Sports, Exercise, and Our Body Image


Good morning!

I have an amazing video for you guys to watch this morning. Let’s just say if you are trying to find motivation to get excited about your workout today you just may find it here!

Eric and I are considering doing that for our try-a-tri. :tongue:

Onto break the fast.

Apple Pie Parfait Vegan Overnight Oats 

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  • 1/3 cup regular oats
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8th tsp each nutmeg and ginger)
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 of an apple, peeled and chopped
  • Banana soft serve: 1 frozen banana, 1 tbsp milk, 1/2 tbsp cashew butter
  • Topping: Sucanat (or brown sugar)

Directions: Mix above ingredients with a whisk and place in fridge overnight. In the morning, make banana soft serve in the food processor. I added 1/2 tbsp of cashew butter at the end of processing to bring out a nutty flavour that would blend nicely with the apple pie flavour. For the topping I used 1/2 tsp Sucanat.



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Simply Delicious!

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  • Email notification for comments is fixed. Big thanks to Julie! You will now be notified again when your comment is replied to.

Sports, Exercise, and Body Image

Yesterday I made a discovery.

I was in the change room at the pool putting on my swim cap. I looked at my body in the full length mirror and I saw someone who was strong, healthy, and confident. I had a little twinkle in my eye.

It occurred to me that this was one of the first times that I have not felt self-conscious about myself in a swimsuit. I had no negative feelings trying to discourage me. Thoughts and critiques about the size of various body parts were not present in my mind. In the past, I could not put on a swim suit without feeling anxiety or being critical of myself. When I had to be in front of other people with a swimsuit on, I did not feel confident because I had all of these negative thoughts about my body floating around in my head.

Something changed when I started swimming laps.

The purpose of the swimsuit was no longer to flatter the figure or to hide supposed flaws or to boost or to nip or to tuck or to distract someone’s eye. The swimsuit now served a functional purpose– to help me swim and to carry me to my try-a-tri in June. The swimsuit was a catalyst for a stronger me.

One the first day of swimming I was nervous, not just about swimming, but I was nervous about wearing a swimsuit in front of others on a regular basis. I felt like I would be judged, but what I discovered is that the only judge I had to beat was myself.

Learning to swim again has helped me conquer my fear about wearing a swimsuit in front of others. When I put on my swimsuit, I feel proud, and I now walk confidently. I praise my body for what it can do for me (‘wow these strong legs are helping me speed up my freestyle’ or ‘What strong lungs you have’) instead of supposed ‘flaws’.

After making my discovery I wanted to tell Eric and hear what he thought. I asked him if swimming has improved his body image at all, and he simply smiled and said, ‘I don’t think I have looked at my body in the mirror for weeks.’ :lol: The simplicity of my husband never ceases to put a smile on my face.

Today’s question- Have you ever participated in a sport or exercise that improved your body image? What about a sport/exercise that you felt made your body image worse?

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{ 94 comments… read them below or add one }

Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin May 13, 2010

Ohh that breakfast looks delicious! I had a raspberry sundae parfait with VOO’s today. Yum!

I think running has considerably improved myself body imagine because I can feel myself getting stronger every time and I’m still impressed when my legs can carry me for several miles. I still have a ways to go in the self confidence department, but running is helping a lot!


Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday May 13, 2010

I don’t always look at my FACE in the mirror, but I almost always look at my body.


Kristilyn (Singer-Songwriter) May 13, 2010

Hey Angela!

I have to say, I’m not quite there yet with the body image … I’m starting to think of my body as being powerful and I’m definitely thankful for this vehicle, but I’m just not there yet!

I have a question about your overnight oats … I tried making them last night with 1/3 cup oats, 1/2 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup water, 1 T chia seeds, and vanilla. They were REALLY watery this morning … did I do something wrong? I expected them to thicken up quite a bit more … I even tried microwaving them a bit this morning but that seemed to make it worse! Any suggestions?



Angela (Oh She Glows) May 13, 2010

Hey Kristilyn,

My guess is that it was the water…I also only typically use 3/4 cup liquid too for a thicker end result. I’m sure those two changes would make the world of difference!

PS- still loving your CDs!


Maria May 13, 2010

My first time commenting! I am in LOVE with this blog. It just makes me happy every morning to wake up and read it while drinking my Green Monster :)

I recently started boxing as a way to improve my body image AND relieve stress. It has worked wonders. There is nothing more motivating than having a great boxing session and eking out 3 (yes 3!) pull ups when you could do none before.


