My relationship with food has been dysfunctional for as long as I can remember. This injury has forced me to realize that my relationship with running borders on disordered behavior too. I believe things happen for a reason and if anything good came from this experience it is that my relationship with fitness and food has been positively redefined by this injury.
Initially I took up running to help me lose weight after having my son in December 2006. The weight didn’t fall off like I’ve heard from others, but gradually over the course of the next 6 years I lost about 75 pounds. For the past 2 years I’ve bounced up and down about 5 pounds depending on where I’m at in my race training. Sadly endurance training does not translate into weight loss for me. It actually causes weight gain usually near the end. The truth is, running a lot makes me hungry!
I have found that over the last couple of years training for long races has essentially helped me to maintain my weight. Though the food I was eating got healthier and less processed, my eating behaviors hadn’t drastically changed. You can overeat on fruit, vegetables and nut butters! There really is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
In the back of my head has been a nagging fear. I worried that if I couldn’t run the weight would come pouring back on me. When I stopped running in late April I knew I would have to pay close attention to what I was eating. The injury has consumed my life and most of my time was spent tending to my foot. If I wasn’t cautious I knew I would start gaining weight quickly.
Almost immediately the scale jumped up a couple of pounds and within a couple of weeks my weight reached a number that was simply unacceptable. When I tell you I gain weight by looking at food it’s no joke. Weight loss for me is a very slow and challenging process, but weight gain is effortless and instantaneous. I began weighing myself every few days to keep things in check. I jumped back into diligent food tracking either on my fitness pal or in a paper journal. I began weighing and measuring my food more consistently.
My weight reached its highest in over two years, but then it came back down to the weight I’ve been at since last fall. It’s not my ideal weight, but I’m healthy and energetic. I have about 15 pounds to lose to be within my “goal” weight range.
Years ago a setback like this would have definitely resulted in a massive weight gain. This injury taught me a very valuable lesson. I don’t need running to maintain my weight. The cat is out of the bag…it is not really the running that’s been keeping my weight in check, it’s the habit I’ve created to move my body everyday. Just because I couldn’t run didn’t mean I couldn’t move. I swam, water jogged, did yoga and lots of strength training. Instead of wasting more of my precious time going to and from the gym I learned how to strength train at home using little more than my 5 pound dumbbells, a 20 pound Kettlebell, a yoga mat and an exercise band. For the first time in my life I’m doing real push-ups! I can hold planks longer each time and my yoga balancing poses are getting stronger. I am excited to start running again. I’ve missed it so much, but I’m also really motivated to keep up with the new workouts.
I have issues with food and running from them isn’t going to resolve them. I’ve made great progress in overcoming the issues that kept me obese for so long. Being injured forced me to face the food demons head on. Each time I confront my relationship with food it loses some power over me. I hope to someday be in complete control of food. I am a work in progress.
In the midst of all of this I’ve had some interesting conversations with Carlos lately about nutrition. A couple of weeks ago at his school carnival kids could win a large bag of chips or 2 liter of soda. I just gagged a little writing that and I’m furious about it, but I’m told this is tradition and the kids love it?! I could write an entire post about this, but my point in mentioning it here is that I made the analogy that our body is like a castle and we are the king or queen of the castle. Do we really want to let harmful things inside our castle? If I’m advocating for Carlos to give his body the royal treatment then why shouldn’t I do the same?
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” Jim Rohn