Saturday, June 8, 2013

Inside my head for 9 miles on a treadmill...thoughts on training and body image.

I was running today on a treadmill in a tiny workout room at a hotel in Palm Springs, it's 112 degrees outside. The entire room was mirrored and I was the only person in there. I'm doing  a 10.5 mile trail run next month in Auburn and the course is pretty grueling so I've been doing hill training and progressively adding mileage each week. While watching myself run 9 miles in the mirror (awfully boring, but necessary) I ended up deep in thought about the last several years of training. I started thinking about all the things I've done, how my body has changed, and how different I feel when I'm running now than I did in years past. We're always evolving, our bodies are always changing, and there is no permanent finish line in training or exercising for health or weight loss.

In 2006, 07 08, & 09 I was running track and cross country, cycling, and playing soccer. I spent a lot of time in the gym but went through periods of very little strength training. I weighed anywhere from 125 to 145 and had about 11%-20% body fat. My figure was determined by what sports season it was or what race I was preparing for. During cross country I was running 60+ miles per week and training for soccer, during that time I had very little muscular definition, but could run forever and pretty darn fast.

1st Show
After college sports in 2010 I started Bikram Yoga I stopped playing soccer and running because I stress fractured my foot preparing for my first full marathon. I reached my 22 mile long run training week and that was it, my foot was done. I got really in to and Bikram and when my foot was healed enough I started doing gymnastics. That year I decided I wanted to compete in bodybuilding; in junior high and high school I would read Oxygen magazine and dream of competing like the women in the back pages, but never thought I could actually do it.

2nd show
Won 1/2 marathon
I prepared for my first show in 13 weeks (too short of time) I went from 136lbs, 18% bodyfat to 114 and 12%. I lost so much muscle mass and I didn't feel lean or muscular enough to compete in bodybuilding. Two months later I competed in figure, but had completely changed my diet and started running again. I felt much better, stronger and more confident on stage. After that competition I started teaching Group X, Crossfit, Spin and Yoga classes. I had gained muscle and got leaner, I weighed 123 and had 7% body fat. I ran my fastest 1/2 marathon ever in 1 hour 34 minutes, but I had got too lean too soon and my training volume had sky rocketed. Six months later I competed again in figure, but once again I hit the stage feeling soft and over fat for figure. My body needed a break from competing so I stopped for over a year.

3rd show 2011
I spent 2011 and 2012 focused on building my business and exploring nutrition further, but I signed up to compete again in May 2012. I was suffering from adrenal fatigue due to over training, my body was rejecting everything that had worked for me in past, but I was committing to competing even if I didn't feel great about my physique. I had shaved my head 3 months earlier for St. Baldrick's Foundation and wanted go on stage with a shaved head so I did it anyway.

4th show 2012

After that show I knew I needed to stop dieting so hard because my body was on a roller coaster of over training, under sleeping and under eating. I started gaining weight and was experimenting with raw eating, intermittent fasting, and other dietary theories. I was enjoying my body as a test lab when I hurt my foot again and was sidelined from running and anything high impact. My body was trying to heal itself but I knew I was in trouble, my body image demons were sneaking up on me. I had to deal with things my own way, I needed something new to train for to refocus my energy. I started training for power lifting and I knew I was continuing to gain weight, but I was getting stronger and that was my goal.

First powerlifting meet
I competed in my first power lifting meeting in November 2012 and really enjoyed  it and the training. I had actually gotten strong from eating well and training (imagine that!). I had been training in a calorie deficit and for appearance for so long I had forgotten the potential I had seen years ago in my strength. I weighed in at 146lbs feeling strong, but not as lean as I wanted to be. I was having an internal crisis, I had worked and dieted so hard to get down below 135 and stay lean and now that I had crossed that bridge again I was feeling huge (ugh..body image issues). After the meet I continued to train because I had goals I wanted to meet. I trained until I hit my goals, 145lb bench, 292 squat, and 305 deadlift. Since March 2013 my focus has been on taking care of my body by reducing my training volume in hopes of letting overuse injuries heal.

I've been focusing on learning new skills, studying, diving deeper in to yoga and revisiting events in gymnastics that have always scared me. I've run a couple races and have been hitting the trails on the weekend and I've starting playing soccer again. When I was 13 I chose to embrace all the amazing things my body could do, I had been anorexic through middle school and junior high but when I decided to embrace being athletic rather than struggling to remain skinny I made a choice to take on life as a physical journey. I've used my body to learn about different diets, how the body adapts to different training methods and life styles. I've had and will have ups, downs and big learning curves along the way but I want help others more than anything else and these experiences have been invaluable in doing so.

As I ran on the treadmill today and watched myself in the mirror, knowing my body is bigger now than I have ever been. The 13 year old me would have said, "you need to keep running so you can be small and then people will like you." The 19 year me would have said, "how'd you let yourself get so big, run 10 miles and do a spin class...maybe train after work tonight too." Today I saw myself and thought, "Damn, look at those thighs! But, I've worked my butt off to get here, I'm strong, can do tricks I thought I'd never do, I've competed in 4 bodybuilding/figure shows, I won a half marathon, I competed in a power-lifting competition, I've started my own business and BEST OF ALL I've used my life experiences to help others." My training journey has no end and I hope to continue trying new things and helping others in a big way. I want to inspire women to look within an find their inner athlete. When you look in the mirror do you have negative thoughts about your body or do you embrace the psychological and physical and struggles and challenges you have overcome?

Fitness Challenge Plus 2013. These ladies understand the quote below...

“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” 
― Wayne W. Dyer

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