Why being an athlete is good for your body image


Athletes are the best. 

To quote Drake: 

"You know a lot of girls be thinking my [blog's] about them, but...{athletes], this one's for you" 

You've heard me talk about how water polo has been awesome for my body. I also think that athletes have a good shot at a healthy relationship with their bodies in general. 

Even though, being an athlete can cause a few other issues with your body, it can also be really great. 

Here's why being an athlete makes you good at being body positive. 

1.. Athletes have experience getting undressed in front of other people. 

Athletes usually shower after their workout which typically includes getting naked. Newsflash: you don't have to be thin to be an athlete. Showering with athletes means you're seeing real naked bodies on a regular basis and a variety of them. 

Studies show that seeing a diversity of bodies helps us be more comfortable with diverse bodies. That means that you might be more comfortable with your diverse body. 

2. Athletes know how to listen to their bodies

Athletes know good pain versus bad pain. They know how it feels when a coach just gave them a hard workout. Muscles are sore. Their lungs feel warm and fresh all at the same time because they've been breathing so hard for the past hour. 

And, they know when the pain is bad. Their joints are all messed up and instead of a pain they can bear, it crackles or pulses. 

As a swimmer, there was a difference between my legs feeling like jello at the end of a long kicking set versus my shoulder pulsing after pulling for hours with poor technique. 

When confronting body image issues, it can be helpful to remember that we have this ability to listen to our body. We can know that it will tell us when we are hungry and when we are full. We can trust it to take care of us. 

3. Athletes take care of their bodies because they need them. 

Athletes use their bodies to perform their sports. Therefore, their bodies become almost separate entities from themselves. 

You fuel your body before a competition. You train your body to do certain things. You need rest, recovery, food, and sometimes even meditation to make sure your body does what you need to do on game day. 

As a swimmer, this made eating easy. I ate food to carb load before a meet. I ate breakfast to make sure I could get through the hard sets at morning practice. I tapered my workouts when championship meets came up. I got good sleep because taking care of my body was important. 

This framework is useful when thinking about how to take care of your body now. Many people are often motivated by shame and self-hate for their body. Athletes do what they do because they are looking to do something more than just lose weight or look hot. They're trying to achieve something specific and you can't do that if you've become mortal enemies with the only tool in your life that allows you to achieve what you want. It's important to take care of your body. 

So, athletes, get naked, fuel your body, and take care of yourself.


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