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Avoid Harmful Dieting and Love Real Food

Avoid Harmful Dieting and Love Real Food

Inspiring Letter from a Fan

By Elyse Kopecky

The emails and messages that we receive from fans are what inspire us to keep going on our crusade to help athletes rediscover a love of food. This email that we received from a fan, now friend :) , was so relatable and the advice so important that we had to share it with you. This is really worth reading if you've gotten caught up in any of the harmful diet trends and obsession over counting calories or macros that often results in undernourishment and an unhealthy relationship with food.

Trying to find your stride with healthy eating isn't easy in our culture. If you're dealing with anxieties around food, it's always worth seeking help to get back on track. What I like most about Rebecca's inspiring story is how she worked with a team of people and didn't give up on the sport she loved. 

Check out more Real Food Stories starting on page 240 in Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow., plus read Shalane and I's own personal stories on page 15 and 16.


To Elyse and Shalane,

I recently attended your talk and book signing at the Heathman in Portland, and wanted to write an email to convey all of the things I lost the courage to say when you were signing my book.

Mostly, I wanted to say "thank you." I am a 36-year-old female runner, and while I am less competitive than I once was, and have backed off of the endurance running in the past few years, my identity as a runner has never waned.  

I began running seriously in my early twenties. What began as a hobby and way to meet people in a new city led to a passion, and brought joy I can't imagine living without. Running is what makes me who I am, and I wouldn't trade a single mile.

Somewhere along the way, though, I also fell into the trap that ensnares so many runners of all genders and ages: I started believing that thinner meant faster...and that thinner somehow meant overall "better." 

I began upping my training and restricting both my calories and types of fuel. Through this practice, I quickly achieved what I had determined was my ideal race weight. For a little while, it worked. I was often in the top 3 of my age group, and I qualified for Boston the first time I ran a marathon. As I continued to get thinner and faster, it all seemed so simple until one day, when it stopped working.  

I was no longer getting faster, and instead was slowing down. On top of that, my weight was down and my ferritin, protein, and overall energy levels were at all-time lows. All of a sudden, it wasn't so simple any more and I realized how complicated my relationship with both running and food had truly become. One of the proudest moments of my life was running the Boston Marathon, but looking at photos from that day, seeing a woman whose elbows, knees, and collar bones poked out too much, and whose clothes were too baggy, also brings great sadness.

After realizing how disordered my approach to eating and exercise had become, I sought professional help through a therapist. This helped to a degree, but for the most part, the mental calorie counting and negative self-talk persisted. My weight fluctuated, my energy slowly continued to seep out, and my running plateaued. I had moments of hope that I could overcome all of this, and moments when it seemed impossible. 

A little over a year ago, I decided enough was enough. In addition to therapy, I sought out the advice of a nutritionist who is also a former competitive runner. Also around this time, my boyfriend gave me a copy of Run Fast Eat Slow

In short, my nutritionist and the two of you seemed to all agree that what I was doing was not the answer. Slashing fat and carbs was no longer serving me, and in fact had not served me in many years. I decided then to take the leap to try let go of some of the control I had exerted over food for the better part of a decade.  

To be honest, over the past year there have been moments when it has been very difficult; scary even. Moments when I have reverted back to calorie counting, and times when I have ignored my body's cues and eaten too little, or pushed too hard. For the most part, however, my approach to food is a world apart from where it was a year ago. I have welcomed back into my life butter, and pancakes, and beef, and BREAD, and all sorts of other amazing things I'd been missing for so long. And you know what? IT WORKED. My energy has come back, my mood has improved, I am sleeping better and best of all, I am LOVING food again. Who knew that 5% Fage Greek Yoghurt is the most satisfying thing ever?

While working with a therapist and nutritionist have been crucial in the work I've done, I can honestly say I would not have come this far if it weren't for your cookbooks. Not only have you provided a collection of nutritious and delicious recipes that are impossible to resist, you have shared personal stories that athletes can relate to, and provided reliable information about diet and nutrition that is impossible to ignore.  

That all said, what I most want to say is "THANK YOU." You have given me the courage to nourish myself again, for which I am so grateful. I had no idea how much a cookbook could change my life. Keep spreading the word to young athletes out there; I know I will. 

Looking forward to your next book and wishing you happy running!

-Rebecca, 36, Oregon


Portland Event Photos by Chris Dorwart

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