Mindy Memories

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Olympics and body image

On the cusp of the last post, I wanted to post something about the Olympics and body image. I'm sure men go through this just like women do, but since I'm not a man I'm only going to go by my perspective.

As much as I absolutely love the Olympics and the athletic ability of the Olympians, I think it's important for us to realize what they go through to have those bodies -- mainly talking about the swimmers, as that was my sport. There seems to be a train of thought out there that all women who are 41 can be in the same shape as Dara Torres, or that younger women can look like some of the other swimmers. Don't get me wrong, Dara is AMAZING and this is NOT a knock on her in any way. However, most 41-year-olds have jobs. Dara's full-time job is swimming, and most women can't swim full-time.

I bring this up because of something that happened a few years ago, something I'd mostly forgotten about until I was watching the swimming again. A few years back, when I was on yet another diet trying to practically starve myself and swim my pounds away, I had a conversation with my older (and wiser) sister. I said I'd taped a picture of Olympic swimmer Amy VanDyken to my fridge because that's the body I wanted and thought I could achieve if I ate right and worked hard enough in the pool. Maureen is silent (on the phone) for a minute, then says, "So, your goal is to look like an Olympian gold-medal winner, and you think this is realistic?" Up until then, I hadn't looked at it that way and that really helped me realize how I was completely unrealistic with that goal. I was in my 30s, worked two jobs at the time, and didn't look like that at my peak performance when I was 18. But somehow I felt I could have Amy's body.

At that point, I could almost hear an audible "click" in my head when I realized how unrealistic I was being. Since then, I've slowly become more comfortable with my body and feel pretty good. I'm fat, yes, but I haven't eaten so well in years. I eat well, don't count calories or any of that stuff that leads me to become incredibly obsessed with food. I currently have different foods to choose from in the fridge -- yesterday I made some rice with edamame and chili made with lean ground turkey and white kidney beans. I have some fruit in there, veggies, chicken to cook, stuff like that. And yes, I had some Pillsbury crescent rolls and I have a little pint of ice cream in the fridge. So sue me, lol.

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  • At 8:37 AM, Blogger Suz said…

    I engaged in Olympics eating this last week (out of town and hitting every restaurant I missed, so I ate out almost every meal, and boy did I binge - now it's diet time til I get back to "normal").

    DH was a competition swimmer back in the day. He's about 50lbs overweight now, but he insists that he can get back into that shape. I remind him that he was swimming 10k meters a day (yes< I have that number right) and hitting the weights four days a week. He's so delusional, and I keep trying to make him think reasonably because he's just being set up for disappointment

  • At 6:32 PM, Blogger Rachel S said…

    I agree with you for the most part, but I think it's an opportunity to look at what they do more than how they look. I like the equestrian events a lot and horseback riding is an awesome workout. If I just focused a little harder, I could do *sorta* what those athletes do and my body would be a little sleeker. But I will never look like one of those gymnasts. I never looked like one of those gymnasts; how can I get back to that?

    The bottom line is we just gotta do our best and love ourselves for who we are. the rest won't matter


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