Friday, October 1, 2010


I have a love/ hate relationship with food.

This bothers me. I know it's an unhealthy piece of me.

Oh where to start......
I grew up swimming competitively starting at age 8. As many of you surely know, swimming is one of those sports that increases your appetite. I think running suppresses your desire to eat. At least for a while after you finish your workout. This is not so with swimming. At least it was never the case for me in my 32 years of experience. During those key developmental teen years, I was swimming about 10 times / week. I worked very hard and I burned ooodles and oodles of calories pulling myself up and down the pool. I never once worried about my weight during my youth. And yet, I ate and ate and ate. Just as Mrs. Geyer. (Heidi---if you ever read this, seriously, ask your Mom.) My friend's Mom worked with my Mom. Their office was in our house. I would come home from afternoon swim practice and make my snack. She would wander out of the office and look at me wide eyed. You eat ALL THat?? I sure did! (baked potatoes with cheese, hot dogs (it's true- and we're in Maine. They were Red!), nachos, all sorts of wonderful things...) I'd head upstairs to do my homework and then come back down a few hours later for our family dinner.
Or, Jeff and I would come home from late practice to find a yummy casserole my Mother made for us. And, we'd eat it.
At least that's how I remember it. I think we pretty much devoured those turkey and rice casseroles.
Seriously folks, I could put it away. And I was skinny! I really never worried for a second about it.
From there, I went to college. And, I gained a little weight. Didn't we all? Pre-season beer and pizza and Ben & Jerry's and dorm food didn't quite agree with me. Or should I say, it didn't agree with my waistline. Thankfully, I jumped back into the pool for 4 intense years of Div 1 swimming and I was ok again.
I tried to eat well during those years. But come on, I was barely 20. I had never worried about food. None of us had ever learned about pre and post -meet nutrition. In retrospect, this appalls me. I honestly hope people are at our colleges now teaching the athletes how to properly fuel their bodies for peak performance in their sport!! on a little rant there. But seriously! I DO hope schools have that in place now. If not, there's an opportunity there.

My point in all that history is that as a child, I was lucky enough to be very very physically active. My Mother made us delicious healthy dinners. Looking back, a Lot of the snacks I ate were horrendous. We didn't know any better. I ate foods that I would never allow my kids to eat. Flaky puffs, fruit roll ups, and crumb cakes were all part of my normal diet. I would often leave morning practice, go to the cafeteria and eat a chocolate powdered donut and milk before class. Lunch always included a pack of oreos.

Flash forward. I'm 40 years old. I'm a Mother to 3 boys. I'm a serious Triathlete. And I'm a coach.
I LOVE learning about food. I read all I can on nutrtion. I buy books about clean eating and metabolic efficiency and ideal race weights. I devour all information I can about this topic.
I understand Why we all need to eat well. I embrace it whole heartedly. I spend a very significant amount of our monthly budget on groceries because I insist on buying all healthy food. I get fresh veggies and fruit, organic crackers and snacks for lunch boxes, organic peanut butter, real maple syrup,lean lean meat, and yogurt with little to no sugar and preservatives. I spent well over an hour at the store this morning reading all the labels and thinking through our meals for the week. I try so hard to feed this family well. It's not easy when my boys devour everything in sight. It's very hard to keep my cupboards and fridge stocked!! Breakfasts before school are a 3 course meal, then I fill their lunchboxes with sandwiches, fruit, a snack, a drink and a yogurt or applesauce. We sit down for a big afternoon snack, a pre-soccer (or whatever it is) meal, and then a 2nd meal after that activity. I kid you not. FOOD is a major part of our day.

I talk to the kids all the time about why they need to eat healthy foods. I have taught them why high fructose corn syrup is bad. I have taught them about saturated fat and trans fat and they even tell me when something isn't a "healthy choice." Tommy often asks, "Mom, is this natural?" They know about protein and what it does. They 'get it.' And I am thankful that I've had the time and knowledge to teach them all of this. I will continue to do it all through their years with me. (lucky them huh.. :)

I have also liminated many things from my husbands diet over the years, just by example. He won't touch mayonaise. He avoids deli meats. He chooses much leaner items on menus when he is at work for example. I am trying.

Nutrition is so important to me.

Then why... WHY is it that I Can Not Lose a POUND??? WhY is it that I am SO incredibly WEAK when it comes to those relaxing after-dinner hours?? I lose all sense of strength and just want to snack. NOw, my snacks are not that bad. I have to stand up for myself. Last night I had a green apple with natural almond butter on it. HEalthy stuff. And yet, I know I didn't Need those calories at 8:45 p.m. I know that. But I Wanted it!!
and That's all it took. It bothers me that I can't keep myself from overeating at this age.
I can be the strongest willed person out there in my training. And yet, I can't say no to a cookie.
I'm embarrassed and annoyed with myself. I'm disgusted. I'm frustrated.

