Sports, Exercise, and Our Body Image

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on May 13, 2010

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!

IMG_6920 (2) 


  • 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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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

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Camille May 13, 2010 at 10:57 am

What an incredible video!
Running really improves my self confidence. It makes me feel strong and powerful. Unfortunately I have temperamental legs, so I can’t really run that much :(


Jocelyn @ Peace.Love.Nutrition May 13, 2010 at 10:59 am

That video was great! It just goes to show that if you put your mind to something and try really hard anything is possible! Very inspiring. I can’t believe they actually did it! Impressive.

And I’m so proud of you! I can’t want till I get to that point in my life. I’m not 100% there yet but I’m definitely on my way : )




Bethany @ Not Unless I'm Being Chased May 13, 2010 at 11:00 am

Running has definitely changed my body image. I remember the first time I walked by a mirror in my shorty running shorts and was NOT embarrassed. Instead, I was caught off guard by how my legs looked — really strong. They were runner legs!
I pull those shorts on with a smile now because I know they’re showing off my hard work, not revealing my insecurities. :)


Bekah May 13, 2010 at 11:09 am

I so have to try one of your Vegan Overnight Oats…they look so incredibly yummy. ;)
Running had definitely made a difference in my body and in my heart and mind I keep a positive self image until I see the photo of myself crossing the finish line. I so admire the confidence you found in the locker room. Way to go!


Sarah May 13, 2010 at 11:17 am

Yoga has served as a fantastic body-appreciation catalyst for me. Practicing helps me appreciate and love my body for what it is NOW. It helps me get in tune with what’s going on. I’m still on the road to recovery from stress-eating, but helps me with that particular journey quite a bit.


jenny (green food diaries) May 13, 2010 at 11:21 am

doing yoga helped me with my self-esteem about my body SO much, but still i fight negative comments from the back of my head from time to time. i remember when i was running an hour a day with the ambition to run because it felt GREAT, i never bought new clothes nor spent money on beauty products. clothes became purely functional, like you said!

also: your breakfast looks great. i thought at first that sucanat at top was bee pollen though. haha!


Lindsay @ The Ketchup Diaries May 13, 2010 at 11:23 am

I am so inspired that you have taken on this swimming challenge. That’s one exercise I just can’t imagine being good at!


Carolyn @ lovinlosing May 13, 2010 at 11:32 am

Running has made my legs stronger and more toned and made me more confident!!


Tay May 13, 2010 at 11:46 am

I saw competitively since I was 8 years old, so I literally grew up in a swim suit. I would run around all summer – some days never getting into real clothes! When I got older, and other friends would dread pool parties, going to the pool or the beach, I noticed I didn’t have those same fears. I was 100% comfortable running around in a swim suit. Which was slightly ironic since I was 50-60 pounds overweight. I honestly am more self conscious now at a normal weight wearing 2 pieces than I was overweight, just because I feel more pressure on my body to look good. But I seriously thank my parents all the time for raising us on a swim team!


Corinne (breathe and savor) May 13, 2010 at 11:52 am

Self confidence is a funny thing isn’t it? I have always been a very tall (5’11) slender girl, even when I packed on lbs, I still had a different frame than others because of my height. People view tall as beautiful and confident, but growing up my height was my biggest issue. Towering over boys and girls in the 7th grade, the most awkward years, never made me confident, it was the bane of my existence for quite some time. Those insecurites definitely followed me past my school years into teens and early 20s. Yet others always perceive me as confident because of my height. Many girls have said to me, “oh wow I thought you were an over confident snob before I knew you!” WHAT? ME? over-confident? nooooo. Many girls have said to me that they wish they were taller, that those inches would give them more self-confidence. Confidence doesn’t come with inches, it comes from within. Confidence doesn’t come from lbs (adding or subtracting), confidence comes from within. It took a VERY long time for me to feel comfortable with my body and my height. People will always look at me differently and/or judge me for my height. I think that is inevitable in this world. But I no longer judge myself for it and therefore have a much more positive body image.

I was prompted to comment by another reader’s response. When you look at someone and think oh they are beautiful, oh they are thin, oh they are tall, they must be so happy because I wish I looked like that…you are judging. As much as we think it might be true, self-confidence doesn’t happen by how someone looks on the outside but rather how they feel on the inside.

