Battling Your Body

Even the fittest folks struggle with body image. Here’s how they manage the love–hate relationship.



Kyle Brown–Latham

Photo by Brian Fitzsimmons

 

Kyle Brown–Latham

When and why I love my body
I try to be mindful of loving myself and my body as much as possible every single day. I start my day off with stretching and it helps me center myself and focus on the positive things that are all around us. I have learned that if I focus on the positive, I can actually work on increasing the positive, and it naturally will drive the negative out. Both perspectives can't live in your active mind space at the same time. If I start feeling down and depressed or start tearing down what I see in the mirror, I have to step back and refocus my energy to find the positive and things start to realign. 

When and why I hate my body
When I was heavier I hated myself. I used to be so focused on the negative that it quickly became all I could see. I still struggle with what I see in the mirror sometimes but I have to remind myself how far I have come and try to keep a positive mindset, because it shapes the world around me. 

How I’m working through the struggle
I continually set goals for myself and never give up on bettering myself. I didn't take any before pictures at my heaviest because I was so ashamed of how I looked. It took losing about 60 pounds before I even had a photo of my “before body.” Losing 200 pounds left my body with tons of excess skin. When I find myself trying to hide something in a picture before I post it, I have to remind myself of how far I have come. My plastic surgeon, Dr. Rocco Piazza, did an amazing job with my first excess skin removal. He removed 2.5 pounds of skin that was 12" wide. I'm not going to lie, it is a struggle because I am harder on myself than anyone else and I really want to know what my body looks like without the extra skin around my pecs, sides, and back that weren’t removed during the initial surgery. I love who I am now but I just know there is so much further I can push my body. 

I had an accident three years ago resulting in a twisted spine with three herniated discs and a fractured vertebrae. The accident was so damaging because of my weight. I am working with Dr. Andrew Newell at Full Life Chiropractic and he has done wonders for my health. I am looking forward to finishing my chiropractic treatment plan so I am able to have a pain-free life. It's only been about six months of treatment and my range of motion is so much better that I'm able to start activating and engaging muscles on my left side that were once paralyzed due to my body's protective and coping mechanisms. I am getting stronger by the day thanks to my drive to heal myself and through the care of Dr. Newell. 

How do you honor your body?
I honor my body daily by being mindful of keeping my mind focused, maintaining my clean eating habits, and continuing to pursue progress with my workouts. There are days when I don't feel like working out, but thanks to my husband's five-minute rule I always end up making it to the gym. The rule is simple: Give yourself five minutes of working out and if you still feel like going home then you can. I have never gone home once I put in the first five minutes. I have never regretted working out but have many times regretted not working out.  

—Gretchen Goswitz


Adrien Adams


PHOTO BY WESTON CARLS

Adrien Adams’ body has adapted from years of eating disorders, figure competitions, and most recently, pregnancy with her first child. Even with 10 years of experience in the fitness industry, the co-owner of CrossFit Round Rock is not immune to the airbrushed culture of beauty and health. As a soon-to-be mother, the struggle with her body is even more arduous as she finds ways to deal with the struggle, starting with her mindset.

When and why I love my body
I love my body most when I am consistent with my food prep and workouts. It is more about how I feel than how I look. Knowing I feel good, strong, and healthy is far more important than a number on the scale or poorly lit mirror. Right now, I love looking at my belly knowing my body has a goal in mind to adapt to the needs of another human being. Everyday, I have to accept that my body is going to change. Through the BirthFit program I continue to pray, journal, eat clean, and train for the biggest event my body will ever do. I only get one shot at growing this baby. Missing any of it because I have a moment of self doubt is not an excuse. I want to be the best version of myself when I go into childbirth.

When and why I hate my body
Seeing numbers on the scale can have an impact on my mood, but I feel it more when I am unprepared to nurture my body. If I have an off day with nutrition it doesn’t matter that I look the exact same—I feel different. With body dysmorphia, I can never see myself the way other people do. In the fitness industry, my aesthetics determine if I get business. I have to look the part, and I do not always feel like I do, especially when I compare myself to others. But during this new journey into motherhood, I have realized I can’t let moments pass me by because I am worried about what I look like. It is all in the attitude in how you approach it.

