Weight, vacation, and checking in beyond the scale

Happy Canada Day from…America!

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This is my first Canada Day as a Canadian citizen!

We are on the final leg of our journey from the trip we made for the Farm to Fork Fondo last week. I’m enjoying the trip and the extra sleep and the break from being alone with only my thesis to keep me company, but I’m also excited to be home. I am starting to feel better and am eager to ride my bike a bit and maybe swim some laps at the outdoor pool that’s open now, even though I’m tapering for my half ironman, which is coincidentally not very far from where we are staying today, next weekend.

I was thinking today about the scale, and not having one on this vacation. For a few years, I didn’t keep a scale around. I was in the thick of my eating disorder recovery, trying my best to focus on letting my body do what it needed to in terms of size while I got back to a relationship with food that was healthy. Lately, I’ve been using it, albeit consciously, to see what’s going on with my body: not a whole lot. It seems training for a half ironman vs. mostly lifting weights / dabbling in Olympic weightlifting have left me remarkably the same in terms of how much I weigh, and I think in how I look.

This trip, I haven’t had access to a scale. I also have not been wearing my FitBit or tracking anything by hand or on an app. I did see that when we were in NYC the other day, according to my iPhone, Brent and I walked nearly a half marathon – 20km in one day! That seems like a lot to me.

I got to thinking about the way I used to freak out on the last days of a vacation over the “damage” I had done while I was away. Now, this trip involved minimal exercise—one bike ride, one little run—and some admittedly junk food—pizza under the Brooklyn Bridge, s’mores, and a chocolate bar that tasted like my childhood. But, without a scale to measure where I’m at and see if I can “get away” with such indulgences, I’m forced to ask myself if I’m happy with my choices.

The answer is yes, for this trip. For the most part, I’ve been following my hunger signals. I’ve been enjoying the food along the way—the pizza was part of being a tourist, the s’mores were over a campfire, the beer in NYC—and for the most part I’ve been able to eat ‘til full and not stuffed. There have been no binges, no tears, no big fights over food—all things that used to be commonplace for me when I got out of my routine with eating and/or exercising. Do I miss the gym and want a salad? Yes! Do I wish I’d felt better and was able to run once or twice? Yep. Do I wish the weather had been better so I could get out on another bike ride? Yes. But that’s alright—that’s the kind of thing that happens when healthy is your normal and you can enjoy the change of pace on a vacation. For me this time, it’s not about “indulgences” or “cheating” but about being in the present and choosing what’s healthiest and happiest in the moment. Sometimes that’s a candy bar, sometimes it’s an apple. Sometimes it’s sleeping in, and other times it’s getting up early to fit in a workout.

chosen to be happy

When I get home, the scale won’t be waiting for me to let me know how I did. I already know that I’ve had a good trip and that I can go home feeling pretty good about the choices I’ve made, and also with a few lessons about what makes me feel my best to go along with it.

So maybe, rather than the scale, it’s about asking ourselves: How are my food choices right now making me feel? Can I look back on today and say that I made choices I can be proud of? Does what I’m doing fit with my vision of “healthy” living?*

chosen to be happy

*Your vision of healthy living might be something you’ve never thought about. For me, it’s not all kale and wheatgrass, but it’s about letting things be simple: from shopping at the farmer’s market and eating lots of whole foods to taking a break on vacation to having an ice cream cone on a hot day. It’s about doing things that make my body feel good and build it up, not break it down and wear me out in terms of training. It’s about trusting myself.  

…what’s yours?

Farm to Fork Fondo: Rain and hills, but worth the journey!

I’ve been a little MIA for a while on the blog, but more generally for the last couple days as Brent and his parents (who seem willing to drive me to tarnation in order for me to bike up and down hills that we can’t find at home) have made the trip in their big fancy fifth wheel to New York State, mostly for the Farm to Fork Fondo. This is my first experience “glamping,” and I’ve managed to do a little thesis, eat some s’mores, ride my bike, and go shopping–so I call it a win.

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One cannot run far enough from a thesis with an impending due date, it seems…

S'MORES make me happy.

S’MORES make me happy.

