..... it fires me up. So I am borrowing it. Because it comes with good Karma.

I told Bill I was ready to see the wizard this morning. And I was.

It's been a very long time since I have been ready to make the reach. And as I continue this journey through self coaching I am really learning and seeing where my health began to fall apart last season. As the various illness and issues occurred I clearly didn't give myself time to recover from them. I kept trying to make it up. In a race, in a time..... and what I needed to do was chill out.

Us type A people run that risk however.

As I stood on the deck I got trapped in the Grimm wed. Erik stands on the side of the pool for a good 20 minutes before he ever gets in. The joke / rule is that you have to get in before he arrives or you will get stuck talking to him. It's easy because you get to hear wild tales of skiing hut to hut, or sleeping naked in sleeping bags on the cliffs of New Zealand. It's a good story.

I got stuck for a bit and then I got in. A few recent stroke changes and I was feeling good. Hungry.

However..... I didn't see the wizard this morning. I got close, but I didn't see him.

We had 4 X 300's broken this am. 200 moderate / 100 breathing to the non dominant side. Intervals that I could easily make. Today was not about making intervals, today was about nailing intervals.

Throughout a 200 I might or might not get lapped by Grimm. Sometimes I can hold him off for 300, 400 if he's dead tired. Today he got close but he didn't catch me.

However more than swimming from Grimm I swim who is next to me. Depending on the day I can hang with Kim or at her hips. Usually I am cheering Kim on mentally. GO GO GO! (heck, I coach her.....) Depending on the day I can do the same with Rauni. More often than not I can just hang on Les.

During the set he was next to me and I was pulling ahead. We worked together and I felt as if he was saying to me turn it on butt (my nickname is PowerButt). So I kicked and I put my head down and I hit those intervals with plenty of time to spare instead of the take-a-breath-and-go.

But I did not see the Wizard.

I kept true to my promise to Ken that I would lead at least one set per practice even if it meant wearing fins. The 12 X 75 lined me up with Travis, I am thinking my fins annoy him..... but so did my random intervals on Wednesday. The ones where I led the set with fins and sometimes went on the 48, the 52, the 53, the 49....... I called it "Whenever Travis hits the wall behind me and the next 5 seconds started intervals". Hey, it isn't like you can plan a race! You have to react to what happens around you!

Nonetheless I swam with my fins and with fins I was able to touch the wall first. But then again the object of the set was not to race but breath control.... and it is unfair to cry "WINNER" to a race that only I am racing.... with fins.

But I will anyways. I gotta take what I can get.

So I didn't see the wizard like I had intended. But he's getting closer.

I am getting closer.

In just 6 weeks i will be in new Orleans waking up my racing self. New Orleans will not be an A race, my A races are in July and November. I am traveling all that way for a B race? Oh hell yes. I am in need of sunshine. I am in need of saltwater. While I aim for a 5 hour race I want to test all this good nutrition, and self coaching out. I want to get outside and blow off the engines a bit. I want to race healthy, see how I do, and then create the plan for the Musselman.

All along the way I will be searching for that blue robed guy. When I find him.... he's mine. Thanks Liz for giving me such a powerful visual!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

melting pot

Please click here for some important Weekend At Placid Camp Information!

It's been somewhat of a difficult week for Western New Yorkers. The past 7 days have been filled with a great deal of loss. So you can imagine the horror that shot through me when at 8:30am Tuesday morning I opened the door to the Sheriff.

"Who died?" I asked him. Bracing myself. There is one reason the Police come to your house.... provided you have not broken the law.

"No one died." He smiled at me. "There was a hang up 9-1-1 call from this address."

I turned around to see the culprit himself, home on winter break, in his jammies, sticking his hands in the air.

He was horrified. Mister Policeman was ever so kind. He spoke with Luc about what emergencies were and the part that made me feel good..... they show up when you call.

In a week filled with so much loss..... that is a good feeling.

In other news I have been scolded and scolded for not posting about the puppy. Cocoa is doing just fine..... she's getting big, she's doing naughty puppy things like pooping and peeing everywhere and sometimes even outside despite the schedules and the dog whisperer tricks we are learning. She's got an incredibly sweet nature. She and Luc are trouble together with a very capital T. We've been introduced to the gentle leader and she's done well at the vet.

