Body Image

My wife and I were heading up to northern Vermont this past weekend for some R&R.  While getting ready to leave on Thursday morning - and packing, loading the car, getting our road bikes on the car rack - we had the Today show on in the background.  At some point JL, (that's my wife!), said to come check out the TV.  On the Today show was Caitlin talking about her new book, Operation Beautiful.  So I came into the office, listed for a few minutes, was intrigued - thought this was pretty cool stuff - and went back to getting my crap together.  The goal of Operation Beautiful is - and I'm summarizing here - to end the negative self-talk or "Fat Talk".  You should really check out the web site for a full idea of what Caitlin is doing - it's worth the trip to her site.

Anyway, it wasn't until a day later that I started to actually have some thoughts about this, and JL and I had a very good discussion around my thoughts.

It's interesting that I train with a triathlon club where a good majority of the members compete at a very high level.  I've mentioned before that a number of them qualify for Kona every year.  And along the topic of weight loss, body image, and an almost obsessive / compulsive drive to maintain ones "race weight" a number of common phrases and questions can be heard throughout the season:

"Dude, you're getting lean.  How much more weight do you have to lose?"

"I'm off carbs for two weeks to lean out for my race.  I need to drop 5 pounds"

"A few more pounds and I'll be at my optimum power to weight ratio."

"I saw (insert name here) at dinner before race day this past weekend.  No salad dressing, no wine.  He/she looked lean."

Suffice it to say.  Weight is a common discussion thread during long group rides and runs.  And I hate to admit, I've been a part of those discussions and have, during heavy training periods - with a big race on the horizon - been completely OCD in regards to my weight.  Daily weigh-ins and ensuring that I stay within a reasonable window of my 'race weight' being a priority.  I can't train with a bunch of lean, Kona-bound fiends if I'm not lean myself.  Not that I necessarily would go over the edge and start limiting what I ate, but at some window of time before my target race I'll stop drinking wine, and be careful to eat lean meats, etc.

Do we need to be concerned with our weight?  That's a loaded question.   One could argue that to ensure as competitive a race as possible, one needs to be at an optimal weight.  But, considering the amount of miles that we put in on a weekly basis, maintaining a good racing weight isn't really that difficult to do!  Regardless, it's a common discussion point, and is almost always paramount on my mind as a target race day looms in the future.

The point is that issues around body image don't discriminate by race, gender, or how 'fit' or athletic you are.  What we see in the mirror every morning isn't necessarily reality, and the more we concern ourselves with our weight, the more that image becomes distorted.  It's no mystery that we all see a skewed version of ourselves in the mirror.  Myself included. 

You should all check out Caitlin's web site: and

She can also be found on Twitter via @caitlinhtp.

Food for thought (no pun intended).