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Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff
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on an ashley horner thread calamityjane88 posted the following:

Calamityjane88 wrote:
On the other hand, I feel like if a woman wants to be a moron and post a ton of crap about doing 50/50/50, let her. Whatever. It's really not about triathlon. What it means to be a woman with a body is tricky. Tons of women fight with their bodies. So, I see this AH junk as a well-intentioned but messed up effort to feel good. The mind-over-matter empowerment message is a ray of hope for some women, I guess. I don't want to be mean to my sister-women who are struggling. I have compassion for their nuttiness.

i'm fascinated by women's empowerment in triathlon, and there's a move on called "strong at any size" that's kind of a call-to-action for women in multisport. against that backdrop:

if a man were to say, hey, i'm 20lb over my fighting weight, and i want to know what my best plan is for getting faster - disk wheel, bike fit session, blah blah - what would come back is: "lose the 20lb; best bang for your buck." and, that would be right, strictly speaking.

however, we all know that this is a much more nuanced discussion with women. so, my question is, how does one strike the right balance between a proper, thoughtful exhortation about morphology (if one is, for example, a coach) versus just leave morphology the fudge out of it. just don't talk about it. nothing good can come of it. the body will seek its own morphology.

but if the answer is the latter, then discussion of diet (for example) become tougher, because morphology is an end, a goal, an imperative, that's sitting back there unspoken.

beyond this, i wrote a couple of weeks ago about triathlon and the metrics that we have, as a group, compared to the metrics of a general population. in the poll currently up, only 15 percent of slowtwitchers are on BP meds, whereas more than half american adults are on BP meds, and our systolic BPs are pretty routinely in the 110 to 130 range (not nearly so the general population). but, this attaches to a particular level of fitness to which we endeavor to achieve.

how do we champion a strong at any size narrative while also acknowledging that for every woman - for best performance and health - there is an optimal morphology (even if that morphology "looks" 20lb over what might appear on the cover of shape magazine)?

let's say the goal is to fill up pool swim, women only, first timer triathlons. how does one talk to such an audience if optimal performance, mental health, physical health, continued engagement, sense of community, is the goal?

Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Slowman wrote:
on an ashley horner thread calamityjane88 posted the following:


Calamityjane88 wrote:
On the other hand, I feel like if a woman wants to be a moron and post a ton of crap about doing 50/50/50, let her. Whatever. It's really not about triathlon. What it means to be a woman with a body is tricky. Tons of women fight with their bodies. So, I see this AH junk as a well-intentioned but messed up effort to feel good. The mind-over-matter empowerment message is a ray of hope for some women, I guess. I don't want to be mean to my sister-women who are struggling. I have compassion for their nuttiness.


i'm fascinated by women's empowerment in triathlon, and there's a move on called "strong at any size" that's kind of a call-to-action for women in multisport. against that backdrop:

if a man were to say, hey, i'm 20lb over my fighting weight, and i want to know what my best plan is for getting faster - disk wheel, bike fit session, blah blah - what would come back is: "lose the 20lb; best bang for your buck." and, that would be right, strictly speaking.

however, we all know that this is a much more nuanced discussion with women. so, my question is, how does one strike the right balance between a proper, thoughtful exhortation about morphology (if one is, for example, a coach) versus just leave morphology the fudge out of it. just don't talk about it. nothing good can come of it. the body will seek its own morphology.

but if the answer is the latter, then discussion of diet (for example) become tougher, because morphology is an end, a goal, an imperative, that's sitting back there unspoken.

beyond this, i wrote a couple of weeks ago about triathlon and the metrics that we have, as a group, compared to the metrics of a general population. in the poll currently up, only 15 percent of slowtwitchers are on BP meds, whereas more than half american adults are on BP meds, and our systolic BPs are pretty routinely in the 110 to 130 range (not nearly so the general population). but, this attaches to a particular level of fitness to which we endeavor to achieve.

how do we champion a strong at any size narrative while also acknowledging that for every woman - for best performance and health - there is an optimal morphology (even if that morphology "looks" 20lb over what might appear on the cover of shape magazine)?

let's say the goal is to fill up pool swim, women only, first timer triathlons. how does one talk to such an audience if optimal performance, mental health, physical health, continued engagement, sense of community, is the goal?


