For many years I have been teased and conditioned to not think very highly of myself. I'm sure some of you ladies out there can relate to some of my experiences. I want you gals to see that even high level athletes deal with the same issues as you and we can relate to you.
It all started at home
I was born 10 lbs 14 oz and I was 21 inches long. I was huge straight out of the chute. Growing up I was always bigger and taller than everyone else. In third grade I was taller than my teacher. I kept catching up to my brother's height and eventually surpassed him by an inch or two. I never really had a weight problem 'til I was about 10 or 11 or I didn't realize I did until that time. My coach said one time, "We all went through that awkward skinny phase." (not me lol)
My mom was a manager at McDonald's so I have had my share of Happy Meals and ice cream cones.When we ate our meals, we were expected to clear our plates. If we didn't we'd be lectured by dad on some poor country that doesn't have food. It seemed to be a new country every night... haha
My brother was the first one to make rude comments. We moved when I was 11 to be closer to my grandparents. When I was the "new girl" that's when I started getting teased at school. There were two girls that tag teamed on me and teased me everyday asking "when is the baby due?" and other stupid but hurtful things. On one occasion in the 5th grade one of these girls, for no reason came up to me and said, "You fat bitch" and smacked me in the face. In 8th grade I had one kid make fun of me every single day in class and out. One day I freaked out pushed him on the ground and kicked him and punched him. I promptly ran away fearing he would tattle on me. (he didn't have bruises or injuries, thank goodness.) My grandfather used to make comments about my weight and on my 16th birthday he took me out to dinner and saw two overweight girls eating at the table next to us and said an unbelievably rude comment loud enough for them to hear, "Look at those heifers." I thought, "If he's willing to say that about those girls out loud what does he think about me?" Later, my dad would say things to me and my mom about losing weight. So I was teased at school and then at home. It never seemed to end.
(Just to be clear, I love my family and have forgiven them for any offenses I have allowed myself to feel for their comments or actions. This is not a post to make anyone look or feel bad.)
I don't blame the media for any of my internal issues but, I don't think they help at all encouraging healthy bodies and minds.
When I changed my life
In my 8th grade year, a P.E. teacher encouraged me to improve my mile time, and our version of cross country time. After I did, I was excited. I was never motivated to exercise nor thought I could do anything. We had an award called "Husky Elite." This award was given to hard workers who improved a lot and showed leadership skills. I worked my butt off getting better. I wasn't the best at anything but, I did MY best. I earned the award! The award is a plaque they put up in the locker room for everyone to see and you got to have a special white shirt with gold on it vs. everyone's regular gray and green, and they got to be in front of the line and lead the students through their exercises. Of all of the things I've accomplished, this and my state championship title in discus were my most prized awards.
After I started moving my body, that P.E. teacher thought I should try out for the track team and throw. What I didn't know was that I had to try all of the events. I couldn't do ANYTHING. lol I could jump over the high jump, make it over the hurdles, I couldn't run without wanting to just lay down and die. Except throwing. I was ok at it. I threw like 30 ft in middle school with a 6 lb shot. I thought I was good and kept doing it.
After two years into high school I became just as strong or stronger than most of the football players I lifted with. It was the same at track. I was throwing just as far or farther than my male team mates. One of the football kids was the kid I freaked out on in the 8th grade. He said to me one day, "Now that you are stronger than me and can probably kick my ass I'll leave you alone." I was rarely made fun of anymore. I think mostly because people were afraid of me. It could have been my lovely personality though...
Being strong, and throwing far made me more confident. I felt like I could beat anyone at anything and win any competition. When I was a sophomore, I realized that I had the potential to make an Olympic team and have been gearing for it ever since. I felt my skills as an athlete were valuable to others as colleges noticed me and sought to have me on their teams. Knowing my capabilities and potential, I knew I could go anywhere I wanted and not settle.
Looking in the mirror
When I used to look at myself in the mirror, I used to hate everything I saw. Now there are parts of my body I absolutely love. One of the main reasons I liked weightlifting was because it was something I could actually do. When you discover a sport or any activity you can do, especially after so long thinking you can't, you instantly have more confidence.
The impossible is possible
In weightlifting, there are so many things to improve in. You can always set goals and achieve them. Trying to lift one more kilo, squeeze in one more rep, etc. There are weights that I can lift over my head that some people may never even be able to pick up off the ground. When I Snatch or Clean and Jerk, sometimes I feel like I am defying gravity.
What weightlifting has done for me
Weightlifting has taken me all over the country and the world which is something I have always wanted to to. I have made new friends and learned so much. I don't have the perfect mentality, body, or technique. It has gotten better with time, though. There are still times I feel self conscious, lonely, and sad, just like some of you. But every time I get on that competition platform, all of the doubt and self hate goes away. I am a confident, strong, beautiful, woman. That's why I love weightlifting.