I have talked about this topic in one of my previous blogs, and since it is one of those subjects that are constantly in conversations, media, and pretty much everywhere you turn your head towards I decided to update it here.
I had an eating disorder when I was 19 years old. I was lucky enough to discover swimming and realize food is fuel for my body and a tool to achieve what I wanted to achieve instead of the enemy. For a long time I didn’t think about food and didn’t have those nightmares that used to haunt me (“What do you mean we are eating outside? What am I going to do? Will there be anything I could it that won’t make me fat? Do I have to eat in front of people?”). When I swam I just ate what I needed to eat (sometimes more than I wanted to) in order to endure my training and achieve my goals.
Then I became a runner. And, let’s face it, a runner’s body is much different (and smaller) than a swimmer’s body. I started losing weight because running changes your body, I started getting a lot of attention about how I was losing weight… and I liked it. I kept telling people that were concerned that it was all good because it was about performance (less weight to carry for 26.2 miles) but the truth is that I started eating less and less. I never stopped eating but I was clearly not eating enough. I am 5’8″ and I came down to 107 pounds. I loved how I looked even though my friends kept asking me if I was sick or if anything was going on. I was still running well and fast so I didn’t care much. And then I broke. Turns out your body needs the fuel in order to function and more when you are putting it under a lot of stress (from training or any other kind of stress).
I started eating well again and my training was better. Under my eyes I was heavy because I keep comparing my body to the body of other runners. That’s totally unfair. My body is unique and it has characteristics that no one else does. My arms are a little bigger because I built muscle from all those swimming years. They are not big, they are strong. My rib cage is a certain size (that’s how my bones are) and there is nothing I can do to have my bones being smaller (and if there is it’s called osteoporosis and that’s not good). And, as my husband/coach said “you are running well, fast and healthy. If your shorts don’t fit just buy bigger shorts”. He is right. I run really well when I am in between 114-116 pounds. That’s my sweet spot. And I have been told I look healthy. The best part is that I feel great when I am in that weight range.
Two summers ago for the first time I did what I have never done. I let go. It was great at the beginning but then I got injured, traveled to France all summer and eventually I realized I was now on the other side of things. Not that I was “fat” but I was definitely bigger than 116 pounds. It was not really obvious to most people since it was only 8-10 more pounds, but to me it was way too obvious and I didn’t like it. Worst part is that I was injured and couldn’t really do anything exercise related about it. So, What do you do when your mind is not completely healthy when it comes to this matter?
I started going to Anahata yoga and I added a couple of Yoga restoration, Yoga nidra and Kundalini yoga classes. Kundalini helps a lot to release the toxins of your body and to keep your focus and raise your energy up. Yoga restoration helps to get your body back in balance while getting your mind quiet and it helps with any injury you may have. They say you burn calories as well when you do yoga but that’s no why I went there. Ii just gives me mental peace and allows me to see I am not my body, I am much more than that. It helps me accept things the way they are instead of wishing they were different… But, let’s face it, I still wanted to go down to “my sweet spot” so when i came back to training I didn’t have to carry the real extra weight. I am sure many of you have heard of all those diets that claim you will lose a ton of weight in a week. I have never been able to like a diet and I know better than that. But I also have tried to do them all only to find out what I already knew: the best weight to lose weight (besides exercising) is watching what you eat and eating about 500 calories less per day. That will take you to lose about one pound per week. Of course if you want to eat the same number of calories you are eating right now you just have to exercise more so you burn around 500 calories more per day (or a combo or burning 250 calories more and eating 250 calories less).
There are many tools online that help you track your calories. I am not sure this will be good for everybody bu it helps me a lot to make conscious choices of what I eat every day, and also it keeps me honest about eating exactly what I need, no more and no less. I use LoseIt.com because it’s really easy, free, and you can have it on your phone. I was craving something sweet before I started writing (craving, I was not hungry and that’s good to know as well). I went to log what I wanted to it (a piece of cinnamon raisin bread) and I realized I could have an apple and an orange instead and still consume a little bit less calories. It was a no brainer for me since an apple and an orange have better nutrients than the piece of cinnamon raisin bread. I am not saying I will never eat the bread, there are days that i do make that choice, but it’s a conscious choice.
So, I am not trying to educate anyone about weight loss. I am just sharing a little bit of my story here. If you have an eating disorder, go talk to someone. Send me an email. I know the hell it is and I also know there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you are trying to lose weight, do it the smart way. Make good choices. If you are training for any kind of sport remember that the amount and quality of food you put in your body will have an impact on your training and your performance. Be smart. Be safe. And, overall, remember that the body is not who you really are, that’s just the suit you use while you are on this planet. The suit can change but who you are will remain so try to focus on nourishing your soul, on becoming a better version of yourself, on working on the things that are setting you back, on using more positive words, positive thoughts and leave behind anything that has negative energy; on loving more and accepting more while judging less and less.
I hope you have a great day!. Remember you can subscribe to this blog so you get it directly on your email and remember to follow me on twitter (@terezacher) and Instagram (insightfulrunner) for daily mental tune ups