I feel like this is really tough and tricky conversation to have. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a woman in my mid 20's, 5'8" and 140lbs but have never struggled with my weight or body image. I am also a midnight IRONMAN finisher and there are many many people (women and men) who are much larger (with higher body fat percentages) who are substantially faster and fitter than myself. I really do feel that triathlon is sport for men and women of all shapes and sizes but we would be remiss to not realize the detrimental effect that extra weight has on us both athletically and health wise. I think that because statistically speaking women are more likely to report body image issues and disordered eating we think of it as women's issue and are more cognizant of our rhetoric surrounding these issues with them (we tip toe around weight discussions with women). Notice that I said that women are more likely to report body image struggles (not have, I think these issues are very wide spread in the male population as well but because of a variety of factors are not reported in the volume as on the womens' side).

Without driving this conversation completely of track, I do think that there are problems with the "strong at any size" movement as well. Despite the fact that we are trying to stop putting the emphasis on esthetics, we are instead putting the emphasis on yet another physical attribute that not everyone can control. There is also another movement that is gaining some traction called "health at any size" or "HAEs". There is a woman, who many have probably heard of, who is morbidly obese who is claiming that she will compete IRONMAN Arizona to prove that weight is not an accurate metric of health. Although weight is not the only metric of health it is an important one and her previous attempts and training shows this.

I think that some steer clear of the weight conversation with newer triathletes in an attempt to not scare them off. I look at it similarly to the first time you are going to do a marathon. It can seem very overwhelming to run 26.2 miles but if you take it one mile at time it doesn't seem so bad. If you were to tell a new triathlete that to be successful in the long run they were going to have to lose 20 lbs, it might be a bit much when they still haven't figured out how to to use clipless pedals or breath bilaterally. This doesn't even take into consideration the fact that many overweight women are still carrying pregnancy weight (we do not ask men to gain 30-40 lbs, take training time off, go through an arduous traumatic experience that can harm the body, and then drop the weight quickly there after).

I am a professional skier outside of triathlon and the biggest thing that has taught me is to value process over outcome. This is to not stress about the outcome and focus on the process. If you set process based goals, regardless of the outcome of a race you have already met your goal. Furthermore if you fall in love with the process, you will not only always meet your goals and be successful but you will be fulfilled within. I think that "if optimal performance, mental health, physical health, continued engagement, sense of community, is the goal" we teach to fall in love with the process and value your body for all the amazing experiences it enables you to have. Part of this process, is treating your body with all the respect it deserves (addressing mental and physical health all while gaining and giving strength from this community.




Sorry I am long winded! I hope this makes sense!
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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As someone who has been in competitive sports since childhood and struggled with an eating disorder throughout early adolescence to young adulthood and continues to battle with body image and a healthy relationship with food and weight, I feel compelled to comment on this. I see absolutely no reason the need to focus on weight/body type for an amateur athlete. If you are coaching your average age grouper, and you feel that they would be faster if they lost weight, that is your own opinion and not one that needs to be shared, whether male or female. Yes, addressing proper nutrition and fueling is important. But, honestly, I'm amazed at how LITTLE age groupers, especially women, eat. If the athlete seems genuinely focused on getting faster, then the weight will come off naturally, with the right amount of training and recovery, as long as they are fueling correctly. If an athlete is motivated to improve their times, they're going to realize organically that being on the lighter side will usually lead to faster times. (Skinny does not always = fast, as most endurance athletes have learned). Also to note, optimal body size varies across sports. A woman much larger than me was swimming much faster than me in the pool yesterday...and it's not because I'm a slow swimmer! Comparing us side by side, one might conclude I'd be faster as I'm leaner and "look fitter." That was certainly not the case! I know when I've gotten too skinny, not from purposeful disordered eating, but from not keeping up with the caloric burn during intense training, I've lost power on the bike and have had subpar races.

Yes, it is a double standard for men. And that's not right. Not just related to weight...how is it acceptable for women to talk about how attractive a younger man is is, but then become offended when men say the same thing about a younger woman? Neither should be OK.

In response to the last part of your post concerning "filling up the pool swim, women only..." the goal should be creating a safe and supportive environment that lets these participants be competitive, have fun, spend a few hours away from being a "mom," "wife," "caregiver" or whatever hat they wear. I do not see the purpose or need of addressing weight/morphology with this level of athlete. As someone who has had many friends and relatives compete in such races, the joy and pride they get from completing these events is just as much, if not more, than when I do well in a competitive event. I think if someone were to address body size at any point leading up to their race, they would've had a negative experience, and perhaps seen it as just another person/organization trying to make them feel bad because they're not whomever's "ideal" size.

