Wishing for the perfect body?
Too many athletes spend too much time complaining about their bodies: I feel too fat. • I’m too thin. • I want a six-pack ab. • I hate my spare tire.
Without a doubt, you will perform better if your body is the correct size for your sport—not too fat, not too skinny. If you have excess flab to lose, you will run faster if you are lighter. If you are scrawny, you will be more powerful if you can build some muscle. Agreed.
This blog is geared towards the many athletes who already have an excellent body yet spend too much time wishing for the perfect body. The perfect body is illusive and nearly impossible to attain— at least without tireless effort. Being satisfied with an excellent body is much easier. An excellent body might have a tiny bit more body fat than you want, or be a tiny bit less muscular than desired, but if your family and friends tell you that your body is fine the way it is, trust them!
Rather than listen to your own self-criticisms, pay attention to what others say about your body—such as You look great! or You want to lose weight??? Quite possibly, your teammates are telling the truth when they compliment you or question your desire to lose (unnoticeable) body fat. Those comments might be true…
Believe it or not, you might be the only person who sees your body’s “flaws.” You only see what you see (not what others see) and your eyes have been tainted since childhood. That is, if you were husky as a kid, you may still see yourself as being “too fat.” On the other hand, if you were scrawny as a kid, you may still see yourself as being “too skinny,” even though your body has matured and become muscular.
If you are feeling too fat or too thin, please note that “fat” and “thin” are not feelings. (You do not feel “blue-eyed” or “freckled,” do you?). More likely, you are feeling a bit imperfect, inadequate, and out-of-control. Athletes who spend too much time thinking about how they look can easily distract themselves from what’s really going on: they don’t feel good enough. That is, understandably, a common issue among all active people.
If you are discontent with your current physique, you might want to be a bit more compassionate towards your body and appreciate all the good things it does for you. It lets you be a great soccer player, a caring teammate, and a trusted friend. Those are meaningful qualities, and far more valuable than having a perfect body.
You can indeed perform well, even if you do not have a perfect body. Your best bet is to load your bases with an attitude of gratitude and be grateful for all the good things your body has done—and continues to do—for you. Peace!
For more information, read the body image chapter in my Sports Nutrition Guidebook