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Female Athlete Nutrition

Mar 31, 2022

In this episode of the Female Athlete Nutrition Podcast, I talk with lightweight rower Tory Mather. We hear how Tory found her passion for rowing in high school, before going on to row in college and beyond post-collegiately. Tory enlightens us about lightweight rowing, explaining the rules around weighing in and balancing athletes in a boat.

We discuss how lightweight rowing was established to include shorter athletes in rowing, a sport where height is a significant advantage. From well-meaning beginnings, Tory shares the flaws in the system where taller athletes cut weight to compete, leading to a thriving culture of chronic underrating, dangerous dieting, weight obsession and eating disorders within the sport. Tory explains how athletes’ starting seats on the boat are not guaranteed, and instead of being motivated to train harder and improve technique, many athletes compete for their position by trying to lose the most weight.

Tory’s experience of negative role models and unhealthy competition was outweighed by the friends she made until her under-fueling caught up to her. Constantly tired, emotional and underperforming, Tory’s obsession with food and weight ruined her enjoyment of the sport and she ultimately retired. We talk strategies to help other athletes avoid her destructive experiences: asking for help, working with professionals, finding positive role models and coaches.

Tory shares the progress she’s made appreciating what her body can do, exploring new sports and skills free from any pressure and expectation. Sport has remained a social outlet for Tory, and she found herself re-entering rowing, this time in the masters open-weight category, to enjoy time with friends. Tory explains how she is choosing happiness, health and fun with food over rowing lightweight: as a fuelled female athlete Tory is feeling great and performing great in the open-weight class. We discuss intuitive eating for athletes, all foods fitting, and fueling workouts: there is always time to snack, even on a boat!

Follow Tory on Instagram @torbear @mytrailsaremany. 

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Tory’s Official Bio

Tory Mather began rowing in high school after a friend convinced her to try a Learn to Row session. She rowed Division 1 at Marist College. After college, she moved to Philadelphia to focus on lightweight rowing from 2012 - 2014. During this time, she medaled at Head of the Charles and Club Nationals in the lightweight four. After struggling to make weight and dealing with related health issues, she quit. In 2015, her friends convinced her to return to the sport at a masters level. Since then she has been a 14 time US rowing masters national champion and has dabbled in other endurance sports such as running, triathlon, and hiking. She coached masters women at Newport Aquatic Center in California for three years and is currently rowing out of Three Rivers Rowing Association in Pittsburgh.