Simply put: I loved every moment of competing in the NYC Triathlon 2016. The excitement and exhilaration of jumping in the Hudson River, and the support of all the people as we lined up to do it! The bike ride up and down the West Side Highway, through the Toll Plaza and up into the Bronx! The run around Central Park. I did it and I loved it. I didn’t know that this would be the case. I was pretty terrified and somewhat miserable, right up until I woke up at 4 a.m. to get myself up to the bike coral…
But why? Why was I so miserable? I was scared. I didn’t know if I’d be able to do it. I’ve been excited about completing the NYC Triathlon ever since I completed my first NYC Marathon in 1999. But 3 marathons later, it hadn’t happened yet. I was really frightened. Yet somehow when my best friend asked me if I wanted to participate in the July 2016 NYC Triathlon, way back in July 2015: I knew I was ready and I knew I could do it.
I Want To Be Myself.
In Part 1 of my triathlon training blog, I mentioned that I had gained a little weight over the winter of 2015/2016. As a woman who conquered binge eating and bulimia, I can’t just, ‘go on a diet’ to lose weight. Going on a diet, means going off a diet. Deprivation modality makes me want to eat more.
So, when I got my swimsuit on and ventured out to the lake to start my open water training for the Tri, I was super jazzed to know that I was going to be exercising regularly, not only because I as up for a challenge, but also because I really wanted to lose the winter weight without adding deprivation to my diet.
I posted a ‘before’ photo. Me at 161 pounds. I simply did not want to be held captive by an image of me that was not perfect. So I decided to post it on our Pongo Power blog. I wanted to put it out there and break free of the desire to even have an ‘image.’ I want to be myself. I am very motivated to gain freedom from any criticism that I might be inclined to heap on myself. I’ll tell you why.
Telling The Truth.
It is simply not easy leading two lives. One life is enough to live. Sounds like a soap opera, eh? In fact, I grew up watching General Hospital. Various characters had deep, dark secrets. For months and months, I’d find myself bemoaning their horrendous predicaments that the secrets brought upon them. I’d stare at the television, thinking, “Just tell [the other person] the truth!”
After all the destructive drama the secret caused, the truth would invariably come out regardless. No matter how hard the character tried, leading a secret life, a ‘double-life,’ hurt everyone involved.
Yet there I was, guarding my precious secret & in perfect denial about it. I was bulimic at that point in my life, and it lasted until I committed to going to family therapy with my mom; and then therapy on my own; and then to a nutritionist and therapy three times a week! I was determined to kick my eating disorder’s butt, and I did!
I remember just wanting to, ‘eat like a normal person’ and so desperately wanting to not be obsessed with food, nor my body weight. I’d cry and cry as I attempted yet another diet. My nutritionist, the best nutritionist in the world, if you ask me, Sara Cowlan would patiently ask, “So, how many days has it been since you had any carbs? The serotonin levels in your brain are probably really low right now.” I had to discover for myself how horrid deprivation modality felt.
What was especially confounding about keeping my secret was that not only did it isolate me, but also, I ended up creating a confusing path to the core of my own heart and mind. It was very hard to express my feelings because I was using food, binging, and purging to manage my emotions from age 13 to 31. From age 31 to 42, I’ve come a long way and I am so honored and proud to be able to express my thoughts and feelings in a healthy way, and get the responses that I’m hoping for.
Secrets From Our People are Basically Blockades to Getting to Know Our True Selves.
I’m not suggesting that we need to tell everyone everything, nor would I have you think that I believe in sharing private information in a manner that is disrespectful, destructive, or degrading. Yes, intimacy and trust are built upon knowing that we can share information in a productive way.
I used to weigh myself at least 5 times a day. In reality, that is a low-end estimate. I’d say 10 to 20 times a day is more accurate. I was using the scale to inform my emotional state. When I was 12 I read a book named “The Best Little Girl in the World.” It was about an anorexic girl, and her problem seemed very glamorous to me. The idea of being completely in control sounded good. I had no idea, as a 12 year old, that starving and not eating was a sign of other emotional issues: issues that need to be talked about in order to be understood.
I Tried my First Diet at Age 13.
I had found it in the Reader’s Digest. It was called the “Four Day Wonder Diet.” Did you know you can lose 10 pounds in 4 days? I will never forget it. I felt so adult and my father was quite impressed that I was cooking lamb chops for lunch. But if you look closely at this diet there are a few things that are very, very wrong.
- The 4 Day Wonder Diet is clearly a starvation diet.
- Whenever you go on a diet, you will go off your diet. The pendulum swings both ways. Learning how to eat healthfully, until you’re full, and how to combine food to get the proper nutrition out of the food, so that your body is well fueled is a skill. A deprivation diet will certainly give you other problems to deal with, like plummeting blood sugar; and will delay your ability to focus your time and attention on learning how to eat for pleasure AND for fuel. If you ask me, I was not learning any skills when I was starving, binging, or purging. I was learning how to be sneaky, to keep secrets, and to lead a secret-double-life. It was lonely and terrible.
- If you think you are having trouble understanding your cravings now, try going on a diet. You’ll watch your cravings spiral out of control.
Bringing People Together.
Signing up for any event, be it a 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon, or triathlon is social. It brings people together. I like to sign up for events with my friends and co-workers, because I love having that shared experience. I enjoy meeting all the other people in the world who are also competing.
And, the bi-products are amazing! You end up surprising yourself. People give you tons of props and praise. Your dearest family, friends, and colleagues come out to cheer you on. Not to mention the fact that celebrating after a very PHYSICAL special event is one of the most fun types of celebrations that exist. You are in your body 100%!
I thought that I was just excited to tackle my fears and to lose the winter weight. But training for the NYC Triathlon ended up providing so much more satisfaction than I could have ever imagined. I did lose all my winter weight. I lost 14 pounds. But I did it in a way that was healthy, social, and required me to learn all sorts of skills that I didn’t have before, like how to change the tire on my bike!
What Is It That You Really Want?
If you have a goal, think of other ways of achieving it besides just tackling that one goal itself. Think a little bit outside of the parameters and think of the meta-goal! What is it that you really want? Is it just to lose weight?
Or is it to be healthy, strong, powerful, to form deeper bonds with other people, and to be proud of who you are?
One goal implies that we minimize ourselves. The other set of goals, the true intimate work of getting to know ourselves and others; those goals may require a bit of work: but that journey, that leap, taking that action to tackle our fears, supplies a life that is truly worth living, and makes me want perhaps more than just one life to live. Tackling fears head-on provides so much more than just that surface level of satisfaction. It is a deep love, a deep peace, one that feels timeless, classic, and fulfilling. For that I am so grateful.
Thank you to everyone who helped me along the way! xo