You’re out to Sunday morning brunch with friends. You just finished practice…
And you are so starving!
You ask for the Hungry Man Special with a large chocolate milk. But as soon as the waitress takes your order, a friend looks at you and laughs, “Of course you ordered the biggest meal. What else is new?”
You laugh with them and shrug it off. But that’s where it starts:
Feeling like you’re different.
Shut that down right now!
You are an elite athlete. You aren’t always going to have those thin calves or small shoulders. Truly fit people don’t always have thigh gaps.
Athletes have muscle.
If you want to be an athlete, you’re going to have to embrace ordering that Hungry Man Special. Prioritize your body. You demand so much from it everyday, doesn’t it make sense to give back? In an article about competitive swimmers, Livestrong.com says: “To get a ballpark estimate of the calories you need daily, add the total burned in your practices to your daily baseline. For example, if your daily practice consisted of two hours evenly divided between vigorous and moderate training, your daily need would be 2,870 and 3,370 calories for a man, 200 or so less for a woman.”
It’s too easy, as an athlete, to develop an eating disorder. It takes about a thousand extra calories to satisfy our needs, so even if you are not skipping meals, you could still have detrimental habits. These habits don’t only affect your overall health, but have a hugely negative effect on your training. Energy depletion won’t serve you well during those 8×200’s IM all out.
I was once a calorie-counter. I relentlessly told myself that losing ten pounds was the key to ending my plateau. It made sense in my head: the lighter I was, the less weight I had to move through the water, therefore, my endurance would last longer than before.
Boy, was I wrong. I was eating between 600-800 calories per day, and burning a lot more during swim practice. This routine not only made me feel depleted during the school day, but also dizzy and physically unable to perform in the pool. My training suffered immensely.
If I had let this go on, my habits would have escalated to an eating disorder–a condition that could have potentially ended my swimming career.
The takeaway is this: a thigh gap and small appetite may make you feel more “normal”, but it won’t make you a better swimmer. Period.
Don’t let your confidence be defined by your appearance, but by your performance.
Be proud of your strong work ethic and how your body, just the way it is, works to complete intense swimming workouts. As a woman, I believe that it is attractive to be strong. I would never want to trade my tech suits for strapless dresses. Let the other girls rock those.
Thigh Gap Urban Dictionary Definition: A gap between a girls thighs accomplished by being 95 pounds and 2% body fat which, contrary to a teenage girl’s belief, is not sexy.
Shortly after Bryana Cielo’s birth, she developed her love of water at her family beach house–and hasn’t stopped since. At the conclusion of her swim lessons at age 7, it was recommended that she try out for the local summer swim team. After her first season, she won the 8 and Under Girls High Point trophy at championships and was named Rookie of the Year. She was then pointed in the direction a nearby club team. She tried out, made it, and never looked back. Little did she know, she wasn’t only starting a sport- but a lifestyle. Bry is a future journalist looking to change lives with words.