Body Fat Woes

I never cease to surprise myself.

Remember yesterday how I said I would be satisfied to finish 5 miles under 48 minutes?

And it was hot! It was amazing that I didn't shed my shirt. Though, it was probably because I thought my new shirt from Under Armour was stylin'. It did not disappoint performance-wise either. Very comfortable and light!

Anyway, I wrote a post a several days ago regarding Female Athlete Triad Syndrome (FATS) and it triggered concern about my own body & nourishment.

In order to maintain good health as a runner, one must make sure that they are eating properly to sustain an acceptable body fat percentage for the sport. If not, not only will your performance suffer, but so will your health.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) created the following chart to best sort where any one person stands when it comes to body fat percentage.

Now, I run a judgement-free blog and when body weight, measurements, or percentages are discussed, I would hope the response I would receive is appropriate. With that being said, my body fat percentage usually sits around 10%-12%.

Can you see why I am concerned?

I have always assumed my body fat was low, but I never thought I would only have enough for adequate survival. It is so frustrating because I thought I was at my perfect weight. I felt good with my number and to think it's too low is very discouraging.

Ever since I was about 15, I struggled with my weight. I went from being a chubby chick to skinny Minnie, weighing between 95-100 lbs (too low for being 5'7").

Before I lost weight (left), during disordered eating (right)

Some of my weight issues were considered stress related. I was told I had anxiety problems in high school, which is why I initially dropped 40+ lbs. I was dry heaving multiple times on a daily basis, which caused a fear to eat. I thought I would just throw my meals back up. As a result, my food intake was so small, it was literally just enough to survive. Though, once I regained control of my stomach (nearly 2 years later), I started seeing some of that weight return and it scared me! I enjoyed the fact that I was skinnier. Clothes fit me better, peers stopped making rude comments about how I looked, and my confidence was soaring.

In order to stop the weight gain, I thought obsessive calorie counting was the only answer. You could consider my relationship with food destroyed from that day forward. (Read my rant about calorie counting and why I don't do it/encourage it)

There's certainly more to this story, which I will explain one day, but to make things short for the time being, it took me years to build up that relationship again. Now, I couldn't imagine eating any less than what I do now.  I feel comfortable with my intake and unfortunately, it's not up to par with what a runner should be taking in.

I really struggle with the thought that I may have to gain a few pounds. I know it should only improve my performance, but I still cringe at the thought.

So with that being said...

Have you ever had to gain weight to have sufficient body fat? How did you go about doing it? 

Mentally, did you have a hard time packing on a few pounds?

Did your performance improve in running and every day life?


  1. I was actually thinking about this today during a run. My weight can fluctuate about 20 pounds, depending on where I am in my life/what my stress levels are, etc. I always perform best when I'm at my lowest (still a healthy BMI and I am sure a healthy body fat percentage). It is really important to be lean as a runner, but I know there is a too lean where, literally, your muscles are being re-absorbed by your body as fuel before they have a chance to build back up after a workout. I would say, if you think you are teetering on the too lean side, then just keep track of a day's eating and what your thought process is around food at specific meal/snack times. You may be unintentionally restricting your intake (esp if you suffered with disordered eating) and not even realize it. If you find areas where you're unconsciously cutting back, then give your body what it wants/needs and your weight will settle at its healthiest (and fastest) set point.

    1. It's really difficult for me to track my intake just because if I do, it may lead to the calorie counting again and that is what got me into the disordered eating. I've been trying to eat a few more things here and there, but I just feel so full! And now that it's summer time, I tend to eat less. Heat really curbs my hunger and I'm struggling to eat as much as I used to.

      I know that my body would benefit from a higher calorie diet, but it's a big challenge mentally. I will get through it though! I do love me some food and eating more should make me happier. I just need to stop looking at the scale and start going based on how I feel. :)


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