How does scale weight, fat percentage, body image and diet tie into such incredible performances?
Women tend to be somehow more image-conscious than men. Their concerns could come from coaches pressure, peer pressure, athletic body stereotypes, modern society standards or just marketing, social media and advertisement.
Here, I will not be the first nor the last to touch upon such a multi-angled topic and heavily discussed issue. I will talk briefly about weight and sports performance rather than weight and athletic image. These are two completely different things. If you are a female athlete and you are exercising to lose weight, this article is not for you at this point. If you are a female athlete and you are exercising for performance, hold on tight and read on.
First and foremost, performance takes into account the duration/frequency/intensity of the competition and associated training, it differentiates the scale weight from the fat percentage, and it takes into account the individuality of the athlete. All these parameters are hard to put into numbers and precise percentages. For women in triathlons for example, there is a vast variability of the duration of events and there is also a big range among body fat percentages and scale weight-to-height ratios of top performers. There is not one fixed athletic body stereotype that performs better than others. When you take a look at the professional sprint, olympic, half or full triathlon distances, some elite women (on the same event) tend to be short or tall, lean or a bit more muscular. The reason behind this could be genetics, different training schedules and habits, different diets or some combination of the above.
From my personal experience, I have never followed a strict diet plan throughout my 5 years of training and competing at the elite amateur triathlon level. I have always followed general healthy guidelines like eating regularly fruit and vegetables, eating meat, fish, bread, butter, ice cream and wine in moderation. Mainly, I have allowed my training load to make the necessary body adaptations and I have stayed consistent and loyal to my plans - even during injuries and setbacks. In simple words, I eat whatever makes me happy and not heavy ~ whatever does not compromise my training and I stay put to my regime. I know the foods that work best for me in terms of digestion and I also know the foods that make me happy and full of energy - and I keep those latter in my A list! And although my diet has not changed much over the years, my training has changed a lot. I am now putting more hours a week and with more intensity compared to 2012 when I started, and surprisingly, my body has acclimated to bear the load.
|2012: lean but not strong|
|2012:my body went through|
a series of adaptations
The bottom line is that
WOMEN: do not abuse your bodies. Let your bodies adapt to the training load gradually. Give it time ~ adaptations happen in the long run (metaphorically and literally!). Changes will happen ~ Do not rush anything! You may lose fat, you may gain scale weight and muscle mass but since every one of us is unique, just let it be and enjoy the process. It doesn't help worrying about being too lean or too big or too muscular or too short or too tall. Just look around you and you will see world and olympic champions in different lengths and widths!
|2016: more muscles, more strength and endurance, faster times|
Stay healthy, stay happy and stay true to yourselves!
See you out there ~