The drive on Thursday and Friday was lovely and we had sunshine the whole way. We made a stop outside of Rochester for one night and then made the rest of the journey to Port Jervis, which is pretty close to where the start of the Fondo was. Unfortunately, the rain followed us and on Saturday, the day before the Fondo, we had to hide from the rain in a mall. The forecast was not looking good for Sunday, but we picked up our race packets and realized we were in for a treat of an event.

The venue for the fondo, Cedar Lakes Estates, was absolutely beautiful. Like, if you are getting married, you should do it here beautiful. No matter where you live or how far your grannie might have to drive to be there for it.

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The swag bag was great, and probably the best one I’ve ever gotten. From a bag of pasta and some olive oil to my favourite flavour of Gu AND a women’s t-shirt with my favourite fondo logo yet in it, I was pretty happy with the decision to make the trip down for this!

The terrain, however, looked like a little much for the recreational rider. We’d planned on doing the “Piccolo Fondo” together as a group, but with the rain and the hills a little bigger than the fam jam anticipated, my company got smaller. We woke up on Sunday to rain and it didn’t clear so by the time the ride start (which was postponed 30 minutes) rolled around, I was scrambling to pump up my tires in time to start with the group of cyclists who decided to brave the wet roads.

I’m entirely aware that exercise should improve the quality of your life–not risk it–so I told myself I’d turn back if I felt unsafe. I didn’t! The ride was beautiful, and I can mean it honestly when I say that I enjoyed it the whole way. 35 miles is shorter than my normal, but I think I learned that perhaps I like not doing the Gran Fondo (100 mile) option. Maybe the Medio Fondo (more like a metric century of 100km) would be perfect for me–I’d get back in time to enjoy some of the food–one of the sponsors was Fine Cooking magazine and there was a spread of things that included all kinds of things from kale salad to fried chicken and some kind of southern style corn that blew my mind!

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At the start, a man I started to chat about my reservations about riding hills in the rain assured me that the rain was nothing to worry about. Further, he put an end to my whining by telling me that we were already wet and might as well go. It’s true. The same thing happened at my half marathon a few years ago when I was bummed about the rain and a woman in the washroom told me “Once you’re wet, you’re wet!,” putting an end to my whining.

The hills were tough, and I was happy my lungs were cooperating even if my gearing was not (I could not get into the big chain ring, but I really didn’t want it THAT much). I have been using a puffer for some kind of allergies or asthma (?!) that I’m currently dealing with so I tried to focus on how grateful I was to be able to ride at all, even if I was soggy.

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The first rest stop, at a farm, of course, was great. There were farm dogs–cute, hot chocolate and cornbread–yum, and a pro woman (there were a bunch riding with us from the Colavita / Bianchi team) told me to ride over the gravel that freaks me out instead of ruining my shoes–cool!

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After the ride, I was greeted by a super friendly group of volunteers at a cute finish line. The “medal” was a spoon with “Farm to Fork Fondo 2015″ engraved on it, which I thought was a nice touch! Like I said, the food was great and I was back early enough from my short ride to catch the event organizer, who I’d interviewed last year for a profile of the top fondos for Canadians in Canadian Cycling Magazine (a different event, but he nailed this one again!) briefly. I hope that he has better weather for the second Farm to Fork Fondo in Vermont on the 12th of July (unfortunately the same day as my Half Ironman debut!) because the only thing I can complain about was the weather.

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Soggy but smiling!

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If you’re on the hunt for a Gran Fondo to put on your radar, go with this one. Or it’s probably a safe bet that if it’s a Wrenegade Sports event, you’re going to be good to go. If you get a chance to come to this area of New York (Orange County), do it. Brent and I took off the afternoon of the Fondo for NYC and I was able to ride my bike in the morning and see Times Square by the evening. Not too shabby, and a fine way to take a break from my thesis for a few days.

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…about that.

not this day

Body Positivity Tuesday: Make a Bucket List

I spent a lot of years “future-tripping,” caught up in all my worries about the future. I would think about what I was going to eat the next day, wear next Wednesday, and how I’d fit in my workouts next July (seriously). I’d be tallying my calories for the day, prepping my food for the next week, and obsessively trying to control my world by taking it out on my body. While I think it’s great to take responsibility for our health, I know that crossing the line into obsession took my focus on my health to a point where it no longer served me. A big shift for me was realizing that I want to create health in my world so that I can live the life I want to live, no longer wanting to live my life as a slave to food or exercise or the pursuit of perfection when it came to my health. 