Angela (Oh She Glows) May 13, 2010

Thank you! :)

I have always wanted to try boxing…sounds so kickbutt!


Eunice May 13, 2010

I don’t know if running has helped with my body image, but it has definitely given me a new respect for my legs. :) I am so much more in-tune with how my body moves and how it responds to the things I make it do. Although I’ve been active for many years, running is the only thing that has forced me to take care of my body. So, I guess in a sense it has made me love and appreciate my body… also, I don’t look too shabby in my running shorts. ;)

Btw, those people running on water.. Insane!


Sarah May 13, 2010

I think that is great that swimming has helped you with your body image. I think sports can do that for a lot of women, and especially for younger girls and teenagers.

I do not want you to take this as a criticism but I do find it a little hard to believe that you experienced a lot of self-concsiousness in a bathing suit. I’m sure you felt some (all women do!) but there have been so many pictures of you on your blog in a bikini. And I do think your bikini confidence is fantastic and you look great, but for a lot of women being photographed in a bathing suit is unthinkable, let alone sharing that photograph with the whole world.

I guess what I am saying is that, of course you have made great strides in improving your confidence, but I think you were a lot farther ahead than most women. For example, I cover myself up with a towel at the beach a lot of the time so it’s defintiely baby steps for me. I may never get to the point where i feel comfortable with people taking my picture in a bathing suit, but if I can get to the point where I at least don’t worry about it too much that would be a happy place for me. We don’t all have the same struggles, so our ending place will often be very different I suppose.


Angela (Oh She Glows) May 13, 2010

I don’t think you can judge whether or not I have had self-consciousness in a bathing suit, but to each their own.


Sarah May 13, 2010

I definitely do not doubt that you have had self-consciousness in a bathing suit. I didn’t mean to imply that.

I guess I just mean that despite the self-consciouness you felt, you were still able to do a lot of things that are way out of my comfort zone. I just have such a long way to go that I have trouble relating a bit.


Angela (Oh She Glows) May 13, 2010

The blog has been AMAZING for pushing me out of my comfort zone and challenging myself in new ways. I never would be where I am today without it, and the positive encouragement that I have received from readers. :)


Heather (Heather's Dish) May 13, 2010

when i started weight training was the first time that i really started to feel strong. my confidence comes and goes, but i always ALWAYS feel strong! i love when i’m done working out and it hurts to wash my hair, how i stand up straighter, and i feel completely ripped (even if i’m not ;))


Ilana May 13, 2010

Angela, that is an amazing thing – isn’t it a powerful feeling to know what your body is capable of?
I know I talk about Pilates all the time but it’s basically the only system of exercise I do (and I do it several days a week). It really makes me feel good about my body – amazed at the things I am capable of simply because of the strength my body has built by working itself (Pilates is a lot about the body creating physical resistance during exercises). If I can hold planks and hold my own body weight on my shoulders, what can’t I do?

On the contrary, running makes me feel…um … well it makes me feel the way gym class made me feel in high school, basically useless. No stamina, no form. I’ll get there, I guess. But for now my preferred cardio is my bike!


Lizzie May 13, 2010

Of course their South African – love those guys!!! :)

I don’t need motivation today – I just need enough to get me to my meeting place with my trainer and then she’ll take care of the rest (ohhhhh, this is gonna hurt! In a good way of course!).

I keep reminding myself about how amazing all of our bodies are and that they take us everywhere and when we treat them nicely they can do things we never expected. There are days when I don’t feel like that, but as I get older they seem to be fewer and fewer. I guess you could call that growth? :)


Jessica @ How Sweet May 13, 2010

I do have a healthy body image and I thank God that I do every single day!


shannon (the daily balance) May 13, 2010

Dance totally changed my body image! I danced for years growing up, when I never thought once about how i looked in my leotard. But when I took some courses in college, I realized that I was super self-concoius about bouncing around in a leotard in front of others. But before long, just like you said, it bacme a functional piece. I let myself go with the dancing and soon I never thought twice about what I was wearing, just how good I was FEELING.


Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter May 13, 2010

I used to be super sensitive about the cellulite on my upper legs. Well, look who has to wear a leotard and dance and tumble on a blue square?! Gymnastics just forced me to show off my legs, and after a while I didn’t care one bit about the cellulite on my legs.


Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman May 13, 2010

I think all sports–aside from maybe gymnastics or others that focus on being small–can improve body image. It shows you just what your body can do!


Laura May 13, 2010

When I used to dance, the best thing that came out of it was how differently I felt about my body; it was so much less about how it looked in my jeans or compared to others, and instead about the beautiful shapes I could make with it, and the incredible challenges it was up to. I know dance catches a lot of flack for promoting unhealthy body images, but in my experience, being inside a room full of mirrors was exhilierating – I was able to really get used to seeing myself, which enabled me to appreciate my own strengths and the things that make my appearance unique. I think that’s one of the biggest things, actually – just getting used to seeing your body is a revelation. We spend so much time trying to cover it, flatter it, change it, but when it’s really just you and your body in a swimsuit (or leotard), it gives you the chance to just GET OVER IT and see your body for what it is – strong, powerful, functional, soft, warm, beautiful. It’s empowering.


Kate May 13, 2010

When I played volleyball in high school, I was strong and felt really good about what my body could do with all of the jumps, spikes, and blocks. I loved my strong shoulders and arms! Now I love weight lifting at the gym being surrounded by other healthy lifters. It makes me feel good… the one thing I can’t do anymore in a group is yoga. (Unless I find a studio that I like). Unfortunately the people I was surrounded with in these classes had poor body images and I found it soon rubbed off on me. I’m thankful to be out of that environment and back to loving my strong, thick thighs! They are the roots for all of my other exercises! :)

(Thank you for this post! Loving it!)


Sarah for Real May 13, 2010

That totally happened to me when I took a lap swimming class in college! I loved being in my swimsuit and felt SO confident. It’s night and day different from being in a beach-type swimsuit.

I miss swimming so much because of that awesome feeling.

Good for you Angela! Way to get over your fears!


Rachel @ Suburban Yogini May 13, 2010

Over the years, yoga has totally changed how I feel about my body. A lot of people feel intimidated by all these skinny bendy yogis but even as a teacher I’m not one of those. My back issues and chronic pain issues mean I will never be the rubber band yogini but these issues have made me more confident of my body within the context of yoga. I’m strong ( you should see my guns from those chaturangas!), I’m slim (but not to skinny anymore), I have a nice yoga butt. But most importantly the non-physical side of yoga has changed me inside so when I look in a mirror I don’t see my flaws all the time, I see my soul shining out of my eyes and whilst there are “angry soul” days, most of the time I see someone I really like!!

Himself on the other hand is more in Eric’s line of thinking. The only time he looks in the mirror is at the hairdresser’s! He relies on me to make sure his tie is straight. Ha ha :)


Ashley K May 13, 2010

SO happy that you’re feeling comfortable, strong & CONFIDENT in your suit!!! Wooot!

I’ve been swimming since the age of 2 – competively since the age of 7. At times, I feel MORE comfortbale in a swimsuit then I do normal clothes! I HIGHLY encourage all mom’s to start their girls in swim lessons at a young age. Not only does swimming encourage discipline, teamwork, and passion – but it cultivates a positive body image. Growing up, I was surrounded by strong, musclar, happy girls at practice & swim meets. We all had large quads & broad shoulders – and it was BEAUTIFUL! I never once thought I was “big” or was conscience in a suit. To this day, (as with most “life” swimmers) we want to buy suits that have open backs and as little as fabric in the back & butt! because we LOVE our muscles! Can I get an AMEN!

BRAVO to you & swimming! What an amazing self realization that you’re STRONG & GORGEOUS!


Angela (Oh She Glows) May 13, 2010

I am experiencing the same type of feelings. Now that I am swimming a couple times a week, I feel so comfortable in a swimsuit now. I wish I started swimming up years ago!


Jenn @ LiveWellFitNow May 13, 2010

Exercise used to always equal this = calories, less dinner, burn more, look better, be thinner

Now exercise equals this = strength, power, balance, beauty, understanding, peace, release

To say that I have come a long way in how I view my body and exercise is an understatement! It’s been a revolution and I’m still working on it! But finally, FINALLY I view my body as a source of strength not as size x weight x. :)

Thank you for bringing up such a wonderful idea!


Jessica @ The Process of Healing May 13, 2010

Running helped to improve my body image IMMENSELY!!! Instead of wanting my body to be thin and skinny, I was excited to see it muscular! I felt so very STRONG!


