Since I’ve been back in Perth, I’ve caught up with several friends who I haven’t seen in years. After they have asked me to flex my biceps (seriously – every single one has asked me to flex!), the next thing they say is “OMG you eat sooooo much”.
It is no surprise to me that I eat a lot of food. I’m barely training at all because of my glute injury so my appetite is pretty mild – if only they could see what I eat normally! On a rough estimation, I think I’m only hitting around 2700-3000 calories a day at the moment. I’m not used to driving everywhere so I feel extra lazy by not walking, which I usually do for 1-2 hours a day (commuting), plus I never feel like eating when it’s hot.
That said, I’m still eating larger than average portions. I went out for dinner with a friend last week. Well, I say ‘dinner’ but I ate and he watched. He was drinking his calories instead! The waitress brought over two forks for the pad thai I ordered. My friend was stunned when I ate the whole thing – I didn’t tell him about the snack I had when I got home!
We also had an interesting conversation about strongman. I mentioned my involvement in the fitness industry, and he said what I do can’t be considered fitness. To him, fitness means cardio, light weights and getting shredded.
He asked me why I go to all this effort just to be strong – shouldn’t I want to be lean and have a six pack instead? The woman in me immediately became defensive and I asked him if he was calling me fat. He said of course not, but why would I not want to make leanness my number one priority and work on becoming a fitness model?
It’s not the first and definitely won’t be the last time I’ve had this conversation. I 100% believe that what I do is fitness. I would like to think society has moved on from defining “being fit” as having six pack abs. There are many ways someone can be fit – whether they are a weight lifter, someone who participates in endurance sports or a person who can contort their bodies with impressive flexibility. Not everyone that looks fit is actually fit either – many fitness models are aesthetically pleasing but struggle to lift more than 5kg.
As for me, I find it tedious to train and diet like a bodybuilder. Not to mention I think it’s mentally unhealthy for many people. I know I did it for a while myself and thought I was perfectly healthy – it’s all documented on this very blog! – but looking back now I had some crazy tendencies – i.e. being afraid to eat peppers and carrots because they’re not green vegetables, waking up at 5.30am to do fasted cardio, carrying tupperware everywhere, etc.
I would much rather live a life where “being fit” means that instead of dreading my workouts, the gym is the highlight of my day. I thoroughly enjoy myself in the company of my training buddies while doing things I never thought possible, all while being able to eat anything I want without a second thought.
I am not worried about counting macros, timing meals, avoiding carbs past 6pm or figuring out how to make every last abdominal vein pop. When I am training properly, I can easily eat 5000 calories in a day – including burgers, fried foods and ice cream – without worrying about getting fat. Given the way I train, my body does a pretty good job at making use of the food I give it.
I know it’s currently in fashion to talk about OMG how much one eats, but don’t feel bad if you’re not quite there yet – and don’t believe everything you read. I recently saw someone post that she eats close to 6000 calories a day when I know for a fact she would be lucky to hit 1500. I am being honest about how little I’m eating at the moment – there’s no reason for me to create some giant illusion about how I constantly eat all the foods.
It took me a long time (2.5 years of repairing my metabolism) before I could eat this way. I now have the confidence to defend my lifestyle, but at the same time I often won’t bother as I don’t feel the need to prove anything to anyone.
Regardless of what activity you take part in, you shouldn’t have to defend your behaviour or stick to any preconceived notions of what is or isn’t fit. If you are seriously training for any kind of sport, there will always be people that don’t understand.
It would be easy to feel self-conscious about training with the boys and eating like a horse. Sometimes I look at the tiny portions people post on social media and, combined with the fact that I was recently used as inspiration on a competitive eating website, think “wow, maybe I am a freak”, but being able to eat a lot and lift heavy shit is a good problem to have.
If all else fails when someone challenges me, I just respond with “do you even lift, bro?”
Have you ever had to defend your lifestyle to someone else?
PS. Good luck to all four of my training buddies who are competing in Britain’s Strongest Woman tomorrow! Kick some ass and take some titles, ladies!