This shift, though it didn’t happen overnight and still requires me to step back and gain some perspective from time to time, opened up a lot of energy to use towards doing things with the health that I do have. Running races, learning new sports, building relationships, taking up hobbies, reading books…these are all things that I can do with the energy that I used to spend loathing my body or obsessing over how to “fix” it.

So, what do you want to do? Even if it’s not an eating disorder that distracts us, sometimes we can get so caught up in our day to day lives that we forget to dream. I think making a bucket list is a great way to channel our inner dreamers and reading over it is a great way to re-inspire ourselves. This should be a different kind of to-do list, one that excites you.

Today’s task is to come up with a little list for yourself of things you’d like to do, places you’d like to see, people you’d like to meet. These things don’t have to be directly related to loving your body, but notice that if you’re being body positive and taking care of yourself, you’re a heck of a lot more likely to have the energy to do the things you’ve decided on and to enjoy checking things off the list.

If you have trouble thinking of some things, maybe start here:

  • Where would you like to travel?
  • When you look back on your life, what would you like to remember?
  • What is your dream vacation?
  • Do you wish you could learn how to play an instrument?
  • Is there a class you want to take?
  • Do you want to learn another language?
  • What is the race of your dreams?
  • Who do you want to meet?
  • What do you want to do before you retire?

etc. etc. etc.

I keep my bucket list on my computer, updating it on a regular basis. It’s never complete, and I like that. Things come off as I complete them or, at times, as I decide they are no longer for me. New things get added on as I discover new passions. This is by far my favourite to-do list of them all!

you shoudl go do them

Do you have a bucket list?

No Diet Day–Should it be every day?

This will be a short post because I’m already a bit late for my afternoon run — it’s a speed sesh so maybe being hurried to get there will start the workout on the right foot? I didn’t want today to go by without putting a post out though, as it’s International No Diet Day.

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In honour of that, maybe check out this article by Health at Every Size advocate Linda Bacon over at the NEDIC website.  She advocates for learning to trust our bodies, which goes in line with the kind of intuitive eating and self-acceptance/love approach that I myself get behind. I especially like the part where she hits the nail on the head when it comes to the element of control that dieting so alluringly offers:

“As long as things go well, the dieter can maintain control. But if anything gets in the way or changes, she can’t. The reason is clear: Dieters don’t rely on the normal signals of fullness to regulate their eating, so there are no brakes in place.”

…I know that when I have gotten sucked into restriction, or obsessing over/tracking my every meal, judging it, etc., there’s been a sense of control and power that I have–and it felt good. It’s nice to feel like you are totally in charge. And what thinking we need to get really strict about our food does all the time is convince us that we are otherwise out of control monsters who will binge at the first chance.

And unfortunately, after restriction, that’s what happens. I still have foods that were formerly “forbidden” that I have to remind myself–it’s OKAY–or else I end up overeating them to the point of feeling like crap. My experience tells me that I am not in fact a madwoman around food, but the more I think that I eat too much or eat the wrong things, the more likely I am to go ahead and go “off the rails.”

My hope is that some day, it won’t be the exception or the one day of the year where we don’t diet–but that we’ll learn to feed and take care of ourselves in a way that doesn’t require us to feel like failures or to give all of our energy to controlling ourselves.

two diets

 

Remember: we are not crazies. The diet industry likes us to think that, so that we keep paying them for programs. And trackers. And diet coaches. And unless these products and people teach us long term habits that make it so we don’t require them, I’m weary. Our bodies are on our side!

There’s my two cents!
What do you think about ditching diets?
Do you make a point to avoid diet talk / dieting / buying diet books, or do you just go with it?
Does controlling your food work with you? Tracking? Monitoring? 
Have you given up on diets? What have you found?
What keeps you dieting? 

Body Positivity Tuesday: Clean Out the Closet

Many of us have closets filled with clothes that we never wear. I’m guilty of having more clothes than I could possibly need, but one thing that I refuse to do is to keep things that are too small or too big for me hanging around. Those clothes that we don’t feel wonderful in are just taking up space and not serving us.

