HAES and athletic performance: Where’s the intersection?

It’s Thursday, so that means yoga class at the crack of dawn. It went pretty well– I went in with really sore calves and tight legs, and by the end of class everything was stretched out. He gave us a hard workout today, with lots and lots of lunges. Now to find the energy to use my standing desk all day so my legs stay stretched out… mostly I just want to go back to sleep.

Okay, time for some real talk this morning. (tw: weight loss talk– ugh, two days in a row!) So since my race last year I’ve gained a little weight– I lost some last year while I was training and running lots, and from the lowest low it’s about 10lb difference now. I probably gained some muscle from lifting, but I don’t keep track to be sure of where the difference comes from; my clothes fit mostly the same. It’s not a big difference overall, +/- 5lb from my stable weight.

The fact that I lost weight during my running training last year while not restricting my eating at all is causing me powerful temptation to diet (moderately, it’s always moderately isn’t it) while I train this year. It’s not uncommon for runners to want to manipulate their weight for performance reasons– the lighter you are, the faster you can potentially be. And uh yeah sure, that’s my motivation right? Lighter and faster, not being insecure about my body.

The Health at Every Size philosophy (which I love and practice) really has a tough time when you try to mesh it up with typical athletic performance training, doesn’t it? Of course an athlete is going to manipulate their body. That’s the whole point– to train and make your body change to get to your performance goals. On the other hand, HAES is body-neutral; however your body changes while pursuing healthy behaviors is okay. (And ahem, lots of athletic training falls well outside HAES’ healthy behaviors.)

Maybe it’s an edge case, but from what I read this is an incredibly common concern among people who practice HAES while pursuing athletic achievements. At what point do we set the HAES principles aside to get better at our sports, and how can we make sure to be checking back in with HAES to make sure that we’re not harming ourselves (mentally or physically)? Or is there a way to hold both at once?

I get the feeling this will be on my mind a lot over these next 2 months.

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About G

I'm running while fat. And learning other fun ways to honor my body.
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2 Responses to HAES and athletic performance: Where’s the intersection?

  1. lozette says:

    This is on my mind a lot when I have to lose weight to get into my desired weight class. I’ve gained about 10lbs since my last competition in November, no doubt because I’ve slacked off my training loads (plus I’ve had Xmas & my birthday trip to NYC in between) and part of me is cool with it, while another part is like “I can’t wait for them to drop off once I start seriously training again”.

    • G says:

      Right there with you! I’m definitely hoping my running training (once I’m able to actually get into it) works on that front…

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