For about a two-week period in April 2010, my daughter E and I were exactly the same height and weight (BMI = 21). I was at “marathon weight,” about 5 pounds lighter than normal. After the race, I decreased my mileage, and my weight crept back up. Almost simultaneously, E gave up junk food, and her weight started to drop. That summer, even when the family stopped for ice cream (frequently), she wouldn’t have any. When we brought home donuts (sometimes), she wouldn’t have any. Her self-discipline was remarkable.
Although my sport is a “lean” sport, I would say that my weight is about average. People actually tell me that I look too thin when I’m at marathon weight. Certainly, I never thought that I had 15 pounds to spare. E proved me wrong by losing that much over the next few months. That fall, when she began swimming with her club, her coach actually pulled me aside to ask if she had an eating disorder. “She eats all the time,” I said. “She just stopped eating junk.” Nevertheless, I bought her protein powder and started nagging her to drink a smoothie every night before bed. We got a recipe for high-calorie energy bars from another swim mom. E’s weight stabilized, though her BMI was now below 18.
The following spring, she had a breakout track season as a middle distance runner. At the track, no one thought she was too thin. My brother returned from Africa and said she looked normal…everyone else was just fat. Watching the elite women compete on TV, we noticed that they all looked like her, only more jacked. More importantly, she felt much better competing, and running felt like it was less work. Worried about the female athlete triad, we had her bone density checked, and it was fine.
Eventually, she found that she felt hungry all the time and got light-headed too easily, so she started to eat more. She even eats dessert again, though she has completely given up anything with legs. She prefers whole foods, like squash, tofu, beans, nuts, and fruit. In fact, her diet is much better than my own. Her BMI is now almost 19, the low range of “normal.” I no longer suffer from the delusion that I couldn’t drop some extra poundage, but there’s nothing like the reward of a truly decadent pastry after a long run, and besides, how could I make it through the Maine winter without my extra layer of fat?