I guess it’s just one of those inherent female things. I’m not the leanest chick on the beach, and I’m very, probably too much, aware of that. I’ve been blessed with the gift of “haus” – one that has been passed along through my family for generations. Us girls are from a strong stock of German and English ancestry, which has made us resilient to disease, but also one brick house-built bunch of girls. We are muscular, strong-boned women, most of which have accomplished some serious athletic achievements. However, this “haus” is very different from the girls you see in the magazines and on the sidelines.
I have seemed to always find sports where size matters. My first very serious competitive experience was as a synchronized swimmer. I spent my summers training 6 hours a day, 6 days a week, for a sport that scored its participants on skill and “artistic impression”. The “artistic” part came very much from looking a very specific way, from perfect toe points, to hyperextended legs, to skinny and long waistlines – none of which I naturally had. I worked hard to try to force my body into shapes that genetics just was not going to let me, only to end up injured and tired at the end of my career. The emphasis on looks would also drive girls to become “sick”, taking dieting to the extreme by starving themselves or purging excess calories. I never took it that far, but the experience led me to be incredibly aware of how I look in a bathing suit, that’s for sure.
So now I find myself in a sport derived from surfing, a sport that seems to encourage girls to wear as little clothes as possible. Different from the other paddle sports that I have participated in, Stand Up Paddleboarding is far more popular and, thus, very publicized. In my outrigger or surfski paddling, it was all about paddling, and getting there first. This scene is different, in the fact that the girls are very attractive and very “fit”. We’re talking hot bodies, six packs, and other enhancements, all that get them seen, and none of which I actually have. It appears that look is what the crowd expects to see, and I’m not it.
It’s not uncommon to have hundreds and hundreds of photos posted after races, many of which aren’t of anyone’s most flattering moment. This fact in itself pulls forth my insecure inner high school girl, and it makes me completely neurotic. Over the past 3 years, I’ve become increasingly more aware of my appearance when racing, making sure that I am wearing the best outfit, that I look cute in my trucker hat, that I have waterproof mascara on to make sure my eyes will look nice. However, none of this changes the fact that I am at least 50 pounds heavier than most of my competition, and I believe that people judge me because I’m an “elite” racer and fitness professional that doesn’t have a six pack.
I could take these feelings of insecurity in one of two ways. I could feel sorry for myself or embarrassed, or I could start a radical diet today (in the middle of my racing season) that will make me skinny and weak. Or I can face the facts, and work the body that God gave me. There’s not much I can really do about genetics. I’ve got what I have been given and there’s nothing I can do to change that. I can continue training hard, practicing my Pilates, and eating cleanly. I can continue leading a healthy lifestyle, and let it be that. All of my measurements, like weight and body composition, put me in the “healthy” category, and I have to be happy with that.
I also can change my perspective. I can look at what I have instead of what I don’t. I know that I have really nice legs, and women ask me how to get my hamstrings all the time. I know that from all of the paddling, I’ve got some nice looking shoulders and sun-kissed blonde hair. I also know that this “haus” can bench press her body weight and then some. I may not have the tightest tummy or smallest hips, but I can keep up with the boys when I paddle, and that’s pretty darn cool.