Emily Johnson

In my teens and early college years, running was my identify. My high school track & field career put me on the path to run for my college, and I immediately found my place with my team at Harding University. I have always been very goal-oriented and self driven; I logged my miles in a notebook (especially during the summer—I never took a break), kept detailed records of the races I ran, and skipped out on Friday nights with my girlfriends because I was afraid of not being rested enough to run the next day. Though I was never a “dieter,” I was very conscious of what I ate. Exercise was a checks and balances system for me—I felt guilt for indulging, and therefore I had to make up for it with a long distance run.

I think that when we are constantly striving and putting our identify in something other than Christ, there will always come a time that stops us dead in our tracks and forces us to be still. For me, this came in the form of injury. I began experiencing excruciating pain in my lower legs that would eventually cause numbness that began in my toes and worked it’s way up into my calves. Every doctor that I went to told me to stop and to rest, but I never listened. I believed that I could WILL myself to get better. After a year of tests, I was finally diagnosed with compartment syndrome in both of my calves. I was told that this was extremely rare, and typically occurs from trauma-related injuries, such as vehicle or motorcycle accidents. I immediately wanted to know what could be done to “fix” it, because stopping was not an option. Surgery consisted of cutting the fascia surrounding the muscle all the way from my knee to my ankle so that the pressure surrounding the muscle could be released. I had worsened my case and caused myself irreversible nerve damage in my calves because I was stubborn and continued to push through the pain right up until the surgery. Afterwards, I continued to push and push, but I never felt the same. I continued to experience pain. I thought I was supposed to be “fixed.” I was heartbroken.

Then, during my sophomore year of college, I began to experience a change in my mental state. I didn’t feel like “me.” I was losing weight rapidly, and restricting my food intake. I continued practicing with my team, but I was in a constant state of pain. I had bruises on my spine and tailbone because I was so thin; I got heart palpitations because my heart (which is a muscle), had atrophied because I wasn’t nourishing my body. I was diagnosed with a severe depressive disorder, anorexia nervosa, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Before I began seeking help and taking the appropriate medications, I thought that I was spiritually flawed. That I didn’t have enough faith. I wasn’t strong enough in my beliefs to make myself better. They say that you have to hit rock bottom before you can begin to rise. Rock bottom to me is when you have finally exhausted all of your efforts, and all you can do is cry out to the One who can lift you up. “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light” (Ephesians 5:13).

Nooma reminds me of my story and where I’ve been. It allows me to check in with myself—my rational spirit—and make sure that it is aligned. Exercise is no longer a form of checks and balances, and eating should not bring about a cycle of guilt and shame. I want others to see that they can find freedom from whatever it is that binds them—and that they will have a community to surround them and pick them up when they fall. That is the mission of Nooma. The workouts are just a vehicle to finding the connection with each other that we all share.

“The light in me…”

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Nooma studio Locations

215 W Market Ave, Searcy, AR 72143 / 501-492-9894
11610 Pleasant Ridge Road #104 Little Rock, AR 72223 / 501-293-6626
4204 S JB Hunt Dr #30 Rogers, AR 72758 / 479-372-4813

 

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Legal Notice    Privacy Policy