Running has done wonders for my body and my body image. Not because all of the hrs spent running tighten and tone my body but because the physical and mental strength I have accumulated to run 6 miles is empowering and beautiful. I look like I can run six miles because I CAN and thats something I never thought I’d be able to say.


Amber K May 13, 2010 at 11:53 am

I am definitely not totally confident in my own body yet. Exercising does make me feel good and strong. Except for spinning, when I tried it it hurt SO bad. I have absolutely no padding back there, the bone sticks out, so spinning is just not something my non-existant tush can handle! Now if only I could find an exercise where I lay on my stomach…I have plenty of padding there!


Ashley May 13, 2010 at 11:54 am

Girl. I have felt SO good since I started swimming. More confident. I feel so much stronger than when I was just running. It’s incredible. It’s definitely boosted my confidence too. We have kind of been on the same exercise routine lately…biking + swimming + some weights/strength training. I feel much more well-rounded and balanced. I can’t wait to bring running back into the mix slowly. I also realized no one is looking at me in my 1 piece judging. You can tell in the locker room the pool is a place free of judgement. I’m so glad to hear about your boost in confidence. I totally know how you feel. One thing I have noticed since biking is that my jeans are tighter on my legs..I was down about this at first, thinking, am I eating too much since my workouts have gotten harder? Am I gaining fat or muscle? I realized When I went to the gym yesterday and hopped on the stationary bike, I had the resistance level up about 2 notches higher than before I started riding outside on the road bike. Sometimes it’s hard to accept body growth, even when you know it’s muscle..but when I realized that I really am getting stronger I felt SO good! <3 this post


Bree May 13, 2010 at 12:15 pm

I will never forget the days of swimming in gym class in middle school. I dreaded it because like a poster above, I was so self-concious of my lack of chest. If only I could have known what I know now, and could have focused on the great things about my figure at the time! I think I was most comfortable in my skin in track and field. Us long distance girls would run in our sports bras on hot days and I remember feeling the camaraderie and confidence in our group.

Lately though, lifting heavy weights at the gym has done wonders for my confidence.


Julia May 13, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Angela – you are so cool! I love your posts because you are so honest and a fantastic writer; you know how to capture the essence of a topic and create a thoughtful discussion. Plus, I always feel motivated after reading your posts and continue to learn so much in terms of fitness and nutrition. Thanks so much for your work!!


Bridget May 13, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Great post! You never cease to amaze me with your insight, positivity and honesty. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable in that way can be difficult, but so rewarding! I think the world needs more women like you who promote a healthy body image.


Jenna May 13, 2010 at 12:30 pm

It wasn’t until I started training for my half marathon that I really started to notice how much exercise can change a body and a mindset! My legs have become so powerful and I feel like such a strong individual because of it. I can’t wait to try different forms of exercise and classes after my half and see how those while shape my body and my mindset!


Meredith May 13, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I used to be a competitive pianist as well as a piano teacher and it made me love my unusually long ET-like fingers. Even quirky features become beautiful with use.

I think it’s the most healthy kind of self-esteem – the thoughts motivated by your own real and potential achievement as opposed to comparisons with others.


Sarah May 13, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Congratulations on not being self conscious in your bathing. I competitively swam for over ten years and swimming contributed to my body image issues. All the other girls I saw with were incredibly tiny and fit unlike me. Putting on a bathing suit everyday only contributed to my self consciousness because I never ever looked like the other girls therefore the 2-3 hrs I spent in the pool everyday were pure mental torture. When I ran three miles for the first time in my life, my freshman year of college I finally felt good about my body. I’m sure I looked semi silly all red and sweaty (plus all the extra pounds I hadn’t lost) but I felt amazing and I had finally discovered my physical and emotional strength.


Liz May 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Great post Angela! I have always swam and I lifeguarded for several years and I think that it help me become vey comfortable in a bathing suit. I associate a swim suit with feeling strong and confident. Bikinis I have not quite gotten to that level with yet but maybe one day


Anne May 13, 2010 at 1:15 pm

I’ve participated in weight-class based sports since my teens (martial arts), and they have definitely had a negative impact on my body image and have made my disordered eating even worse. Aerobics and the friends I made in those classes also reinforced terrible eating habits (bingeing, over-exercising, rinse, repeat, etc.).

