I want to preface this by saying I talk about eating disorders and body dysmorphia, if this will be triggering to you, please don’t read on
Loving your body. This is something much easier said than done. I have struggled with this most of my teenage and adult life. My family is full of athletes, and I guess those genes get passed down. From the time I was a toddler, I had a very athletic body, large strong thighs, toned arms, and packed shoulders. This was very different from the picturesque idea of an equestrian that was always hoped into my mind. As someone who wanted nothing more than to ride for the rest of my life was a very discouraging thought. I want to tell you all something I have never shared publicly before in hopes of encouraging you that a scale does not define you.
As I went into my first year of high school, I was at the top of my riding career, but it didn’t feel good enough. I felt that I not only had to be acting the part but looking the part as well. At this time I was working with a personal trainer to help keep up my fitness for riding, as well as the other sports I played. I went to my friend's barn to watch her ride but ended up overhearing a conversation between a trainer and a rider. The trainer was telling her that she was overweight, fat, and would no longer be able to ride if she didn’t stop eating. I want to let you all know that she was about 5’10, no more than 130 pounds. This is what sent me over the edge, if she was too overweight for riding, I must be. It was at this point that I knew I stopped fueling my body properly.
I started fading away and no one seemed to know that it was wrong. I was being complimented and praised for what I was doing, and this only made matters worst. I started with skipping a meal or two, to going days without eating. This went on for about 6 months. How I made it that far was crazy, but with all of my working out, I still had muscle weight and was able to hide it for quite some time. I was discovered by my parents and trainers when they realized a dip in my productivity. I was no longer able to ride 4 horses in one day, complete my workouts, or lift as much. I went through a program, but it wasn’t there that I got better.
I will never be better, it will be a constant struggle. It wasn’t until I restarted therapy in college that I truly started to understand where my problems lied. For me, it stemmed from this idea that I needed to be perfect. I feel that to become the perfect rider, I needed to have a perfect body to match, but this where I messed up. My therapist began teaching me that no one is perfect, it just isn’t possible. There aren’t any perfect bodies, and that it is okay to have a day where I hate everything about myself, but it’s how I cope with it that matters.
I had to find a way to love my body. I want to share with you that it's okay to not like something about yourself, it's like when you love someone, but at that time you just can’t bring yourself to like them. For me, learning what my body was for is what helped me learn to love my body. I learned that my body helped me walk up the stairs, ride horses, drive to the barn, watch amazing movies, and without proper fuel, my body would never be able to do these things. When your body is without fuel it breaks itself down to try to continue to run, and once it runs out of fat, it has to continue to find something for fuel, that something becomes all the things you tend to forget about.
I learned to appreciate my body for all that it does for me, not what it looks like, but what it helps me do. Love can fade, but in appreciating your body, you learn that even when you can not seem to find something to love, you can find a reason to appreciate it. Without the body I have, I wouldn’t be the athlete that I am today. Always remember that it is your opinion that matters, it is what your body needs that matters.
If you have ever struggled with loving your body, or just need someone to talk to, please reach out via the contact me page and I will be here to listen.