“Bike racing is saving my life”
An article about diet and cycling by James Stout, published earlier this year, was recently put online. It has become the most-read item on www.ridemedia.com.au of the year and it has prompted a wealth of positive commentary. One reader, Clarice Sayle, was prompted to offer some commentary of her own experience – and how cycling is helping her overcome an eating disorder…
Discipline doesn’t have to mean punishment
– By Clarice Sayle
I was quite touched by the recently-published article “Eating habits of (pro) cyclists”, and am obviously not alone as I read many heartfelt confessions of similar stories posted on social media in reaction.
I myself, however, have had quite a different experience in regards to disordered eating and cycling, and I was wondering if you would be interested in publishing my perspective. I originally posted it on Facebook, and received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback. The post is as follows…
There’s this article going around, “Eating Habits of (Pro) Cyclists”, which has garnered an overwhelming amount of responses from friends of mine among the cycling community. I appreciate the honesty and vulnerability of these posts, and would like to share with you my own experience.
Bike racing is saving my life. I’ve spent the better part of the last 15 years battling a very severe case of bulimia. I have been in and out of hospitals, treatment centres, and psychiatrists’ offices. I have been prescribed numerous medications to try and control the eating disorder. I have been kicked out of houses, destroyed relationships, and let go from jobs – and none of it worked.
I know it sounds dramatic, because it is. It consumed everything in my life from the inside out.
I decided during Redlands this year that if I was going to give myself a fair shot at a career in competitive cycling, I had to stop disordered eating now. April 10th was the last time I engaged in the behaviour. Because I knew that there is no way to make it if I’m at war with my body.
Think about how well we treat our bikes – our body is an even more important tool for success, and absolutely must be treated as such.
I’ve been in recovery for about six and a half months now, and I’m not going to tell you its been easy. But it has been worth it. And even though I am a solid seven kilos (15lbs) heavier now than I was at the beginning of this year, my fitness has improved tenfold. I’ve been training at the Olympic Training Centre for the past few months, I’ve just recently been inducted into the 1,000+ watt club, and I can still climb.
The best part? I’m really happy.
My point is, bike racing doesn’t have to destroy your life. How many stories have we read of people who suffer from depression and quit? Too many to reference here. I think the key to success is to use racing to try and become the best, healthiest version of yourself. And you know what that is.
I’ve been fortunate enough to surround myself with an amazing coach and incredible people who love me, believe in me, and have my best interests at heart. Discipline doesn’t have to mean punishment, and happiness watts might count for more than you think.
As for being as good as your last race… I’m learning to enjoy my journey while I try to get to the top. You know what’s great about not winning? No one expects me to win the next time.
Racing my bike is saving my life. When nothing else was enough, this was. And I will always be grateful for that.
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(James Stout’s piece: diet and cycling – from RIDE Cycling Review #68)