A “Heavy” Conversation


Posted by Coach Mark Sortino

I had an interesting conversation with my wife Jennifer that lead to a discussion of weight. We’ve had these discussions in the past, but during this one, Jennifer told me things I had not heard before. This is her story, and I’m throwing it out there for awareness and discussion.


Mark: So I remember when you said you were a “lot lighter” a few years back? How long ago was that and how much lighter?

Jennifer: About nine years ago when I was training for Ironman Arizona. I got on a scale at the race and was 20 pounds lighter than I am now.


Mark: What was your reaction?

Jennifer: It was a little lighter than I expected, but I knew I was in the ball park


Mark: Did you intend to get that light?

Jennifer: It took about 8 months with me being hyper-aware of all the calories I was taking in. It was a time of my life when there were many things I couldn’t control, so controlling my food intake and watching my weight drop made me feel empowered.


Mark: Did people notice your weight loss?

Jennifer: Being underweight as a female is interesting. Only a few of my closest friends showed concern while all the other women around me told me how great I looked. Interestingly, I cannot remember one male friend who told me I looked better. In fact, many told me I did not look healthy.


Mark: So you show up to the race underweight and what happened?

Jennifer: Well I was malnourished. I was tired and never really recovered from all the hard training. I was also plagued with injuries during all of that time. In the race, it all hit me at mile 13 on the run when a chronic hamstring injury completely “blew up”. My race suddenly became about just finishing in that injured state.


Mark: Thinking back to that time, when did you realize you were that much underweight? After the race?

Jennifer: I bet it took me a year as I put on just 10 pounds (and I was till thin at that weight). Then I looked back at how thin I was and just couldn’t believe it.


Mark: You were a D1 Collegiate Swimmer for 4 years. What was your weight then?

Jennifer: Wow..ha,ha…back then I was constantly weighed and tested, and I weight 25 pounds more than I did on that 2008 IMAZ day. I never thought about weight then.


Mark: What would you tell women today?

Jennifer: We’re in a society that is very obese, but we worship underweight females. We’re constantly striving for something that is unhealthy. Two years ago I showed back up on that race course 20 pounds heavier than in 2008 and not only PR’d by over 1 hour but also smiled the entire time (photo below). It was really fun. You really risk your health and the ability to do sport for the long haul by being underweight.

Mark: Well, I think you look AWESOME now. :) Thanks for sharing this!

Coach Mark Sortino is a USA Triathlon Level III Coach, USA Cycling Level II Coach, USAT Paratriathlon Certified Coach, F.I.S.T. certified bike fitter and certified USAT Race Director who is also the co-founder and CEO of Team MPI. Mark has been the Head Coach of Team USA Paratriathlon since 2012 and has coached Paralympic Triathletes and Cyclist, Ironman 70.3 and Ironman World Championship qualifiers along with National and World Champion ITU Paratriathletes. Mark is also a US Veteran having served 20 years in the US Navy as a Naval Flight Officer and is graduate of the US Naval Academy. Contact him at mark@teamMPI.com

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