Today’s task is to let those things go. If you’re keeping your “skinny” pants or your “fat” pants around, what for? If you have a whole wardrobe that you can’t let go of, what’s up? Is it the cost? If you can’t wear them, I’d encourage you to think about the cost to your self-esteem on a daily basis.

You could always move them to a “maybe” bin. If you still haven’t dug them out in a few months, it might feel easier to donate them to charity, sell them, or give them away to friends or family. It comes down to deciding how you’d like to feel when you open your closet door every morning. The best kind of closet is one where you know you’ll be able to reach in and grab something that makes you feel like a million bucks.

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Weight a minute: Perfectionism rears its ugly head again

Morning!

I am just caffeinating and getting myself ready for what I’m sure will be a beautiful day at the park. I’m volunteering at the road races at Springbank, which are some pretty fierce bike races that I am too scared to participate in personally. There’s geese, there’s curbs, and there’s corners—on top of all the other parts of cycling that make me prefer tours/club riding and triathlon.

And I’m thinking about my ongoing recovery from perfectionism, scales, and a reminder why I don’t want to rely on the scale to assess where I’m at.

recovering perfectionism

Yesterday I had an awesome brick workout: 70km on the bicycle followed by a 5km run. My half ironman is just over two months away and I haven’t felt this consistent with my workouts in a long time. The bricks and the runs more generally are feeling better than ever and I’m sure that now that we have warm weather I can get my biking legs back on the real road in no time!

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I can’t remember doing as many workouts as my coach has scheduled me as this year, or feeling good while I’m doing them. Other than some migraines that I’m addressing with my doctor and some complimentary stuff, I think I’m healthier than I’ve been in a long time: hormones in check, staying on top of injuries, etc. I’m winning.

But I weighed myself today.

And it shouldn’t surprise me that I stay the same weight or slightly change, as I’ve been at this weight for years now, save losing ~2 or 3 pounds a year.

But I think I was looking for some kind of validation, or comfort that I hadn’t gained weight or something, because I wasn’t feeling proud of my choices yesterday.

After the workout, my appetite felt off. It came in waves and as it often does when I’ve done longer rides or workouts, I, I felt like I’d “messed up.” Brent and I had frappucinos (because Starbucks is out to suck all of us into it’s delicious and sugary web with their half price frappucino happy hour), I ate all kinds of trail mix and granola, and I think I ate the equivalent of half a veggie tray and a pre-made salad at dinner time.

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So feeling a little uncertain of whether I’m “OK,” stepping on the scale was perhaps an attempt to wipe it all clean or to show myself that I’m still “good.”

But I know that you don’t gain or lose a whole bunch of weight in a day. A solid week of training doesn’t do it. Getting hurt and taking a few days off won’t affect you greatly. Further, what I really want to focus on are habits. I think it’s tricky when you’re feeling less than proud of your habits: how do you feel good then?

Well, I’m trying reminding myself of a few things:

  • I know that regardless of whether I’d done a hard workout or not, a day of eating things that aren’t perfect like yesterday is fine. Workout or no workout, I can count the number of frappucinos I’ve had in my life on one hand – it’s not worth fretting over yesterday’s treat!
  • I know that over the long term, I’ve been more consistent with my training and prouder of it than ever before—even if it hasn’t changed my body (and if I have to be reminded on occasion that I’m fitter, and that’s what it’s about–>Thanks Brent).
  • I know that my idea of a healthy diet is mostly around eating enough real food to keep me feeling good so that I don’t turn to chocolate every night or feel like I need to use food and my weight as a distraction from the rest of my life.
  • I know that if I weigh this amount for the rest of my life, that would be okay—and if I think about what I would do in terms of food and exercise if I knew that it wasn’t going to be about weight, I should probably trust that guide to help me on this healthy, happy journey.
  • I know that there’s a lesson here–maybe it’s about what I need to feel good when it comes to eating after tough workouts, or maybe it’s about throwing my scale out again (I was planning on weighing myself once a month, ideally).
  • know that I could have saved myself some trouble if I’d remembered the advice of my dietitian to aim for 80/20. I am learning just how much of a trap perfectionism can be, and this is a testament to the idea of needing to plan for imperfection–so that when we don’t hit perfection with the habits we’ve set out as our goals, we don’t feel like failures and jump on the scale.

