This body confidence post is totally inspired by my wonderful bestie Jayne (you can find her here), who interviewed me a few weeks ago on the topic. It’s a topic that is ever present on social platforms but not one I’ve really delved into. What I am enjoying, is the movement away from aesthetic related goals and towards nourishing your body to feel good and happy with yourself. This is my body confidence story.
Body confidence and me
I would say that I have had only a few body confidence wobbles in my time (I am 29). I have always viewed my body as a vehicle to move, specifically doing sport, and in the most part it has served me well. Fortunately, I grew up pre-Instagram, pre-contour and pre-eyebrows and therefore I didn’t have to deal with a lot of what kids have to today.
Aged seventeen I remember going through a phase of hating my thighs; because they were muscular (if I only 17-year old Kim could see them now!). I called them thunder thighs or tree trunks I think. It’s amazing how cruel you can be to yourself. I got over it by reminding myself that my legs were strong and I’d built them to be fast; to help me jump further.
And I honestly don’t remember having another wobble for a long time after that. My identity was that of an athlete, and I looked like an athlete. I used that to justify why I didn’t look like my friends and why it was a nightmare to buy jeans. In fact, all through university I got my legs out at any given opportunity; short dresses, shorts, skirts, running knickers etc.!
As my priorities changed; career first, athletics second I noticed my body changing. I spent more time sitting than I had through University and although I was training six days a week, I was getting fatter to put it bluntly. What was really happening was I was getting softer, a lower day to day energy expenditure meant my body didn’t burn as much fat.
I remember being 68 kg and not liking it, because I was used to being around or below 65 kg. It’s funny, because that is what I weigh now and I am a completely different composition, and considered as one of the lighter girls on the team. It wasn’t that I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror or I was unhappy, I just didn’t like that number on the scale, and I didn’t feel like me.
Up until that point I can say I’d never dieted. And to be honest I still don’t feel like I have ever been on a diet. However, I did ask a nutritionist for some help to shift a little bit of weight and create a meal plan that was appropriate for my current lifestyle. This lead to me eating eggs which I hadn’t liked before, and considering how much and how often I included protein in my snacks. My point? It wasn’t drastic, no 5/2 or carb-free; just some simple changes.
Skeleton has perhaps challenged my body confidence more than any other aspect of my life. And by challenged, I mean I am sometimes mildly uncomfortable with my body. Changing sports and leaving work to be a full-time athlete has (obviously) had an impact on my body. Not least, I have gained a lot of muscle; predominantly on my lower body!
I have had to get used to being and feeling bigger. That has been a slow process. I am also a lot leaner than I was circa the adulting phase; which FYI makes you look even more muscular. It is very obvious that I am not an average Joe; and whilst the stares and questions are sometimes a bit embarrassing I actually prefer that I stand out a bit.
Something that hasn’t helped my adjustment is my weight fluctuating between summer (growing) and winter (sliding) season. Since starting the sport I have been able to grow in the summer months and then lose it all in winter due in a large part to the stressful nature of the sport. This gives me what I believe is called ‘diet brain’.
What I mean by this is that I get comfortable with my body in summer. Buoyed by what I can do physically I care less about those photo’s where my arm looks enormous and think how great my bum looks instead! Then I lose weight over winter, and my brain readjusts to how that looks (which tbh is a bit on the ill/gaunt side) and dislikes the process of returning to a healthier weight.
I am still a skeleton athlete, so I am muscly, with big legs and a big bum. I don’t look like many of my friends but for the most part I love that my legs can squat twice my bodyweight and leg press much more. And moreover, I love my job! I am not defined by how I look, it doesn’t dictate how I feel. I focus on these positives and thank my body for allowing me to train as a world class athlete. Yes, I have days where I think ‘OMG I can’t stand next to her in a picture, my legs are twice hers’ but then I just think ‘WTF’ and own it.
I know that sounds simple but it works for me. In myself, I feel awesome that I slide headfirst down icy tracks and hope to one day challenge the world’s best at pushing. It is my body that allows me to dream in this way; and that is what really matters. We’re all different and comparing yourself to someone else is a slippery slope. Focussing on myself and my goals helps me know my worth; and that isn’t defined by how I look.
My Top Body Confidence Tips
- Think of and focus on non-aesthetic things you love about yourself.
- Think of some aesthetic things you love about yourself.
- Focus on what your body does for you i.e. gave you a child or climbed Ben Nevis!
- Stay present, avoid comparisons.
- Make time for you. Nourish your body with good nutrition and exercise.