The other day I received an email from a cycling friend in Palm Harbor, Fl. He first sent an attachment of a card that he got for his b-day. It was a funny card on his behalf because my friend has lost A LOT of weight since I started working with him about 2 years ago. He went from a non-lean category 4 rider to a lean and strong category 3 rider. And, as a married, father of two (1 is a newborn) he is loving his new life of healthy eating and LOTS of energy.
Here's his email:
I wanted to show you the B-day card that my co-workers gave me. It's pretty funny and they hit the nail on the head when it comes to my diet. Except I do eat cake once in a while! You’re lucky you don't work in an office environment where most of the people are overweight and have really bad eating habits. I tell you it's hard to say no to Chinese buffets and barbecue but I'm dedicated to a healthy lifestyle. I try to convince them to eat healthy but they just make jokes about it all the time. Then they go to the doctor to get another pill to make them feel better. Thanks again for all your help with my diet. I feel great, my bike riding and recovery is still improving.
If you are a top age group athlete, you have probably heard a lot of nonsense from your non-athletic friends/co-workers/family members. Perhaps people are jealous of your "only 10 mile run" or maybe it is because they think you can eat whatever you want to stay lean and train for a triathlon/running/cycling event.
But, if you are an average athlete, who still enjoys buying nice gadgets for your bike, wears compression socks out in public and repeatedly explains why you don't have shoe laces on your running shoes, I have a feeling you hear it a lot from your non-athletic friends.
I find it so sad that people attempting to lose weight are surrounded by people who don't support a more healthy lifestyle. You choose to use olive oil instead of butter and people claim that you have an eating disorder. You read food labels and nutrition guides and people think you are so obsessed with food. Well, you know what I say about all that.....they have no idea what it feels like to be healthy!!
We all know that if you keep unhealthy food in the house you are setting yourself up for failure. Failure of your healthy way of eating because you feel guilt, restriction and frustration to avoid x-food when the cravings set in. Even more worse than buying unhealthy food and keeping it in the house is being around others who sabotage your choice to eat healthy.
I can't blame a restaurant because there are too many to blame. I can't blame a certain food because there are too many out there. I can't blame the TV because what would we watch during American Idol or Biggest Loser (BTW-finally of Biggest Loser tonight..I suggest watching it!!!). The people who I blame are those who feel like they can't grasp their own eating habits.
If you are at a healthy weight and you love what you see in the mirror, I am sure you have nothing but kind words for a friend/co-worker/family member who has lost weight. "You look great" "I bet you have so much more energy" "Let's go out for breakfast some time, I know a great pancake place"
However, if you are struggling to lose weight, it takes a lot of inner strength to congratulate afriend/co-worker/family member on his/her recent weight loss/body composition change. It's hard to eat around him/her, let alone talk about his/her weight loss. It's a lot easier to feel frustrated with your own body and then sabotage yourself and others with unhealthy food choices.
Yes-it is a constant battle to get the body to efficiently use food when you try to eat a healthy diet to support your exercise routine. But, when you start losing weight, you not only see the results of healthy eating but you feel them! More energy, better skin, better sleep, less colds/miss days from work, more productivity at work, better training sessions, better outlook on life, cleaner feeling in the inside and better self esteem. And most importantly, longevity and health for many more years to come!
I could easily say, surround yourself with people who believe in you and inspire you to lose weight or eat healthy. But that is un-realistic. Just look around you at all of the people who aren't at a healthy weight. Maybe that is you, sitting there wondering if you will ever lose weight, but focus on the bigger picture of healthy eating.
Life is about balance. If people see you eating a salad, they probably don't see you enjoying ice cream on sat. night after a 5 hour training session. If people see you eating ice cream, they quickly think "I wish I could eat like him/her". And if you are the one making the judgements that the lean athletes can eat whatever they want..try putting in high volume weeks of specific, intense training sessions and maybe you can eat whatever you want. But in all honesty, your body may enjoy carrying around a few less lbs but eating whatever you want is not a heart-healthy strategy to a healthy life, no matter how much you exercise.
Stop focusing on the outside world or comparing yourself to other athletes. When I help people lose weight, I try to have people focus on their own training program, own lifestyle habits and own eating habits. You need to do what works for you and most importantly, you need to enjoy the food you put in your body. Eating healthy isn't about appearances. If you are an active athlete (newbie or veteran) who loves the benefits of exercise, enjoy the countless benefits of eating wholesome and nutritious food.
So..keep on reading food labels, don't be afraid to portion control/measure/guesstimate calories, enjoy your fruits and veggies when others eat donuts and chips, smile when you order everything on the side, buy a cool-looking lunch bag for your meals outside the home, politely ask for extra veggies when you order a veggie sub at Subway and the girl behind the counter only puts 2 tomatoes on your sub and tip a little extra when you completely change the order at a restaurant in an effort to make your meal a little more heart-healthy.