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Strong Inside and Out: Athlete Body Positivity

Athlete body positivity is something that is often overlooked. Being an athlete is something that takes a lot of sacrifice. Athletes are required to be goal oriented, adaptable, flexible, and more. Something that can become a big problem with athletes is their body image. In an environment where physical performance is valued, it becomes easy to focus on how your physical aspects look and how they compare to those around you.

What is body positivity and what does it look like?

Body positivity is the way in which you think about your body in a positive light. Start paying attention to your thoughts when you look at your body or when you compare yourself to others. If you are saying “I wish I looked like that”, take that thought and admire their looks, but be content with yourself.

Girls enjoying running practice

Changing a negative view.

Instead of focusing on what your body looks like, focus on what your body can do. Instead of going on a diet to look skinnier, start fueling your body for performance rather than aesthetics. So many athletes think they are eating too much, when in reality, they are not eating nearly enough. Not eating enough for vigorous activities, can lead to future health risks, whether it is mental or physical. Confidence is something that those who struggle with body image lack. Confidence comes when you stop comparing yourself to others and you are fully content with yourself. Maybe your thoughts are not the problem, but the thoughts of those around you are. If you are in an environment where coaches and teammates are saying to cut down on eating (unless they are clearly suggesting to fuel your body with more healthy foods), then you are in a toxic environment that can manipulate and influence the way you view your body. Treat your body as a machine. A machine needs fuel everyday in order to operate to the best of its ability, and so do you. If you are struggling with fatigue and no improvements in practices, consider what you are eating and if that is enough. In sports, there are so many unrealistic standards for what one’s body should look like. Many athletes struggle and ruin the performance levels of their bodies by trying to meet these standards. If you truly care about excelling in your sport, you need to be able to oversee the body image negativity. In my experience, I used to compare myself to other runners, asking myself, “Why don’t I look like them?” I later realized that this is the body I was given for the rest of my life and I do not want to spend it wishing I looked like someone else. Why should I care how my body compares to others, if my body is doing amazing things that help me excel in my sport? No body is ugly or disgusting. Everyone was created with a certain uniqueness to their physical aspects. Sure, it is great to want to and to act on losing weight, getting stronger, faster, etc., but it must be done in a way where you are thinking this is so that I feel and perform better, not so I meet the unrealistic standards of society.

Speak kindly to yourself and others.

Do not just think nice thoughts about yourself, say them out loud. By saying kind words to yourself out loud, it disrupts negative thinking habits because your brain is focused on what you are speaking. Be mindful of what you say around others. You never know what they are going through. You do not want to give people the wrong idea, especially if they do not know the context. Practice saying affirmations out loud, in front of a mirror such as: “I am grateful for my body and what it can do” “I am in control of my thoughts and emotions” “My body is strong” “I am perfect and complete just the way I am”. By saying these consistently out loud and actually believing in them, you should be able to see yourself becoming happier and more confident in yourself, as you are no longer worried about how others look or how they look at you. For the only person who’s opinion on you matters, is yours.

Body positivity quote

To conclude, athletes are placed with so much stress and pressure as it is, so don’t let one physical aspect add to that. Do not worry about what others think of your body - they probably don’t even like their own. Learn to love yourself and everything around you will start to shift and change.


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