Q: Even though running was your primary goal, when it became evident that the diet was detrimental to running it still pulled you back in. Why do you think it still gripped you even when you knew it wasn’t the direction you wanted to go? Why do you think this is and what strategies really helped you to break the mindset?
One word: Fear.
When I continually tried to stay on the raw food bandwagon (especially the fruit-focused diet), I felt that I “just wasn’t it doing it right,” that I had worked too long and hard to learn everything about the benefits of raw food and weight loss to stop. After all, what would that leave me with? Cooked food would only cause me to binge more–or so I thought. I was afraid of my own appetite, afraid of how “out-of-control” I would feel eating any cooked food (it just tasted too “stimulating”; i.e. DELICIOUS!). I feared gaining weight, feared putting all the hours of research to waste, feared that if I didn’t at least try this raw food diet, I would never reach my running potential. Wasn’t eating only raw food going to get me to the top? After everything I had learned, wouldn’t it be a waste to just go backwards?
I figured that if I just tweaked this or adjusted that, things would improve over time. After months of learning that protein would “leach the calcium from your bones,” that eating “cow pus” and “animal carcass” was supposedly “immoral,” that if you are strong enough to only eat fruit you will never get fat, I had all the reasons in the world to keep adhering to a diet that I thought would make me skinnier, would make me a better runner, would give me ultimate freedom from my abnormal relationship with food. When it got to the point where I gained weight even eating mostly fruit, I had brainwashed myself to fear not only cooked food, but all food.
So what could I eat? I was destined to starve, because nothing edible gave me peace of mind when I ate anymore. They have it right when they say ignorance is bliss.
I Have More Discipline
At the beginning I felt superior, felt stronger than anyone, felt that I had to keep holding onto this raw food diet because after everything I had learned and researched, it had to be the right thing. I was meant for this diet. I thought I had more discipline than anyone else, that this was something my competitors could not and would not ever do. I told myself that I had an advantage over them, and with all my knowledge in nutrition I felt I could do something they couldn’t. After years of toiling away at running, after working so hard and watching as other athletes made it to the top without me, I grew angry. Why wasn’t my body doing what I wanted it to? Why, after all the discipline and weight training and miles and eating healthy (or what I thought was healthy), why wasn’t it working?
I beat my body into submission–first, by restricting.
My obsession with nutrition and “cleanliness” of food slowly strip away everything else that made me a good runner, too. Weight training? Sure, I’ll do a little. Cross training? Yeah, but does it matter as much? If I just eat less, if I just watch my weight…oh, and now eating only raw food will improve my running even more? And it’ll help me to lose more weight?
Unfortunately, the injuries that plagued me at a low weight kept coming with a vengeance as I dabbled into raw food. It came to the point where, when I was injured, I was barely doing anything like cross training or lifting, things that would help with running and staying in some sort of shape. I had fallen so deep into my eating disorder that I began to believe nutrition was behind all of it, that even if I was injured, I could bounce right back if only I lost more weight. When running was not there for me, I only hoped that raw food would be.
I thought about svelt Freelee, about ultra-marathoner Michael Arnstein, how this diet had worked wonders for them. I kept imagining myself skinnier than before, that I could promote this wonderful diet. I imagined posting on 30bananasaday about how I had achieved my greatest dreams in running, thanks to them.
The Weight Will Come Off