Looking back, I think I’m doing a pretty good job of the 80/20 as it applies to my goals. I can be honest and say that there’s room for improvement, but when I get away from focusing in on the less than perfect efforts (because they fit in that 20% and it’s part of the end goal), I can start to at the same time feel proud of all the progress I’ve made. Anyways, part of health for me is moving on and making the next meal one that feels good and trying not to get swept up in the past or too worried about the future. So to that end, it’s time for me to go watch fast people in spandex race by me!

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Do you struggle with the scale?
What happens when you don’t nail the habits-based-goals that you’ve set for yourself? 

Owning it: Athletics as (a) source of self-esteem–and why we need to take a darn compliment

Lately, I’ve noticed a(n unfortunate) tendency for some of the most badass women—the strongest ones at CrossFit or the fastest or most experienced ones on the bike—to play a game of downplaying their achievements. They ask “Who, little old me?” when someone tells them that they’re great or assure people that really it wasn’t such a great job or that someone or something outside them was the reason for their success.

This makes me sad.

I know I’ve returned a compliment with the kind of downplaying I’m talking about. But this is an issue I’m working on. Ever since I had the experience of a friend telling me she was going to be “slow” and then proceeding to be much faster than me in a running situation, I’ve tried to watch how I talk about my own performances or abilities—whether I think they’re good or bad. I’m sure that my friend was innocently trying to appear humble—not to make me feel bad—but it certainly made me think about times when I’ve maybe done the same thing to other people.

This is cute, but be careful whose accomplishments you downplay.

This is cute, but be careful whose accomplishments you downplay.

I know some people who can’t just take a compliment are after reassurance and want to be told a little bit more how great they are. That’s fine. I want to talk about the times where it’s more about not being able to own up to how great we are.

My fellow blogger and cycling friend Sam and I had little bit of a chat about this issue as we watched a club race together last week. Our coach (a man) worked with two ladies to do really well in the race together. It was a men’s race. The gal who won absolutely impresses me with her talent and dedication, but I can remember the first time I met her being met with the kind of downplaying that I’m getting at. Sam pointed me towards “Self-Deprecation and the Female Cyclist,” which is certainly worth a read if you feel like you hold yourself back or downplay your athletic accomplishments and want a reminder to stop that right now.

Maybe for some of us, this comes down to perfectionism—or that ever-looming sense that we aren’t good enough coming back again. We focus so much on what we aren’t or on where we fall short that it’s hard for us to appreciate the things that are really worth celebrating in ourselves. You just ran a great race? Yeah, but it wasn’t as fast as my PB. You just did your first CrossFit competition? Yeah, but it wasn’t Rx.

But it was still badass.

It was still worth being proud of.

It was definitely worth celebrating.

While you’re at it, stop adding the word “just” to things. You didn’t “just” do a 10km when someone else did a marathon. You didn’t “just” go to the gym twice this week when you meant to go four times. Those things count for something.

I’m torn on whether or not I think celebrating our abilities is unquestionably the best way to build our confidence. I certainly don’t think that our only source of empowerment should come from our abilities.  But I do know that pretending that these things don’t make us feel good or don’t contribute to our sense of self-esteem would mean we’d miss out on a whole lot of potential. Maybe the answer is that we can’t base all of our self-worth and confidence on what we’re capable of (so that when we aren’t so capable, we don’t suck), but this kind of appreciation can be a valuable part of what fills up our confidence buckets.

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Anyways, I don’t think that it’s fair to expect anyone—man or woman—to be confident all the time. But it’s my hope that we can think about the way that brushing off compliments or trying to convince people that we’re really not all that good is a habit worth getting out of.

What do you think?
What have you done lately that’s worth being proud of?
Where do you downplay your accomplishments, and what’s up with that?

Body Positivity Tuesday: Video Reminder

When the going gets tough, it can seem a lot easier to just buy the damn diet book or sign up for the next weight loss transformation. But before you throw your hands up in despair, remember why accepting and loving your body is “worth it” (hint: because you deserve to be on your own side). This video might help too…

Week 4: Watch this video.

At times, I doubt myself and the time and energy I’ve poured into blogging and talking and working on body positivity in my own life and in my world. Usually, I catch the gremlins who are trying to hold me back and can get right back on track. When that fails, and I wonder Why am I doing this?, I can usually motivate myself right back to passionately promoting body positivity and body acceptance by watching this video from Melissa A. Fabello.

