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Active Expert: Nancy Clark RD CSSD

3 Posts tagged with the eating_disorders tag

Do Hummers need more gas than Mini-Coopers. Of course!

Do athletes who weigh 180 pounds need more calories than those who weigh 120 pounds? Of couse.


While this seems so obvious, I spend too much time counseling 180-pound over-fat athletes who try to eat like a 120-pound ballet dancer. They believe:

1. Food is a fattening “enemy.”

2. The less they eat, the faster they will lose weight.

3. The lighter they are, the better they will perform.


Wrong, wrong, wrong!

1. Food is fuel, not fattening. People who eat normally tend to be lean. People who diet tend to be heavy. Hence, dieting tends to make people heavy (in the long run) while learning how to eat normally contributes to a leaner physique.


2. The less you eat, the more likely you are to binge and regain all the weight you lost. This urge to binge is physiological. Just as you gasp for air and cannot breath normally after having stayed too long underwater, you can eat normally after having restricted food the point of feeling ravenously hungry.


3. The best-fueled athlete (who is genetically gifted and well trained) will out-perform the starved athlete who is thinner-at-any-cost.


I invite you to eat wisely, perform well and be at peace,



For food help:

To consult with a registered dietitian (RD) who specializes in sports nutrition, find your local expert at

To read how to lose weight and resolve dieting gone awry, enjoy the weight-reduction section in my Sports Nutrition Guidebook.

950 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: weight, nancy_clark, eating_disorders, weight-reduction, diets

In the flood of my daily emails, I often find some meaningful words of wisdom. The story below is from the MEDA newsletter ( MEDA is the Multi-service Eating Disorders Association, a helpful resource for people who struggle with balancing food and weight. I hope you enjoy this story about Invisible Victories. If you are a compulsive exerciser (perhaps disguised as a dedicated athlete), perhaps it will inspire you to add some gentleness to your day.


Invisible Victories

By Whitney Post, former World Champion and Olympic Rower


We live in a culture that is always looking for the shiny accomplishment.  We are taught to be good, to look good, to achieve more-and it never seems to end.  Yet I have found over and over again that the tasks and achievements that are most in line with my recovery are invisible, humble acts that won't take up space on my resume and that I probably won't want to tell anyone about at a cocktail party.  Each month in this column I will celebrate an invisible victory that I or one of my clients has accomplished.  My hope is that it will help you be better able to spot and celebrate your own.


I want to thank Rachel Bikofsky, our May 2010 Invisible Victory Contest winner for sharing her strength and growth in this essay about the Boston Marathon.  I believe it belongs on the medal stand because it articulates something so many of us feel when we see high level athletes, or witness events we think our "perfect" or "preferred" selves should be participating in.  The victory here comes in accepting her own body's truth about what is right and balanced, and releasing old ideas of who she should be.



My Invisible Victory – by Rachel Bikofsky

Today was the 114th Boston Marathon, and I didn't run it.  Nor did I run the 113th, or the 112th, or any marathon ever, at any time.  Every year in recent memory, I have used Marathon Monday as an excuse to berate myself endlessly for my lack of strength and discipline-obviously, if I possessed those qualities, I'd be running.  So this year, as the big event loomed once more, I approached it with my usual sense of trepidation...and was pleasantly surprised to be greeted not with self-hatred, but with acceptance and clarity.  Here's what I know:

            I did not run the Marathon, and this used to mean that I was weak.  But, I know I'm not weak, because I wake up at 5:45 every morning, get to work an hour later, and have energy enough to shepherd 25 rambunctious third graders through a full day of learning, five days a week.

            I did not run the Marathon, and this used to mean I was undisciplined.  But, I know I'm not undisciplined, I just save my discipline for things that matter to me, and running doesn't.  I work hard, I study meticulously, I make to-do lists and schedules and stick to them.  If I set a goal, I do my best to meet it, and I'm pretty sure that's what discipline is about.

            I did not run the Marathon, and this used to mean I'd never have the body I wanted.  Well, it does mean I'll never have a marathoner's body, but it doesn't have to mean I'll never have a body I'm satisfied with.  Also, it probably means for me I'll have a better chance of keeping my period, and won't have to endure the pain of running with stress fractures in my feet ever again.  It means I'll be gentler with my body, and my body and spirit will reflect that.

            I did not run the Marathon, and this used to mean I'd never get medals or have people cheer for me.  Okay, so it probably does eliminate one possible avenue for medal winning.  But last week, one of my students presented me with two tiny origami swans he had made for me in art class.  Better than a medal?  It was for me.

            I did not run the Marathon, and this used to mean I had no worth.  While it's true that I'm not a runner, I am a person who stops to touch wildflowers and exclaim over nature, who is intuitive to the needs of others, who loves her family, and who can soothe a crying child.  I am a thinker, a writer, and a person with a wicked sense of humor.  I am all of those things, so I can also accept what I am not.

            What not running the Marathon means is simply that I am not a marathon runner-and there is no longer a value judgment attached to that statement.  It's neither good nor bad, it's just what is.  And, I'm finally, finally okay with that, or at least more okay than I've ever been before. I did not run the race, or win a medal...., but I have earned an invisible victory, and I think the 114th Boston Marathon has been my best one yet. 

926 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: nancy_clark, eating_disorders, compulsive_exercise, whitney_post, marathon_runner

All too often, my clients report “I don’t keep cookies in my house. If cookies are there, I end up eating the whole package. It’s easier to not have them around...”


While that may seem a wise solution to the eating-too-many-cookies problem, depriving yourself of cookies tends to backfire. That is, when the opportunity arises for you to eat cookies, you likely end up eating the whole plate because this is your “last chance” to ever eat a cookie. “Last chance eating” leads to food binges, weight gain and feelings of being powerless over food.


An alternative to staying away from cookies is to eat cookies every day, at every meal. This will take the power away from them. Think about it. Do apples have power over you? Doubtful. That’s because you can eat an apple whenever you want. So why do cookies have power over you? Because you deny yourself the privilege of enjoying cookies from time to time. After three days of cookies-at-every-meal, they will likely lose their power.


If you liked cookies as a kid and like them now, you will undoubtedly like them in the future. How about trying to make peace with cookies?


Enjoy the day, cookies included!




For more information on making peace with food:

Chapter 16: Dieting Gone Awry in “Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook”

For personalized help, use the referral network for sports dietitians at

For Nancy's workshops on exercise and weight:

1,126 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: cookies, dieting, binge_eating, eating_disorders, nutrition_workshop

Nancy Clark RD CSSD

Nancy Clark RD CSSD

Member since: Jul 8, 2007

Hi! I specialize in nutrition for exercise, and help active people figure out how to manage food, weight, exercise, energy and enjoyment of eating. Let me know if you have any questions!

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