Do you know the difference between a tablespoon and a teaspoon? Ten milliliters. A trifle, but not when your name is Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard and you are looking to lose weight to meet the limit of a category for a judo tournament.
Posted at 5:00 a.m.
Her boyfriend knew it all too well. One day, he got the wrong spoon while cooking a meal for his lover. So he poured 10 ml of oil too much. He didn’t take any risks.
No, he didn’t redo the recipe. Instead, he washed and put away the tablespoon before going out and dirtying the teaspoon… That way, there’s no risk of her noticing his thoughtlessness and asking for another meal to be prepared.
“That, he confessed to me a few years later! laughs Beauchemin-Pinard.
Another time his chum badly divided a portion of cod. She inherited most of it. Disaster: “I ended up eating too much cod. Cod, it’s not greasy, but I started freaking out and crying. I said, “That’s disgusting, cod, I’ll never eat that again!” He comes back to me with that again today…”
I know it didn’t make any sense, but I was so obsessed with the idea of losing weight that it was affecting my relationships. My boyfriend endured this for a year!
Seated in front of a cappuccino in a cafe in Boucherville, the 28-year-old judoka returns from vacation in British Columbia after her silver medal at the World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on October 9.
During her getaway with her boyfriend, she visited Vancouver, hiked and learned to surf in Tofino. The cooking enthusiast also spent 10 days exploring new restaurants. Without (too) worrying about it. The day after the interview, she planned to weigh herself for the first time since her return.
At one time, this moment would have represented a small torture. In particular in 2016 and 2017 when she went through a real “hell” by persisting in competing in the under 57 kg category at the Rio Olympics.
Go to 63 kg
The proposals of his sports entourage to move to 63 kg were met with a clear refusal. “I was very stubborn,” she recalls. One day, during a meeting, I said: “I weigh 57 kg all my life!” I identified myself as 57 kg. It was impossible to imagine making any other weight than that. »
She had almost always fought in this weight class, where she knew her opponents well and was not disadvantaged by her small size. Except during a period in high school, when her coach discovered that the teenager had started to make herself vomit. He made her go up to 63 kg and forced her to tell her parents about her eating disorder, otherwise he would do it himself.
Her father wanted to help her, serving her cabbage soup and protein shakes and bars. Good intentions, but bad idea. Already, she was training twice a day, at her sport-studies in Boucherville and at her home club in Saint-Hubert.
This control over my diet didn’t necessarily help. I had gone into hiding to eat. As I didn’t want to start dieting, I ate, but I made myself vomit to be lighter.
Back at 57 kg, Beauchemin-Pinard has made it to the podium twice at back-to-back world junior championships, a real feat for a Canadian.
After the Rio Games, where she was upset in the first round, she stuck to 57kg until the following year’s World Championships. She describes this period as “falling into hell”.
During her post-Olympic vacation, she let loose and partied. His weight rose to 68 kg. She managed to lose five for a tournament in Tokyo, where she agreed to line up at 63 kg. She was quietly thinking of cutting the rest until the Grand Slam in Paris in February.
“But I kind of forgot that there was Christmas in between… I took everything back on the weight I had lost. I had 10 kg to lose in a month. I did, but it wasn’t easy. »
One day, a trainer pinched her stomach, telling her that she “still had room to lose it.” “I know it’s misplaced, but I knew him, he didn’t want to do anything wrong. He was just stating the facts. But it’s the kind of comment from a coach that can lead to food issues. »
Especially, she points out, that body composition, which varies from person to person, is a poor indicator in a weight loss process.
“The more I tried to do 57 kg, the fatter I became because my body was so tired that it ate my muscle and stored fat to survive. »
Maintaining her weight has become increasingly problematic. On a trip down south with friends, she brought her bathroom scale to weigh herself every day and avoid taking too much.
I was in a vicious circle of force-feeding, restrictions, abuse, excessive weight loss. […] It ends up affecting your whole social life a bit, like going out to eat. I was developing some anxiety around food. You eat too much, you feel bad. You end the evening crying because you ate too much.
One evening, after having eaten too much, she contacted her nutritionist Alexia de Macar, for fear of falling back into bulimia like in adolescence. As she persisted at 57 kg, she invited her to work with fellow psychologist Jodie Richardson, who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders.
Beauchemin-Pinard believed that her problem was solved, but over the course of weekly meetings, the psychologist led her to understand that it would be impossible for her to be happy by remaining in this weight category. Richardson had also received assurances from her trainer Sasha Mehmedovic that the judoka could be as competitive at 63kg.
“I was no longer performing because of my diets. At 63 kg, it was more fear: fear of change, fear of what others would think. I remember I also told Sasha that I didn’t want to change my wardrobe! »
Jodie Richardson helped her to review her relationship with food, to avoid excessive weight variations, to listen to hunger signals.
“Somehow the problem was solved at 63 kg. But it leaves traces of doing so many diets and having so many restrictions. So I continued to work with Jodie for three years, until the pandemic. »
Beauchemin-Pinard is convinced of one thing: she would never have made it to the Tokyo Games if she hadn’t changed category. She won a historic bronze medal for Canadian judo.
On October 9, she added a silver medal at the World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, the only award missing from her list.
Two weeks earlier, as part of a virtual Sports-Quebec conference for coaches, Beauchemin-Pinard gave a testimony on his eating disorders after a presentation by Alexia de Macar and Jodie Richardson. She thought she would speak for 15 minutes, but it ended up being almost an hour.
“I’m very open to talking about it. I think it’s important to educate coaches. Awareness is the basis of the solution. »
Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard will continue to discuss this in a cookbook/testimonial that she intends to submit to publishers shortly. Today second in the world, the 28-year-old athlete wants to publish it before the next Paris Olympics, in 2024, where she sees herself more and more.