Cricket: Meg Lanning opens up about struggle with food and exercise that led to her early retirement

Former Australia cricket captain Meg Lanning – celebrated for steering her team to a historic five Twenty20 World Cup victories – revealed that she had been grappling with “an unhealthy relationship” involving food and exercise, which led to her early retirement.

Lanning shared her ordeal, revealing a pattern of consuming only two “insignificant” meals daily despite engaging in strenuous physical activity which included running up to 90 kilometers per week.

While refraining from labeling her restricted eating habits as indicative of an eating disorder, she conceded to being in denial about seeking help.

“It sort of just spiralled and I was in denial, even though everyone kept telling me something wasn’t quite right,” Lanning told The Howie Games podcast.

“I was not in a place to be able to go on tour and play cricket and give the commitment levels required for that Ashes series, mentally and physically.”

‘It became an obsession’

Following the Commonwealth Games in 2022, the 32-year-old embarked on a six-month hiatus from cricket, distancing herself from the sport and instead, worked at a local coffee shop.

After the break, she returned to lead Australia to yet another T20 World Cup title in February 2023. However, she withdrew from the Ashes tournament the following year due to undisclosed medical reasons.

“I felt very out of control in terms of what my future looked like: ‘If it’s not cricket, what does life look like if I am not playing?’” she said.

“I could escape mentally, I’d throw the headphones and I wouldn’t take my phone with me … I’d just have my Apple watch on for some music, so nobody could contact me,” said the Victorian cricketer. “It became an obsession, I could escape mentally, no one could contact me, and I felt like I was in control.

“Initially it didn’t start off as a deliberate thing, it just became a bit of a new normal. But it slowly crept into conscious decisions because essentially I felt good, I was light, I could run heaps and I wasn’t getting injured like everybody was telling me I was going to,” she added.

Health and performance

Despite her challenges, Lanning’s athletic prowess remained formidable, as evidenced by her remarkable performance during the World Cup, amassing 149 runs at an average of 49. Her leadership steered Australia through two intense finals against India and South Africa, securing victory for her team.

Lanning said, “[During] World Cup, Women’s Premier League last year probably was when I was getting a little bit out of control in terms of the obsessive side of what I was doing.”

“I don’t sit still normally but it was just like no days off, can’t eat your meal until you’ve gone for a big run. That’s when it took hold a fair bit.”

While continuing her participation in various cricket leagues including the Women’s Big Bash League, Women’s National Cricket League, and the WPL in India, Lanning has retired from international cricket.

Recently, she returned to India for the second season of the WPL, leading Delhi to the final where they lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore.

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