I’ve been sitting on this blog post for two months now. I keep editing it, and thinking to myself, should I actually post this? I realize this opens me up to criticism and strong opinions on a sensitive issue. I simply want to share my experience and hope that someone might read it and find peace with his or her body too.
One of the many things that I love about triathlon is that it’s a beautiful mix of different body types. Even amongst the pros, it’s not one body type winning races. However, it isn’t a secret that our sport is no stranger to eating disorders and body image issues. A number of well-known professional triathletes have written about their battles with eating disorders. Growing up in the sport, I was 16 when my coach first spoke with me about my weight. I had NEVER ever considered myself to be “fat” prior to this conversation, but triathlon has a whole other definition of skinny. I carried this doubt in my head for a long time, and for years considered myself one of the “bigger girls” in the sport. I felt confident in my body as a normal human being, but as a triathlete I felt I was big. One single defining moment changed the way I looked at the scale. In 2009, I walked into the gym to do a strength session with my coach at the time, Tim Crowley. I was very happy because I had lost a few pounds, and I was excited to tell him. In a very polite way Tim said to me, “I don’t care about your weight. All I care about is how fast and healthy you are”. That was it. I realized that I’m a professional in a sport that ONLY measures your success based off of how fast you are. There are no extra points for being skinny. I didn’t step on the scale for a very long time after that. Not because I was avoiding it, but because my relationship with my weight had completely changed. I was now completely focused on the numbers that mattered.
STOP HATING YOUR BODY.
Over the last four years there has been a gradual change in my body. My diet changed, because I realized I was punishing and rewarding my body by with food. Instead, I focused on eating a balanced, clean and unprocessed diet. I never starve my body because I feel it only teaches my body to store calories in the future. My body trusts me to consume calories that it burns so it’s never unnecessarily storing. I changed how I viewed my body. I saw it as a product of my work; the food I consumed provided it with the fuel and recovery it needed to perform it’s best. My body is a vessel for me to pursue what I love and I am so grateful for everything it does for me. When was the last time you thanked your body, or appreciated your body, or LOVED your body for what it does? Love your body.
RACE WEIGHT? FAST EQUALS FAST.
Unfortunately, I think all of the discussion about losing weight or race weight has resulted in people thinking that skinny equals fast. Fast equals fast. Bottom line. That’s it. There is no weight that means you’re instantly going to achieve your racing and training goals. I try to think about about being healthy rather than skinny. What does healthy look like for you? One component of it could be a number on a scale, but what else does it include?
LOVE YOUR BODY.
With all the focus on race weight, it’s easy to become singularly focused on being thin. However, to be able to race and train all year round, you have to be healthy and there are multiple components of that. Most importantly it’s about balance. There is no magic button or special ticket that is going to get anybody to achieve your goals. Simply losing weight is not going to make anybody fast. Focus on the numbers that matter, and nurture your body with healthy and clean foods that provide your body with the best possible foods for recovery and fuel. Most importantly, love your body; it is an absolute gift.