On another note, I think you're talking about different metrics here. Just because someone is on the thinner side, doesn't mean they're fit. Just because they're fit, doesn't mean they don't have medical issues. Just because they have no medical issues doesn't mean they're thin....etc, etc. True, endurance athletes in general tend to have better overall health, but is that because they're athletes, or because they are in a socioeconomic bracket that lends itself to better health outcomes? (perhaps a topic for another day)

Lastly, I have not followed this Ashley Horner person, so I have no idea how she's related to this topic :-)
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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IMO, the simplest answer is to have more photos like this[/img] which is how the mathematical majority of women look. Also giving them gear that fits the body they're in, minimizing the pulchritudinous outline, would invite more womens to participate.

First and foremost, women need to be comfortable in the skin they're in before they will start triathlon. The bareness of swimming is a big turnoff to many and is alleviated by the wetsuit, if it fits...

DFL > DNF > DNS
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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First, I think "optimal morphology" is going to be different for every woman. Just take a look at the past and present pro field- Gwen, Rinny, and Katie Zaferes all have very different frames. Also the pro field for women's tri comes in a vast spectrum of heights...where I feel that the men's field more or less has a cookie cutter frame for success.

I think just the act of getting women to move more and to challenge themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally is a blueprint for empowerment. And at some point, if women enjoy the challenge of triathlon and want to better themselves, they will start looking for ways to do that, in/out of the pool, on/off the bike, and out/back for their runs. They will do the research and ask questions for how to become more sucessful, and part of that is eating better and conditioning more.

I'm a moderator on a women-dominant health and fitness forum elsewhere on the internet, and I can undoubtedly say that we are our own harshest critics. The hundreds of women who post there come from varied backgrounds in athleticism, health, and mindset. Some work out because it's fun, or want to lose weight. Some others win marathons. And some of us do triathlon, as seasoned veterans or just trying it out for the first time because someone else made it look fun and events brought together our entire community in ways they wanted to also be championed (we have live tracking days for our members who choose to share their race days). But the statement "Too X or not enough Y for Z" are self-reflections, and not epithets put on members by others. We even have a set of "commandments" to help everyone understand that we're a supportive community and that strength for yourself has to come before strength for others, and that the community is built with the understanding that we are all out there to create the best versions of ourselves.

Team Zoot
Tailwind Trailblazer
I can tell you why you're sick, I just can't write you an Rx
2019: IMTX|IM 70.3 OOB| IMMD
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Slowman wrote:
let's say the goal is to fill up pool swim, women only, first timer triathlons. how does one talk to such an audience if optimal performance, mental health, physical health, continued engagement, sense of community, is the goal?


"just leave morphology the fudge out of it. just don't talk about it. nothing good can come of it. the body will seek its own morphology."


^^^^^^^^^^THIS^^^^^^^^^^

Because women who are overweight KNOW they are overweight. Please don't presume that you are the first person to "mansplain" this to them and that you have the magical cure that heretofore was unknown to them. The vast majority of women who either listen to or read your thoughts are also aware of what it takes to lose the weight, but don't do it for whatever their reasons are. They might be interested in triathlon as part of the "move more" side of the equation to help balance out the "eat less" that many women find so difficult to overcome.

And thank you for asking ;-)

DFL > DNF > DNS
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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These are great answers.
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [SallyShortyPnts] [ In reply to ]
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Yes! Everything in this post, yes!
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [SallyShortyPnts] [ In reply to ]
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SallyShortyPnts wrote:
IMO, the simplest answer is to have more photos like this

[/img] which is how the mathematical majority of women look. Also giving them gear that fits the body they're in, minimizing the pulchritudinous outline, would invite more womens to participate.

First and foremost, women need to be comfortable in the skin they're in before they will start triathlon. The bareness of swimming is a big turnoff to many and is alleviated by the wetsuit, if it fits...

agree 100%. At my local races there are body types (and ages) across the range. Yet what we see formalised through marketing/magazine imagery/IG idols are ripped 20-somethings. One of the ways Crossfit excels is in fronting all kinds of morphologies through their netflix and other promotional efforts.
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Your inquiry addresses, imo, two separate areas in re womens.

