Body Image Part 2: The Scale

Madison Richardson at OCF Boulder Provincials

In climbing, you can benefit a lot from being light. Many sports are the same. For women in climbing, the bar is particularly high (or rather, low) for being light. A lot of athletes pull out all the stops to be as small as possible on competition day, sometimes to a point of unhealthy.

I recently pressed pause on a long-term cut in light of the coronavirus outbreak. No competitions means no goals and no finish line. Especially seeing as there’s likely going to be a long training phase ahead of me, stopping the cut seemed logical. I had been at it for a good six months, and it wasn’t a huge success anyway. Periods of sustained discipline would be punctuated by pretty big cheat days. I found I couldn’t go longer than a week or so before I had to break the streak.

My weight loss routine involved four meals a day, two of which were always the same, and I’d stop eating after dinner time, 6:00 pm. I found that I thrive with hard and fast rules, so the six o’clock habit was the one that yielded the highest success rate.

The Cheater

Every once in a while I broke that fasting wall or, more often, I ate outside of the meals. Usually it was on purpose. A good 70% of the time, I planned to cheat. For the sake of mental health, a cheat day is a very valuable break from the monotony of dieting. It’s also not the end of the world to have something unhealthy, or take in a few extra calories as long as you get back to the status quo. Knowing there’s a cheat day on the horizon, you often find extra reserves of motivation to stay strong until D-Day. Even a “blow it until you feel sick” day is fine, because I’ll bet that the next day you can’t stand the sight of a cookie.

Psychologically, I did surprisingly well on cheat days. I expected to feel a little uneasy about it, seeing as I’ve really never indulged myself before, but truthfully, there should never have been such a stigma surrounding junk food. Don’t get me wrong, they shouldn’t be on the same playing field as carrots, but don’t be afraid of them to the point of condemning yourself for indulging here and there.