First let’s be clear — I have never in my life forgotten to eat. It’s not part of my genetic makeup. I don’t forget food. In fact, during our recent return to Miami for marathon weekend, my running buddies would ask me if I remembered a specific detail from the previous trip. Unless it dealt with food or the race, I was useless in providing details.
That should pretty much give you a clue that food and I have a unique relationship. It’s changed over the years. It’s not necessarily tenuous. It’s not destructive. It doesn’t consume my every waking moment. But there are times when we hit a bump of dysfunction and it’s good to reassess our relationship.
Such is the case for me this week as a crazy busy schedule this time of year has me off my regular eating habits. I haven’t quite gotten the groove of my meal time in this new schedule yet and afraid of eating too much, I sometimes err on the side of eating too little. This was problem yesterday. Too few calories and too little protein, especially in the evening, left me so hungry I felt sick this morning. And so my swim workout turned into getting the yards in at slightly below a moderate pace with a bit of extra rest instead of the fully-committed training session I had intended.
Lesson learned. As the duration and intensity of my workouts increase I need more calories. I need to forget about my weight — a difficult thing for many women to do and difficult too for female athletes.
Swim master Greg sent me a copy of an article on body image and athletes written by nutritionist Nancy Clark. Clark makes important points which intellectually I understand, putting them into practice is another journey, one that parallels my triathlon and endurance sport journey.
“Weight issues are rarely about weight,” Clark writes. “They tend to be about feeling inadequate and imperfect.”
Relationships with food are highly personal, yet can be intensely relatable.
Which is why I’m so supportive of my friend Elizabeth, who started a blog to chronicle her journey into clean eating.
Her tag line is perfect: “Just a girl, trying to eat right.” The blog is her way to share what she’s learned, trade tips with others and hold herself accountable. She’s trying a clean eating diet, which isn’t rocket science. It’s eating healthy foods, avoiding processed foods and too much sugar, and eating at regular intervals. But changing life patterns can be difficult. Especially, when in Elizabeth’s case, she used food as her friend — to comfort her through difficult times. As she learned about her fears, she was able to face them instead of drowning them in potato chips and wings.
I have been in Elizabeth’s place. I came out the other side. And while from time to time food and I have a few disagreements, we’re much happier together when we understand the nature of the relationship.
And so the last 24 hours, from reading about athletes and body image to reading about one woman’s journey to eating healthier to my own nutritional misstep, I’ve been given a great cosmic reminder — that while there are universal truths, my experience is unique. The most important thing anyone can do is honor their own unique truth and fully live in it.