I have since cut out aerobics and aerobics friends, and have started doing yoga instead, and I am much happier and more in tune than I ever was with my body and my soul, both strengths and weaknesses.

I also attribute a lot of my positive body image to reading your blog. Even if I had to pretend for awhile, repeating the messages you pass along to myself has made me a lot happier with my body image.



AGS May 13, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Not too much on topic, but I really appreciated a friend sending this to me. It is quite applicable to what I’m going through currently with my job and life!

Running and lifting really made me realize that my body was more than just being thin. Even with a slight weight gain (that is now gradually going down, with a return to regular exercise), I still feel positive about myself. I’m not sure that exercise –> positive image. I think that exercise is a *challenge* that is uniquely body-focused. Meeting challenges provides a sense of empowerment.


Sara May 13, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Men really are clueless about the amount of self-criticism going on in women’s heads about our bodies. They’d probably be very frightened to even hear one day’s worth!

To answer your questions:
Playing soccer made me feel good about my legs, because they were my catalyst for the entire game! I loved to be able to run faster than others and shake off big hits (I think when I was playing, I took it as a personal mission to prove it is a contact sport! lol). Playing softball made me feel good about my arms being strong because it meant I could hit better and throw harder. I used to flex to myself to see how my biceps & triceps were defined. (I don’t play either sport anymore which is why I’m using the past tense.)

In regards to the negative, yoga actually sometimes makes me feel “bad” about my boobs! That’s really only because sometimes they get in the way when I’m doing poses so I get annoyed and wish them away in my head! =P At the same time, however, yoga makes me proud of my flexibility and other strengths, so the boob thing is rather minor in comparison; I hadn’t really thought about it until I read your question and realized it is true!


Sarah Jordan May 13, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Yes!!! I signed up for my first 5K and it is in 2 weeks. Running to make me stronger for the 5K instead of running for weightloss has really improved the way I see myself. I see myself as a strong, capable woman instead of an insecure, trapped person. I think any type of excercise that is done for the joy it, not for some type of physical betterment such as tighting or weightloss, will improve body image. We as women need to focus more on the other aspects of ourselves and others. The media’s standards of super skinny beautiful should not be our ultimate goal in life.


Courtney @ Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life May 13, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Props to you on your newfound confidence! That’s wonderful that you’ve achieved something that so many of us are still striving for.
Since I’ve started running and doing routine BodyPump classes, I’ve noticed a good change in my body – more toned & tight, which in turn, makes me more confident! :)
While I never participated in a sport or exercise that made me feel worse about my body image, I did used to model which had a profound impact on my overall body image. Luckily, I have worked through many of those issues, but I still have some lingering that I work on everyday.


Karly (Becoming My Best Self) May 13, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Ange, It’s so funny you posted the video of the guys running on the water. One of my co-workers just sent it to me the other day as well. So cool! I totally think you and Eric should make that your next challenge together! :)


Kelly May 13, 2010 at 2:26 pm

So happy for you about the bathing suit – it’s amazing isn’t it? It’s funny, I started swimming at 6 months old (seriously – Mommy & me lessons) and swam multiple times a week until I was about 17.. I never felt super uncomfortable in my racing suit – it was more of a uniform to me, though bikinis were still tough!

Lifting has totally changed my body image, I will admit (though embarassing) that while alone in the gym this morning I rolled up the sleeves on my shirt so I could see my arms while lifting and it was awesome! My arms looked amazing and I was soo happy :)


Franziska Bishop ( May 13, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Love your blog and the posting today. The video about walking on water is awesome! Also, love how you talk about body image issues. I am very athletic and have been healthy my whole life and overall I have a healthy body image but I still have negative self talk when I look in the mirror. I do find that when I look in the mirror when I am being athletic or after some activity – swimming, yoga, running etc. then I see my body for all it is capable of – my strength, flexibility, tone, and power. Women need to come together to change the negative self talk that is almost ingrained in us. Thanks for contributing to the conversation.


Adrienne May 13, 2010 at 2:33 pm

That was the RADDEST video ever!! I wanna run on water!!!

