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Marathon Weight: When ED Thought Slips Back In…

March 30, 2011

When I started training for my marathon back in December, I was curious as to what would happen with my body shape and weight. I’d heard that it’s pretty common, and even healthy, to gain weight during marathon training since you are building leg muscle and eating a lot more. I wasn’t super concerned about this, but seeing the number on the scale creep up isn’t the most fun thing in the world.

What actually happened surprised me though. I have actually lost weight during training. Nothing drastic – just a few pounds – but I’m already thin and know I don’t need to lose any more. But the weight loss makes me worry that I might not be building enough muscle or refueling properly.

The problem is that while I consider myself fully recovered from my eating disorder, it’s something that is difficult to ever make go away completely. When I see that number on the scale get lower, I notice my disordered thought slipping back in. To many people, especially those with eating disorders, lower = better. Lower = success, = happiness, = beauty.


This wasn’t always the case for me, though. I didn’t actually ever  myself during my eating disorder. I didn’t care about the number. I only cared about the control over the food and making sure not much of it was going into my body. Once I started seeing doctors and therapists, the scale was my enemy. It told me when I had failed those that were looking out for me.

But now that I have been at a healthy weight for a few years, seeing a lower number on the scale just causes an internal battle. I started to weigh myself every morning to make sure the number wasn’t getting any lower, but eventually it became a bad habit and I had to know what I weighed each day. I know that the number shouldn’t be dropping and I know that I look, feel, and function best at a higher weight, but it is still hard to reject the idea of losing weight.

I haven’t been restricting my food intake at all. In fact I have been able to win the internal battle by adding extra fat at lunch and extra snacks after dinner. (I don’t post everything I eat). It’s fun actually, because I LOVE eating! I also made the decision that the scale gets used only once per week. I don’t have a problem with keeping tabs on myself, but the daily weight check was not healthy for me.

I know that I need to be fit and strong in order to complete this marathon. “Frail” and “weathered” are not two terms I want associate with myself. I am an athlete! A runner! And I want to look like one too.

I’m pretty sure that along with the extra calories I’ve been purposely eating, my marathon taper will help me to naturally get back to a healthier weight. And remember, I’m talking a couple of pounds so it’s nothing extremely serious. Another goal of mine is to incorporate more strength training into my routine so that I have lean muscle and a stronger build.

I guess I’m telling you this first of all to get it off my chest, and secondly to give you an example of ways that I still struggle with disordered thought. I think it’s common for those in recovery to fall into the occasional ED trap, but what is important is that we know how to help ourselves out of it. I’ve come to terms with the fact that my eating disorder will always be a part of my life, but I have also learned how to minimize its roll. I no longer count calories, worry about fats and carbs, or deny myself treats.

I’m not running this marathon for charity because of how important it is to me personally. It’s a sign that I have recovered from my eating disorder, that I am fueling myself well enough to get through strenuous physical activity, and that I can push my boundaries and accomplish something I never thought was possible. And I am darn proud of that.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2011 2:11 pm

    I know EXACTLY what you mean! I have internal battles a lot! Hate them! And I did not always weigh myself either. I never do now. I hate seeing the number. The interna; battles are what led me to binging in the first place ( I have not in two weeks! 🙂 ). It was cuz I wanted to restrict but deep down I knew I should eat more so then I would feel like I needed more so I would have it. But since I wanted to restrict I felt guilty for giving my body what it needed which in turn caused me to overeat, binge, etc. etc.

    Glad you know your body! You are a smart girl! 🙂

  2. March 30, 2011 2:13 pm

    You rock. This post is well-timed and much appreciated. Your honesty is really inspiring! I am really excited for your run. It will be an accomplishment to be proud of, for sure!!! Heck, GETTING TO THE START is an accomplishment to be proud of!!

    Just because you’re running less doesn’t mean added pounds automatically, though. Food during taper is critical. Tapering is still training. Your muscles are finally able to repair and replenish themselves completely after all the awesome training you’ve put in!! Keep fueling (yum protein!), listen to your legs and give them what they ask for now, and get excited for chocolate at Easter!

    Taper time is crazy physically and psychologically. Welcome the crazies as part of the process. I always find myself giddy-excited unexplainably about everything, yet simultaneously worried I’d “waste” all my race energy being silly than on letting my body soak it all up!

  3. March 30, 2011 2:43 pm

    It’s great to know you recognize “ED’s voice” and your own, and fighting against it!
    I’m sure things will turn out great. You can do it, Clare!
    Besides, eating can be fun. You should get creative, haha 😉
    Have a great day, love!

