Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Battle Within

Four years ago I was battling some major demons inside of me. I was relatively happy, I had just started running and had fallen in love with it, but I still battled demons. These demons made me worry about every morsel of food I ate, tracked and weighed everything, never ate out because I couldn't control the calorie or sugar count, cut out all grains not because of an allergy, but because I was afraid of them making me fat.

Over these last few years I feel as if I've quieted the demons quite a bit. I understand after training for three marathons that I need to fuel my body properly to run as much as do. I've let up on a lot of the food rules that were driving me insane - weighing my food, tracking everything, allowing sugar in my house on occasion and even allowing a bagel or two be part of my weekly breakfast routine when I want something other than oatmeal. I understand now that my body needs carbs to function as the runner I want to be.

Strong legs in short shorts = strong runner!

However, those demons are never quiet for long. Someone will make an offhand comment about my food choices or my body type and those demons come roaring again. Right now I'm fighting them hard. My marathon is next weekend and now is not the time to cut carbs or overhaul my normal diet. Although I do love to read about ways to properly feed the runners body for optimal performance, now is not the time to be making those changes. 

Here's the thing, I struggle to come to terms with my body. I will never be someone who is perfectly tiny or skinny. I'm definitely athletic. Strong looking. I get that this body type is not everyone's ideal body type (ummm, thanks neighbor for pointing out time and time again how "big" my legs are in my running shorts; I got your message), and I'm okay with that. I like, no love, having muscle. Strong legs to carry me through 26.2 miles. Obviously I wish I had perfect abs and no matter how hard I try, can't get the perfect stomach I want. No shakes, workout video, wrap, or whatever magic potion someone wants to sell me is going to give me that. I'm working hard. I run 55 to 60 miles per week. I lift weights. I do planks and core workouts. This is my body no matter how much I want to change it some days. I still feel incredibly self-conscious in a bikini or running in a sports bra and struggle going to the pool when it's busy.

I have the runners tan down pat! But I feel too self-conscious to go to the pool!

And because of this struggle, my eating and my nutrition easily becomes affected. I tend to stop eating enough food and survive on chicken and salad. I stop eating things I love like greek yogurt or chocolate because someone pointed out my imperfect body; the thing that I keep beating myself up over and over again. Controlling or cutting my calories does no service to my running and fitness. Especially at this point in my training. 

So if you start to feel the need to tell someone how they should be eating because it worked for you or your sister, best friend, etc., or pointing out something imperfect about their body or diet, just pause for a minute. Is it really your place to say something? Does that person have a good relationship with food? Because I'm guessing there are more people out there like me who suffer from disordered eating and body image issues. What you say could put them in a dangerous downward spiral or constantly be plagued by negative thoughts about what you said. If they ask you for advice, that's different. But those offhand comments about someone's body or food choices, be a little careful. Those demons don't stay quiet for long.

Lastly, dear neighbor. I know you will never read this, but please keep your opinions to yourself. I don't comment on your body, please don't comment on mine. I'm not sorry it's not to your liking. I'm also not sorry that I love cotton candy, because it's really strange you had an issue with the fact that I wanted to find some last year during the carnival festival. And no. I don't need to run 10 extra miles if I ever find that elusive cotton candy. 

Working on keeping those demons quiet. Until next time~ 

2 comments:

  1. SO many women (and maybe especially us runners!) struggle with this. All I can say is you look gorgeous and strong!! I too have gotten those off handed comments that have haunted me for days, months or even years. Just take it one day at a time and try to love all that your body does for you. Not too many people can train for and finish a marathon - you can because your body is amazing!! xoxoxo

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  2. Sorry to hear this is something you struggle with. Isn't it ironic that we feel more in control when we monitor our intake so closely, but in turn, it traps us, making us unable to enjoy going out, etc. I had an eating disorder for 5+ years and I was a miserable person. Whether you call it an eating disorder or disordered eating the point is that we're our own prisoners-- prisoners of perfectionism.

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