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Learning to Love Yourself

Elisabeth Rockhill

The ability to have a healthy outlook on your body is something that more often than not, many find themselves struggling with. It does not matter what age you are or what your gender is, everyone can be vulnerable to having negative ideas regarding their body. With the constant influence of media portraying unrealistic body expectations, it can be easy to fall into the mindset of “I do not look good enough... I need to change.” I myself developed this mindset during my sophomore year of high school, resulting in an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise.

My sophomore year of high school was the time where I became very insecure about how I looked, and what others thought of me. I was at a normal, healthy weight for my age, but in my eyes I felt like I needed to lose weight. I followed a lot of fitness influencers on Instagram, and was constantly watching videos on “how to get shredded fast.” I also convinced myself that if I lost weight, I would be able to run longer for soccer. I began to drastically cut down on my calories, eating only 2 eggs for breakfast, a few slices of turkey and an apple for lunch, and chicken and vegetables for dinner. I did not realize how detrimental this was to my body being an athlete, for while I was eating like this, I was also practicing soccer for two hours every day. Your body cannot perform at a high level with the amount of food I was consuming. I found myself starving all the time, and constantly thinking about the next time I would eat. If I thought I ate too much, I would immediately go out for a run to get rid of the extra calories I thought I consumed. I was living such an unhealthy lifestyle every day my sophomore year, but at the time I saw it as disciplining myself for the better.

My dad noticed that I was looking thinner than usual, so he sat me down and I told him about what I was experiencing. At this point, I was mentally drained from constantly thinking about food and calories all the time, but could not bring myself to snap out of the mindset I was in. I eventually went and saw a therapist, which really helped me turn my life around for the better. I began to slowly incorporate more carbohydrates into my diet, which helped me overall feel better as well as perform better in soccer. The fear of gaining weight by eating more began to fade away as I realized I had been depriving my body of the nutrients it needs to function, and my weight and how I look should not consume my life. I began to think about food less and less, which felt like a huge weight off of my shoulders.

Moving forward to the present day, I have developed a healthy relationship with food. As a Division 1 athlete, I know my body requires more food than the average person in order to have energy for my busy lifestyle. I always try to incorporate a good amount of protein and carbohydrates into every meal I eat, for my body will benefit from that during an upcoming game or simply will help my muscles recover from a past lift session or competition. How you feel and your overall health is way more important that how you look or how much you weigh. I feel like this needs to be emphasized more throughout collegiate athletics because it can lead athletes to a better mindset regarding their perception of how they look.

Elisabeth Rockhill