Far to many times in a day do we not like something about our selves or wish that something about us was different. We are all guilty of it, we pick at our physical selves, my butts too big, I wish I had arms like her, or a stomach like that etc. the list goes on. Not only do we wish our physical appearances to be different we fight with ourselves on our performance and abilities. Though our performance and abilities can change by practice and hard work, the two go hand in hand, we blame our appearance on our abilities and vice versa.
This past weekend marked our “unofficial…official” training for this years ultra adventures, stretching from 50k’s to 100k’s to the Transalpine 7 day stage race from Germany to Italy in September. Our weekend of training began with 3000 meters of climbing a 20km day and a 30km day. While pushing our sore quads and tired muscle up through the last 15kms of our 50km weekend our conversation slipped once again into how our pants don’t fit anymore… as we are eating peanut M&M’s and peanut butter filled pretzel bites. My thighs are big, my butt is huge, what the heck is going on!
I have been trail running and racing ultras for over 3 years now and have gotten over the fact and even embraced, that I’ve had to buy a whole new wardrobe for the lower half of my body. Welcome to trail running girl! You aren’t officially a trail runner until you cycle through a new wardrobe. Now that my life has become ultras and trail running I have learned to look past the fact that I weigh 20lbs more now then 3 years ago when I was a road marathoner. It was a very hard transition, grasping the ever so great thigh rub and growing booty. But it happened… I’ve embraced it, I now strive for it. Because I am strong. My legs are strong and powerful, my ass gets me up and down those mountains. End of story.
A transition with body shape or size is very difficult to accept even when it is for the good or because of our own doing. Who are we to complain about having big butts and thighs when we climb mountains every weekend. Who are we to complain about feeling something jiggle when we are snacking on M&M’s and craving pizza. Although I have embraced the change in my body I still am guilty of giving myself a hard time when I am running and snacking on something “not healthy”. I just ran for 6 hours I deserve to eat some M&M’s. It’s true… and being a vegan athlete 95% of the time my diet is very clean, plant based and full of nutritious foods. I find myself thinking how can I exercise this much and eat so healthy yet I am bigger and hold more body fat then I ever have…I am eating a mass amount of calories and drinking tons of water everyday to replenish and re-energize what I burn. If this is what my body will look and be like while I am doing and eating what I love, I accept that.
A real struggle, however, for our bodies is also due to the high amount of stress we are constantly causing our bodies to be in. Our bodies will retain water and hold onto fat. This happens because we are in stress for long periods of time therefore making our cortisol levels become high and making our bodies go into a form of shock. This being said we need to make sure that we are eating enough while running to properly fuel; and that we aren’t over training by giving ourselves and bodies a break. Many of us do struggle with this not knowing why we are gaining weight or fat. Most of the time it is the combo of both gaining strength through muscle building and retaining water. (this is just from a personal experience we are not doctors and are not recognizing this as something that happens to everyone)
I am not a nutritionist in any way. I have done a lot of research about athletic eating in general and I have come to the conclusion that I eat what I crave or what my body tells me it needs. Which honestly, usually is a giant watermelon or a big bowl of yam and rice mush. Where am I going with this… I have discovered what makes me happy, eating for happiness… yes I treat and yes I eat pizza, I eat for my lifestyle and for what I love to do. I am not planning on not being an ultra runner anytime soon so I, like my body, have accepted the fact that I will be a hungry monster all of the time, and I will need to eat things like M&M’s while I am running. If this plays into some of the jiggle I feel hatred towards sometimes then so be it. I am out doing what I love, I am healthy and able and strong. Life is so much about feeling and living, whatever your shape or ability may be grab a hold of it and embrace it.
And then one day someone says to me “wow your legs look like boom!” I take it and run with it. I say if my pants don’t fit too bad for those pants. Turn it back into a positive, why don’t your pants fit? All of those hill repeats, those squat challenges and lunges are working. That it why those pants don’t fit!!