Dogs are an interesting thing and dog people....are even more interesting. I have never been part of that group.... truthfully I have always mocked them out..... but as I am getting to know then it's just like any other group of people..... mostly wonderful. There's always a few nut jobs and in every group I belong to let be known I am never the nut job. Not me. No way.

I am still fascinated by the people who tell me life will be doom and gloom with a new puppy (they said that about a new baby too....). Life is so far from doom and gloom.

Life is really what you make it to be. If you want a lot of drama.... you will naturally gravitate towards people who have a lot of drama. If you are not, then you won't. Our home.... drama free. I grew up in a hostile drama filled house..... many of us did. There comes a time when we need to grow up and move on however. You an spend your life acting the way you do because of your past..... or you can grow up and forge on. Make your own way and make your own life.

As Chuckie V said so well the other day...... you have 2 choices, you can get busy dying, or you can get busy living.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Weekend at Placid

It's time to begin official planning for the Weekend at Placid. If you are interested in joining our camp we are now taking official reservations. If you have already reserved with me, just shoot me another email at maryeggers "at" gmail "dot" com to make it official and to triple check I have your name down.

The basic information about our camp can be found here.

Contact me and I will send you some info about how the weekend will roll. This is a very cost effective camp, and during these economic times that's a big relief!

You will spend a terrific weekend with some really terrific people with hands on coaching while you swim bike and run! Come one and come all to one of the most beautiful places on earth!

Monday, February 16, 2009

swim video

I accidentally deleted the comment (Sorry) but here is the link to the camera we are using. (CHEAP!)

Here are two videos that we took yesterday with the new underwater camera.... see what you think as you take a look at my stroke and Curt's stroke. Please excuse the continued Blair Witch Project style of filming, we are still in the trial mode. There are a few settings I need to play with to get a better picture (and there are not a whole lot of settings on the camera...... so this is me forgetting each time).

The first video is a shot of Curt pool running without the belt. Damn good form, you can just put him on the road and that's his running style.

Click here for that.

The second video is of both of us swimming...... now the opening credits are a bit wrong and there is a repeat section. I am just an amateur.

Click here for that.

2 things to look at for me...... my left arm swing is because I only breathe to the right (swimmer laziness) and my underwater pull. It's fine but you will notice I have "paddle hand".

For Curt.... the worst backstroke I have seen..... but he's a self taught adult swimmer so I won't pick on him publicly..... and his underwater pull, fingertips need to point down and elbows need to stay high.

Both of us could tighten the kick up as well.

The little guy in there is Luc doing his laps.


My father always taught me to trust myself, my instinct, my gut. Yesterday it once again proved to be true as I sat and listened to someone use the misfortune of my summer poor health to try to manipulate me and circumstances.

I am so glad that I can trust my gut. He was right, my father was always right. And I swear that if you tune in close enough, you can spot a liar a mile away.

Because I spotted one that was much too close to home.

I often wonder why as humans we do that to one another? What happened to authenticity? While I am no perfect human being by any means at least I can look in the mirror and understand that when I make a mistake..... I make it authentically. I may overreact. I may say the wrong thing.

But I will never use someone else's pain to try to set my own self free.

What is authenticity? Seth Godin has a really great blog and I think he sums it up best in the following few paragraphs:

If it acts like a duck (all the time), it's a duck. Doesn't matter if the duck thinks it's a dog, it's still a duck as far as the rest of us are concerned.

Authenticity, for me, is doing what you promise, not "being who you are".That's because 'being' is too amorphous and we are notoriously bad at judging that. Internal vision is always blurry.

Doing, on the other hand, is an act that can be seen by all.

As the Internet and a connected culture places a higher premium on authenticity (because if you're inconsistent, you're going to get caught) it's easy to confuse authentic behavior with an existential crisis. Are you really good enough, kind enough, generous enough and brave enough to be authentically a hero or leader?

Mother Theresa was an atheist, filled with self doubt. But she was an authentic saint, because she always acted like one.

You could spend your time wondering if what you say you are is really you. Or you could just act like that all the time. That's good enough, thanks. Save the angst for later.