 

Race Recap: MEC London Race Two 15km

I used to have a firm rule about putting a race recap out onto the interwebs by the end of the weekend. This was around the time when I was photographing most of the food I ate and talking about my day to day activities a lot more on my blog. Just like I’ve let go of the need to document every morsel I eat and ever mile I cover in my training, I have learned that a race recap is better done late than never.

Last week was the second race in MEC’s race series here in London. I didn’t do last month’s race, but I knew from doing one of the trail options last year that the events are well-organized, supported, and perhaps most importantly—affordable! While I’m all for budgeting and making our health and our health hobbies priorities, I like the idea that I can sign up for a whole series of MEC races for 75$–less than the cost of some of the single races around!

On Saturday, the weather couldn’t have been better. I pre-registered for the 15km option on Thursday, when I knew the weather would be good—and good it was! I was in a tank top by the end of my warm-up, which always makes me a happy runner. I know some people prefer it a little cooler than me, but I love sweating and was happy to finally break one after the winter that keeps hanging on.

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I was running the same event as my friend/partner in training crime, Katie. She’s a little faster than me and when we went to the portajohns together and I came out before, I joked that I had her beat in one race that day. …ha!

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Katie and I just before the race — look at that sun! And those smiles!

After a somewhat mishmash start (all of the 5 and 10 and 15km race options started at once), we spread out quite a bit over the course. The people running the 5km option raced off ahead and then turned around and raced back. I got to see my coach, Coach Chris, turn around and give me some encouragement as I carried on (he broke his PR that day). Everyone turned around after 5km and came back on the same route, with the 10km racers heading for the finish while we tacked on another route. As I got to the turnaround at 5k, I realized I was running quicker than anticipated. I went in joking that I wanted to be faster than my half marathon from back in the day (1:48ish) and knowing that 1:30 was a reasonable goal for 15km (6 minute kilometres feel steady to me and I’ve been walking a bit on my long runs). I decided to keep on doing what I was doing and see what came, and rather than end up feeling too tired, I managed to keep the pace up and even kick it up a bit after we turned around at ~12km.

I finished with a smile (?) on my face and maybe a little more in the tank than I might have wanted in 1:23:04. I liked coming in, even though there wasn’t much going on at the finish line. Someone did have a cowbell, and Brent came out to see me finish. Katie was there too, relishing in her 1:12 finish, so that was just grand!

Is that a smile?

Is that a smile? (Yes)

Some of my friends from CrossFit were running their first trail race. I also knew a few other people doing the 5k who enjoyed the weather and impressed themselves. I loved the feeling of community, the sunshine, and the way that the event felt welcoming. Having a chip time always makes me want to run a little harder (in case someone googles my finish?), so that was nice.

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All in all, I was very happy with the race. I felt good the whole time, even though I’ve never run the distance. I think besides my half marathon, this is the first time I’ve gone that far. I passed someone in the last km or so, so that tells me I perhaps underestimated myself. I think that, assuming I can stay injury free, I like these longer races. I remember finishing the half marathon happy and having a fairly speedy recovery from it. Maybe it’s because with longer races, they hurt, but they don’t hurt like a 5km race or seem to be just another run like a 10km seems to be for me. The element of—will I make it? How will I feel when I do? Can I keep this pace going? is kind of the exciting part!

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My next race is my triathlon debut of the year at Woodstock. The race is a Sprint Distance Triathlon, which unfortunately for me usually makes me feel slow since I mostly go the same pace no matter how long you ask me to go for (this might be my greatest weakness, or my greatest ability, depending on how you look at it). At any rate, this is one of the early ones where everyone’s getting their cobwebs out. I’ll be happy if I make it out of my wetsuit without falling on my butt, or onto the run course without forgetting to remove my helmet after the bike. And if I can have a good time doing it, of course. Then I’ll have some time to gear up for my Half Ironman debut at Musselman on July 12. I’m not sure if I’ll like the half distance, but if this longer race was any indication of where the enjoyment lies for me, I think the chance to see if I can make it and how fast I can go without falling over sideways will be just the challenge I’m looking for!