I am so active and so mindful of our nutrtion and yet here I am, 10 lbs over my ideal weight. My day to day diet is good! I think so at least. I eat oatmeal, and greek yogurt with fruit and granola (bad bad..I eat TOO much granola), lean chicken and lots of veggies, no sauces, no butter, natural peanut butter (again, TOO much of it) and that about sums up my typical daily intake. Nothing too bad. Just too much.
I start with small amounts, however, I am Not satisified with it.
I think I taught my body to expect More. At age 16, I was sealing my fate. I'm a pig.

10 pounds. That's free speed right there!! That enough should motivate me! And it does. Until 8 p.m. At that point, I'm in my pjs, the kids are in bed, and my mind races to 'what do we have that is yummy???" And I go for it. No. Matter. What.

that's it. I need an intervention.


Angela and David said...

I understand this 100% I grew up an elite gymnast and ate whatever the heck I wanted whenever I wanted and I was tiny - I mean itty bitty bitty - without even trying. Then I had a growth spurt and played D1 volleyball and continued to eat whatever the hell I wanted. And now I try so hard to eat healthy and make the right choices but if I am faced with a cookie at a lunch meeting or there is a bowl of candy corn on my co-workers desk I eat it. I have no self control around food. I try to keep our house stocked with healthy choices but that doesn't stop me from eating way too much of those healthy choices. So I have no good advice for you, but you are very much not alone in this battle.

runningyankee said...

ummm seems to me you are pretty fast AS IS! will power is over rated. you do a great job 95% of the time so that 5% is sooo well deserved. you run a super crazy house with 3 boys. go ahead and relax and enjoy :)

Running and living said...

Well, I am not sure if you need to lose weight, but if you do, or if you want to improve your relationship with food I'd recommend you read Beck's Diet solutions. It is a book on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for eating. It is a very intense program that you can do by yourself, I think. This is not a self book, but a treatment manual. You'll find the answer to your questions in the book. It has nothing to do with willpower.

tri like mary said...

I wish I had some words of wisdom for you. The only thing I can say is that I had hoped that all of the training required for this sport would help me lose a few pounds. My body has changed drastically but the number on the scale stays stubbornly the same.

Bob Turner said...

Two words for you....Mike Foley.

GoBigGreen said...

You know Ange, I agree with Kari. We are not machines, we are not Pro athletes. I look at my dad who is 82 yo and pretty lean. He does not obsess about what he eats, he eats a ton of fruits and veggies, shredded wheat for breakfast and it is he, who got me putting lettuce or cucumber on my PB sandwiches " for the crunch!" he says. And he eats dessert, every single night. And he has never had an issue with HFCS.
My point is not to patronize you, I have to NOT read all that stuff bc i go insane or try to hyper control my diet, and why? But my point is maybe the less you focus on all the labels, and books and devouring the information the more you can relax and not be so focused on the "evil snack cupboard." That is what Rich calls ours:)

Michelle Simmons said...

I can relate to every word here, Ange! Seriously. Every word. I can't believe the crap I ate as a kid and I didn't even weight 100lbs. And now I eat pretty healthy (ok, more then just pretty healthy) but still have to watch every bite with no will power. I might get Ana-Maria's recommended book.

cheryl said...

I am right there with you. You aren't the only one who suffers this. ANd to top it off I haven't been able to do much in the way of exercise in 6 months! yikes.

Mary IronMatron said...

Okay... it's the off-season. You are NOT ALLOWED to beat yourself up right now!
But of course I get it...
I guess my history is different in that as a kid (teen) I was overweight, and I was constantly trying to diet ... with no success. Now I feel so lucky that the working out I do usually allows me to not restrict what I eat. And when I am not working out? Yep! We are going to get fatter a bit right now! Don't kill yourself over it. Let the weight come off when it needs to come off. It will--which is next spring and early summer. xoxoox

Mary IronMatron said...

On another but same note, have I told you about my ProMax Bar addiction?
It's like, a problem.

Barb said...

I could have typed every word in your post. Including eating everything in sight during college because I swam so much.

Including REALLY needing to lose these last 10 pounds, but the after dinner snacks killing my efforts.

I go back and forth between trying to summons the will power, and just loving my body the way it is.

My main motivation is that I want my RUN to be faster and I know the 10 pounds would help. Only fellow triathlete women can understand that reasoning ;) Most women just want their jeans to fit better.

Annie Crow said...