Kara at MyWellnest May 13, 2010

GREAT video! :-)

Growing up I played a lot of sports, but my main sports were gymnastics, field hockey, and dance. I was lucky that 1. my coaches and dance teachers never put any negative focus on body image, instead encouraging us to build strength and endurance and 2. I didn’t suffer any negative body image due to these sports.
However there is something about running and sprinting that makes me feel powerful!


Ameena May 13, 2010

Tae Bo really helped me feel strong versus running which didn’t really do much except exhaust me and make me feel tired. I still run from time to time but I’ve cut it down to 1 time a week or so.


Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin May 13, 2010

Weight lifting has helped me improve my body image! When my only form of exercise was running, I would just focus on how thin I was when I looked in the mirror, and I never felt thin enough. But since I’ve started strength training, I focus more on how strong and healthy I look. It feels great! :D


Therese May 13, 2010

Love this post Angela and congrats on the self-discovery!

When I started running I weighed over 200lbs. I found running itself made me extremely self-conscious but I kept at it! I still have some weight to lose but running as truly made me feel amazing about my body! I may still jiggle and have a tummy and flabby arms but I also see biceps and killer calves and quads! I look healthy and everyone around me now tells me that, like you said about the name of this site, I “glow”. I think I still have a ways to go before I flaunt myself down the beach but I tell ya, I’m no longer afraid to wear a bathing suit on the beach! I used to just wear shorts and a t-shirt, now it’s an actual bathing suit!


Angela (Oh She Glows) May 13, 2010

Love this! Thanks for sharing :)


Ayla May 13, 2010

Angela! You totally made my morning with that video. Seriously, thank you! That was amazing and inspiring- And youre right- total workout motivation.


Anna@ Newlywed, Newly Veg May 13, 2010

Lol…I want to try that water thing, just so that I can hang out with all of those hot guys!!!

I don’t think my husband would mind :-)


Kates May 13, 2010

This is awesome!

I ran track and cross-country in high school. Track made my body image worse, and cross-country always improved it. Track was bad not because I felt pressure to be thinner, but just because people were constantly telling me how thin I was! It made me self-conscious and awkward-feeling. In cross-country, the focus was on strength and endurance rather than speed and “lightness”, and plenty of girls who ran were not skinny at all. I liked it better.

Now, in college, what has DRASTICALLY improved my self-image, and in fact put me in a place where I’m totally proud of and comfortable in my body, is weight-lifting! I love feeling strong and toned and fit. Running is still awesome and running regularly keeps me from obsessing about food and weight gain, but lifting weights is what makes me think I look great.


Alexa May 13, 2010

I think I’m alone in what I’m about to say, but self-consciousness is something that very rarely happens to me. The only time I can remember really hating my body was in middle school when I was teased for having breasts so small they could hardly be called breasts.

Getting over that probably wasn’t done the healthy way, but as I had boyfriends tell me that they loved my breasts (even if they weren’t being entirely honest), I lost that self-consciousness. They were good enough for someone very important to me, so they’d have to be good enough for me!

As for the rest of my body, I never really thought it was particularly awesome or lousy until I committed myself to getting fit at the beginning of this year. I discovered yesterday for the first time that I have a truly flat stomach – it wasn’t something I was trying to get, but it just happened as a side effect of living a healthy, active lifestyle.


Christina May 13, 2010

What a huge moment for you to look at yourself and only find good things to say :) I struggle with negative self talk sometimes, but I’m making progress in the right direction!

And I love that ‘walking on water’ video. How cool is that?!?!


skinnyrunner May 13, 2010

Running’s definitely helped me appreciate my legs for what they can do and how far they can take me, rather than how skinny/muscular/in shape/out of shape they are. love this post, by the way!