You used “optimal” (performance, health, morphology) and “best” (performance, health, getting faster), but my experience at women’s races, newbie races, with the women in the local tri club, and the women’s social media forums is that a whole lot see “optimal” and “best” as something other than “what would make me cross a triathlon finish line in the fastest time ever.” That is a huge focus here on ST in re men and women — how many posts do we see about pros wasting their talent (incl. wellington and jorgensen retiring “too soon” before reaching kona legend status) and now the big rants about lionel’s crazy diet — but there’s a big difference between “omg can i get to kona/on the podium locally/an hour pr” and “sport is fun and one part of my busy life.” The latter are the ones you want to bring in to tri; the former are likely already there.

Some women, certainly many I see posting in the bigger groups online, see triathlon as very tied to weight and post about it all the time — before/after selfies, requests for diet advice, complaints about why they haven’t lost weight after 2 months of training, “my x-mile run is penance for two cookies yesterday,” cheers for others’ bodies even when the post was unrelated to that directly (e.g., “i have no advice for you on xx issue but omg your abs,”) etc., and I would bet those women expect to discuss it with their coaches if they have them ... the whole SwimBikeMom phenomenon shows that it resonates.

I think a good coach will (should) be able to have a nonthreatening weight conversation with a female athlete, especially as it relates to monthly hormonal changes, menopause, blood pressure/hr, power ratio, and simply fueling properly to race — I certainly have with Ian over the years — if the athlete herself brings it up definitely, and maybe as an initial inquiry about whether weight loss is a specific goal and if she wants a nutrition consult etc., as part of an intake interview or questionnaire. But “hey, you will go faster/be better/be happier, be optimal and best if you are thinner/fitter” is something we already get every day simply by living in our culture and many (most?) of us don’t need or want it in the context of the thing we do for fun/stress relief/to feel good about what we can do.
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Wonderful thoughtful comments here. As a 54 yo menopausal woman who was chubby as a kid, YES. I have a few issues. I am slower than five years ago because I carry an extra 10 lbs on my menopausal frame. I have struggled with this greatly, but my body likes being this weight. I am not overweight for my height at all, but know in my sport it affects me in my weakest discipline, the run.

BUT...as my triathlon ultra runner buddy fights ALS, my daughter fights lyme and chronic fatigue, I most definitely appreciate EVERYTHING my body does for me. 10 lbs be damned.

I got into this sport in 2008 as an adult onset athlete. If it weren't for the book "Slow Fat Triathlete" I may never have tried. All the books at the Barnes and Noble had super lean fast looking dudes on the cover till I found SFT. That book gave a great account of a gal who didn't wait to lose the weight, be fitter and faster to take on the sport. Her humor and details gave me the confidence to take a whack at it. I still have my race stats and notes from that very first hilly sprint. I was slow and it was hard, but I tell ya, I felt like a super hero when I was done. I hope its still in print.

I love seeing all the chicka's racing. I know you can't judge a book by its cover. I know nice arms and being lean ( my old look lol) don't mean you can run! I've been passed by ladies of all shapes and sizes in races. It's what makes this sport so fun! Chasing your race and sharing the day.
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Slowman wrote:
how does one talk to such an audience if optimal performance, mental health, physical health, continued engagement, sense of community, is the goal?

Where I take issue is "optimal performance." If somebody has never led an active lifestyle then it could take years for them to change their lifestyle and refrigerator to become optimal. Dipping a toe is not the time to hook men or women with optimal performance. Can they even get to the point where they avoid cookies before noon, when it has been their habit to have cookies for 20 years? Does their body chemistry support an increase in activity without an increase in food consumption? Or are they so skinny and frail that they don't have the reserves to avoid bonking? For so many people, the "win" is in just doing something they thought they could not or would not ever do.

I think "optimal performance" should be replaced with "the healthiest you" or fancy way of saying the same. I'm 10 pounds heavier than I've been in 10+ years, but I'm exceptionally more healthy - better food choices, almost no junk food, healthier lifestyle, more disciplined, more socially adept, etc. That 10 pounds slows me down, no doubt. If I was chasing "optimal" I'd probably do more about it. But I'm reaching my goals and having a blast doing so.

