Thanks to everyone who shared their stories with me last week. I am happy to say that I am back to feeling 100% again and am back in the swing of things.
I saw a friend of mine put a post up yesterday about how despite losing a lot of weight (over 40kgs) they still look in the mirror and feel disappointed. Man, this struck a chord with me as it is a feeling that I know only too well. So I thought I would deal with what I think is a very serious issue this week. Now I have written in the past about not worrying about the number on the scales and that there are better measurements of fitness. This however is more to do with self-image and the tricks that your mind plays on you. As always, I am no expert, I am simply writing based on my own experiences (you would think I was a law student or something).
When I was going through my weight loss it was very difficult to notice it. Yes my clothes stopped fitting and I had people telling me that I was getting skinnier. But when I looked in the mirror I couldn't see it. It wasn't until my clothes arrived from Australia and literally nothing fit me that it sunk in that I had changed my body. Even today, I still look in the mirror and see my faults, not my successes. My wife tells me I am being ridiculous and I think I know that I am. But what can I say? It is hard not to see your own faults. I mean, if I have a big weekend of eating and drinking I am convinced that I am going to put all my weight back on. It is absurd. I know it is irrational, people tell me it is ridiculous, but it is a fear that I have. I am happy to admit it. I am terrified of putting all the weight I lost back on. It is one of the things that motivates me to train the way that I do. Do I overdo it? Yes, I think sometimes I do. Is it healthy to train too much? No, I don't think that it is.
I will say to anyone that asks me, you can't go through a massive physical change without there being some psychological issues to deal with. It is hard to look at yourself in a new way. I mean if you have spent years staring in the mirror and HATING what you see it isn't simple to just stop. This is seriously dangerous. While I do not think that I am on an extreme end of the spectrum I know that if I was a different person it could lead to some serious issues like eating disorders or other addictions. I see people from both ends of the spectrum do it. Whether you were overweight or maybe you did have an eating disorder, you come to a sport like triathlon, which is extreme, and you go hard. I think many people simply exchange on addiction for another.
That is why I think it is important that we are able to talk about this stuff. Not only to your friends and family. If you are someone who is going through a hard time, be it after losing weight, or being too skinny or even because you think you are fat, do not be afraid to ask for help. See a professional. I think there is a certain stigmatism around seeking professional help. To demonstrate hoe important this is, I will admit to you all that I have had counselling several times in my life. I am not saying this to try and get sympathy or anything. Instead I want people to be comfortable with the prospect of doing it themselves. I do not tell people this about myself and I have just told a lot of people I know and a lot of people I don't know this about me.
Even if you don't want to see a professional talk to your friends and family. Make sure you have a strong support network around you. You would probably be surprised but these people are often worried about you too. My Mum is constantly obsessing that I am not eating enough (until she sees me eat). I even had a girl I used to coach tell me she was worried that I had an eating disorder. By opening up to these people about your body image issues you include them in the process and are able to get the support you need.
I know this is a very serious issue and I am not really someone who has the right to tell people to go seek psychological help. But I am someone who has dealt and is dealing with facing my demons every single fucking time I look in the mirror. I do not want this to be something that people are embarrassed about or ashamed to admit. I mean honestly, even if you want to anonymously reach out to me I am happy to help. Because this is an incredibly serious issue that I feel needs to be addressed. No one liked to talk about mental health. I don't like to talk about it either. But maybe by starting we can stop people from feeling depressed and alone, from hurting themselves or pushing themselves to the extreme. Maybe by starting a conversation about this we are able to promote a healthy lifestyle with balance?
One of the things I love the most about triathlon is that it is the most inclusive sport I have ever participated in. With the exception of a guy trying to rape my leg in a swim one (not really, he just got a bit rough and I kicked him in the chest) there is little to no animosity. People want each other to succeed. It is something I have never experienced in any other sport I have played. Lets incorporate that aspect of inclusiveness into our everyday lives. Lets deal with the issues that people are embarrassed or scared to admit. Lets deal with the elephant in the room. Body image can be one of the most horrible issues to deal with. So lets deal with it together.
So sorry this week is a bit deep. But it is something that I feel very strongly about. As to my training, I have been training really well this week and I am meant to be doing a 10km running race tomorrow. I am hoping to set a new PB for 10kms however while I am writing this it is pretty wet and I am not so sure whether I want to do it in the rain. I am also sad to hear that Challenge Gold Coast has been cancelled. It sounded like it was going to be a great race again this year.
Anyway thats enough for today. Stay safe, talk to each other and remember to TRI!
1/5/2015 10:29:00 am
I read this blog on the reccomendation of Adrian O'Brien - I can understand totally and while I try not to overeat nor overtrain, despite being in the final weeks of starting my 10th IM I still dont like what I see in the mirror and I still feel "fat" if I don't train or eat the "wrong" food.
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I lost 50kgs though triathlon and completed the 2016 70.3 World Championships. Aiming to hit 4:05 for a 70.3, the same time it took me to complete my first Olympic Distance Triathlon. I want to bring as many new people to the sport as possible. Whether you are fit and active or want to make positive changes to your life.