It brings me back to the four rules I repeat to myself every morning when I meditate and several times throughout the day:

1. Be Impeccable with your word.

2. Don't take anything personally.

3. Don't make assumptions

4. Always do your best.

I promise.... you do your best to live by these four rules, and your life will get much simpler, really quick.

As I continue to trust my gut and follow those four agreements I see it seeping into each area of my life like water seeps through cracks in a wall, except as it seeps into me it is very good. It grounds me, it keeps me honest, keeps me in touch and at the same time in tune.

It's not about standing on a high horse and screaming I am perfect..... but I am able to live free of the mental drama.

So as I sat there yesterday and listened to a magnificent story, I realized it was not designed necessarily to harm me..... to but to preserve the self of the teller. But I found incredible comfort in knowing, feeling and believing that my own gut instinct was right all along.

So is yours.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I live in Rochester, which is about 60 miles East of Buffalo. I grew up in Buffalo, most specifically in a town known as Orchard Park. When you are a Buffalonian you tend to know people. It's a place where everyone knows everyone. There has been a lot of waiting during the past day. And that's the hardest part.

Friday was a tough day for all Western New Yorkers.

When I learned of the news and where the crash had occurred, my heart began to race. I could picture the very street. Who was on the flight.... it's a feeling of terror.... and then the waiting. Texting and emails and phone calls began to swirl between everyone I know from Buffalo.

Slowly the names began to emerge. Then the tears began to pour.

I know they may say this about certain towns or cities or groups of people, I so badly want to single out that Buffalonians are a special tight knit group of people. I think that exists everywhere around the country however. I think as humanity we are a closer group of people.

When you meet someone from Buffalo we are so strangely proud of our city.

While our hearts are heavy in sadness and disbelief...... we have to take those small pieces of what is left and move froward. And offer the very best of ourselves to everyone who was affected.

The families who were waiting at the airport that night.

The brother who watched his sister's plane crash.

The woman in Newark who didn't get on the plane, the girl in front of her did make that flight, so she wished her a good flight and they smiled at one another. The woman who didn't make the flight.... she needs to be prayed for also.

The family on the ground who lost their father and husband.

So please keep the families in your prayers on this Valentine's Day. Their healing will take a very long time, but we can send love, and faith and prayers.

And never forget them.

For more coverage please click here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

the magic of facebook

As I was giving my talk at Geneseo last evening I looked around the auditorium and realized something. A few times I had referenced FaceBook, and I began to see that.... this was a FaceBook generation. I had told them a few times that through "the magic of FaceBook" I was getting in touch with all of the old friends I had left behind.... and left behind for good fifteen years ago.

These kids.... they might not even understand what it would be like to leave people behind for fifteen years.

It's a different generation. My friend Tom calls them something like the technology generation... something like that.

I joined Face Book during a class last semester, because I was bored and figured it would be a great way to stay connected with my triathlon friends. And then something so strange started to happen. I began to see the names of people I went to high school with. The people I had left behind. Many were surprised I was even alive.

I never thought about their perception of me throughout these years. I began to get little notes in my inbox..... I have always wondered what happened to you.... so glad you are alive..... you finally look healthy....... you look well....... for fifteen years I have worried if you were okay.....

In my let me move on and leave all of them behind state, I truthfully didn't realize or comprehend that they cared about me. As sick as I was I believed everyone who tried to help me in my moments of illness were trying to hurt me, harm me, blow me in..... and I can now see as I stand on the other side of the wall of recovery..... that all of them just really cared.

It causes me great pain to know that many people worried about me for fifteen years. I went through great trouble to remain hidden. Jill found me, and she's one of the ones who I got so angry at for holding an intervention. Now she's 25 minutes form me and about to pop out her third child and I swear I will be at that doorstep as soon as she's ready for visitors!

My oldest friend in the world Erika.... she's lost 122 pounds. (She's beautiful at any weight but 122 pounds??????)

Holly.... she's a psychiatrist in New Orleans. She was in hurricane Katrina.

Karen.... she was my next door neighbor and babysitter. She taught me how to spell dictionary. She made her friend take her road test for her and when she drove us to Hickory Hill.... she actually did not have a license!