So far as how to foster the dialogue, there are so many factors pushing against this it would take hours to break it down. I do agree with previous responses that body image reinforcement by media (which includes us taking part in social media) creates a dark cloud over the conversation for anybody sensitive to this. I also think that women's bodies are much more complex than men's. When I had my son my body changed dramatically. My hair is thicker, my hips are wider, my skin is ruined, my chemistry changed. I don't even have a clue what to do about any of that other than to just keep keeping on. For example, pre-baby, I used to nibble at food (junk, mostly) and would never gain weight. Now, I'm famished all the time and so much as looking at a beer or cheese or a burger causes the magnetic fields in my bathroom push down on the scale. What the heck? And when I go through menopause who knows what else will change? So, mansplaining that I need to chose healthier foods and fewer calories falls on deaf ears because my chemistry has made those choices harder. For example, if I take allergy medication, my pre-baby eating habits snap back as if they were never gone and I don't even want food and become a nibbler again (that sure makes it easy to eat less!). Am I going to adopt better living through chemistry to aid in making it easier to eat less? Nope. So, I linger 10-15 pounds above race weight.

Lastly, why is morphology an end? A goal? An imperative? If you are going to incorporate that then you also need to address chemical needs. Exercise alone may not be enough for some people. There are broken, inefficient, deficient, ineffective, and over-reactive chemistries out there that some people just have to make the best of - they aren't worth ingesting pills to overcome, but they affect diet, decision making, and actual self-control. Some are mild, some are extreme, but I do think they are more common in women because our chemistries get f'd with every 28 days, with every baby, and during menopause.

I guess the truly last thought I have.... who is it doing the talking? My husband couldn't gain weight if he tried. You, Dan, are a skinny dude and it would probably be harder for you to get fat than it would be for me to get fat. If I'm going to listen to a forum, a coach, an article, it better come from somebody who understands and accommodates a reality different than their own. Okay. Enough from me. Thanks for fighting the good fight.

Hillary Trout
San Luis Obispo, CA

Born a swimmer, borrowed a bike, laced up some runners, and the rest just fell into place for a solid MOP life.
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [TrishM] [ In reply to ]
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TrishM wrote:
Wonderful thoughtful comments here. As a 54 yo menopausal woman who was chubby as a kid, YES. I have a few issues. I am slower than five years ago because I carry an extra 10 lbs on my menopausal frame. I have struggled with this greatly, but my body likes being this weight. I am not overweight for my height at all, but know in my sport it affects me in my weakest discipline, the run.

BUT...as my triathlon ultra runner buddy fights ALS, my daughter fights lyme and chronic fatigue, I most definitely appreciate EVERYTHING my body does for me. 10 lbs be damned.

I got into this sport in 2008 as an adult onset athlete. If it weren't for the book "Slow Fat Triathlete" I may never have tried. All the books at the Barnes and Noble had super lean fast looking dudes on the cover till I found SFT. That book gave a great account of a gal who didn't wait to lose the weight, be fitter and faster to take on the sport. Her humor and details gave me the confidence to take a whack at it. I still have my race stats and notes from that very first hilly sprint. I was slow and it was hard, but I tell ya, I felt like a super hero when I was done. I hope its still in print.

I love seeing all the chicka's racing. I know you can't judge a book by its cover. I know nice arms and being lean ( my old look lol) don't mean you can run! I've been passed by ladies of all shapes and sizes in races. It's what makes this sport so fun! Chasing your race and sharing the day.

All this ^^^^^^^

Wow, I could have written 99% of this. Instead of having a buddy and a daughter fighting disease though, I had a little stint with cancer myself a few years ago and that did a number on the body. I still go back and read that book every now and again when I forget why I tried this crazy sport.
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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let's say the goal is to fill up pool swim, women only, first timer triathlons. how does one talk to such an audience if optimal performance, mental health, physical health, continued engagement, sense of community, is the goal?

First timers? Don't mention weight; talk about nutrition habits that support training and performance. Give examples like the pictures posted above. Talk about the dangers of under-eating and losing weight to get faster (they've renamed Female Athlete Triad to "REDS" which is relative energy deficit in sport). Explain to people that if part of their goal is to lose weight, the safe way to do it is by cutting no more than 500 calories a day.

Women who are beyond that first one and looking to improve performance? I'd as desert dude for how he handles it. I think it probably depends on the person and her history. I had a run coach in college tell me I'd run faster if lost some weight. I was not running on a college team - just working with the college coach for a bit. He knew I had a history of anorexia, and I was stunned at the comment - it seemed like it could be a dangerous thing to say to someone. But I appreciated the honesty. I guess I was in a place that I could take it at face value, as a fact (I did, in fact gain the freshman 15 on top of target weight for anorexia recovery). I did not like when other people tiptoed around it, such as when I complained about said 15 lbs and other runner people, also aware of the ED history, would say "you do not look like you need to lose weight." That was true in general - I did not NEED to lose weight - but I got tired of people not being willing to have an honest conversation about running and body weight with me when I felt like I was in a place where such a conversation would not send me back into the anorexia. Summary: depends on the person I think.

