Society has told me my type of body isn’t athletic. It’s told me I’m therefore not healthy, not ‘normal’.
From a young age I’ve had it nailed into me that I’m not ‘sporty’. The sporty kids were the lean, active ones. The ones who always made the sports teams; the ones who were seen as a healthy, normal kid.
Meanwhile, look at me. If I even look at a chocolate bar I put on weight (oh the joys of a slow metabolism), my legs have been labelled thunder thighs far too many times, my belly button kinda looks like a sad face, I’ve never had much strength in my arms and when I try to do any exercise I have to wear a sports bra that straps my boobs in place or I think they may knock me out. I’m hardly athletic.
Or am I? What is athletic? What is sporty? Society seems to tell us we need to have a perfectly sculpted six pack like Jessica Ennis-Hill to be considered either. Society also tells us men are better at sports – debatable.
For years of my life I wrote myself off. I gave up before trying because even if I did do sports that perfect athletic body is simply unachievable for me. Even now when I’m one of the healthiest eaters I know, I run three times a week, walk 10,000 steps a day and practice yoga every day I’m still a size 12 and sometimes a size 14 depending on the shop (FYI men out there who don’t know, women tend to aim for a size 8 normally). My BMI is still considered overweight by the NHS.
So, for the majority of my life so far I haven’t tried. Sports were not my thing simply because that’s what I’d been told.
Yet, I run three times a week now – that’s sport no? A body that I believed my whole life wouldn’t be able to succeed at anything like that can now run for 45 minutes. And guess what? I actually enjoy it. I don’t run because I have to; I run because that endorphin kick at the end of the run is something I can’t replicate with anything else. Also, my body which I never thought was flexible can do yoga poses I wouldn’t have dreamed of before. I achieve new things every day.
However, I still have that nagging feeling at the back of mind which I call society. I have bad days. I have awful days. Some runs I just simply think my thunder thighs aren’t cut out for jogging or that they aren’t built to sprint. Trying a particularly difficult yoga pose I think I’ll never be able to do it because my body is limiting me. Sometimes I look in the mirror and just see fat staring back at me. I don’t think I can wear bikinis or crop tops because of my tummy. I’ve been told when wearing a low cut top that it’s ‘too booby’ or when wearing shorts that I’m showing too much leg. I have cellulite and stretch marks on various parts of my body. I see all this sometimes and I believe society. It’s no wonder I’ve had low self esteem.
But I know now I’m wrong. Society is wrong. I can be as sporty as I want to be. My body does not have to limit me. I will run faster and stronger, I will do those yoga poses which seem impossible and I can wear what I damn well want to. Hell, I may even pick up a team sport one day. Some of the things in this post have been very personal to me but it’s important for everyone to realise we’re all in the same boat. Every body has different difficulties but that doesn’t mean you should limit yourself. In fact, you should push yourself towards improving those difficulties.
I’ll still have bad days and good days. Days where I have no motivation and give up and days where I’m buzzing. The crucial thing is I’m trying and will continue to try. I am sporty. My body is beautiful in its own way.