Roy..... he's a cardiologist in California, has been on General Hospital and on 24!

Tracey.... Jill's sister has been on Letterman.

Scott C.... he's a blossoming musician and traveling the country.

Tina..... when we were kids she always said she'd work for NASA and low and behold.... she IS.

Brady.... I knew he'd be an ARMY guy. He's a career military guy with war experience.

Lori..... stay home Mom. I knew she'd make a great one.

Gretchen..... has the oldest kid I think. She's in Michigan and renewing herself.

Justin..... he's a teacher at our High School.... imagine that!

Jamie..... A lawyer. I knew he'd be a lawyer.

Scott R...... just ran Disney!

Ethnea is on the coast of California, her sister Cathleen is a nurse and we have a small world connection!

Rose.... she's in California.... her sister Ellie is here in Rochester and we are having coffee on Friday.

He's not my high school friend but my brother -from -another -mother Ryan and I have a daily morning greeting about 5am. It seems to be our way of making sure we are up and training!!!!!!

The list goes on and on. Daily names appear that I haven't thought about in years. And I am not so afraid of that anymore. It's amazing what 15 years of space will do for you. I vowed I was done with that period of my life for good, but now as I look back on it, with a different perspective I am seeing it in a whole new light.

If only I had seen it then.

But then again, I would not be where I am right now, and I like where I am right now.

So I am welcoming the magic connecting powers of FaceBook. I am lucky in a strange way that I have had the experience of not seeing or contacting people for so long..... because now those bonds are sweeter, deeper, and truthful.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

me, myself and i

Coaching myself is going well..... thanks for asking ;-). I wasn't sure how it would go and at first I have to admit, we had a bit of a rough start. Then I had to begin approaching myself like one of my athletes.

I fill out my training log, and I send a daily email .... to myself.

And right about now I am wondering if I really should be publishing the fact that I do that. But I also admit to calling myself and leaving myself a voicemail when I need to remember something. I always tell myself to have a nice day and that I am one super awesome rock star chick.

That way I can take a look at my training objectively, do a little evaluation, and see what progress is or is not being made.

Today's example:

Tempo ride, I will spare you the details.

Today's email to self (again I wonder if I should really admit to this....)

Hello Coach!

Today's ride went well. I was able to hit all of the tempo intervals in the specified ranges. I know there were only four, but I feared that I would not remain on said bike for the cool down, so I threw in a fifth with the promise that if it didn't feel great I'd back it off. Good news: it felt great.

I like the rides where you break it up because a long ride on the CT doesn't feel so bad. To be honest I hate when you write "Endurance ride." Because then I feel bored.

Have a great day Coach! You rule!

Love Mary

The important part is the wattage file that should accompanies this email. Actually I just hop onto Cycling peaks for that. I typically look at my workouts later on in the day, that way I am a bit removed from them and I can be more objective. How did I maintain that effort? What is my TSS?

So thus far things are going smoothly. I should be right on target for a smooth race in new Orleans. I am saving my peaks for the Musselman and for Cheatwater.... er... Clearwater where my goal is to out ride every drafter on the course. HA HA! I have just been informed that I have joined the Driving Miss Daisy age group, and it will be fun to get in there with the elders and mix it up a bit! Get out your walkers ladies..... my carbon fiber roller is wicked fast!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bulimia Nervosa Talk

This Wednesday February 11th I am giving my annual talk at the State University of New York at Geneseo, about my journey through Bulimia Nervosa from age 10 through age 20, and how I was able to recover.

If you are interested in attending shoot em an email at maryeggers "at" gmail "dot" com for directions. Here are the other details:

Wednesday Feb 11th


SUNY Geneseo

million dollar mistake

I will finally will break my silence, and I know the suspense has been killing you since the news broke last week about my boyfriend Michael Phelps and his bong hitting habits. I think I have heard every argument.... cut the guy a break..... he had no childhood........ he hasn't taken a day off in three years. To all of that I say spare me.

When I walk through a store with my eight year old little boy and he catches a glimpse of a Michael Phelps picture, book magazine, cereal box, you will hear him scream eight isles away "OHMYGODTHAT'SMICHAELPHELPS!"

