And just like that, we are almost done with Moan-Day! I got this from Caitlin’s (Healthy Tipping Point) post this morning, made me laugh 🙂
I am currently sitting in one of my favorite places ever, Barnes and Noble!!!, and writing a paper. Let me first say that Barnes and Noble, Borders, or really any other book store, is my favorite place to do work. There is usually a cafe, plenty of books if I need references, and when I need a break- people watching is the best!
The only problem is being distracted by huge magazine rack, or really any other book available to read. Must. Focus. Now.
While I am procrastinating actually writing this paper, I am thinking about it at least! This is for my Nutrition and Public Health class and I am researching about a subject near and dear to me, disordered eating among female athletes. I am focusing on college-level athletes, but also am discussing the trends among regular ones, although only in women (sorry guys!).
If you Google, “disordered eating and athletes,” there are overwhelming results. Overall, these indicate there are higher levels of eating related issues among female athletes as compared to those that are more inactive. This makes sense to me: there are pressures not only from our society to become thin, but also there are certain sports that put pressure on performers to meet a certain weight criteria.
Running is a sport largely related to this. Many elite female runners are lean, mean, fighting machines, with very little body fat.
A person that is attempting to get to elite levels might draw the conclusion that the thinner you are= the faster you run. Although there have been studies that showed how weight loss does impact race times, these are only geared toward people that have some extra weight to lose. Check out this Runner’s World article for a more detailed explanation.Unfortunately, some women may learn this information and take it into the extreme, leading to a restrictive calorie intake and setting themselves up for menstrual loss and osteoporosis at a young age.
From personal experience of being a member of my school’s cross country and track team, I have seen the pressure to be thin among my teammates. I can remember on the very first day of practice, a girl was there that was so thin, her legs looked like sticks and she was shivering in the 80-degree weather of September. Eventually she admitted to restricting because she though it would make her run faster. With intervention methods such as requiring her to eat a specific number of calories and education on adequate nutrition and sports performance, she has recovered, gained weight and is running quite fast now.
I have also succumbed to the pressures of meeting a certain weight, as I have discussed in my “About Me” page and “Running” page. Although my obsession with food occurred long before i began runner, last summer I figured losing weight meant I would run faster. Initially this did occur, but my inadequate calorie intake caught up with me and I was constantly feeling fatigues and my performance steadily got worse.
When an athlete goes on a “diet” and begins to restrict their intake, it actually might look like they are eating normally. Yet they are not taking in adequate calories to meet the demands of their practices or training runs, and their performance will inevitably decline.
For example, on days when I go on my long runs, I now eat like a horse after! I am usually so hungry the entire day and continuous snacking on proper nutritious items helps me to recover. I might look like I am eating excess amounts to a non-athlete, which is why this could go unnoticed from someone who is suffering with food-related issues.
So for my essay, I would love to hear other people’s stories or opinions on this! Beyond influence from images of our culture in magazines, TV, Internet, etc, have you ever felt pressure as an athlete to look a certain way for the sport? Or have you seen this among friends?