How I’m working through the struggle
In the first trimester, I did not feel like myself. It was so embarrassing that my eating disorder was still intact, eating low calories and trying to work off food. I would feel bad about eating more and getting on the scale. I knew that the hardest part for me was knowing my body was going to change, and I could not control it. Hiding those emotions and changes would take away from the experience. In BirthFit, we focus on honing the mindset by being present in the moment, open to growth, and grateful to welcome this transition with an open heart. The mindset was key for me. I like to be in control, but right now, I am not, and I have to be open to the changes I will have to make in my daily routines. I have to learn to love what my body is doing.

A moment I was proud of my body
We never wanted children. We ran a business and it just wasn’t in our plans. About 18 months ago, the thought of a child grew heavy on my heart. At age 34, with a history of eating disorders and other medical conditions, I never thought I would be able to get pregnant, let alone so quickly. It was something my husband and I left in God’s hands. Within four months, it all became so real knowing we were bringing a human into this world. After all the checkups and tests, I was so proud that body was going to be a perfect home for my child. And through all of this I discovered how much more my husband, Landon, has given me. He gave me the gift of healing. Though my eating disorders will never go away, and I will battle it for the rest of my life, I have the strength to work through it everyday. 

What the future holds
Raising a human in this new world filled with curated, photoshopped images is not going to be easy. For any women out there struggling, know you are not alone and I am here for anything you might need.

—Angela Vega


Judy Pusch


PHOTO BY WESTON CARLS

When and why I hate my body
I hate my body when I believe that my success at doing something depends on how I look compared to the people around me who are doing the same thing or something more challenging. For example, I hate my body most when I'm at a swim meet and I see competitors in the 50+ age groups who have firm bodies that tuck nicely into their tech suits and then make swimming the 200 or 400 IM look easy. I can’t help but think that

I’ll never swim an IM well because I don't look like them.

I also dislike when I begin to believe my body is deceiving me. Often times, I’ll feel good about how I look at an event, like a party, and then later see pictures of myself in the group photo and see myself as standing out like a sore thumb.

When and why I love my body
When I first started swimming as an adult, I couldn’t swim more than 25 yards without taking a break. I was frustrated with the fact that my will to swim outlasted my physical endurance. I’ve turned that upside down and now my physical endurance outlasts my will to swim. I love the fact that my body is now challenging my will instead of the other way around.

Recently, a close cousin of mine passed away. Like me, he fought morbid obesity for over 30 years and after seeing me lose the weight and after seeing how happy I was with my new active lifestyle, he finally decided to seek help for his weight issues. Unfortunately, he died from heart failure a couple of weeks after making the biggest decision of his life. I’m grateful to my body for keeping me alive and not giving up on me long enough for me to realize it was finally time I took better care of my body. Many people don’t have that opportunity—for many, hitting their rock bottom is too late.

How I’m working through the struggle
I’m developing the guts to be honest with myself so I can recognize my irrational thoughts. For example, I may say to myself, “I don't believe I can do this because…I don’t look like anyone else who’s doing it.” That’s pretty nonsensical when you say it out loud.

I’m developing the guts to begin trusting people with my thoughts and feelings about my body. Fat shaming breeds mistrust. Fat shaming steals a person’s ability to trust anyone. I’m finally starting to stand up to my shame and say, “To hell with mistrust. If I take a chance and confide in you about how I feel about how I look and you use it to shame me, you’re the shamed one, not me.” It's not an obvious concept to someone who’s been hoarding and internalizing the opposite perspective most of their life. 

And finally, asking for help when I feel like I’m failing or in a downward spiral or burning out and wanting to give up. This is the hardest of my struggles. At first, I think maybe it’s hardest because it goes back to my struggle with trusting people but I think it’s more about me not wanting to find out that my feelings may be right on target—that maybe I am failing or burning out. 

A moment I was proud of my body
Since I first began taking better care of my body, I’ve had many of these moments, but I think my most proud moment was when I raced the Alcatraz Sharkfest last year. It was my first Alcatraz swim and like any other “crazy” open water swimmer, I was determined to race it without a wetsuit. I walked into that race with only two goals: to finish it and to finish it without dying. I never expected to win my division. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around that one.  I’m still like, “Did my body really do that?” 

—Carrie Barrett

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