2020 will be a big year for me. It was just announced that my memoir "Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds" will be made into a major motion picture. Amazon Studios optioned the project, and it will be produced by a dream team of PatMa Productions with the Legendary Denise DiNovi and "This Is Us" actress Chrissy Metz
– who plays Kate on the show – and will possibly star as me in the movie.
I’m so incredibly grateful for this amazing journey, acknowledging there have been many people who have helped me along the way. And on January 12, I’m going to take the next step to help others to “move mountains” in their lives. My first ever Moving Mountains Retreat
will be held in Summit, NJ, and I couldn’t be more excited.
But life for me hasn’t always been a cause for celebration. When I look back at my past four and a half decades and my complicated relationship with food, I see quite clearly that it had very little to do with my appetite. Instead, it was an inability to deal with the stress of life. It was a quest for love. It was a hunger for life.
My disordered relationship with food – specifically Binge Eating Disorder – held me back from the things that brought me passion and that joie de vivre (zest for life). Urges to eat replaced my compulsion to do things that made me feel good and alive. It was that way since I was nine years old – or at least that’s the first time I remember bingeing.
It made sense that I turned to food. I was burned badly as a baby, so I’ve been uncomfortable in my skin most of my life. I used food to drown out the screams of my parents when they were on the verge of divorce. I went deep into bingeing on my 12th birthday when I was sexually assaulted.
It took decades to get back to a life that didn’t require bingeing to get through the day-to-day. My journey back to a life that gives me permission to move mountains – from climbing Kilimanjaro to just being present – has been one of recovery. Thanks to eating disorder specialist therapists, I learned how to have a healthy relationship with food. But that set me on a path of learning the things I missed along the way.
I created this retreat to combat the idea that success is just a formula of eating less and moving more. I believe wholeheartedly that the path to healing and recovery comes from loving where you are – no matter how messy, challenged and down a road you didn’t mean to travel – and going from there.
This retreat is about stepping out of life for a day to focus on where we want to go in the next decade. You see, this event represents many of the things I’ve had to learn, including how to stand on my own. I’ve had to learn how to see the strength and resilience of my path. I’ve had to stand up for myself. I’ve had to learn how to find the passion and joy that I had stuffed down for so long.
I’m so grateful to Eating Recovery Center for helping me bring together two of the most amazing and empowering women speakers I’ve ever met: Mirna Valeria, a plus-size ultra-marathoner and Jennifer Cassetta, a black-belt confidence coach.
I will lead the day, talking about how to take the resilience and strength from the past and spin it into your future goals. We will do a vision board session with Mirna and have lunch, and then Jennifer will teach us the art of badassery. She will help us craft our own battle cry. Mirna will end with Passion Forward. And then we’ll have indoor s’mores.
The goal by the end of this retreat is to step out of our lives and focus on the things we need to build a life that brings us the joy, passion and celebrations that we all deserve.
I do hope you’ll join us on January 12, 2020, or anywhere along our journey. Learn more and purchase tickets.
Kara Richardson Whitely is the author of Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds, Weight of Being and is an executive producer on an upcoming project. She serves as an Eating Recovery Center Binge Eating Disorder Recovery Advocate. You can follow her journeys on Instagram.