Anna-Marie or Anna as we call her, grew up a competitive gymnast. She is not only one of the strongest ladies I know, she is also one of the most kind hearted women I have ever met. Her competitive drive is admirable and her daily commitment to be a better athlete and person is one of this things I love most about her. Here is Anna’s story.
I grew up being a competitive gymnast for 17 years. The gymnastics world is set on a seeking “perfection.” This so called “perfection” comes from talent, skill, and physical appearance. Young girls are told every day that they need to work harder, lose weight, gain muscle or maintain a certain look. This can lead those young ladies to think poorly of themselves when in reality they are beautiful inside and out. Many gymnast suffer from eating disorders of all kinds in order to change their appearance into the ideal image that has been placed into their minds. I personally grew up having a high metabolism and would binge eat without any effects on my body and I felt pretty confident with the way I looked.
That all changed when I entered high school and puberty set in. My body started to change and leotards didn’t fit as they once did. This is when my confidence changed. I was never the “skinny girl” in school but I made the most of it. I used my muscular appearance, strength and a “tough girl” persona to my advantage. I was able to fit in with the guys which made some of the girls jealous. However, the guys just saw me as a friend, perhaps just “one of the guys” and wanted to date all my “skinny” girl friends. These “skinny girl friends” would tell me I was to muscular, masculine and just to much like a guy. So they nicknamed me Manna. Everyone started calling me Manna, the nickname stuck with me for years. I would put on a brave face and smile through it, but deep down inside it hurt! It brought me to tears on many occasions, but I would never let anyone see me cry. I was so confident in the gymnastics gym, put only pretending to be confident in school.
I started to diet and eat healthier so I would look different and not just one of the guys anymore. However, my body had a different agenda. Between my senior year of high school and junior year of college I gained 30 pounds. I was so discouraged. With little time to focus on working out and eating healthy due to classes and my internship, I went into my senior year being the heaviest I ever remember and decided “I was fat.” I decided to not think poorly of myself and do something about it.
Since then I have lost 40 pounds. I’m no where near being the “skinny girl” because that’s not my body type and I’m ok with that. However, I am so happy with my body because it tells a story and shows the fight I have inside of me. Through doing gymnastics and becoming a CrossFitter, I have learned there are many different body types. I now weigh 140 pounds and I am proud of every single one of them. I am happy with the way I look and feel and even happier every day when I am able to walk into the gym and pick up something heavy.
Society may say I’m to muscular and need to lose weight, but I know it’s not true and it doesn’t matter. I am confident with who I am, even when I have a little extra on my tummy or my big booty. Society wants us only to see a certain size or shape. They want us to think that only skinny women are beautiful. I disagree, I think the ones that are strong and confident in their personality are the most attractive regardless of their outer appearance. Loving your body is not just about what it looks like on the outside, if you can love yourself on the inside and portray that on the outside then you have found true beauty. The most beautiful people in the world are those who are not afraid to be themselves.