Food and I have had an odd relationship for a long time. I grew up a horribly picky eater, (and am so getting payback with two picky eaters of my own-one who won't eat anything but plain pasta) and still am somewhat picky. I was a vegetarian for 10 years until I was pregnant with my first and was anemic. Now I eat only chicken, and only if it is cleverly disguised to not taste like chicken.
When I was around 12, I filled out-not my chest, just my body. It seemed to me I got big overnight. My best friend was as tall as I was, but a string bean. I compared myself to her, and felt big and awkward. Having a brother that teased me about my size did not help my confidence.
By high school, I started worrying over my weight. I would eat 300 calories in a day, then eat 3000 the next. My relationship with food was not healthy, especially for the athlete that I was. In my mind, food=fat. I had no concept of healthy, balanced meals.
I grew up watching my mom do fad diets and ordering infomercial exercise equipment that was used only for hanging laundry. She worked swing shift, so I was left on my own for grocery shopping and meals. One night I would have a lean cuisine, the next a whole frozen pizza with a side of cookie dough, then I would feel horrible with guilt. I briefly tried purging, but for the life of me could not bring myself in puke on purpose.
My senior year I still worried over my size, not understanding that you can't change your frame size. I compared myself to everyone else without a sense of practicality or reason. By summer, I stopped eating as much as I could-and I liked the results.
See, this is the trap with anorexia. It does work as weight loss. At times I would give in to sweets, and I would punish myself by running. I would not have called myself anorexic, and still hesitate to use that title-but the signs were there.
I moved to Montana excited to start out on my own. I was poor, and it is hard to eat at all let alone well when you are poor. When I did eat, it was ramen or something equally cheap and processed. I worked at a restaurant, and for a while that was my only meal of the day. I started dating, and started eating more. Eating can be such a social thing. I still ate like a bird, but I ate without guilt. It was a good thing. I gained a little weight back, but not enough to worry me.
I look back at how I felt then, 125-130lbs at 5'10" and I still felt fat. I still tried to suck in my gut, and worried over arm flab. I look back at pictures from that time and think, I looked bad, all bone! Why didn't anyone tell me I looked bad?
Fast forward, I got engaged, got married. I am eating more and running less, and put on a few pounds. I was embarrassed, but okay with it. I was on the pill which didn't help. I sprained my wrist and my husband had to help me button my jeans. He commented that they were tight. I stopped eating unless I was with him and had to. I knew what I was doing wasn't healthy. I reached out to a few friends, but stopped short of actually asking for help. In my mind, that equaled saying I wanted to get fat.
The second year we were married, I discovered I was pregnant. Wait, what? Birth control failed us, but it wasn't a bad thing-just unexpected. I tried to eat well knowing it wasn't just for me. I didn't gain any weight and was eating a ton. It was great! The doctor complained about me being underweight, but I was thankful to not get fat. That didn't last. Of course I got fat. Have you ever seeing a pregnant woman NOT get fat? Hello! It was hard watching my body change, knowing it would never be the same. After he was born, I was depressed. Montana winter, being cooped up with a newborn when all my friends were in college or playing, and I was fat (in my mind). I had stretch marks. But the depression did work in my favor in one thing-I stopped micromanaging what I was putting in my mouth. I just ate.
Three babies later, I was overweight. And I didn't think I was that bad, although I cried having to buy size 16 pants that were tight. I ate dessert daily, and enough carbs for a whole family. I fed the kids fruits and veggies, but ate few myself. I was over 210lbs and knew I needed to make a change, but before I did-I needed a plan to do it right.
I worked out, still somewhat obsessively-I can't help that. I dieted, but I counted points using old weight watchers tools of my moms to make sure that I ate what I should, not just cutting out food. The weight slowly started to come off. I was relieved to see progress, and it felt good not to be starving. I lost 45lbs.
I started running. The remaining 25lbs came off steadily, and I was finally where I wanted to be. I kept running because it felt great and burned of my stress, but I still needed a goal. Met a friend who turned into a training partner who got me to race. Something to focus on! I am a person who needs goals, and needs a plan. Not to mention a competitive drive in everything. Training to race suited my needs perfectly. Now I was eating to fuel my training, and splurging some without guilt.
Being injured has taught me a lot. #1 you can't eat like when you are running when you aren't. duh, but still true. So I gained weight back. Not the end of the world, but I would like to get back where I was. #2 I don't only run so I can eat like I want and still keep my weight where I want, it is so much more a part of who I am now-I like that about me #3 I do miss eating whatever I want on long run days
#4 I am coming to understand that how my mom dealt with being overweight affected me. I don't want that for my kids, my girls especially. I don't want them hearing and repeating "I'm fat". I want them to have a healthy relationship with food, and the best I can give them is my example. (this topic may need it's own post later since this is way long)
I am easing myself back into running. today I did 5.6 with one mile at "tempo" 8:30 pace. That hurt, but it felt great to push it. I remember when I started running and how HARD it was. It felt that way the first few days, and now it feels like I can go forever again. I'm sure I can't, but it seems like it at mile 3.