Updated: Sep 2, 2020
“All I have to say is, ‘I’m healthy.’ In that statement, I express gratitude. I am grateful for my strength and things I can do with my body. I am saying I’m healthy and I accept the way my body is today without changing anything.” - Demi Lovato
For any athlete, taking care of your body is a priority, at least physically. We lift, condition, and train our bodies for our sport for countless hours. There’s this constant pressure to make yourself fit the mold of your sport, and to get yourself into the best shape you can be in, to reach your full athletic potential. Only a few athletes have the discipline to do this. Some sports require an insane amount of strength, while some require you to be as lean and light as possible. However, in the process of achieving these “perfect” body types, many athletes are subject to mental health conditions. We face constant belittlement from not only others, but ourselves. We miss out on some of the best parts of life, just to fit in an extra workout, or so we don’t eat ice cream with our friends because that’s too many extra calories. Mental health is completely forgotten about when it comes to getting your physical fitness up to par with what the standard of your sport is.
With more recognition and acknowledgement of mental health recently, I think there have been more people realizing that as an athlete they were forced into an eating disorder, or at least now have a poor relationship with food and working out. Your body needs rest and needs to be fueled properly. There is such a lack of education as to how to feel your healthiest, but yet such an abundance of knowledge given from coaches and staff as to what you need to look like. Not everyone is the same, and our bodies react differently from each other. Leaving sports, that’s something very difficult to grasp. Especially ending a sport that has taken up your whole life and has emphasized never growing physically whatsoever. Growth spurts, gaining weight, changing body types are all something that we go through in the transition out of sports, and for some athletes, even during their athletic career.
It’s okay to feel confused and self conscious about what’s happening. It’s new and definitely scary. Surround yourself with people that don’t bring you down, or make comments about the extra weight you’ve put on or muscle you’ve lost. Feeling healthy is VERY different than looking healthy, which is something we need more emphasis on in organized athletics. Take care of yourself and love yourself, because if you prioritize your mental health, physical health is bound to follow.