Throughout my teenage and early adult life, I struggled with never measuring up. When I was in high school, I was an athlete and felt a lot of pressure to do well. Some of it was from myself, but I also got a lot of external encouragement to be the best. My senior year of high school, I stopped eating as much in hopes of becoming a better athlete. The reasons I believed this vary from the media to my chubby childhood, but regardless, it happened and I lost weight.
This cycle continued in college of eating all the fat free foods or trying the new health trend. I stopped playing sports and just worked out because I knew that was “healthy”. I don’t remember too much except that running was always my favorite. When I got out of college, I started running more often and my life changed both physically and mentally. I had finally moved out on my own and realized I had to get out of the diet culture women are forced into and figure out what health meant to me.3 Ways Running Changed My Relationship To Food #runchat @runningblogs #vegrunchat #vegan #running Click To Tweet
The first step was healing my relationship with food. Running was crucial in helping me do that.
1.) I wasn’t scared to eat any foods
Of course, when I turned vegan, this changed to any food as long as it was vegan, but other than that, I have no restrictions. I eat sugar, grains, processed foods and anything I really want. I also do this on days I do not run. That is very important to me, because I do not run so I can eat. Running taught me to respect my body and also respect when I am hungry regardless of the reason.
2.) I stopped caring about how much I ate
My friends, who were also runners, ate a lot too! I never felt embarrassed by my appetite and I stopped caring about what other people thought. I am not an advocate however of eating competitions or bragging about how much you can eat because for one person, a lot of food is normal, whereas for another it’s too much.
3.) I started trying new foods
Again, it helped going vegan, but also as I came into myself as a runner, I started trying new recipes from Runner’s World or athlete cookbooks. I wanted to eat what athletes ate because it looked both delicious and kind of fun. I had never really cooked before, and running increased my appetite and I found myself wanting a more diverse diet. I also think that when I got back from a run, the endorphins running through my veins relaxed my mind. I was more apt to try something new because I didn’t care what I was eating. I was just happy.
I do not think running is a cure-all. I did a lot of work on myself during this time to heal. However, finding a passion like running always reminded me to treat myself kindly, eat well and enjoy life.