Body image- the Athlete’s Body

The Athlete’s Body- Love your body in motion

Article written by Marni Sumbal, Registered Dietician

www.trimarni.blogspot.com

This is one of my favorite pictures to use in my presentations when I talk to athletes and fitness enthusiasts about learning how to have a healthy relationship with food and the body. I’m sure that you can see immediately why I love this picture. Both athletes are incredible because of what they are able to do with their body.
If you are currently training for an event or have ever trained for a race, you may have noticed that through hard work, consistency, a balanced diet and proper sport nutrition and nutrient timing your body became stronger, faster or more powerful to carry you through longer and/or more intense workouts.
Sadly, many athletes are not only seeking great fitness gains for an upcoming event but chasing the “look” of an athlete.
In reference to the above picture, place the two athletes side-by-side at the beach, in bikinis, and Zelinka will likely gather a lot of attention for her defined body. Put the two athletes side-by-side at the track, and you may say that one athlete is “fitter” than the other. How many times have you arrived to a race and with one look at a body you immediately assume that an athlete is “fast” because of his/her body composition?
A body performs based on how it was trained to perform. A healthy body will be at a healthy body composition based on balanced training, a good diet and proper fueling around/during workout.  But because our society is so body-image obsessed, we have this perfect image of what an athlete should look like and many times that look coincides with the picture of health.
This picture is from the 2012 London Olympics  – the heptathlon. Both athletes are extremely fit and have arrived to the greatest stage for an athlete. Both athletes performed based on how the body and mind operated on race day, after months and years of dedication.  A 6 pack of abs or having no jiggle when you wiggle is not a guarantee that you will PR at your upcoming race and not having a lean, strong body now does not mean that with months of consistent training and proper eating/fueling that your body will not change naturally in result of training stress.
Because a disordered style of eating alongside extreme exercise habits are not uncommon among athletes and active individuals – of all sizes and fitness levels and in men and women – who strive for the “look” of an athlete, it’s important that you see your body for the masterpiece that it is. Your body does not have to allow you to do what you love to do with it so as you train for your upcoming race/event, don’t forget to thank your body……daily.
Obsessed with every moment of the Olympics (winter and summer), I am just so amazed by how athletes perform under pressure. All that hard work, for years and years, just for one day or one event. The athlete’s body is absolutely amazing.
And regardless of what the body looks like on race day (completely covered or with minimal clothing) when a body is trained to perform to its full potential, there’s no denying that it’s easy to marvel at a body in motion.
There is a broad spectrum of shapes and sizes when it comes to the physiques of athletes. Professionals, competitive age groupers and the novice. I hope you recognize that your body is unique, special and beautiful. Please love your body and treasure everything it allows you to do on a daily basis. Never bash your body – especially when you expect it to be incredible when you train it to perform for race day.
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