Essential Sports Nutrition


Is your body image limiting your athletic potential?

As an athlete, your closest relationship in life will always be to your body. Your body lets you do so much on a daily basis but you can never take for granted the complexity of the human body and how much it does for you during exercise. 

Having said this, your body is going to give you mixed signals - very often. Some days you will feel amazingly strong and other days you will feel blah.

Although it is normal to feel a certain way about your body through the highs and lows of training, it's not normal to feel dissatisfied with your body image, appearance and weight, leading you to conclude that losing weight will enhance performance and will make you feel better about yourself and your body. If you are one of the many athletes who experience great anxiety and pressure to change your body to be "more lean" or "more muscular", read on. 

Due to excessive media exposure that glorifies lean and toned athletic bodies (often with the aid of weight loss pills, extreme restrictive diets, overexercising and sometimes disordered eating habits), you may find yourself constantly criticizing your appearance, assuming that if you weighed less, you would be able to do more with your body (and perhaps "look" more like an athlete). 

If you have recently found yourself engaging in restrictive eating, avoiding foods/food groups and over exercising in an effort to feel better in your skin, this can lead to patterns of disordered eating and weight obsession and may develop into anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, compulsive overeating or binge eating disorder.

Your perception of your body plays an important role in your self esteem and confidence. If you are too critical of your body, you are likely to feel inadequate. No matter how hard you train, there will always be a limiter in your performance due to the energy that you spend on your body image. 

Reach out to a dietitian professional, specializing in body image/disordered eating/eating disorders, if you are currently struggling with your body image. Getting treatment for distorted is a necessary step to recovery so that you can start living your life to the fullest.

Here are 20 ways to love your body

Compiled By: Margo Maine, PhD
  • Think of your body as the vehicle to your dreams.  Honor it.  Respect it.  Fuel it.
  • Create a list of all the things your body lets you do.  Read it and add to it often.
  • Become aware of what your body can do each day.  Remember it is the instrument of your life, not just an ornament.
  • Create a list of people you admire:  people who have contributed to your life, your community, or the world.  Consider whether their appearance was important to their success and accomplishments. 
  • Walk with your head held high, supported by pride and confidence in yourself as a person.
  • Don’t let your weight or shape keep you from activities that you enjoy.
  • Wear comfortable clothes that you like, that express your personal style, and that feel good to your body.
  • Count your blessings, not your blemishes.
  • Think about all the things you could accomplish with the time and energy you currently spend worrying about your body and appearance.  Try one!
  • Be your body’s friend and supporter, not its enemy. 
  • Consider this:  your skin replaces itself once a month, your stomach lining every five days, your liver every six weeks, and your skeleton every three months.  Your body is extraordinary—begin to respect and appreciate it.
  • Every morning when you wake up, thank your body for resting and rejuvenating itself so you can enjoy the day.
  • Every evening when you go to bed, tell your body how much you appreciate what it has allowed you to do throughout the day.
  • Find a method of exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly. Don’t exercise to lose weight or to fight your body. Do it to make your body healthy and strong and because it makes you feel good.  Exercise for the Three F’s: Fun, Fitness, and Friendship.
  • Think back to a time in your life when you felt good about your body.  Loving your body means you get to feel like that again, even in this body, at this age.
  • Keep a list of 10 positive things about yourself—without mentioning your appearance.  Add to it daily!
  • Put a sign on each of your mirrors saying, “I’m beautiful inside and out.”
  • Search for the beauty in the world and in yourself.
  • Consider that, “Life is too short to waste my time hating my body this way.”
  • Eat when you are hungry.  Rest when you are tired.  Surround yourself with people that remind you of your inner strength and beauty.