It is funny the perceptions you get in the habit of having and the things that they can lead you to feel and think.
My wife and I were going to bed the other night and she said I was looking good and that she liked me more now that I had put a bit of weight back on. Her saying this was a bit of a shock to me because I have been quite conscious of the weight that I have put on since I stopped training so much.
Since I stopped training for triathlon I have put on about 10 kg and I am about 13kg more than my race weight used to be. As an athletes who used to mildly obsess about weight and body fat, those numbers are a bit frustrating, but what the conversation with my wife demonstrated to me is that a large part of that frustration is due to my perception.
It made me think more about the almost obsessive approach that a lot of athletes have to weight. It is a bit of a fine line because in sports like cycling, running and triathlon weight and body fat can have significant impacts on performance. Generally the lighter you can be for a given power output the faster you will go. I think some athletes take this a bit too far, really pushing down into unhealthy levels of weight loss including muscle, but it can't be denied that at the pointy end of the sport, reducing your body fat plays a part in your performance.
However, because body weight is a rather important topic for most athletes I think we can start to tie up a lot of our self worth in it. We start to have a particular image of ourselves in our mind and if we aren't meeting that image then we aren't feeling good about ourselves. Whether the image in our minds is a good or healthy weight for us, or whether we look good or not almost becomes irrelevant. For us that low body fat image in our mind is the only acceptable option, even if to others it makes us look like emancipated disaster survivors.
The conversation last night with my wife made me realise that perhaps I need to change my perception of what good looks like. I have been getting frustrated that I wouldn't be able to get down to the body weight that I had when I was racing, but what I hadn't thought of was that perhaps I shouldn't be anyway. I am not sure what my 'healthy' body weight is right now, I don't think it is my current 85kg, but I think I can also accept that it is no longer 72kg, I guess it is probably somewhere in between. Might be time for another visit to a nutritionist.