2015 has kicked off with a big bang. It truly is becoming the Year of the Plus Size Athlete, as it seems that every week, there is something positive in mainstream media showcasing the rise of the plus size athlete. In February alone, I’ve seen 6 pieces including a Huffington Post article which featured 7 tips from global plus size experts (including myself and Leah Gilbert), and then Leah was featured in 3 stories: Daily Mail, Cosmo’s Top 5 New Instagram Fitness Motivators, and Sportette, then over to Ashley Graham and Robyn Lawley, both “plus size models” featured in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition (whether you view them as plus size or not, it’s a move towards recognition of body diversity in mainstream media).
What Makes Up a Plus Size Athlete?
Everyone is on a different journey. Some people are just starting out, some are on their way, and some are fully immersed in the athletic lifestyle. Regardless, everyone seems to have common goals; to reach a place of complete body love confidence, be healthy & fit and see how much you can physically and mentally challenge yourself.
These commonalities are the basis of what I call “Anatomy of a Plus Size Athlete“. It reflects a combination of beliefs, mental attitude and actions that position you for being your best self, wherever you are on your journey, whatever body shape and size you have.
When you live your life as an athlete, you make choices with a different goal in mind. And when it’s off season, you cut yourself some slack, because no one can be in athletic mode 24/7, 365 days a year. Not even the pros, that’s why you train based on a periodization schedule (base, endurance, strength, compete and recovery). But the year over year benefits accumulate. Proof point: in 2005 my super sprint triathlon time was 1:29:39 and in 2006 on the exact same course, it was 1:05:28. That’s 24 minutes faster, and my weight had not changed (FYI weight loss = free speed).
At that time, I lived my life 1 year at a time, and it was totally driven by my race schedule. A little obsessed? YES! But I’m telling you now, you DO NOT have to be like that, that’s just where I was at that time, in my life. I was also short sighted and unnecessarily carried around weight loss mentality. I had set backs along the way (still do for various reasons called “life”) and I believe that I could haven handled things better back then, had I looked at things from a bigger picture, rather than 1 year at a time. My training was solid but I just kept focusing on it, not valuing the importance of nutrition and/or my relationship with food. As a result, I haven’t made it to the Olympic Triathlon level yet. Someday.
That appreciation of what I accomplished and not needing instant gratification in shorter time periods like 1 year, was a game changer for me. Now I look at my life in 5-year chunks, and that also allows me to be more present and flexible. And sometimes, bigger goals just need more time. It’s up to you to decide what’s worth it. But I do believe that the bigger goal, the more support you need. And I cannot stress how important it is to get some help, when all of this is new to you.
It’s not easy to make all these changes at once, I’m still learning. To help you along the way, I created this fun infographic on the Anatomy of a Plus Size Athlete. Use it as a guiding principle of where you want to be. You may not identify with every aspect today, but know that you are on your way there with the support form us and the Facebook community.