When I started Junior High, I was “HUGE”. I mean I wasn’t overweight or anything, but at 5’7”, 130 pounds, and size 9 feet, I was SO much bigger than all my 5’ nothing, size 0, no hips, size 5 feet friends. So at the ripe old age of 12, I started hating my body.
To add insult to injury, I was a swimmer. So I was ALWAYS in a swimsuit, and I think as a female athlete, there is added pressure to have less body fat as it is. I was pretty much doomed from an early age to constantly battle my disordered body issues.
Fast forward…to 1999 when I become a competitive triathlete, another sport where low body fat is favored. Every time I didn’t make my goal or get the time or place I wanted, I always blamed it on my body. “I guess I’m just too big to be a competitive athlete” or “If I lost 10 pounds I could run so much faster”. Whether these statements are actually true or not, makes no difference AT ALL because I believe they are true, and as long as I continue to accept that as truth, then it will always be true for me.
Fast forward AGAIN…to 2013 when I am 40 years old and have spent the last 28 years beating myself up for not having the body I want. And by the way, after 28 years of telling your body it’s not skinny enough or strong enough or fast enough or tight enough, it doesn’t matter what is ACTUALLY going on, your brain will never believe when you actually ARE skinny, strong, fast, tight, etc. It’s extremely heartbreaking to see this happening to so many people because I know firsthand how it feels to be living in a body that can never be what you think it should be. It’s a painful and hopeless battle you are constantly fighting with yourself, usually silently and alone.
September 15, 2013, six weeks before my 41st birthday, one week before racing my 10th Ironman distance triathlon, I was complaining to my husband (he’s a saint BTW for putting up with my eating/body issues for 18 years and counting) that I wasn’t at my goal race weight and I was such an idiot for not cutting calories during taper and I felt huge BLAH BLAH BLAH!
September 22, 2013, race day is here! Air temp at the start of the race was in the 30s…FAHRENHEIT. In my age group out of 174 women, only 103 finished. Most either took so long to warm up after the swim that they missed the bike cut off time or just couldn’t get warm enough to start the run after the bike. I had an amazing race and never got cold enough to even consider a DNF (Did Not Finish). Many of these DNFs were world class athletes and I finished! I was so proud of my amazing body and what it accomplished that day!
And if I’m being 100% honest, it would probably have a little bit to do with those “extra” pounds I didn’t lose before the race.
PS…If you are struggling with any sort of disordered eating/body image issues, PLEASE tell someone! You are NOT alone and there are so many ways to get help. You don’t have to fight this battle forever. PLEASE PLEASE reach out!!