I started wrestling at a young age. Wrestling was a safety net for me! It helped me gain the confidence and courage I needed to get through middle school when I was bullied. It gave me goals and aspired me to be something through high school. Unfortunately, as college approached, it became a lost dream. I was convinced to go down in a weight class, and I spiraled down hill with my health, physically and mentally.
As a girl, weight was always something I struggled with. My self-esteem and lack of acceptance really took a toll throughout my young teenage years. My Grandpa would grab my stomach. My sister was always thin and had this perfect image. My Mom was always on some kind of weight-watchers or diet. Everything around me growing up surrounded me with constantly having to have a concern for my body. The same still continues now as a woman in my late twenties.
There’s a reoccurring subject that hits home every time. I want to advocate to the person who fights themselves every day. Who think they are nothing or unpleasing if they don’t have abs and a lean physique.
This is to the person who does the right thing and eats the right meals. The person who challenges themselves and takes the effort to really try. The person who feels like they have done everything and think it’s just not fair and asks why they have to look like they do? Why they can’t be like their co-worker,teammate, or the girl on Instagram? Why are they are working twice as hard to meet this “expectation” and failing, failing, failing? I’m here for you, and I feel that frustration, too.
Media tells you to look and be a certain way. So many days I have looked at myself and have been disappointed; disgusted with myself because the person in the mirror wasn’t the person I put the expectation to be ( I don’t look like the person “other people” expect me to be). However, someone told me once that expectation will lead to disappointment every time. You know what? They are absolutely right.
Through all the years of wrestling and MMA, I have come to a frustrating, and often depressing relationship with my weight and body. Many years I fought my thoughts and envied so many fighters. I was so close to making that next level. I thought that maybe if I looked a certain way I would get more likes, more fame, more success. I could finally make a living doing what I set my goals so high for. I sat with my trainer at the time as he asked me what my goals were. I showed him a picture of some girl with big muscles and abs and said I wanted to look like her. After a very heartfelt discussion and reality check, I realized I was searching for all the wrong answers. How could I get so caught up in trying to be that “it” girl? However, so many of us fall into this problem.
On top of a mentally self damaging relationship to please others, my body fell through an even more troubling circumstance. Through all my weight cuts and constant damage, my body has started retaliating. Just when I thought I was really starting to accomplish something. Talk about a mental mind f@#$. I ask myself again: why? why? WHY?
Some days I look at myself and ask, “why I can’t do better”. I feel like someone is talking about me acting like I’m not even trying. Better yet, someone TELLS me I’m not even trying, without any understanding of my circumstances. Frustration, sadness, heartache, anger, hatred, disgust, dissatisfaction, disappointment, all flood in at once. “You suck.” “You won’t live up to these standards.” “You will never be this person who everyone likes.” “You will never get far now.” “Give up now.” Does this sound familiar?
I am asking you today (I’m asking myself daily) to take a deep breath and acknowledge the person you are, and the beautiful blessings placed upon you. This is a reminder to not be chasing calories. To not be working hard for an aesthetic look. Work hard for your goals to be a champion. If you’re telling yourself you want to look a certain way because that’s what your Instagram tells you, and basing your goals on that- it’s time for a new goal. Acknowledge what’s truly important.
To my fellow believers: I have not read anywhere in the bible where God said you need to be a size 4 and everything will be in place. “Thank God Judy lost 10lbs. She’s sure to go to heaven now. ”
To the average Joe: If you want to work on yourself, work on your health. Hire a trainer; someone who is there for your best interest and will show you the knowledge you need to understand what’s important. The right one will be there to help you reach goals and help you to not be so hard on yourself. You’re beautiful! You’re worth it!
To my fellow athlete: I challenge you to change the world. Show the world what it means to chase dreams. Be the person your childhood-self wanted to be. Love your body, but show it the respect it needs. Ask yourself why you started your sport-the thing you love in the first place. Find your voice, and make true what you are set out to be. I promise, someone is looking at you wanting to be you. Be the hero you need!
To the person constantly fighting their body. Hang. In. There. I know finding answers are frustrating. People, (Drs.) aren’t listening, and you are stuck with an unsolved mystery. Someone is out there fighting what you’re fighting, and they need you to be strong. It’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to break down. Just don’t give up. You’re only in control of the things you can change. Research, read, understand yourself. Do the best you can do with your circumstance. My coach always told me it’s okay to be disappointed, but regret will last a lifetime. Don’t regret what you could’ve done and didn’t. Most importantly, love yourself and your accomplishments along the way. You got this!