learning to love myself

I actually debated posting this because putting it down in words and funneling it out to the interweb means I can’t hide behind it anymore. Like many girls, I’ve struggled with body image and my weight for much of my life. I grew up competitively swimming, and I trained twice a day, burning up to 5,000 calories each day. Basically, I could eat whatever I want (within reason) and not gain weight. Throughout high school, I had a complex about my weight that was kindly given to me by a coach who felt that telling 14 year old girls that they were fat was a good thing. For the record…this was his definition of “fat”:

^^^ I’m on the far left. And yes, we are petting a goat. We were in the Netherlands.

My mother clued into the fact that this coach was messing with young girls’ body images, and we left that team pretty fast, but his words stuck, and I officially had a complex that was going to stay with me whether I liked it or not. My weight pretty much stayed the same until college, when I discovered that, yes, you can gain the freshman 15 35 even if you do work out twice a day. 

Needless to say, I’ve pretty much rid myself of every image from that time period because I really did hate it so much. I lost it all again when I transferred to Utah for my Junior year, and I remained the same, healthy weight until I finished my NCAA eligibility, at which point, I went through I stint of  pretty significant depression. I didn’t know how to identify myself as anything but a competitive athlete. I ate my feelings, and it just got worse. I gained everything back that I’d lost from the previous weight gain.

I wasn’t happy though, and I certainly wasn’t healthy, so I worked hard, and I lost it all again. This time though, I continued losing it. I got thin, and I got a lot of compliments, and I was healthy, happy and focused on me. I was running a lot, doing light weights, swimming open water races, and I’d really found my stride.

^^^ My thinnest since college…just 10 lbs more than I weighed going into college.

 It remained that way for a good year and a half until I met my ex and fell into a horrible relationship that really just ate away at my confidence, and I turned to the comfort of food again. I don’t have any pictures of that time period left again because A) they bring back horrible memories, B) I can’t look at them without cringing and C) just no.

I found CrossFit after I ended my engagement with my ex. It became an outlet for that frustration and anger that I had, plus I really enjoyed the competitive nature of the sport. But here’s the thing. My body was not made to be a lifter, and I started getting injuries one after the other, all the while gaining about 20 lbs in muscle mass. I finally had to quit CrossFit after blowing out my knee during a max-height box jump and, while I miss my friends and the sport, I think it’s good for me to find a balance with my body again.

^^^ All taken within a 1-year window. I gained almost 20 lbs of muscle, plus I ate poorly for my body type.

These days, I’m lucky to be in a healthy, happy and positive relationship. Ryan loves me for me, and he supports me in wanting to be better, but he always makes certain that he loves me regardless. He supports my need and desire to be fit and maintain my muscles, but he teaches me that I don’t have to go to extremes, either. I can be a balance of both and they is that I need to love myself regardless. I need to be kind to myself and patient with my progress.

If anything, my body image issues  have taught me that words can make a serious, life-long impact on one’s psyche. I’m not sure I’ll ever be entirely comfortable with my body, as that nagging voice of doubt was implanted so long ago. I can say one thing though…if I have daughters in the future, you’d better believe I will make certain they know that their value is not in the least bit based upon their weight.