Weight gain when marathon training helped me to beat diet culture
When it comes to exercise and fitness, there is often a prevailing focus on weight loss. We are bombarded with messages about how to slim down, tone up, and shed those extra pounds. However, as someone who has struggled with body image and diet culture for many years, I have come to realize that this obsession with weight loss is not only damaging to our mental and physical health, but also takes away from the true purpose of exercise and training.
Several years ago, I decided to challenge myself and sign up for a marathon. As someone who had never been particularly athletic, this was a daunting goal. However, I was determined to push myself and see what my body was capable of. Little did I know, this decision would not only change my perspective on fitness and exercise, but also help me to finally break free from the toxic hold of diet culture.
As I began training for the marathon, I quickly realized that my body was changing in ways I hadn’t expected. Instead of losing weight, as I had anticipated, I found myself gaining pounds. Initially, I was filled with panic and anxiety. The voice in my head that had been conditioned by years of diet culture told me that I was failing, that I was doing something wrong. But as I continued to train and immerse myself in the running community, I started to see things from a different perspective.
I began to understand that the weight gain I was experiencing was a natural and necessary part of marathon training. My body was adapting to the increased physical demands I was placing on it, and it needed extra fuel and energy to perform at its best. Instead of viewing my weight gain as a negative, I started to see it as a sign of strength and resilience. I was gaining muscle, building endurance, and becoming stronger both physically and mentally. I realized that the number on the scale was not a true reflection of my progress or my worth as a person.
This shift in mindset was a game-changer for me. For so long, I had been conditioned to believe that my value was tied to my appearance and my ability to control my body size. I had tried countless diets, exercise routines, and quick fixes in an attempt to conform to society’s narrow standards of beauty. But through marathon training, I was forced to confront the harmful beliefs I had internalized and reevaluate my relationship with my body.
As I continued to train, I also began to appreciate the incredible things my body was capable of. I ran longer distances than I ever thought possible, pushed through mental and physical barriers, and crossed the finish line of my first marathon with a newfound sense of pride and accomplishment. This experience made me realize that my body was not something to be constantly scrutinized and manipulated, but rather a powerful and resilient vehicle that allowed me to pursue my passions and dreams.
The running community played a crucial role in my journey of self-acceptance and body positivity. I was surrounded by people of all shapes, sizes, and abilities who shared a common love for running. Through their support and encouragement, I began to see that fitness and health came in many different forms, and that there was no one-size-fits-all approach to being fit and strong. I heard stories of individuals who had overcome their own battles with body image and had found freedom and empowerment through running. Their experiences showed me that I didn’t have to conform to unrealistic beauty standards or constantly strive for a certain body shape in order to feel happy and fulfilled.
Furthermore, the physical and mental benefits of marathon training were undeniable. Not only did I feel stronger and more capable, but I also experienced a sense of inner peace and clarity that I had never known before. Running became a form of therapy for me, a way to release stress, boost my mood, and connect with nature. I no longer saw exercise as a means to punish or change my body, but rather as a celebration of its incredible abilities and resilience.
Through marathon training, I began to shed the toxic beliefs and behaviors that had held me captive for so long. I learned to listen to my body and honor its needs, rather than constantly trying to manipulate and control it. I stopped counting calories, restricting certain foods, and punishing myself for indulging in a treat. I embraced a more intuitive approach to eating and exercise, focusing on nourishing my body and finding joy in movement, rather than fixating on a number on the scale.
Today, I am proud to say that I have found peace with my body and my relationship with food and exercise. I no longer feel the need to conform to society’s narrow standards of beauty or succumb to the pressures of diet culture. Instead, I focus on nourishing and caring for my body in a way that feels sustainable, enjoyable, and empowering. I have learned to appreciate the value of strength, resilience, and overall well-being, rather than being fixated on a specific body size or shape.
By embracing marathon training and the changes it brought to my body, I have finally been able to break free from the grip of diet culture. I have come to understand that my worth is not defined by my weight or appearance, but rather by the strength and resilience I possess, and the love and kindness I show to myself and others. I am grateful for the journey I have been on, and I am excited to continue pursuing my love for running and fitness in a way that promotes health, happiness, and self-acceptance.