I have written and re-written this letter so many times, but we need to talk.
Our relationship has always been rocky, coming from an americanised easter-european family, and after flirting with several eating disorders I thought I had finally broken free from restricted eating.
But then I became a boxer. Not just a lunchtime class, fitness, instagram boxer, but a fighter.
I love boxing, I love fighting and the sense of ultimate conquering I get from coming out on top and training so hard; but my relationship with you has been abused and almost destroyed in my quest to become a champion.
Within the combat industry there is a prevailing, toxic undercurrent of weight loss and diet culture expectations; crystallised in the dangerous ritual that is the weight cut.
Cutting weight is often a combination of severe restriction, forced dehydration and over exercise; and in my fight history I have done all to the extreme. This has caused not only our trust to erode, but also extreme weight cycling by about 20lbs a cut.
I am now trying to engage with intuitive eating and the HAES community after a big scare where my last cut almost landed me in the hospital. I have just started to see a anti-diet dietician who was blown away by the sheer volume of HAES resources I have consumed in my quest for health and pleasurable eating.
I am slowly increasing the amount and variety of you that I consume, but I am still stuck on true eating permission due to my fear around my club and my coach.
I am heavy, food, and I always have been. I am stocky and short for my weight and to make matters worse my family has a history of having great bone density; which probably means that I can never lose as much weight as I need to for the “fight advantage.”
While working overseas I was able to train on the fight team of a female coach. It was a mind blowing experience as far as food freedom and body positivity goes; I felt so free and proud to be my size!
I was allowed to fight very close to my walk-around weight, and even though I was 4 inches shorter than my opponent I felt fit, and fuelled, and strong.
Now back in my home country I am back at my home gym, and although I love and respect my male coach and my almost all male teammates I am so scared and anxious about the thought of gaining weight!
I don’t know if he will let me fight close to my walk around weight, but even if he does I am scared that permission to eat sweets will skyrocket my weight upwards; forcing me to undertake another dangerous weight cut.
I’m scared, food. I wrestle with guilt every time we’re at the table and you are in a regular portion size or contain “bad” carbohydrates.
There are bountiful resources for your average Jane looking to undertake the intuitive eating journey, but there are precious few for serious athletes of size like myself.
I am sick and tired of compulsively moving all day, over training, and under fueling and undernourishing my body so everything hurts when I do the smallest things like climb the stairs or pat my dog.
I’m the fittest and strongest I’ve been in my life, but I’m scared about losing that again just to make a stupid weight I’m not supposed to be.
I want to fully engage with you again, food, and have a healthy relationship where I can fuel my training and have eating competence and satisfaction!
My fear of perceived judgement from my ringmates and coach is holding me back.
How can I feel better about my bigger body in a room of lean athletes? How can I stop comparing myself to my sole female training partner who is as skinny and shredded as they come? How can I stay off the scale and retain my food choice autonomy without feeling guilt towards my coach? And how can I be proud and confident of the amazing things I can do, and my size, despite falling outside the norm of today’s media “athletes?”
fighting diet culture.