Leaving aside the issue of losing or not losing weight, it sounds like you're also upset about that evening snack, healthy though it is. Have you thought about *planning* to have a snack right before bed? It sounds like you need it for some reason or the other - a lot of us do! Sometimes just because it's the first chance all day to sit down and let go. If you plan for it then you could look forward to it and allow yourself to really enjoy whatever it is you're eating, instead of worrying about willpower. My God, as an athlete and mother of three boys, I think you're probably overflowing with willpower - you might not need any more.

healthyish said...

Dude, where's your chocolate? You eat all good stuff, but your chocolate intake seems dangerously low. I'm completely addicted to my nightly dessert: bananas with stonyfield chocolate mint chip fro yo.

And for the record, I think there's something in chlorine that causes hunger. I can swim 1,000 yards and I'm still thinking about food the second I get out of the pool.

kT said...

So I know there's some truth to the weigh less/run faster mantra, but honestly I think books like "Race Weight" overplay that--there's a lot of correlation without causation. And the facts here are that you are strong and ridiculously fast--you outrun lots of women who are smaller than you. Maybe you would be faster 10 lbs lighter, but maybe not--maybe you'd get sick more. I like the idea Annie posted of treating your evening snack as a planned event rather than as a sign of personal weakness.

Nothing else about you suggests "weak" as an accurate descriptor, so I question the logic of deciding that this one thing makes you "weak" versus considering the fact that it's utterly normal, and a lot of factors (many of them external about what women look like and do) make you want to call yourself weak for it. I read your blog because your mental strength is so inspiring and instructive. If your post weren't so heartfelt, it would be laughable--you calling yourself weak. But you know, it's not laughable at all--just look how many other (extremely tough) women are in the same place.

Laurie said...

First of all it's amazing that you teach your kids about healthy eating habits!
...and as a swimmer I understand this "eating like a pig" issues...i too tend to reach for the cookie jar at 8-9pm...but I see this as just a plain ol' normal human weakness..! As long as I get a work-out in every day or almost(...)I don't beat myself up over it.
check out my healthy food blog if you ever need some ideas for yummy and not too shameful desserts and such:

Rural Girl said...

Wow. Someone who sounds just like me. I have no willpower when it comes to food; I really mean desserts! I finally decided to let go of the obsession with trying to eat perfectly. I eat dessert everyday and don't worry about it anymore! I'm happier because of it. Could I be 1-2% less body fat? Maybe. Would I be 1-2 more crabby? Most definitely!

Emilie said...

Hi ange,
Thanks for coming over to my blog (and even listing mine in your list!). I agree with a lot of the comments that you should not be so hard on yourself. You are healthy and strong. But also because I know how you feel, and have been there, I'll give you two tips that work really well for me if I feel like i need to reign it in a little. 1. Keep a food journal. It sounds obsessive, but if I'm writing down (in a tiny notebook in my purse) what I'm eating every day, then I don't want to add "half of my daughter's pb and j," or "handful of chips" to my list for the day. It just makes me more deliberate. 2. I eat a ton of chobanis with granola, but I pack my lunch at work, so i portion out a few tablespoons of the granola in a little tuperware and then i'm not dumping the whole bag into my yogurt. you can apply the same technique with everything... instead of dipping my hand into the triscuit box over and over, i take out 4 or 5 and put the rest away. 3. if i want to stop snacking after dinner, i go upstairs and brush my teeth. then i kind of signal my mouth that i'm done snacking.

But really, I'd like to end with WOW, you are a total inspiration of an athlete (I know about you through Mary's blog), and you probably only need to make a few slight tweaks here and there, but it's all within your control. you do not have to have all the bad feelings about it... you're so fit and strong! Okay.. that was a book. Good luck!

Amanda said...

ditto. i can't believe i'm reading this on my third day of off-season, post-evening snack that i didn't really need...and about to pick up Matt Fitzgerald's Racing weight because 10 pounds lighter would feel really good.
so, you aren't alone. thanks for sharing

Alili said...

Yup. Food is my addiction. LOVE it. The good and the bad. Sigh.

Caratunk Girl said...

You just described me to a T. I am great until around 8pm when I am relaxing...

Ben said...

I can't believe I'm going to try to give you advice, but the one thing I tell myself right now, is that I should be the tiniest bit hungry when I go to bed. If Im doing things right, I should wake up wanting breakfast every day, not feeling like I dont need it some days.

Laura said...

Right.There.With.You... to a tee you just described me!!! Wish I had the magic answer... and even if I did I'm pretty certain you already know all the 'book/canned' answers to this problem!

luky begum said...

Excellent blog you’ve got here.It’s difficult to find high-quality writing like yours nowadays. I really appreciate individuals like you! Take care!! Please check out my site.
Swimming lessons