Many moons ago I played water polo. I grew up playing the sport and loved every single second of it. It was my passion and my world. I was lucky enough to play for the Junior and Senior National Teams and travel the world representing my country. It was an incredible experience! 

Now, if you've ever seen a water polo game then you know that you've got to be insanely strong to even stay alive. Back at the peak of my training I was leg pressing more than the Cal Men's Basketball team...I'm not even joking. I was a beast. 

This is me back when I was 20 flaunting it on the beach and feeling super confident in my body. 

This is me back when I was 20 flaunting it on the beach and feeling super confident in my body. 

At 5'11, 185 lbs and legs stronger than the Cal Men's Basketball center, I was definitely a force to be reckoned with. But, more than anything, as I look back on those years, I see and remember a girl that was so in love with every part of her body. I remember being so proud to flaunt what I had in a bikini or my one piece because I had worked my butt off for it. Yes, I was a big girl (the photo on the right is of me in Hawaii at the peak of my water polo days) but my body gave me something really special. It provided me with incredible talent and the ability to play water polo around the world. 

So, after I stopped playing water polo a few years later, I lost a lot of that weight. I wasn't in the gym lifting like I used to be and then all of a sudden I became much more aware of how much I was eating because I was exercising less. But, a really interesting thing happened. Although I was much much smaller than I was when I played water polo (about 40lbs less) I felt an insecurity in my body like never before. I didn't want to put on a bathing suit and flaunt it. I didn't like how big my shoulders were or how strong and muscular my legs looked. For many years following water polo, I was actually really uncomfortable in my own body and how it looked, despite being much smaller and in "better shape" by normal societal standards. 

For many years following water polo, I was actually really uncomfortable in my own body and how it looked, despite being much smaller and in “better shape” by normal societal standards.

As I've gotten older and begun my education in the health and wellness world, I've been able to look back at these years of transition with a much clearer perspective. I've had to do a lot of work and growth to become more comfortable with my body and unfortunately I know that it's a battle for a lot of women. What I've really begun to understand though is that so many of the insecurities that we have around our bodies are not actually about the weight. Sure, we'd all love to look like a Victoria's Secret model but at the end of the day, that's not the core of what we really want. What I've found is that the way that we look at our weight has less to do with the number and so much more to do with our confidence levels, belief in ourselves and what we believe we have to offer to the world. 

What I’ve found is that the way that we look at our weight has less to do with the number and so much more to do with our confidence levels, belief in ourselves and what we believe we have to offer to the world.

I did not have the perfect body when I played water polo, by Victoria's Secret standards. But you know what, I was confident as heck and so so happy. Then, for years, I felt terrible in my body, lost my confidence and always fought to be thinner and thinner even though I was 40lbs lighter than I'd ever been.

Turns out, when I was at my thinnest, I felt stuck, insecure and like I had no control over my life. I had no idea who I was, what I really enjoyed or how I'd make an impact in the world. My path to the Olympics was no longer so I was feeling really messed up and derailed. I hadn't really dated anyone in college so far which was also taking a huge toll and impact on my confidence levels. All of these insecurities showed themselves in how I perceived my body. 

If I had the perfect body then every boy would want to date me. If I had the perfect body I'd have more confidence to ask a guy out or put myself out there. With 6 pack abs I'd find my perfect career, fall in love and have everything that I'd ever wanted. I'd have the confidence to ask for a raise, book that trip or live the life of my instagram idol. Sound familiar?

Insecurity is a part of life and offers us the opportunity to better ourselves. This is why my first question to every client when we start working together is, what do you want MORE than to just lose weight? Is it to finally get the confidence to leave your job and start your dream career? Is it to flaunt sexy new lingerie and feel confident in bed? Or maybe it's to feel healthy and strong enough to complete a triathlon. Whatever it is that you want, that is the focus for your health and wellness journey. 

When I was struggling my body image I really just wanted to feel confident again. I wanted the confidence to explore what I really wanted in life and the confidence to start talking to boys and dating them! My weight was important to me but that wasn't what the struggle was really all about. It was about building up my own confidence to start living the life that I wanted to live! 

So, how do you do that? Begin by asking yourself what you really want out of your life right now. Write down your 1 month and then 6 month goals and start living so that you can get there. And guess what, when you start to do that, your body will begin to transform into the healthy, vibrant vessel that you want it to be. When we are happy, confident beings, we reach for happy, healing foods. 

My journey to where I am now has taught me so much about how our thoughts translate into how we actually look and feel physically. Now, when I start being hard on myself or critiquing my body, I simply take a second to ask myself what the deeper issue is. Does life feel out of control? Do I feel like I'm not good enough for my partner? Has my confidence shifted? Then, I begin to address how I can fix those issues rather than wasting time wishing I were 10 lbs lighter and hadn't had that second margarita. Seriously, it happened, get over it! 

Take some time today to love on yourself and the beautiful body that you have. Then, think big picture about what you really want from this life and how you can nourish your body to help get you there. 

I'd love to hear about your journey and what your big picture goals are! Leave your comments here or connect with me directly darby@darbyjackson.com Lots of love! xo

 

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