Marathon Weight: When ED Thought Slips Back In…
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.