Body Image, Beauty, and Balance

Do you have a healthy body image?

As humans, we’re only given one body to live in, one chance at living a long and productive life. That means how we treat our bodies—including the food we eat and the physical activity in which we participate—greatly impacts our health and our quality of life.

As a female athlete visiting this site, you are already taking the steps towards a healthier you. But are you happy with who you are and your physical performance? What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you have a healthy body image? Are the areas of your life balanced? Do you feel beautiful?

What is balance?

If you would look up “balance” in the dictionary, you would find something along the lines of having different components in the correct proportions. No one area dominates, but all areas contribute equally. In terms of your health, you are made up of more than just your physical self (nutrition and physical activity): You are also an intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and social person. This means that your desire to exercise and eat healthy should be in balance with these other areas of your life. Even if you exercise for more than just fitness, it is still possible to be balanced yet still competitive.

For example, it is not healthy to think constantly about the food you eat, the calories you burn on a run, or how many pounds you have left to lose until you reach your goal weight. Obsessing over weight, calories, or exercise is NOT healthy. Instead, a balanced life would be enjoying each run and taking pleasure from the food you eat. Time spent with others on a group run or around the dinner table would be savored. A woman leading a balanced life should have interests outside of running and should take time out for herself. She would feel beautiful whether she ran that day or not, whether she is five pounds overweight or not. That’s called being balanced and having a healthy body image!

What is a healthy weight?

When considering a balanced life, it’s important to understand that pounds on the scale do not mean everything. A “healthy” weight should be one that you can maintain for the rest of your life without painstaking effort. A weight in which a woman is restricting calories or exercising excessively would not be considered healthy. As a female athlete, one sign that you are not at a healthy weight is if you have irregular menstrual cycles, especially if you skip your cycle more than three times in a row. This sometimes happens to female athletes that undergo rigorous physical activity, and many women think it is normal or even a welcome sign if this occurs. However, losing your menstrual cycle is not a sign of being in shape or fit, but rather that something is not quite right in your body. Running naturally puts stress on the body. However, when this stress becomes too much (you are overtraining) or you are not eating enough calories (you are unaware of your energy needs for your activity level); nonessential body processes (like your reproductive cycle) are switched off.

The problem with this lies in the fact that the hormones released during menstruation are tied into the strength of our bones. Women who have menstrual irregularities more commonly develop fractures, including stress fractures, than women with normal menstrual cycles. Such injuries prevent you from running for several weeks to allow the cracks in your bones time to heal. In order to avoid these injuries and time off, pay attention to your menstrual cycle. Eat a diet adequate in calories for your activity level, and make sure you do not over train and put excessive stress on your body. Click here for information about calcium sources.

Do you feel beautiful?

Many women tie their self-worth into their physical appearance, including weight. But beauty goes deeper than the surface of your skin. Psalm 45:11 says, “The King is enthralled by your beauty.” You, just the way you are – YOU are beautiful. You have a purpose to fulfill that no one else can. So take care of your body – put the right fuel into it and exercise to stay fit. Enjoy a balanced life full of miles and other activities you like. But remember that too much of a good thing can be just as harmful as too little of a good thing (Think on that one!)

Take steps to have a healthier body image today. Be beautiful and be balanced!

For an inspirational video, check this song out by Johnny Diaz.

If you think you or someone you know struggles with disordered eating or body image, take a look at these website of the National Eating Disorders Association or the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Eating Disorders (ANAD).

Do you have any questions about body image? Email me!