“Healthy eating is about so much more than just the nutrients in the food you eat. It’s about having a healthy relationship with food.” Krista Murias
You know what one of my favorite things in life is?
But I remember a time where that wasn’t always the case because I let it control me and I let it control how I viewed myself.
Fun fact, our bodies don’t like to diet. Assuming our systems are fully functioning, we have happy hormones, and we’re managing our training to recovery ratios as well as our stress and sleep, our bodies will be okay living in a deficit for a short time. But restrict your body for too long and it’ll fight the deficit you’re trying to keep harder and harder because it’s goal is to keep you alive. It’s trying to protect you. I learned this the hard way and came out the other side with unhappy hormones and an extremely poor relationship with myself and my food.
Back in 2014, I wanted to cut weight because I wanted to improve my gymnastics and my coach at the time thought losing weight was what I needed, so in a period of 9 months I went from weighing 145 lbs to 118 lbs. I lived by my macros and was disciplined enough through the first few months to where I was all in and didn’t want to overeat. I was the person who’d take my Tupperware to a friends party because I was scared I wouldn’t be able to log their food accurately into MyFitnessPal. That was until my body started sending me signals that I chose to ignore.
After a few months, my cravings started growing and what I thought was just discipline at the time started to waiver. I had to stop buying Oreos at my apartment because even if I planned a serving in my macros (they were my fave), I’d then crave extra, and 2 or 3 more Oreos would then turn into an entire 2-3 rows. My body was starving and I was pretty “all or nothing”, so those Oreos would THEN turn into whatever sweets I had nearby and an all out binge.
I used to dread eating with family and friends because I would panic about not being able to track my food precisely, and that “all or nothing” mindset always left me with nothing because a single imperfectly tracked meal would turn into an all out binge and intense feelings of guilt and shame. I always asked myself “why was I doing this?” And couldn’t understand why I felt so out of control. Each binge felt like a blackout where I’d just eat and eat until I felt sick – and a few times I did make myself sick. I hated myself for the bingeing, and I began hating my body as a direct result. Each time I felt like I lost control I’d try to restrict myself again and tell myself no more sweets, but that restriction ALWAYS turned into another binge, sometimes even the next day. It felt like a vicious cycle that I didn’t know how to escape. I hated my body, I hated that I couldn’t control my binges, but even worse – I hated myself.
Because I’m a sucker for irony, what I thought was making me healthier by trying to chase my “ideal” body weight was the unhealthiest I’ve ever been in my entire life.
So what changed? I began trying to really focus on my relationship with food by making sure I was eating enough food and focusing on my performance in the gym instead of what the scale read back to me.
More importantly, I started focusing on other non-scale victories:
- like if I was sleeping through the night,
- if I had enough energy to coach and train,
- if I was PR’ing in the gym,
- how frequently I was craving certain foods,
- if I thoroughly enjoyed a meal with my family and friends,
- if I was getting my period (yes, I lost that too),
- If my clothes were fitting any differently, etc.
I also started trying to make the effort to love my body wherever it was at and tried to show myself grace when I felt like I messed up. This is real life, it’s unrealistic (nor is it fun) to live by our self-imposed diet rules 100% of the time, there’s no magic in that.
That was probably one of the darkest periods in my life. I like to think of myself as a generally positive, happy go lucky girl, but for a few years, I was miserably lost. CrossFit was the only thing that made sense to me at the time, training was my escape, and food felt like the only thing that was within my control until it wasn’t. What’s funny is that in no way do I regret any of it because I wouldn’t be who I am now without any of that. I’m mentally stronger than I’ve ever been in my life, and I’m able to connect with people in a way that I never would be able to otherwise. Plus I know without a doubt what I’m not willing to sacrifice to reach my goals, and I will never sacrifice my overall physical and mental health just to look a certain way.
Here’s some more irony for you, you ready? I currently weigh MORE than I did when I first wanted to cut weight in 2014. Holy cow, right!? The best part is that my body composition looks nothing like it did. Even on the days when I feel my most self conscious, I see a strong body that’s capable of so much more than I give it credit for. I originally wanted to cut weight to take my gymnastics from being a huge, glaring weakness towards making them one of my strengths. I wish somebody would have told me back then that losing weight wasn’t the answer, but building strength was. My strict gymnastics are just as good now as they were nearly 30lbs lighter (I told you I loved irony) and my kipping feels stronger than ever thanks to focusing on rebuilding from the bottom up.
Nutrition is so incredibly hard, especially with advice and information coming from every direction you turn. It’s hard to know what’s right and what will work for you. But you know what works regardless? Working on improving your mindset and relationship with food and yourself. It makes it more enjoyable when I eat a doughnut because I really just want a doughnut, but it also makes it way easier to say no if I’m simply not in the mood for one. I don’t have any more guilt when I want to enjoy a cheeseburger with my family because I know that brings more value to my life than just the nutrients it provides. I also can’t remember the last time I’ve had a full out binge or made myself sick.
Not every day is perfect, I still track my macros and there are times I won’t order what I would have in the past because I know it’ll be too hard to track, but at the end of the day it’s my choice. Food doesn’t control me anymore because I don’t allow it to, and I don’t let the scale dictate who I am even if I let the number get into my head. I’m still human, I still make mistakes, I’m still learning, and I’m still growing. But I’m enjoying the process and trying to focus on making the conscious effort to love myself every step of the way.
Gabby Sachs – Full Time Coach CF-L2, Precision Nutrition 1, CF Gymnastics
Gabby Sachs joined the 4B family summer 2016 and instantly fell in love. She got her CF-L2 in the summer of 2017. Gabby loves being a coach because she loves building and nurturing the relationships found within the CrossFit community, as well as helping people become the best possible version of themselves by helping them reach their fitness and nutrition goals.