Onto your question:
RUNNING – has given me the best body image ever! Can’t pinch an inch on these legs!
BALLET – gave me the worst body image, never never skinny I quit and started weight lifting :-)


Emmanuelle May 13, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Working out at the gym and walking to work and back has helped building muscles, but I think it’s definitely yoga that has finally helped me come to terms with the fact that I will never be all tall and lean. When I see my legs in the mirror, I don’t see cellulite (although it’s still there, bugger ;)), I see strong legs. I will never be skinny, I’m not meant to be, and it’s ok!


Hollie May 13, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Hi Angela,

This is my first time commenting, but I have been reading your blog for some time now. You are so inspirational!!

Like you, I have struggled with body image for many years. I am not yet at the point where I can look in the mirror and love what I see, but I think I’m finally on my way. I’ve always been so horrible at athletic/competitive sports, so that kind of thing has always just drawn attention to what I don’t like about myself. About two years ago, I discovered yoga, and that has helped a lot. It has made me so much more aware of my body – I’m actually amazed by what it can do!!

PS – You’ve got me hooked on vegan overnight oats – I’ve had them almost every morning for the past week. I want to try them with the banana soft serve!


Christena May 13, 2010 at 4:51 pm

You are truly an inspiration. Plain and simple. You do good work on this blog — sharing, encouraging, and giving us a new way to think about a healthy lifestyle, food, fitness, and ourselves. Clearly you are getting great feedback, just by the number of comments to your posts. I hope you keep it up. I am so inspired every time I read your blog!


Laura May 13, 2010 at 4:57 pm

I swam on my high school team, so the swimsuits always served a function, it was my uniform. We were a coed team, so we were crammed together in our lanes. The workouts were so strenuous that nobody cared how they looked in the suits. This may sound gross, but we were all little snotty teenagers with stupid swim caps trying to complete the sets without the coach screaming at us to go faster. Since then, I don’t look at a swimsuit as something flattering or sexy! I go into “competitive mode” when I get into a suit! However, I love my body in a tank and running shorts!


Lauren M. May 13, 2010 at 5:25 pm

I am sitting in house all alone and when I watch that video I was literally shouting “No! What?! I can’t believe this! No! No!” at my computer when I watched that video. I’m going to do it.


Vicki May 13, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Running does it for me. It doesn’t even matter if I’m the same size as when I am not running. When I’m in training-mode I find it impossible to pick apart my body. I just love it!


Brin May 13, 2010 at 7:56 pm

haha silly people that video is fake


Adam May 14, 2010 at 1:06 am

Yes, unfortunately, it’s not actually possible for humans to run on water like this. You can see the boards right under the surface of the water at certain points in the video. :) I wish it were real, though!


kiera May 14, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Agreed, Adam, I wanted that video to be real! However disappointing it may be that it isn’t real, that video is GREAT marketing by Hi-Tec!


Kate @ Soupasana May 14, 2010 at 3:07 pm

OMG!!! let’s just say i’m definitely sharing this video on Facebook. :) I love it!


Allie May 15, 2010 at 6:45 pm

I was surprised how much sports like kickboxing and karate (which I took in high school) made me feel strong and confident. I didn’t think I would be any good at them – but they were empowering, and made me feel good about myself. Not to mention they are good stress-relievers, as well


Natalie May 15, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Oh wow! That apple pie parfait looks soooo good! I definitely need to make this banana soft serve ASAP (freezing bananas after I hit submit)! Can’t wait! I’ll have to omit the chia seeds, but I still think it’ll be great!


Susan May 16, 2010 at 5:54 pm

I keep forgetting that you changed your layout and love it more every time I click out of my reader!

I saw that water walking thing too. Cah-razy. But honestly, I can believe it took this long for some crazies to try to turn it into a sport ;)

I had a very similar experience while doing my triathlon in my swimsuit. It was really crowded as we lined up to jump in the lake on race day. Normally, being in a bathing suit around so many people would make me freak out. But instead I felt strong and confident. It was no longer about what my body looked like in that suit, but what it cold DO in that suit.

Oh, and weight lifting has totally changed the way I look and feel about my body. I used to look in the mirror every morning and hate what I saw, even after I lost all my weight. But weight lifting completely transformed it, and now I love what I see. Plus, it makes me feel strong :)


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