I recently got a request to do a post about body image from a young girl who participated in "Girls with Guns" with me this past weekend. We hosted girls from age 8-18 with a range of ski experience, not to mention all of the coaches were in their 20's. Therefore, we saw many different body types. Even if you're not a skier, you will go through life seeing so many different body types. The media tries to portray a certain "ideal" image, and this can also happen in the Nordic world.
The only body I strive for is the one that has FUN
Let me just start this off by saying there is no ideal body type! The only thing that's important is that you are healthy. We are all different and there is no reason to try and look a certain way. You may think, "I want to look like that person!" when they may be thinking the same thing about you! I have personally struggled with body image throughout my life. I got teased in high school for having muscles and big feet, and to this day I am self conscious for not having a flat stomach. It's hard to push those negative thoughts to the back of your mind, but you will be much happier if you switch them out with positive thoughts.
My favorite part about biathlon and skiing is that every body type succeeds! I know so many skiers who are short, tall, thin, muscular, curvy, average size…everything!! Every body has it's strengths, so you need to figure out what those are for you and use them to your advantage. The body is a powerful thing, it's pretty incredible what it can achieve. It's important to love the body that you're in, because it's the only one you've got!
Another important thing to keep in mind is that in order to excel in life and sport, you need to fuel that body properly. That "fuel" is food!! Does a car run well on empty? No, and neither does a body. Do you want to put crummy gas into a car and expect it to run well? No, you want to put the best gas in it! That's the same with your body. You want to fuel with healthy foods that include carbohydrates, protein, veggies, and fruits. And it's okay to eat those chips or cookies as long as it's not all you eat! What kind of life would it be without cake? Not one I'd want to be a part of!
Bottom line is, we are all different, and that's a good thing! I know it can be hard to avoid comparing yourself to others, but next time you catch yourself doing it be sure to look back at your own body and remind yourself how strong and beautiful it is. Keep being yourself!