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!

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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 at 8:55 am

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 at 1:03 pm

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 at 9:09 am

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 at 9:53 am

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 at 9:16 am

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 at 9:54 am

Thank you! :)

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


Eunice May 13, 2010 at 9:19 am

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 at 9:21 am

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 at 9:55 am

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 at 10:44 am

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 at 10:51 am

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 at 9:21 am

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 at 9:22 am

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 at 9:25 am

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 at 9:29 am

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


shannon (the daily balance) May 13, 2010 at 9:35 am

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 at 9:35 am

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 at 9:36 am

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 at 9:37 am

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 at 9:38 am

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 at 9:42 am

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 at 9:43 am

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 at 9:44 am

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 at 10:11 am

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 at 9:53 am

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 at 9:54 am

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 at 9:55 am

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 at 9:56 am

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 at 10:05 am

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 at 10:08 am

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 at 10:10 am

Love this! Thanks for sharing :)


Ayla May 13, 2010 at 10:08 am

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


[email protected] Newlywed, Newly Veg May 13, 2010 at 10:13 am

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 at 10:15 am

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 at 10:17 am

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 at 10:21 am

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 at 10:28 am

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 at 10:32 am

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 at 10:57 am

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


JJ May 13, 2010 at 10:35 am

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 at 10:56 am

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 at 10:40 am

Wow that video is cool!


Jil @ Peace, Love & Munchies May 13, 2010 at 10:44 am

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 at 10:46 am

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 at 10:47 am

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 at 10:47 am

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 at 10:54 am

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 at 10:49 am

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 at 10:53 am

I know he never fails to crack me up.


Triathlonbabe May 13, 2010 at 10:49 am

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 at 10:53 am

I can’t wait to try rock climbing!


Tina May 13, 2010 at 10:53 am

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 at 10:57 am

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.


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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