Redefining the Perfect Body
Being a collegiate female athlete, I had been honing a skill and perfecting my body to become the best at my sport. Countless hours in the gym, drill after drill, I had been refining my body to grow into the most explosive, strongest and ultimately best athlete I could be.
Once I was done competing, I told myself that I needed to slim down and strive for the “model body” that I saw everywhere around me on social media, the Internet, and TV. It all added up to the fact that I needed to drop not only fat, but muscle to achieve this goal. I started my attempts to obtain the perfect “instabody” I had seen countless times on my feed. No matter what I did, I was never fulfilled by my body's new appearance and thus as a result never truly accomplished my goal. After failing and ultimately losing interest in working out, I gave up. As I reflected on my failure, I realized that I was looking at my body all wrong.
Most of my post collegiate identity struggles were coming because everything I did was based on looks not performance, while my entire previous life had been based solely on performance. I realized that my body still does have a physical purpose, and will always be physical, even though our society/media tries to sexualize women's bodies. I decided to tailor and train my body around what I wanted it to be able to accomplish physically and what I wanted to train for, less looks and more purpose. I started celebrating my body again for its physical ability and true purpose... to move. I did this by putting myself in situations where I was rewarded for my bodies ability, like running Tough Mudders, going to the gym, and even playing a pickup game or two. I shifted my goals for my body to revolve around performance vs. looks. I would be lying if I said it had nothing to do with looks, but what I have found is when my body is performing, there is a direct correlation to how my body looks that I love.
I decided to set my sights on a performance goal something that could be calculated, what an impact! Earlier this year I made a goal to be able to do 10 pull ups in the Mpowher 60 Day Challenge. Through those 60 days I knew that I needed to lose fat and gain muscle to get where I needed to be, but upper body strength was key to be able to pull my lanky armed 170 lb ass up that many times (tall girl probs). By the end of the 60 days, I had lost body fat, and was stronger, but the real accomplishment was how pumped I was that I had a goal beyond fat loss and achieved it. I was proud of myself for how hard I pushed my body again. While I did lose fat, it felt 100 times better than in the past when my goal was strictly about fat loss and conforming to the media's expectation of an ideal women’s body. I regained the motivation and purpose I had once lost.
Little did I know, I was not alone in this struggle. I was having a conversation with Mpowher Athlete Laura McNeill, who was having similar thoughts as myself.
“For me personally, I’ve created this unrealistic expectation of what my body should look like based on media. Even though I know that most pictures on social media aren’t always the best representation of a person… such as perfect lighting or a photo taken at a certain angle. When I was working out everyday with my team, I was never concerned about my appearance or what I ate because I was burning so many calories. Now even though I workout constantly I only see flaws in my body. Most people look at me and are jealous or say I’m in really good shape, but for me I feel like I don’t see it the same way. No matter how hard I work I’ll never have the body I want because I want something that’s not realistic or healthy.” - Laura McNeill, Mpowher Athlete Member
Through my different attempts to look like a Kardashian, I have come to the realization that trying to have a body that matches society may not be the best target to aim for. Every body is different and unique and our bodies should be celebrated for what they can and have accomplished. We are athletes who know our bodies inside and out and know exactly what they need to get the results that we are looking for. We need to celebrate our bodies every size and shape. I could pick my body apart for what it lacks in the looks category, we all could, but when I stopped focusing on what I lacked and started to focus on my love for my body, everything changed. I’m never going to be 6 feet tall and 120 pounds, I like food way too much, and it’s not a goal of mine but... 6 feet tall, 160 pounds and able to attack anything I want, now that’s something to strive for!
Please share this post on INSTA, if you’re proud of your body and what it can do!
These are raw thoughts from an anonymous Mpowher Athlete member. Tell us about your own body struggles and how you have powered through, we want to hear from you. Most athletes have similar experiences and thoughts. Submit a snippet from your life struggles, joys, embarrassments, and fun (it can be done anonymously). Sharing your story will help other athletes know that they are not the alone when they are going through a particular experience.