POSITIVE Body Image

Society has created the idea that your self-worth and happiness is defined by your weight, size, shape and image, – Marni Sumbal

Hi Friends and Fellow Athleats,

Today’s addition of my Blog is about my own personal journey with Body Image. It’s taken a lot for me to get where I am and it was even harder to make the decision to share this. But a very close friend has helped me so much that I own it to her to be Strong and share this in the hopes that it may help others.

So here it goes!!! Yikes!!!

Yep, that was me! Fall of 2013, age 54 and nearing 220 pounds.

I was never athletic by any means. I played some golf, as long as I could ride in a cart. But after a health scare, I made the commitment to change going into 2014.

In January of 2014, I found running quite by accident. The thought of running 1-mile scared the Hell out of me, but all I saw on the Internet was “Rail Thin” people running and figured that “running” wound make me skinny. So I started running and running and running.

My original goal was to take 20 pounds off and get under 200 pounds.

2014 GCM Relay (I’m second from the left)

In April of 2014, I had met my goal and was at 199 pounds. I had been running, but not really “Training”. At the end of April, I ran 1-leg of the Glass City Marathon Relay and by some grace of God I did not die. Still not sure how that even happened.

After that race, I thought, “OK, if I lose 20 more pounds, maybe I would actual be a Runner“. Why? Because runners were “Rail Thin“, right. So I kept running and loosing weight.

This went on for over 18-months. In the fall of 2015, at about 170 pounds (down about 50 pounds now), I ran my first Half Marathon (Churchill’s). I had really been training for this race and was feeling very confident all the way until about mile 12 1/2 when an “Older” and much “Heaver” male runner passed me. Wait!! The fast runner’s were supposed to be “Rail Thin“, how in the hell was this Old Fat guy passing me? WTF.

This was the first time I was really exposed to the concept that maybe “Rail Thin” was not the answer? But then, after the race, I went back to the internet and of course, the “Rail Thin” runners were in all of the Ads for running shoes and on the magazine covers, so I thought maybe I just needed to loose more weight.

What outside noise are you letting into your definition of self-love?” – Marni Sumbal

Spring of 2016 came and I ran the Glass City Half Marathon. Now I was down to about 160 pounds. I had a great race and had a 6 minute PR (Personal Record) over the Churchill’s 1/2 Marathon the previous fall. So in my brain, if I went from 170 to 160 ponds and shaved 6 minutes, then logically if I lost 10 more pounds, then I should be able to shave 12 minutes off the Churchill’s race in the fall. That’s sound logic, right? Wrong!!!

I was on fire going into the Churchill’s 1/2 marathon in November of 2016. I was down to 150 pounds (down a total of 70 pounds). I was going to Kill it. Well, I’m sure by now that can figure what happened! Yep, blew up! I was over 5 minutes slower! The literal Hell was going on? I had lost so much weight, why wasn’t I getting faster?

In the fall of 2017 decided to get into Triathlons. Maybe this would be different.

In the Spring of 2018, I started Structured training for my first IRONMAN race. An Ironman race, also called a “Long Course Triathlon”, consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles on the bike and a 26.2 mile marathon.

At this point I was down to 145 pounds and I thought this was going to be easy, after all, I had lost so much weight and I was pretty much “Rail Thin“! Right? Wrong!

I started to meet many the my fellow Triathletes, I could not believe all the different body shapes. They were all amazing athletes, many with Podium finishes and Age Group Wins. But how could that be? NONE of them were “Rail Thin“.

By the grace of God, a fellow Triathlete and friend, Heather Szuch Bellian, introduced me to Marni Sumbal, who is a Board Certified Sport Dietitian, and a 16x Ironman finisher, including 5x IM Kona finisher. I quickly hired Marni to be my Nutrition Coach.

Marni helped me to understand that “Rail Thin” was not the answer.

Strong, Healthy Body’s are what wins races. For me, 145 ponds was not healthy, so I needed to let go of the “Rail Thin” concept and start to love my body.

June of 2020 in Greenville SC at a Training Camp (162 lbs)

Today, I am hoovering around the 160 pound mark. But maintaining that is not always easy.

I train on average of 18 hours per week in Swimming, Biking and Running. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that I need to take in about 2,400 calories a day just to maintain my body weight.

But it’s not uncommon to burn an additional 1,200 to 1,800 calories on hard training days. So if I don’t take in the 3,600 to 4,200 total calories on those days, I end up in calorie deficit, which results in losing weight.

But I’m not going to lie, every time I look in the mirror I see my Inner-Fat guy, but then I tell myself that “Strong is the new Skinny

Value your body for the incredible machine that it is. Reject societies image of weight-based values. Be grateful for the body you are in. Be respectful, compassionate and kind to the body that carries you through life” – Marni Sunbal

*If you’re struggling in this area, or know someone who is, I highly recommend reaching out to Marni. You can read more about her or contact her at TRIMarni Coaching and Nutrition.

Until next time….

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