We would train 13 times a week and consequently have a big appetite. When I retired from elite sport after the 2012 London Olympics I certainly decreased the amount of exercise I was doing, yet the appetite remained. This was always a problem for me when we’d have a one month break after our international season each year – how to maintain the lean body mass I’d obtained through the pre-season and through tournaments. We would often get skinfold tests done in 7, 9 and 11 regular sites for comparison only with our previous readings. One Christmas I took 7 days off scheduled training, and just did what I thought was good enough (some cardio, core and body weight programs), yet I put on 14mm of skinfolds in that week alone (10mm is equivalent to 1kg of fat!). This increase seemed very bizarre to me, and after 10 days back at training I had lost the newly acquired 14mm. Sooooo am I the body type that easily puts weight on – yes. But am I the body type that easily drops it with effort – yes!
So fast forward to my retirement. I was always good at weights, and enjoyed it, so the first time in my adult life that I didn’t have to be at a gym, I found myself at a gym. I was training hard core, building muscles, doing PB’s and after three months I had a realisation – what am I doing this for? I’ve just spent the best part of 12 years training full-time, and for the first time in a long time I don’t have to train, yet I am? Weights ceased immediately.
I then slid to the opposite end of the scale – doing the bare minimum! I joined a National League water polo team, but they were very relaxed – only had to train once or twice a week, and play once or twice a week. And that’s all I did. The problem was my appetite still through I was training 14 times a week, and not too many clothes would fit anymore.
Training your appetite is similar to physically training your body. When you train hard you need to eat to perform. When you don’t train hard, you don’t! I would say I’m a normal eater – fairly healthy, love a treat of cheese or sweets. Now to train my appetite to eat less of everything. I hate omitting whole foods from my diet, and I believe food should be enjoyed, so I enjoy it (just less of it).
So my final realisation is I’m never going to be as trim as an Olympic athlete in her prime, so don’t dwell on it. I will be as good as I can be as a casual exerciser, and will only try to out-eat the boys on very special occasions.