  4. March 30, 2011 2:47 pm

    This post really shows how far you have come- that you can add some extra food, that you want to look strong and like an athlete, and you can restrict how much you are weighing yourself. Good job girl!

  5. Abby permalink
    March 30, 2011 3:10 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. It is coming at a really good time for me. I am training for a half marathon right now and the number has been creeping up. I am trying to break my habit of the daily weight but I guess it has just become such a routine that I always do it. Then I freak out if it has changed by very much related to the things I have eaten the previous day. Such a vicious cycle…and I know what you mean about the “lower = better. Lower = success, = happiness, = beauty”.

  6. March 30, 2011 3:48 pm

    i was like you- the number didnt matter.. the control mattered!! and then once ppl started focusing on the number i was focusing on the number!!! im so happy you have noticed this though!! thats so important.. and you wILL be strong for your marathon cuz thats who you are!! thank u so much for sharing such a personal topic!

  7. March 30, 2011 4:28 pm

    OH MY GOSH ,you are me are one in the same! I feel the exact same way when I see the number on the scale go down. When I was struggling with food thoughts it was never over the scale, it was over the control of food. Gosh, we need to get together and chat! 🙂 We would be instant soul mates. 🙂

  8. March 30, 2011 4:30 pm

    I like the notion of “disordered thought.” I think a lot of times people don’t understand that soo many of us who have been “cured” of our EDs still struggle with that. I admire you!

  9. March 30, 2011 4:35 pm

    It’s really brave of you to share your thoughts and past! Hopefully you’ll gain a few pounds back, and you’re going to be a star athlete at your marathon! 🙂 YAY YOU!

  10. March 30, 2011 4:54 pm

    Very brave of you to share this, you go girl! I know how hard those internal battles can be.

  11. March 30, 2011 5:17 pm

    I can so relate to this. As much as we learn to live our daily lives without ED, it’s hard not to still be triggered sometimes. I think the difference between recoverED and recoverING is the power we let those thoughts have on us!! I’m glad you were able to distinguish the disorder’s voice from your own. You’re gonna rock this race, and it absolutely IS a sign of how far you’ve come!!

  12. March 30, 2011 5:29 pm

    It’s so hard to not get back into that mindset, but you really seem to be on the right track. Just getting things like this off your chest helps! You’re healthy, happy and aware of thoughts that might be in the back of your mind. You’ve already got control, girl!

  13. March 30, 2011 5:30 pm

    Love this post, Clare!! I especially liked this: “but what is important is that we know how to help ourselves out of it.” I’m so glad you recognize what’s going on and are taking measures to stay healthy and happy! And you’re right- you are a strong athlete and should be proud of yourself!

  14. March 30, 2011 5:30 pm

    Your honesty is awesome. I lost weight during my training too and I started off lower than I usually am after being on antibiotics for months. I can honestly admit to that having been a struggle for the past three months. Seeing the scale go downing, KNOWING it should go up, but not wanting to see that number is an ongoing struggle. But just writing this and admitting it shows how far you’ve come, how much healthier you are, and how great you’re going to do on the marathon! You’re a strong girl, mentally and physically 🙂

  15. March 30, 2011 5:41 pm

    I didn’t pay attention the scale until people started telling me I was losing weight. Then I was a slave to the scale. Now I pay no attention to it, I dont even know where it is. If I gain weight for eating when I’m hungry so what. My body probably needed it!

  16. permalink
    March 30, 2011 8:19 pm

    Distance training life on the norm leads to a decrease inbody fat–sources,,,, and Its basic physiology

  17. March 31, 2011 7:35 am

    Clare, this is such an amazing post! You know you’ve recovered from your ED because you are able to recognize the unhealthy thoughts. It’s okay to have them, because you know how to deal with them. You’re right “withered” and “frail” are never good looks for anyone 😉 You’re a strong, beautiful, smart girl! And you’re ready to run a marathon!

  18. March 31, 2011 10:01 am

    I really like this post! As someone who was boderline anorexic (back in my teenage years) I can relate to the feeling of success it brought when I had “power” over food. The skinnier and the more food I was able to avoid- the more successful i felt. I was never diagnosed w/ the sickness but I was definitely boderline. Thank god for my family that cared enough to watch me closely and prevent me from going down the wrong path. I can say those days of bad eating habits are long gone. But, I can TOTALLY related to how you feel regarding the numbers on the scale. Good luck on your training 🙂 that sounds so cool. Which i could run a marathon myself!!


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