PROfile: How Cody Beals Found Self-Acceptance

It hasn’t always been an easy road for the Canadian pro, but his journey to self-acceptance has led to his best results yet.

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Even as Cody Beals’ pro career was taking off, the Canadian triathlete felt weighed down by a host of personal demons, ranging from disordered eating to exercise addiction to anxiety. Not only that, he was coming to grips with his sexual identity and what it meant to be an openly gay man in the sport.

Now 30, the multiple-time Ironman champ—and the Mont-Trem- blant course-record holder with his 7:58.34 finish in 2019—is thriving comfortably in his own skin. Here, Beals, who lives and trains in Guelph, Ontario, with his partner James, reflects on his past—and his journey towards recovery and self-acceptance.

“In high school, I was a district all-star in cross-country and swimming and accepted a full scholarship to Queen’s University in Ontario. This began a dark period in my life. At university, I let my perfectionism run rampant, and I poured myself entirely into schoolwork and training at the expense of everything else in my life. Being diagnosed with ‘Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport’ (RED-S) was a wake-up call to embark on a long recovery process.”

“For years, I struggled to accept myself [as gay], caught in a painful cycle of denial and repression. At 25, I came out to my family and friends, as well as in my professional life when the topic came up in an interview the day before the 2016 ITU Long Distance World Championships. I gradually began to feel as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.”

“Being gay has almost entirely been a non-issue in triathlon. In fact, in this current climate of acceptance, many [potential sponsors] are keen to position themselves with a message of inclusiveness and tolerance. I’m grateful to be part of a community with common ties that transcend people’s orientation, identity, or beliefs.”

“Every time I’m public about being gay, I receive a stream of heartfelt messages. Some of the most touching messages have come from parents of young LGBTQ+ athletes. There’s a sense of responsibility to help others through my openness as a gay professional triathlete.”

“I’ve been with my partner James for five years. He’s extremely supportive of my triathlon career, but I appreciate that he has his own interests, though he often joins me for easy runs, rides, and swims. After James, my little tortoiseshell cat, Bean, is my number-one emotional supporter and often the star of my Instagram.”

Cody Beal’s Go-To Workout

“End-lifted long rides are a staple of my training. I typically ride for 3 to 5 hours, then include an intensity set or high-cadence set in the final hour of the ride. It improves fatigue resistance and forces me to stay on top of fueling.”

A Day in the Food Life of Cody Beals

8 A.M. Wake up, greet my cat, whip up a large bowl of oats, Vega protein, non-dairy milk, Martin’s Apple Chips, peanut butter and raisins, and some tea

10 A.M. Snack at desk as I do sponsor and admin work, usually whole wheat toast with banana and peanut butter

12 P.M. Start training—fuel with fruit juice, Vega Sport Energy Bites, and my homemade carbohydrate concoction of maltodextrin and fructose

3 P.M. Post-workout refuel—usually a wrap with tempeh or falafel and sauteed veggies, plus a rerun of breakfast foods

5 P.M. After a nap, a muffin, a smoothie, or raid the fridge for leftovers

6 P.M. Start my second or third training session of the day

9 P.M. Dinner prepared by my partner James—usually a large salad with a rice, pasta, or legume-based vegetarian dish

11:30 P.M. Quick snack on whatever I’m craving—baked goods, chocolate, chips, toast, or oatmeal—and bed around midnight