3/10/16

Athletes - Make peace with food



Some people exercise and some people train.
Either way - moving your body is great for the mind, body and soul.
 
Regardless if you are exercising to improve your health or training to improve fitness for an upcoming event, you know that if you eat better, you will perform better. 

For athletes, when you fuel your body optimally you have more energy, your fitness improves, you are happier, you think better, you delay fatigue, you sleep better and you have a more positive outlook on life. 

I hope that every athlete and fitness enthusiast is on a mission to be at peace with food.
Food should enhance your life and should energize your body and mind. 

I encourage you to think about your current eating and fueling habits to decide if what you are doing right now is working for you. 

It's important to have a great plan for good nutrition because good nutrition habits bring great workouts. And when you are consistent with your training, you can look forward to great race day performances. 


Sadly, for many athletes, food is not for energy.
It's the enemy. 

Are you habitually using food for reward (when exhausted, you completed a hard or long workout) or punishment (you feel fat, you hate your body, you had a bad workout)? 
Is food the awful thing in your life that keeps you from being happy?
Do you live in constant fear about gaining weight or becoming fat? 
Do you wish there was a way to stop your chaotic eating patterns and body dissatisfaction?

Do you find yourself unable to cope with day-to-day responsibilities and stressors and the only way to feel in control is to not eat, binge eat or excessively workout?

Are you constantly preoccupied with food?

Are you letting your desire to be thinner override practical eating habits and behaviors?

Are you pushing people out of your life so that you can maintain a strict eating and exercise routine?

If you are starving/restricting your body from key nutrients and energy, especially around and during workouts, you are moving further and further away from achieving attainable performance goals and you are slowly deteriorating your health.
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Clearly exercise is a great thing and for athletes we must train a lot in order to adapt to training stress. But a lot can be defined in many ways. If you feel irritable, guilty, anxious or upset if you miss a workout or do not complete your entire workout and feel depressed and are worried about gaining weight (or not losing weight), you may find yourself with little energy for the rest of your life because you are addicted to exercise. 

As athletes, we must be able to turn on and off our commitment switch. That means installing great lifestyle habits to ensure that our workouts and eating habits have positive outcomes.

If you find your training excessively to burn calories or in an effort to experience an emotional high that you may think you are missing from your ever day life, ask yourself how you can achieve a more balanced life.
Address your priorities in life and bring good intentions to your workouts. 

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While there is nothing wrong with the occasional indulgence, coaxing yourself to get through a workout with the anticipation of guilt-free unhealthy or excessive eating may create a dysfunctional relationship with food. 



If you are intentionally restricting calories before or during long workouts so you can "reward" yourself with "off-limit" food or food with little to no nutritional value, this will not only increase cravings for unhealthy foods but this habit undermines the importance of developing appropriate fueling and hydrating habits around/during workouts. 

If your daily diet is so unappealing, boring or awful that you feel the need to "cheat" with your diet or workout for hours in order to remove the guilt of eating something "bad", you are creating an unhealthy relationship with food and the body. Eventually, you are going to find it difficult to improve performance and/or meet healthy body composition goals.

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Restricting food or calories or excessively exercise, all in attempt to improve performance or to change body image is no way to live your life.

There are many healthy strategies to achieving your health, body and performance goals and those practical strategies won't impair performance or destroy your health.

Thinner doesn't mean happier.
Leaner doesn't mean faster.
Eating doesn't mean cheating. 

Make peace with food.
Don't bash your body for what is it not. 
Love your body for what it allows you to do.