1/21/15

I'll have what she's having - the comparison diet/body image struggle


Every now and then I'm approached for an interview. Often times it is for a quote or two in a magazine on the topics of strength training, endurance training, nutrition or fueling. 

However, with specialty areas specific to athletes in the areas of sport nutrition, endurance training/fueling vegetarian diets and developing a healthy relationship with food and the body, I enjoy the occasional opportunity when someone reaches out to me for an interview. 

Recently I was interviewed by an amazing woman, Dr. Brooke. I met Dr. Brooke at the Women's Fitness Summit

Brooke reached out to me as not only an endurance female athlete but also a plant strong vegetarian athlete. 
(If you are new to this blog, I don't endorse vegetarianism but I strongly believe that all athletes should embrace a plant strong diet - that is nourishing and fueling the body off real-food, grown with the help of Mother Earth. I have been a lacto-ovo vegetarian for almost 23 years for animal reasons).

 I am not one to celebrate "an athlete's body" for what it looks like. I don't find it motivating to just look at an athlete and marvel over his/her body parts and more so, assume she is faster, stronger or fitter (or healthier) than me.  Instead, I like to showcase/see what a healthy, fit and trained body can do. 

On race day or on social media, I don't do the comparison game and look at another athlete's body - her defined core, toned arms or sculpted legs. I have no idea what she has done to achieve that image and body image should not define an athlete's fitness, commitment, discipline or passion for her (or his) sport.

What's the point of having a lean, toned, fit body if you can not do something amazing with those trained/fit body parts? 

There is absolutely no requirement that you have to have defined body parts or a lean body in order to do something amazing with your body. There is no guarantee that by losing x-lbs or getting to x-% body fat that you will get faster, be healthier or reach your athletic dreams. You can lose 10 lbs in an effort to have a flatter core but if you didn't get stronger in the process of losing weight, that flat core will not make performing core exercises any easier - nor will it help you be more powerful in swimming, biking and running. 

When it comes to how I fuel my body, there is certainly a large emphasis on fueling my body in motion. But my food choices come with a package deal - they not only fuel my endurance body but they also nourish my body. There is no reward ritual of eating "bad" foods post workout  nor a guilty experience if I didn't work out for x-hours/miles. Food is a positive thing in my life, regardless if I am an endurance athlete or not. 

Dr. Brooke did an amazing job with her article as she interviewed three different female's who have three different styles of eating. Ultimately, the diet doesn't make the body image.

You must eat for your goals, your lifestyle and your life. Regardless if you are training for a finish line or looking to improve your overall health and reduce risk for disease, don't eat (or not eat) just to look like someone else or to achieve a body image that does not enhance your quality of life. 

*Continue to educate yourself by learning from the pros, but sooner or later you have to get pro at being you. That’s not something any of us are experts in, only you can do that.
*They all have gotten to where they are with a lot of experimenting and patience. They are all in the business of fitness so they aren’t shying away from time in the gym or eating a certain way for the long haul.  For all three of them, this is a lifestyle not a fad diet.