Today’s guest post comes from Tara from XCFoodie. I can’t exactly remember when I started reading Tara’s blog, but I can say that I truly love her site, and am inspired by this strong and pretty lady on a daily basis! We can both relate to each other’s struggles quite often and we are learning how to work through them. She is also a SUPER FAST runner and Tara has learned how proper nutrition helps fuel and propel her body so much further and better. She is smart, funny, and just great, so go check out her site right after you read this post! Oh and bookmark her blog, you’ll want to thank me later
Hey Everyone! I’m Tara and I blog at XCFoodie. Here is a quick “about me”: I am going into my senior year of high school where I run cross country and track. I also lift occasionally and lately I’ve been experimenting with biking and swimming because of an injury. I used to suffer with very disordered eating habits and anxiety, but I learned that to perform my best I had to fuel myself with the best. Now I’m happier and healthier than ever!
Way back when, I used to exercise just to burn calories. I donned a heart rate monitor every time I went to the gym, burned at least 500 calories per session, and never took rest days. I didn’t eat enough either – maybe 1600 calories on a good day, but that was on top of all the physical activity. I wasn’t enjoying the time I spent exercising and I felt burnt out. Worst of all, my day depended on getting in the sweat session. I was snarky and mean if I didn’t know exactly when I would get to the gym, and if I couldn’t go one day… oh you wouldn’t want to be near me on those days. Exercise was my insurance and if I didn’t have it I felt like I was doomed.
Then running came into the picture. I had been running every now and then to burn calories, especially on those days when going to the gym was impossible. I ran my first race, did well, and I actually enjoyed the time I spent running. Running to beat others distracted me from the constant calorie calculations that usually ran through my head, and seeing the time at the end was even more fun to try and calculate than trying to figure out how much food I was allowed to eat later. I placed 2nd in my age group in a major race held in a nearby city, and I was told I should join the track team. Me? No way! I couldn’t be good enough, plus no one would want me there. My self esteem was low, but things were looking up, so I went for it.
Little did I know, the first practice would change my life. Everyone on the team was so friendly and encouraging. I ran with the two fastest girls on the team and we chatted the entire time. It was bliss: not a single thought about food, restriction, calories, nada. I came home happier than my parents had seen me in years. We went out to dinner and I ate food that I didn’t prepare – oil and butter and all. I was on cloud nine. The next day at practice we did our first speed workout and I was up and running with the best of ‘em. I realized that I had actually eaten dinner and dessert the night before, and I felt AMAZING. Coincidence? I think not!
Post Race Peanut Butter Ice Cream? Real Ice Cream!? Yes please!
With that, I started to eat the right amount and I became one of the best runners on my team. I learned all about the different types of food and how they would help my performance – I could eat pasta (not even the whole grain variety), drink sports drinks, everything that I never thought I could do. Even at the end of the season when I was injured and couldn’t exercise, my relationship with food was so much better that I wasn’t crying and screaming over taking time off. My first cross country season was huge – our team won a title that they hadn’t won in years and made it all the way to the state championships for the first time in nearly ten years. My success continued into this year’s track season, where I had to take a lot of time off for injuries, but I ran even better times and continued to fuel myself properly. It makes all the difference.
In the past two years, I have learned so much about running, fueling, and myself all because of this experience. I learned that exercise is not fun when my goals are about deprivation, nor is exercise fun when I am not fueled properly. I had to realign my goals and make them positive, eat to perform my best, and only then would I feel the true “runners high” or benefit from the endorphins produced in my workouts. Focusing on the negative drains my energy as it is, but when I’m not treating my body properly I am even more miserable. When food and exercise are seen in a positive light – as things that make me happy, give me energy, and help me improve mentally and physically – then I was able to live.