Thursday, October 18, 2012

It's Just You Against You

Okay. My first blog post for "Blood, Sweat and Cheers". And I am going to be completely honest:  I find training for this show really intimidating!  

It's not because I'm adverse to hard work. It's not because I don't like physical activity. And it's certainly not because I lack the will or the drive.

For the past 10 years, I've had a complicated relationship with my body. I realize that’s a pretty common thing for anyone, especially a young woman to say. As a child, my body type was consistently in Olive Hoover range, not skinny, not fat, just a little chubby and soft. I was young and I never thought too much about how I looked. However, I can recall the specific moment that I became hyperaware of my body image.

When I was 11 years old, I attended my friend, Taylor's, cheerleading practice. Her mom offered us sodas, but teeny tiny Taylor obliged because she “only drank diet soda because regular soda makes you fat.” When I learned that “fat” was not only something I might be, but something no one wanted to be, I became obsessed with reaching perfection. 

Through my preteen and teenage years, I struggled with various misguided and masochistic attempts at achieving the “perfect” body. During this time, I was also a competitive tennis player who trained 20 hours a week with private coaches and elite teams. I was in the best shape of my life, but I couldn't appreciate it because I loathed what I saw in the mirror.

I feel like I’ve weathered the worst of the body-image storm. As an adult, I can’t fathom going back to the teenage self-loathing. But although I’ve worked through most of these issues, I’ve long avoided anything that remotely resembled a regimen for dieting and exercise for fear of self-discipline devolving into self-destruction.

Because of my experiences, I’ve been an advocate of realistic, healthy body images for women. However, these values often leave me feeling guilty or hypocritical whenever I’ve contemplated wanting to make a change to my exercise routine or improve my eating habits as if "realistic and healthy" left no room for positive change! 

And it's all of these fears of who I used to be and doubts about who I should be that intimidate me as I start to train with my team for this show. 

But in all honesty -- I want to be self-disciplined and train my body for this show. I want to be fit, athletic, and toned. I want to work my ass off, both figuratively and literally. I want to be mindful of what I put into my body. I want to work hard and see the results, just like any other creative or professional pursuit that I commit to. 

I’m confident enough to know now that the decisions I’m making about my body and my fitness no longer come from fear of an outside observer or pursuit of an imagined ideal. They come from me.  ... And it feels awesome!


1 comment:

  1. This is awesome! Thanks for sharing, Kayla. I struggle with this stuff too. For a long time it was hard for me to exercise at all because of my mom's comments that started when I was 10 years old ("A second cookie? You don't want to look like your friend X, do you?"). Now I love exercising but I'm always monitoring myself, trying to sort out what's healthy and what's not. It's different for everyone, I think.

    I think it's totally awesome that this cheer training is giving you guys new ways of thinking about what your bodies can do. You're all such awesome, powerful, and thoughtful women, it's cool to be a part of it! (even without the butt-kicking workouts) (oh yeah this is amy btw)