I guesssss I'll take him as a prize.

I guesssss I’ll take him as a prize.

Have you done any races lately?
Have you ever done a MEC Race?
What’s your “big race” this year?
What’s your favourite distance to race? 

Conditional acceptance: The problem with the performance focus

I’ve blogged about the need for believing we’re worthy before, but it’s an issue that’s close to my heart and that I’m continuing to work on, so here we go again.

Before I start, let me add: I say yahoo! to anything that shifts the emphasis for women away from how it will make their bodies look (Will pilates give me the toned abs I’ve always wanted?). But the more I read about woman after woman finding her self worth in her abilities, the less comfortable with the whole idea I get.

For my thesis, I’m reading issue after issue after issue of CrossFit magazines and The CrossFit Journal and looking particularly at constructions of healthy femininity. One theme that comes up a lot is CrossFit saving women from their body image woes. Time after time, women are saved from their eating disorders or years of self-abuse thanks to learning to appreciate what their bodies are capable of. In general, these are women who are extremely talented at CrossFit, pictured in sports bras with six packs, and who echo the same sentiment: the route to empowerment is via doing.

I call (at least a little bit of) bullshit.

The route to empowerment is different for all of us. Basing it on ability leaves out those who aren’t able, firstly, but it also sets us up for a conditional kind of self-acceptance that I don’t think will give us the kind of lifelong healthy relationship with our bodies that I am working on creating for myself (and starting a discussion about via this blog and my work in the world).

As it relates to me, I know that athletics helped me a whole lot to appreciate my body. I’ve mentioned before the way I keep my picture of my big ol’ deadlift PR around for when I’m feeling shitty about myself. I hang my latest race bibs around to remind myself that I’m badass for signing up for things that force me outside of my comfort zone on a regular basis. And moving away from the need to burn calories and burn off food to testing out my performance and seeing what I can do with the body I’ve been given has certainly helped me feel better about what I’ve been given.

capability

But.

Since I’ve started to focus on triathlon training again (with lifting things on occasion more for fun than anything and because I like to feel strong), I’m not as strong as I used to be. I can’t do as many pull-ups as I once could, and I sometimes find myself beating my self up for letting myself slip. And on the triathlon front, I don’t run or bike as fast as I did when I was in the midst of my eating disordered days.

But.

I’m healthy. I have balanced hormones. My weight went way up and then has started to come down a bit (not much by the standards of those who employ 30 day challenges or body transformations, but 10 pounds over two years without losing my period). I like training and understand that when my body is whispering no, I should listen so it doesn’t scream. These are perhaps more important than winning an age category at a race or impressing people in the gym and on instagram.

priorities
So in my recovery and body love journey, I’ve seen that impressing myself with what I can do is certainly a tool for me to, like I said appreciate my body. But acceptance requires me to dig deeper. Yesterday I got a migraine and missed my workout. If my self-worth is based on what I can do, what’s a girl who’s stuck in bed and only wants to eat cereal and chocolate to do?

I think the answer lies in realizing that we can’t find the kind of self-love we want outside of ourselves. Some of us look for it from guys, some of us keep on trying to show that we’re good enough by taking it out on our bodies, and some of us don’t even realize that we want it.

This all comes back to a piece of advice worth repeating over and over again ‘til we get it: we are inherently worthy. Whether or not we work out, whether or not we can lift as much as someone else—or our former selves, whether we run faster than we did last year, whether we put pants on in the morning, whether we eat “clean” or choose cookies. Loving ourselves doesn’t require us to be better than yesterday, because we weren’t bad or unworthy yesterday.

can be already are

Loving our bodies doesn’t require that we do exceptional things with them. I think our bodies are exceptional just by virtue of the fact that they let us live our lives. It’s great when we can also appreciate what they’re capable of, but getting to a place of acceptance is another worthy goal, in my opinion.

Sometimes I forget this. As a goal-oriented and ambitious person, I struggle with feeling worthy unless I’m productive, or I work out, or I do this or that. But I for one would like to accept my body so that when things that stop me from performing as I might like to – injury, pregnancy, illness, life – come around, I still feel like a boss. While we by all means celebrate what we’re capable of, let’s give this acceptance thing—no conditions required—a go!

love yourself first

Do you struggle with this? What’s helped you?