Proud member of Fishtwitch and the ST Grammar Police
disclaimer: PhD not MD
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Wow, first time I log back in since last Winter and this is the first thread I see... :-)

I never felt "fat" as a triathlete or ultrarunner. I always felt strong, muscular, "dense", compact, powerful. Even around the tiniest of ultrarunners. 5 extra pounds didn't bother me.

I have been cycling at a reasonably competitive level with a club for the last year (that's where I've been hiding all this time - on my bike!), and am loving off-road/gravel and cyclocross racing in particular.

However, compared to cyclists, HOLY COW AM I FAT. And I feel incredibly uncomfortable about it. I am so much faster than I was even one or two seasons ago, and I am a better climber than I've ever been (hint: I'm not a climber, I'm a sprinter), but I have now become so self-conscious about my body shape and size, that I get anxious about how I look in my team kit. When I lined up for my first CX race last September, I had a couple younger skinny-minnys behind me snorting at my fat cankles/booty. The only justice was to beat them, of course, with my massive quads of steel, but man oh man women riders can be super bitchy about this subject.

Every race, or event, all I can think of - and it's echoed by my team mates (all of whom are men, I am the only woman in the club that rides & races regularly with the men) - is that I'd be so much faster, and such a better climber if I could just drop 10lbs. It is the narrative that men are comfortable with, so I hear it all the time. I don't think I've once heard from the mens 'you're pretty awesome as you are'. Maybe if I had some supportive women riders around me, I might not care so much, but my experience has been that in this sport, as a woman, you better look like you live on salads and water, or you're obviously not serious (or capable) about the sport.

FFS, I'm 46, with kids, hubby, house, two (2!) companies to run - and yet I feel more than ever that I need to somehow be thinner and faster than ... well those younger and less-busy than I.

The only suggestions I have, Dan, are: encouraging and celebrating all participants, show positive images of all body types and sizes enjoying the sport, manufacturers supporting all sizes and shapes as best as practical, focus on the mental and emotional aspects of the sport.

AP (back from the dead? maybe)

------------------------
"How bad could it be?" - SimpleS
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [AndyPants] [ In reply to ]
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hi!!!
you're awesome just as you are

Proud member of Fishtwitch and the ST Grammar Police
disclaimer: PhD not MD
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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There are already so many excellent thoughts here, but I'll throw in a couple more.

For reference, I'm in my late 30s, have ranged from a super skinny kid to slightly overweight in recent years, always played sports casually, no kids. I subscribe to several sports magazines and always get a thrill when a woman with an atypical athlete's body is featured on the cover (Women's Running a few years ago comes to mind). I like to see sports like running and triathlon making an effort to be inclusive of all body shapes and experience levels, whether that's overtly or more subtle.

Many women here have already written about how hormones and childbirth, especially, change their bodies. I would be surprised if achieving a perfect triathlon "morphology" is the end goal for very many of us. In addition to hormonal fluctuations, many of us deal with chronic fatigue or illness (I have thyroid dysfunction for which I have been trying new meds and dosages for more than a decade, as one example), we probably work full-time, many of us raise children, and we are still expected to take care of the home IN ADDITION to training for triathlon. Training in swim, bike, and run each twice per week is asking a lot; I think the expectation of the triathlon morphology is far out of the league of most of us ordinary women. Of course, as mentioned, the habit of triathlon training will cause many women to lose excess weight, but the deck is often stacked against us from the start.

I agree that the atmosphere needs to be focused on being safe and supportive, not competitive, not focused on body type. If someone told me to my face that I would be faster if I lost 10 pounds, I'd first think "no sh*t, Sherlock" and then probably be turned off by the club or race or whomever that comment came from. I didn't start triathlon to lose weight, I did it for the challenge. It turns out that I liked it and continued with it, and only THEN did I worry about getting faster, buying new toys, etc. Dipping that first toe in the water (pun not intended) is going to be the hardest step, so let's worry about how we can get more women to give triathlon a try first before we start telling them how they need to lose weight to improve. To me it's putting the cart before the horse, and it's something that would come naturally as you grow in the sport, anyway.

http://mediocremultisport.blogspot.com
My life goal is to improve my race times so much I'm featured on MarathonInvestigation.com.
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Damn - missed all this until today. First of all - HEY ANDY!!! You're probably perfectly built for the velodrome! Welcome back.

