This post has been in the making for about two weeks now.
When I started this blog the plan was to talk mental health as much as running. To open up and speak out about some of the challenges I have come through and those I still face. It hasn’t quite worked out like that. Turns out running is much easier to write about than depression, eating disorders, self harm and other mental health issues.
I decided I would try to write something about food and eating. What I wanted to do was talk about running, relationships with food, and eating disorders. But I couldn’t quite find the right words, nor a way to write them that was coherent and concise.
The point was going to be something about managing eating habits and finding something that vaguely resembles a healthy, balanced diet. From anorexia, through a food-exercise binge-purge habit, to what can still at most times be described as a disordered eating pattern and too much time spent on the scales or reading nutrition labels.
But I kept getting lost on the way and it turned out to be really difficult to get things out.
I think what I want to say is, that although I still over-indulge on confectionery, baked goods and takeaways a bit too often, using a long run or tough race as an excuse, I think I am coping quite well.
To lose so much weight (in a healthy way, this time) and then find your body in a state of maintenance that you’re not quite sure you’re ready for nor happy with, is tough. My focus now is on letting go of arbitrary numbers on a scale and understanding how my body is fitter, stronger, healthier and more beautiful because of what it can do, not what it looks like.
I’ve got myself out of the habit of jumping on the scales every single morning. I am learning to say no when presented with food I don’t really want or need. And I’m letting go of calorie counting, for better or for worse.
There’s no doubting that food is a favourite topic for most runners. Almost every time I go for a run with company the conversation will turn to eating, and we finish the run even hungrier than we were at the start. Given that runners are always hungry anyway, this only makes the tummy rumble even louder.
But food can also be a source of concern for runners, and athletes in general.
Not long ago Formula 1 drivers spoke out about the effects of the enforced weight limit on their eating habits. Mark Webber admitted to starving himself. David Coulthard was bulimic.
And the other day I read this on disordered eating.
I recognise some of myself in these stories, and I know I will always have to work hard on my eating habits and how I feel about my body.
For now, I am trying to think more about food as fuel, and concentrating on putting good stuff in. Cake, chocolate, Chinese takeaways and chips will always be regular features in my diet. But that is not a bad thing, and I will not let it become so.
Loved ones – I hope this post does not alarm, shock or upset you. I am OK. I will continue to be OK because I am aware of myself and I know I have your support and love. If I ever feel the need to talk about anything, trust me; I will come to you. Whether you see me say no to seconds or stuff my face with cake; know that I am simply responding to my body and my mind and what they need at that moment.