Right now he does not know that Michael Phelps took a hit off a bong, he does not know what a bong is (there are very big advantages to developmental delays sometimes....) but what do I tell him if and when he asks me..... Mom, if you say it is wrong to do drugs, why can Michael Phelps do drugs and it is okay?

What do I say to an eight year old boy who has done what many other young boys have done, found someone to believe in. Someone who gives them hope, someone who has beat the odds. What do I say to that?

We all make mistakes?

What about Joe Smith factory worker who works three jobs to make ends meet and support his children. I imagine he hasn't had a full day off in three years either. What if he's been working that hard at those jobs since he was sixteen as well? If Joe Smith factory worker takes a hit off the bong..... I imagine he might not be treated with such empathy and kindness.

Hell I work pretty damn hard and I don't get a lot of days completely off (and yes, it is by choice, but I believe Phelps had a choice too, unless I missed the part when he was drafted into swimming at gunpoint). I am pretty sure if a picture of me showed up on the Internet looking like I know how to handle a bong.... I am pretty sure I would lose just about everything I had.

Because Phelps is an athlete makes him more stressed out than Joe Smith factory worker? So it makes it okay for Phelps but not for Joe Smith?

By being who he is Phelps is an American icon. He knew this as he stepped into the role of Olympian and if I remember correctly his lesson should have been learned when he got that DWI a few years back. I was sure then Mama Phelps would have killed him. I wonder if she has now?

Yes he is held to a higher standard than Joe Smith. And isn't that so interesting in itself? Phelps promotes saying no to drugs, living the clean life and beating all the odds.

And really Michael.... did you really think in this day and age that if you are at a party hitting the Mary Jane, you really think someone with $$ signs in their eyes won't whip out that camera phone?

Really? You don't think you should have thought a little but more about that?

I think it is sad. I think it is wrong. I am proud of Kellogg's for dropping him and for USA swimming for placing a suspension on him. In a society that seems to have trouble with morality itself I don't want to see people just patting him on the back.

You had my son's trust Michael Phelps. Now you need to earn it back. Because in essence the fans, your fans, pay your multimillion dollar salaries. We watched you, dove in the pool with you, held out breath as you took that final stroke, we cried tears as we listened to the National Anthem with you...... we as Americans feel like we know you. Yes we live in a culture that makes a living out of tearing good people down. I think you are a good person Phelps. I think you were really stupid.... again.

So what should I tell my son? I don't know yet. Because I hope that not through his endorsements and his fast swimming time, but by his actions Michael Phelps can show the world who has supported him that you can redeem yourself from a very stupid mistake.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


It has been brought to my attention that 62 minus 5 is not a fifty eight. It is a fifty seven. So I swam those 100's in 57. Color me smile all over again. However Thursday..... didn't go so well due to that!

Onward.... I have had my nose in research this and last week. Not for school. For personal uses. I am researching Attention Deficit Disorder and Autism, and actually every learning disability on the spectrum of it. If you take a look at the research, not from Google but from the medical journals that you can access via Pub Med and such, the research is absolutely astonishing. The common theme is that many of these children are deficient in common vitamins and minerals. The research is actually overwhelming. So overwhelming that I have to wonder how on earth we've become such a medication nation.

There is a time and a place for medications. Even for ADD and other disorders. What I can't understand is that when medication regimes are prescribed, why are there no real instructions for plugging in the holes with nutrition as well, and in some cases, instead of? Does every child diagnosed with a disorder need to be drugged?

I often shake my head as I see children in the school lunchroom pulling Coke and Diet Coke out of their lunchboxes. Supplement that with a Crustable and some cheeze -its.

No wonder our society is so sick. Look at the typical American Diet.

I can't really blame the medical profession. Physicians don't get all that much training in nutrition, and to be very honest, neither do nurses. Even at the Masters level.

As I have gravitated towards a whole foods diet, I realized that this is the way my husband has always eaten. No wonder he's 52 and looks like he does, and is so amazingly healthy. And I eat very healthy, I just never took the time to look at the nutrients, or lack thereof in the bagels and powerbars that fill my diet.