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let's say the goal is to fill up pool swim, women only, first timer triathlons. how does one talk to such an audience if optimal performance, mental health, physical health, continued engagement, sense of community, is the goal?

Well, your first thing would be to not talk "to" but "with" these womens. As an FYI -there are over 2,200 Athena triathlete women of all skill levels/sizes/speeds/experience/locations in a closed and private Facebook group, so these women are out there. They want a safe place to ask questions and not be made to feel dumb and that group provides such a place.

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how do we champion a strong at any size narrative


Get people who more look like them and or people who have been there and done that - so we can show them them that it can be done. If they have increasing performance goals, then the questions about nutrition, etc., will come. If they are doing it for fun - bring up "optimal morphology" would be a huge turnoff and probably send many running (see what I did there).

But seriously, as a fat triathlete (but 30 pounds less fat than when I saw you in April), I don't want to hear what I should be doing from some skinny bitch who has never been there (and hell - I KNOW what I am doing right and wrong). Molina told me that he went and worked in a gym in ChCh for a year or so to work with "real" people so he could see the struggle a normal person goes through. I think that made him an even better coach, especially for me.

And calamityjane - what a bullshit comment. Is she trying to play psychiatrist?

clm
Nashville, TN
https://twitter.com/ironclm | http://ironclm.typepad.com
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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I keep starting and stopping posts, trying to pull something together that is a rush of thoughts that won't quite get organized.

Agree an ideal morphology conversation should wait until the new triathlete brings it up. No one wants to start a new endeavor from the place of, "glad you're interested, he's why you physique isn't aligned with that for optimal performance". Reminds me of when I asked my Dad to teach me to play chess and he responded that he didn't think I had the attention span. Basically both elicit the response: screw you.

Agree about the imagry others have mentioned. I'd like to post a picture of one of my teammates from a recent race, but can't seem to from my tablet. She's in her 60's, similar build to the photo already shared but with looser skin due to weight loss and age, on a road bike with clip on aerobars, regular bike helmet, and a *giant* smile on her face. This photo says lots of things to me all at once: triathlon is fun, it is for people of all ages and builds, and you don't need a fancy bike to do it.

When I got into this sport, I did each of S B R twice a week; that was my regular routine. Commuted to campus by bike and did a long ride on the weekend (b/c I love biking, that's my thing), but otherwise any given workout was 30-60 min. I think if you can convey how achievabe a sprint distance tri can be on a daily exercise volume that doesn't stress the would be participant worrying about how to fit it into her day, it could help. No, that training volume isn't performance oriented, it's participation oriented, and reduce the intimidation factor oriented.

And it may sound hokey or like something a teen-aged girl would do, but I used those colored star stickers and put them on my calender each time I competed a workout. Green for swim, blue for bike (b/c my bike was blue), and red for run (b/c it begins with r and made sense to me). Maybe if a training plan could be given out in a folder, with a couple of months of calendar pages, lose daily workout plan, and some stickers, maybe the act of seeing the stickers build up day by day would also seem fun and motivating. Actually, I think this sounds silly, but even still, I did find it motivating when I was new. It also sounds old school b/c most things are electronic now, but not everyone likes electronics.

I'd like to tie this back to your question about health, nutrition. I guess people kinda know what they are doing isn't ideal, they don't weigh what they should, they don't eat what they should. Focusing on those topics wouldn't really make me think triathlon was worth my time, and would probably feel to me like yet another thing I'm falling a little short on. I found it worth my time b/c I liked SBR'ing and felt like a badass for being able to do all 3 in a row. It was after I was hooked on the fun that other topics became more interesting.

Basically, I think my ramblings come down to, sell the fun and the achievableness of it by all kinds of ages and sized peolpe. If they think it's fun, they may come around to wanting to know more. If they don't find it fun or feel like they fit in, it won't matter what the health benefits are b/c virtually no one will stick around for those if they aren't finding triathlon fun.

To breathe, to feel, to know I'm alive.
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [ironclm] [ In reply to ]
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ironclm wrote:
And calamityjane - what a bullshit comment. Is she trying to play psychiatrist?

