Female Runner Tired of Worrying About Food and Weight

By September 24, 2012

About 2 years ago I decided I had packed on too many pounds, so I started dieting and exercising. I had never worried about food before because I was always just the skinny tall girl, but after I got my first period, I started gaining weight because I was no longer getting taller. So, I ended up losing 22 pounds and was so proud because of all of the compliments and the feeling that I could binge whenever I was in a social situation because I was skinny and could get rid of the weight if I needed to. I realized I was getting to be unhealthy, so I started letting myself eat more regularly. I’ve gained back 12 pounds and feel “normal”, but want to weigh less (find that medium between my *** and *** pound stages). The thing is, I run cross-country, so I already run at least 7 miles a day and I can’t really cut more calories, but I want to lose a few pounds and stay there. I’m tired of yo-yoing and worrying about food and weight.

Dear Visitor:

Many women complain they are “tired” of chronic dieting and the amount of energy they spend thinking about food and weight. You are not alone. A study of student athletes found many suffered some form of disordered eating. Specifically, 59% of the female athletes surveyed at Ohio State thought their bodies were “too fat”; however, of the male athletes surveyed, only 20% felt they needed to lose weight.

I am willing to bet you are actually in better physical condition (and less likely to be overweight) than most women your age. Research supports athletes not using scales because muscle actually weighs more then fat. The number on a scale does not always represent the true status of some athletes’ fitness level. Keep in mind that distance running (without disordered eating patterns) can cause some women to experience disruption of the menstrual cycle, gastric/bowel issues, and bone/cartilage wear and tear. Low body weight, low body fat and poor nutrition (typical in persons practicing disordered eating) will seriously impact overall health and performance.

I am certain the changes made in the last two years have excited you. The determination to run seven miles daily, the opportunity to be part of a cross country team, the ability to drop 22 pounds, and then to receive multiple compliments for your physical appearance must feel very powerful. And power (especially power and discipline not all persons are able to demonstrate—like losing weight) mixed with our own self-vanity (the need to be accepted and desired by others) can be intoxicating. Take the time to confront the inner voice that wants to be between 110 and 122 pounds. What is it about a specific weight range that is so important? If the answer is: “that’s where I feel I look my best” then I would highly suggest you question your drive. More than likely you are at a developmental stage where your personal identity, sexuality, and view of the world are being shaped. Resist the urge to create who you are and how you act based on the reactions of others.

Human beings need spiritual, mental, emotional and physical development. If you only develop your thoughts and drive about the physical you will be out of balance. So, feel free to run, to train and to be an athlete. But also develop, feed, and practice active awareness of all the parts of who you are.