It's been over a week since I have had a slice of bread or my beloved bagel. I am getting my carbohydrates from other sources. I have not gone all vegan (I wish!) but I am getting better carbohydrates form better sources. Steel rolled oats. Fruits and vegetables. Food with a small if any ingredient list.

It's expensive to eat whole foods, organic foods. Thank god I have one child and one husband. But as I stood in the grocery store the other night and really took a look at the differences in prices for organic and processed foods, I was astonished. Imagine being on food stamps.... to make that dollar stretch you are almost forced into eating processed foods.

It's sad. Very sad. And there's so much more that can be said about all of this, the medication nation, the standard American diet, the disorders that are multiplying every single day, the cost of food, etc. But we will save that for a later day and a later forum.

I lost my health last year and I made the decision to rebuild my body cell membrane by cell membrane. In shifting my diet to a whole food / primal / diet I have found research that is convincing to me that improved nutrition can help in learning disabilities, disorders. Could it cure them? I don't know. But how can good wholefood nutrition possibly HURT?

In the week I have been Gluten and Wheat free I can honestly say I feel incredible. I feel balanced nutritionally. In just a week I don't even crave my beloved before swimming bagel. I increased my Omega 3 fats and the good fats tenfold..... and thank you to a few of you kind souls who gave me comforting words about that...... and I am down 3 pounds, but more importantly those corn syrup cravings have vanished. And I mean vanished.

I am making this change for so many reasons. For my own health as I never want to lose it again. I am a nurse and I am tired of us health care professionals being terrible examples of health..... you know the overweight donut eating smoking ones..... I can be that change in our profession. As I work on my Masters my interest is growing in the field of Functional Medicine. As I shift Luc over to this way of eating.... I am seeing some small and subtle changes in his behavior.

There is a world of opportunity available to me by just changing the way that I eat. Will wholefood nutrition cure every ailment? Heck no. It can however be the supplement to anything. I don't understand how wholefood nutrition can ever hurt anything.

There are several resources I have been using to guide me.

The Ultramind Solution by Dr. Hyman was recommended to me by Cyndi Weis, and as I paged through it, I bought it because of the extensive bibliography (of medical studies).

The Omnovore's Dilema was recommended to me by one of my athletes, who follows this way of eating as well.

Checking in with Gordo, see his four pillars...... really good information.

Bottom line for me and my family...... nutrition is an easy thing to shift. What if by shifting our nutrition to wholefood organic eating, we can stay healthy? It took me losing my health almost completely to sit up and look around. What if the power really is in our hands?

What if we truly are what we eat?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

fifty eight

Yesterday morning I was lucky. I had Ken on one side of me and Kim on the other. And just a set of regular fins on, it was sprint week and there is nothing more that brings me dread than sprint day. I am an Irongirl for God's sake, not a sprinter. Anything worth anything to me is over four hours and more often than not well over five.

So when I hit the wall, was told my time and subtracted my five seconds because I was the second gal in the lane, I looked at Ken, really beginning to wonder about my math skills.

"Way to go Mary!" he said, as I subtracted five from 1:02 three more times, fifty eight. Fifty eight….. I asked Maureen next to me, if my math was correct. She approved.

"Dude." I said. And I will have to admit to you, it hurt like hell.

So I did it two more times just to make sure I wasn't stuck in a time warp like my friends on the island are in LOST. Just in case.

Sure enough, each time I hit the wall 1:02 minus five kept equaling fifty eight. Now two lanes over Mark was hitting 51. But I guess you can do that when you are a superstar.

I am going to credit my nutrition. HA HA! Not the hours of training I have been steadily putting in. The hours really haven't totaled up to be all that much.

Now the nutrition….. the nutrition is something that has been fascinating me on a very steady and daily basis. How so? The first thing: eating organically / raw / whole foods have never tasted so good in my whole-entire-life.

I am struggling with one thing: fat. I look at the nutrition content of some of the things I am making: ex: trail mix…. and I am having a coronary. Per serving, not so bad, but what if I eat more than one serving of my trail mix?