Lin May 13, 2010

That video is the most amazing thing ever! I am keeping it in mind as I go off to take my first golf lesson this morning… so much of how we approach something new is in our heads. BTW, my daughter got me a box of your Adore GloBars for Mother’s Day and they are fabulous!!! They taste like a delicious dessert, except of course, they are healthy for you. You can’t beat that Smore’s flavor. Kudos to you and Eric for your courage and discipline in your swimming challenge. I have had a lifelong fear of deep water, and have thought of taking adult swimming lessons, but I’m not quite there yet. You and Eric are a great example! :)


Angela (Oh She Glows) May 13, 2010

Glad you enjoyed the glo bars! Happy Mother’s Day :)


JJ May 13, 2010

Wow, I have been following this blog forever and I have to say this is my favourite discussion. To say I have struggled with my body image and negative self-talk would be the understatement of the century! Despite loving the water I have given up swimming almost completely and the thought of going to a public pool just makes me laugh, it was as likely as flying to the moon… until today. It never occurred to me that working on my swimming would make me feel strong and confident and the enjoyment of the activity is the important thing, not what you’re wearing. Of course, even when I type this I’m laughing a bit at myself. I have a pool right down the street, I think I’m going to (gulp) try it out! Thanks Angela, really, thank you.


Angela (Oh She Glows) May 13, 2010

I’m glad you enjoyed the post. The great thing about the swimming is that there are a ton of different body types and from what I have experienced, everyone is quite friendly and supportive. All kinds of people are in the pool doing their thing and it is inspiring. I am totally inspired by the women and men in their 70’s and 80’s who can pretty much outswim people half their age!


Rachel May 13, 2010

Wow that video is cool!


Jil @ Peace, Love & Munchies May 13, 2010

That video is absolutely crazy!! It’s so cool to see how far they can get across the water!! And it’s not a sport – but just moving to Boston – where my main mode of transportation are my two legs has made for a vast improvement in not only my legs and booty but my self-image as well.


Katie May 13, 2010

That’s such a good feeling! The other night I was getting in the shower and glanced down and said “OMG those legs!” (in a good way) and it was such a snap thought like you said. I felt a little strange since I basically talked out loud to myself but it was almost subconscious- the words passed my lips before I really thought about it! I’ve always liked my legs but they are even more toned than ever right now while training for a marathon.


Lisa May 13, 2010

That looks like a wonderful place to swim!

Swimming definitely helped improve my self-image. When I started swimming again, I was 250 pounds. I was of course self-conscious about my body. But I forced myself to just do it and I felt so much better for it!


Miriam May 13, 2010

I have a question about green monster. Cause I do not have a juicer or the super expensive super-dooper blender that most blogger seems to have, just a old’ regular blender that crush ice. What do you use?


Angela (Oh She Glows) May 13, 2010

I have a KitchenAid blender and I have not been happy with it. It has broken twice (and I have sent it back twice). I don’t have one to suggest but maybe others do? :)


Kristin (Cook, Bake and Nibble) May 13, 2010

ahaha I love Eric’s response!

But in all seriousness, what a wonderful discovery! Running makes me feel SO great about my body. Because it tones just about everything, even though my legs will still be bigger and my stomach will never be board-flat, I know I NEED my quads and my core to push me through my long runs. And they look great when I run a lot! Even though my size has not changed in the last couple of months getting back into running, my body confidence has gotten MUCH better :D



Angela (Oh She Glows) May 13, 2010

I know he never fails to crack me up.


Triathlonbabe May 13, 2010

I am like some of the other replies, I have my ups & downs when it comes to my body image. My hubby always puts a smile on my face by telling me I’m beautiful and sexy no matter what, however, in my mind I’m not. However, today, I feel better about my self body image than I did several years ago, although, there will be days when I wish my quads were more defined or ab muscles more defined or whatever, but not always.

I’ve done pretty much a little bit of everything in the world of exercise except for gymnastics and I have to say that running, rock climbing and swimming have been 3 of the sports or activities that have really changed my body image. Running made my legs stronger and more defined, especially my calves. Swimming really defined my shoulders, back and arms. Rock climbing is an awesome workout in itself but it also makes you stronger and confident. I climbed a 120 ft. wall straight up and never thought I could do something like that. I believe it was because of the strength in my legs and arms.


Angela (Oh She Glows) May 13, 2010

I can’t wait to try rock climbing!


Tina May 13, 2010

I think participating in any sort of physical activity can help promote a positive body image if done for the right reasons. When you work out for health or pursue a race or other fitness goal because you are passionate about the activity, you will end up feeling stronger and be proud of your accomplishments. I think confidence in other areas of our lives can go a long way in how we view ourselves, including our bodies. Great post topic!


Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] May 13, 2010

You’ve been blogging up a storm, Ange!

I was ripped when I was a swimmer & gymnast. Ah, I wish I still had that bod — lean & definied.


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