Approximately 91% of women in the United States are unhappy with their body appearance. Approximately 43% of men are similarly dissatisfied.

Each day, we are bombarded with images of “perfect” men and women — in magazines, TV, movies, and on social media. It seems like we can hardly go anywhere without seeing headlines promising “drop 15lbs in just two weeks!” or flipping through magazines with Photoshopped and unrealistic female figures.

Eating well and exercising regularly are healthy practices that can benefit each and every one of us. But when we make our bodies and our food the enemy, we have moved into dangerous territory.

Longtime RAC member, Julie Andrews, fell into this cycle and she wanted to share her story specifically to anyone who may be struggling with their physical appearance:

“If you are someone who is questioning your appearance or diet, take a moment to ask yourself why? Will you feel better about yourself if you look a certain way?”

Julie was once an active female figure competitor. At the peak of her competition days, she sat at 118lbs with 8% body fat. At the time, she loved the competition; she looked forward to the positive and constructive feedback alike, spent hours in the gym each day, and monitored each bite of food. “I thought I was being healthy because I was exercising every day and eating strict, healthy clean meals with no variety,” Julie said. “It wasn’t until a year after my last competition that I noticed changes in my health. I developed symptoms of hyperthyroidism and went through a period of weight and muscle loss, heart palpitations, insomnia, extreme hair loss and a ravenous appetite.”

Due to the extreme metabolic management, Julie was diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system turns against its own tissues. Four years after her final competition, Julie has developed three more autoimmune diseases that she believes are attributed to her extreme exercise and dieting days. Despite these negative implications, she has found a healthier balance in both mental and physical health.

“As women, our bodies are not meant to be 8% body fat. I have learned that my body will not always be ‘stage ready’ and to embrace what I have,” Julie said.

Although Julie still works out diligently, she has learned that she can stop when she is tired, eat when she is hungry, and not stress out about eating dessert and other special treats every now and then. “Food is fuel, you can’t starve a car of fuel and expect it to run efficiently. Listen to your body, it’s smarter than you are,” Julie advises.

Raintree Athletic Club is committed to body acceptance and welcomes all levels of fitness, body types, and body sizes. Overall health and wellness is our goal. So wherever you are in your journey, know that our entire team has your back.

“Heart, mind, and soul are what make us beautiful,” Julie said, and all of us at Raintree agree: “No two bodies are the same and we need to embrace all that our bodies do for us.”

By: Mariah Wenzel

Sources:

  • HHS.gov
  • WomensHealth.gov
  • DoSomething.org
  • TheBodyImageCenter.org