Contrary to what I have believed my entire life, and based my entire eating disorder on….. fat is not bad for you. Tell that to a girl who has lived "fat free" and vomited for 10 years of her life….. is a difficult thing to do. Convincing me that any fat is good …… my head understands it but my gut instinct still revolts. I am undoing an entire lifetime of thought patterns.

It is like instructing a swimmer who only breathes to the right, to breathe to the left. We can do it, it doesn’t hurt, it might benefit us, but it feels so strange.

All fats are not created equal and the kind of fat that a wholefood organic eating lifestyle will give you is the good kind. Omega 3. In a very small nutshell Omega 3 Fat helps to build cell membranes, reduces inflammation (which is found in ADD and Autism incidentally), and a bunch of other good things. I look at the good things, process them, understand them, and hope.

Now a whole food diet is not just rich (notice I did not say HIGH) in Omega 3 Fats, it's rich in nutrients and minerals. All which stimulate the body to produce the things it needs to to remain healthy and to repair itself. As I have been embarking on this journey I have never felt better.

The one addition to the schedule I am sticking to, is a daily meditation. Meditation? meditation. For 10 minutes every morning I sit and close my eyes, breathe and stay silent. That's all. That's all? Yeah, that's really all. It doesn't need to be any fancier than that!
As a new season approaches I have a few new approaches. To training, to nutrition, to my spirit. Let's see how it all comes together!

Sunday, February 1, 2009


This picture is from a poster that hangs in my chiropractor's office. The saying that goes with it is something to the effect of: "what you see above the surface is not always reflective of what's underneath." something like that! It's a fake picture by the way....

Another tooth was lost on Saturday morning, which meant the tooth fairy likely would be bringing another crisp dollar bill to the pillow underworld. If you are on Face Book you may have heard that I nearly was caught red handed two weeks ago. After careful inspection to make sure Lucster was asleep, I slid my hand underneath the pillow. As I was sliding it underneath again to place the dollar bill he awoke from a sound sleep and cried....


To which I replied..... "Who.... ME?" as if there was anyone else in the room. In fact.... it was the same thing I said when Curt proposed..... but that's another story.

As I told him I was just checking, he very sternly told me that the tooth was his, not mine.

As I held the tooth in hand I realized I had a shot at redemption.

Luc went downstairs and brought up his growing money pot.

"Mom..." he said to me.... "When you die I am going to go get myself a girl. When she's my girlfriend I will go to college to become a scientist, because I want to build roller coasters. When I am done with college I will buy a Honda and take my girl to Chuck E Cheese. Then I will marry her."

I reminded him that he could do that before I died..... but he told me not to worry. "I will be fine." He said.

Just to see.... I asked him what he would do if someone tried to get in his way.

"I will just kick them out of the way." He said so matter of factly. Then he added...."I won't really kick them though."

When I asked him why he would build roller coasters he said "Because it would be fun."

Imagine that, I thought. He's got the right idea already. Doing something you love because it's fun. Now my job is to preserve that spirit from all the idiots who claim they are attempting to help and guide him..... which is code word for controlling and conforming him......

Each of us had that spirit, and each of us still posses that spirit. It's how we choose to get around the rules and the regulations and the bureaucracy of tape that tries to hold us back.

Why can't we live the life of our dreams? Right now I can say that I am. Right now I cam doing absolutely everything I love to do. The only thing I don't enjoy is school. Yet that shall lead way to something bigger and brighter and warmer.... so those are the dues right now.... that I have to pay.

"Mom..." Luc said to me as he finished the story... "Me and my girl, when we get married.... we will live happily ever after." and he leaned in close... "Because we can.

I realize that I am not going to be able to shield him and protect him from all of it, but I can teach him how to handle it all while trying to keep his spirit intact. I am teaching him the Four Agreements, I have been for a while.

When I think of the spirit inside of me, I have to say that right this very minute it feels bigger and brighter than ever. It feels intact, it feels like it has momentum. It dreams, it brings me through moments with a smile.

Luc makes me dream my own dreams. What I dream of for myself, for our family and for our world. A better place. A lifetime of memories. An adventure is about to begin.... just five more semesters. Hold on guys, get your surfboards, your snowboards and clear out your heart... because in five small semesters it will begin.