Hey ironclm, why was my comment bullshit? What are your thoughts?
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [Calamityjane88] [ In reply to ]
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Calamityjane88 wrote:
Hey ironclm, why was my comment bullshit? What are your thoughts?

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So, I see this AH junk as a well-intentioned but messed up effort to feel good.

Do you know her mindset? Feel good about what? Herself? That's the way I read it. Feel good about helping kids? She wouldn't be the first person to do something athletic to raise money, nor the last. We can set aside her plan because that's a different subject.

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The mind-over-matter empowerment message is a ray of hope for some women, I guess.

Some women, and men. See David Goggins for example. And so what? If it doesn't work for you personally, that's not to say it doesn't work for others.

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I don't want to be mean to my sister-women who are struggling. I have compassion for their nuttiness

Ah - but you are being mean. At the very least, a backhanded "complement". And this is the type of talk that turns off newbies or those who may not know that they have an inner triathlete inside. I coached a number of these types (women mostly, but even a few men with this mindset). If this had been the approach, they would have never come back to the pool.

clm
Nashville, TN
https://twitter.com/ironclm | http://ironclm.typepad.com
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [ironclm] [ In reply to ]
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AH's Instagram posts have many references to perseverance, mind-over-matter, never quitting. Her supporters respond by saying that AH's efforts inspire them. I think AH truly wants to inspire women to persevere.

I agree that AH's style of empowerment message resonates with many women and men. It makes them feel good. Which is why I said, who cares if she uses triathlon. Let her.

It's funny, because although her 50/50/50 attempt didn't inspire me with admiration for her execution of it, I guess you could say it inspired my own 50/50 challenge. I'm on day 3!

I honestly didn't and don't want to be mean. I know women struggle. And women find help and strength in different places. If it works for them, I'm glad. I think it's nutty (which is a gentle way to describe the 50/50/50 plan and the belief that she'd succeed), but my point, addressed to the vocal and critical guys in the AH thread, was that her agenda relates less to triathlon than other goals, including empowerment. I wanted the ST guys to consider it from that perspective.

It's true that I might scare off newbies by saying this stuff. When I posted in the AH thread I was speaking to those tough old birds who hang out posting there. Those guys can handle it-- I don't think they paid any attention to it, though. Dan was the only one who noticed it.
Last edited by: Calamityjane88: Aug 24, 18 16:52
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [Calamityjane88] [ In reply to ]
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It's true that I might scare off newbies by saying this stuff. When I posted in the AH thread I was speaking to those tough old birds who hang out posting there. Those guys can handle it-- I don't think they paid any attention to it, though. Dan was the only one who noticed it.

So it’s really Dan’s fault for all of this, since he quoted you out of context. Ha! I haven’t read every post in the thread because it just went off the rails and became too much.

Good luck on your 50 - 50! I’ve tried that a couple times. Molina used to say, “No zeros” (planned days off) since in my case, they would happen organically due to work, travel or whatever.

clm
Nashville, TN
https://twitter.com/ironclm | http://ironclm.typepad.com
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [AndyPants] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks TC, Cathy. Been ages. I'll post some pics soon of my adventures - here's one for fun :-) (me & club mates at a gravel 140km crazy-ass ride - notice the gender gap!)





Plus - CX season starts in 2 weeks baby!

AP

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"How bad could it be?" - SimpleS
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Re: Need some help from the womens - body image type stuff [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Slowman wrote:
on an ashley horner thread calamityjane88 posted the following:

let's say the goal is to fill up pool swim, women only, first timer triathlons. how does one talk to such an audience if optimal performance, mental health, physical health, continued engagement, sense of community, is the goal?

So many good responses. Here is my 2 cents based on my 36 years on this planet, 7 years of tri experience including 2 FIM and years of being told, "wow you are fast for your size".
Woman need encouragement. We know our downfalls and shortcomings and our weight to the exact pound. Woman don't need to be told what we are doing wrong but told what we are doing right and how to build on that. When I did my first group bike ride when I moved to a new area, a guy was berating me about not being close enough to his wheel. I was embarrassed and ashamed since I somehow didn't know the unwritten rules of this group ride and never rode with that group again.
On the flip side, I had a male coach who told me that I was strong and capable of times I never thought possible. The focus was never about weight, it was all about power, strength, and positive mantras. Even when an a-hole is sucking my wheel and telling me how great I am to draft behind, I repeat in my head, there is power in these pounds.
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