I spent years lifting right, eating right, and running every day to turn my body into a machine capable of succeeding on the field. I loved my body because I knew it was the means by which I was able to succeed in my sport. I can’t lie it was also nice to be in shape for the beach in the summer! That being said when I first got hurt my world was rocked. I could no longer take care of my body the way I was always used to. The composition of my body started to change because I couldn’t run the way I was accustomed to and I started to realize I didn’t recognize myself anymore. Then when I was healed up, I would hit everything again even harder than before and get back to my ideal shape. This happened time and time again over countless injuries, I never thought anything of it just figured that was part of the process.
Then I got an injury I couldn’t bounce back from as fast. When they told my there were fractures in my spine that may or may not heal, I was determined to follow my same path back to my ideal body. 6 months went by and I still couldn’t run without pain, no jogging, no cycling, no rowing, I couldn’t even swim without pain. My body started to change, I chalked it up to the game because I figured sooner or later, I would bounce back. 9 months went by and the day-to-day pain had gotten better but the fractures didn’t heal, that’s something I will live with for the rest of my days. A year rolls by and I don’t recognize myself in my own skin. I feel like I have withered away to nothing (I lost about 50 pounds with the majority of it being muscle).
This sent me down a dark and self-depreciating path that did nothing but worsen the problem. It got to the point that I went to go get treatment to help break the negative cycle. They told me I was experiencing symptoms of body dysmorphia, common in athlete that played sports based on physical size and strength. In my mind there could be no way that was a diagnosis for models not people like me. I had to become educated that this is a rapidly growing field of study as more and more articles popped up in my searches. “Athletes are particularly susceptible to developing body image disorders because of the pressures surrounding sport performance and societal trends promoting muscularity and leanness.” Learning to address these negative thoughts is crucial.
I had to learn to love myself regardless of the shape I am in. I have found ways to get back into the gym and get moving again but nothing to the obsessive extent I had before. I found a healthier relationship with exercise that has allowed me to grow as a person. You will have good days and bad days, but you must learn to love the skin you are in. We only have this one body you can’t spend all of your days hating it. It is okay to work towards a goal, do not allow yourself to become so obsessed with your goal that the other facets of your life suffer.
Love yourself along the journey, be kind to yourself when you look in the mirror. We are our own worst critics. When you find yourself obsessing over something you don’t like in the mirror find 2-3 things you love about your body. On the bad days this is hard, I understand it but do it anyway. Over time you will shift towards a more positive outlook on your body and will find new things you love. This week I want you to be kind to your body, find 3 things you love about yourself when you look in the mirror. It only takes a few seconds of your time but makes the world of difference in your mindset and helps you from carrying those negative emotions. Love yourself because you are beautiful!