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Body image struggles?? Read this.

Whether you're a casual jogger or an experienced athlete, you may believe that changing your body composition to reduce body fat levels will help you reach your athletic goals, improve your self-worth or feel more like an athlete. After all, how many times have you heard that lightening-up will speed you up?

Don’t be quick to believe everything that you hear.

With any type of sport, it’s normal to look to others and see where you stack up based on performance, training volume, and body type. Although exercise can be a great activity to improve your overall health, there’s a downside to competitive leanness.....chasing the idea that weighing less will enhance performance can deprive you of the fuel and nutrients you need to optimize performance and maintain great health.

The media is oversaturated with images of athletes with six-pack abs, low body fat levels, lean arms, and long slender legs. Constant exposure to these images can make you believe that you're not good enough —increasing body consciousness, lowering self-esteem, and intensifying body dissatisfaction. Constant bombardment by images of an unrealistic body type can make it easy to slip into unhealthy or disordered eating behaviors, which increases your risk for sickness, hormonal disturbances, mood changes, injury, an energy deficit, and burnout.

Success looks different on everyone. You don't need to strive for the perceived "athlete body." Instead, learn to embrace your unique traits and strengths. To enhance your fitness journey, don’t let your body image define you. What matters most is what you can do with your body, not what it looks like. Not every human body is going to look the same.

Run because you love to run. Wear a swimsuit that makes you feel proud of your body. Keep showing up because working out is fun. You get to define your own success - your body is not an object that defines you. If you avoid signing up for a race because you fear being judged for how you long, crush those mental demons. Let go of comparison and be proud of your physical strengths. Never let your insecurities define you.

Instead of bashing your body, thank your body. 

Be proud of what your body can do and all that it’s capable of achieving. How you perceive yourself largely influences your actions. 

Discard the bathroom scale if it leads to self-destructive thoughts. 

Wear clothes that make you feel good when you exercise. 

Create goals that make you feel proud of your body. 

And most of all, figure out how you need to eat, sleep, and train in order to stay healthy for the long term. 

How you need to look to perform at your best may be different than how you think you need to look.

The process of developing a positive body image takes time, but to love your body in motion is worth the patience and hard work. Athletes come in different shapes and sizes. If you watch any race—from 5K or marathon to a sprint or long distance triathlon—you’ll see racers of all different body types celebrating across the finish line.

Sport doesn’t care what you look like. Your body belongs at any workout or race.

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