Women’s Blog #3 – You Can Do It
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
I typed in “women and body image” into my search engine and the first thing that popped up was a myriad of pictures of thin gorgeous models. Definitely not what I was looking for. After some digging and reading, I found a charity event that was hosted by MMA Fighter Ronda Rousey titled “Don’t Throw Up, Throw Down”. I’ll admit, I thought the name was a bit hokey. But Rousey and her mom, Dr. AnnMaria De Mars, weren’t going to dodge the difficult topic. They wanted to hit the issue of eating disorders and negativity body image head on. The more I read of the article listed in ESPN’s Mixed Martial Arts web page, the more I learned about who the person Ronda Rousey is. She’s not just an incredible fighter and accomplished Judoka, she’s also a woman with real struggles that any woman can relate to. She admitted to suffering with eating disorders associated with trying to cut weight before a fight or competition. Furthermore, she spoke about how her fear of not making weight bled into everything else. Not making weight wasn’t just a competitive failure but became also a personal failure and even equaled her not being a good enough person and not being pretty or beautiful. The one time she didn’t make weight, she was in Europe and completely unraveled. She didn’t call home until a week later. That was when she realized how consumed she had become. In her preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympic games, she promised herself, “No more bingeing or purging. None of that anymore. I was going to do it the right way. I grew 4 inches since I started and couldn’t make the weight anymore.” She won a bronze medal in the Beijing Olympic games. In 2010, she began her Mixed Martial Arts career and currently has a record of 10 wins, no losses, and no draws.
As women and girls, it’s easy to tell ourselves that we aren’t good enough or we aren’t strong enough. Between the media, societal expectations, and our own selves, we have a tendency not to reach for the next step or to the next level out of a fear of failure or a fear of not living up to someone’s expectations. While I haven’t been greatly impacted by eating disorders (I like any female have tried numerous diets and lose weight quick schemes), my weakness is to allow the voices in my own head to out smart me, to tear me down, to stop me from what my potential could be. Early this year, I accepted a Facebook challenge called #100HappyDays. I thought that it was silly, but I did it anyway and the psychological effect on me was priceless. Being forced to find something that made me happy every single day took my mind away from thinking about the mistakes I made or the bad things that may have happened in a day. It turned into a challenge of what made me grateful and to highlight the people in my life that I love spending time with. When I changed my outward focus, I realized that I was also able to change my internal dialogue from a series of defeatist thoughts to a stream of positivity.
Brown University defines having a positive body image, “when we have a realistic perception of our bodies AND we enjoy them just as they are”. Over the years, I have had to force myself to think about what I can do and not what I can’t do in relation to the martial arts. It’s so easy to quit when something is hard or there’s that form or that technique that just isn’t right for you. But the reality is, that those little things are simply obstacles standing between you and your goals. That jump kick, that pivot on your hook, remembering to re-chamber your leg–those are passing obstacles. The chances are with continued hard work and changing your attitude, you will be able to meet your goal. There are more things that I wanted to throw in the towel for than what I can write here. But I can guarantee you, that I would not be as happy of an individual if I had let those little things beat me. Because looking back at it, determining to stick with my goals and with my values on the small things, added up and gave me the courage to stick through the big challenges when things got hard. Whatever is standing between you and that next step, tell yourself, “I can do this” and don’t forget to actually believe that you can.
If you would like to read the original articles, you are welcome to check them out below 🙂