MHM 8/15/16: The Unique Gymnast Body

August 15, 2016 in Recovery

Hi guys and happy Monday!! I am home from my little getaway to Maine with my fam which was SO amazing, and I only have 13 days home till I’m back to school- eeeeep!! Anyways, going to be linking up with  Julia today for another Mental Health Monday so let’s get started 🙂


Have y’all been keeping up with the Olympics?! I sure hope you have: especially with gymnastics because those girls have been kicking some serious butt. The team won the gold medal, Simone Biles won gold in the all around and vault, Aly Raisman won silver in the all around, and Madison Kocian just won silver on the uneven bars. These girls are so freakin’ strong and their work-ethic is admirable. Not to mention watching them do their thang just puts the biggest smile on my face because their love for the sport is just so evident. I could ramble on and on about how amazing these gymnasts are, but let’s stick to the point of this post instead of me just talking your ear off.

These gymnasts bodies are all unique. They don’t all look the same. They are not sticks. They are strong, they are fierce. They have muscle. Simone Biles does not have a thigh gap. The best gymnast in the world does not have a thigh gap. Ya hear me out on this one??

Something you might not know about me is that I was a competitive gymnast for 8 years (hence why the Olympics and every gymnastics competition still excites me). I was a gymnast in elementary school, middle school, and part of high school. One thing I wish I understood and could tell my young teenage self is that my body did not have to look a certain way to excel more in the sport. I did not have to be stick thin in order to be the best gymnast. And this desire to be stick thin that stemmed from the pressures of doing well in gymnastics (as well as other reasons) led me to go down the path of restriction. Restriction caused me to lose weight, which then caused me to feel weak, which then caused me to be tired all the time, etc. etc. I became thinner but the more I restricted, the worse my performance obviously became. (less food, less energy, duh!) Looking back, I wish I realized that food packed with nutrients would have actually enhanced my performance and fuel me to do my best. Looking back, I also wish this BOPO movement was something I knew about, and that it was bigger: specifically in athletes.

Sometimes athletes feel the need to look a certain way to perform their best. Megan talks about this frequently and is working hard to end disordered eating among runners and remove the belief that runners have to be “lean/skinny” to be good. I could argue that dancers and gymnasts feel this way too. My best friend Marina talks about the pressures that dancers feel to be tall and thin in this amazing post too. I know that as a gymnast, I always looked up to Nastia Liukin. I admired her incredibly small frame and her long legs that the commentators made sure to make a point of every single competition. I saw how successful she was and how she went on to win the Olympics, and I definitely began to believe that in order to be good in the sport, you can’t be “big.” Or if you were slightly “bigger,” you had to be all muscle and extremely powerful. The problem was, I fell right in the middle of those categories and I didn’t like that feeling: at all.

I am so happy now that many of these gymnasts are body positive. Shawn Johnson struggled with loving her body, and now she is open about how important it is to recognize that we are all uniquely made. Aly Raisman is the spokeswoman for Walden Behavioral Care, eating disorder treatment with various locations around New England. (the place I got treatment at!) I commend Aly for doing this and speaking out how important it is to love yourself and treat yourself with care!


Psalm 139:14. I ADORE this verse. Because it is such an important reminder that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made by God. God created us and made us special. God created us so that we can do wonderful things. He did not create us to tear and bash our bodies apart. He gave us these bodies. He gave those athletes those bodies and that gift they have, in whatever sport it may be; to use their bodies to do what they love and to do what truly makes them happy. He did not give them those bodies so they can work so hard to change it and compare it to the athlete next to them, or feel the need to make it smaller to because they believe it will make them do better. God created us with love and tender care, and he made us to be UNIQUE! We all need to remember that.

It makes my heart so happy to be seeing all these beautiful and amazing different body types killin’ it over there in Rio doing what they love!!

No questions today, but as always I would love to hear your thoughts on this as I value and cherish them so much!! Have a happy Monday friends! ? 


Lyss <3

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  • Reply Marina @ A Dancer's Live-It August 15, 2016 at 2:21 am

    YES TO ALL OF THIS! Thank you so much for including my post in here. 🙂 “God created us so that we can do wonderful things. He did not create us to tear and bash our bodies apart.” YES this is so true and makes my heart so full. I’m soooo happy all of these gymnasts look healthy and strong and are role models for young girls! And I’m so happy you and the fam had fun in Maine <3 xoxo love you bunches!!
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    • Reply Alyssa August 16, 2016 at 3:46 am

      of course love!! I loved it so so much. I am so happy these gymnasts look healthy too. I really think in some other countries, they don’t as much. But our girls from the U.S. are looking so strong and healthy: not to mention they are SO fierce and are sweeping up all the medals too!

  • Reply Stephanie August 15, 2016 at 10:50 am

    What a beautiful post! I can attest to all the hard work you put into your gymnastics. You have all the trophies to remind you of just what a great gymnast you were. I am so happy to see you have found other passions in your life because no matter what you do my dear Alyssa you are wonderful! Thanks for spreading body love to all people! And for being the best hiking buddy ever!

    • Reply Alyssa August 16, 2016 at 3:47 am

      thank you so much mom!! You supported me along that journey of my life <3 and I love hiking with you so much!!!

  • Reply Kate August 15, 2016 at 11:43 am

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot while watching the Olympics too. I actually like that the beach volleyball players wears bikinis because they appear so comfortable in their bodies. They are all different looking, but powerful and incredible!
    The gymnastics is what I’ve been intentionally watching. It’s definitely my favorite. Unfortunately I think it was in gymnastics as a kid that I started to notice my body was different than other girls. I was a little older and bigger than the other girls and I think that was hard for me. I still hold the memories fondly, but I do wish there could be more discussion among young gymnasts about body image!
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    • Reply Alyssa August 16, 2016 at 3:49 am

      love seeing those volleyball players so confident in their bodies as well. it is really refreshing! I hope more discussion comes along with young gymnasts and body image as well, because it is definitely a topic that is under the radar right now in the bopo world!

  • Reply kat August 15, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    I watch the olympics for many different reasons, but seeing the athletism and structure of each individual is definitely a big one! My favorite are the sprinters. Those ladies have some THICK, STRONG thighs – and they have too! They freaking run fasting that lighting for crying out loud. I am just amazed by their strength and power.
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    • Reply Alyssa August 16, 2016 at 3:54 am

      So cool to notice that within sports, athletes have different bodies as well. Just like you said with the sprinters! Those sprinters are seriously SO talented!

  • Reply Emily August 15, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    I LOVE THIS. If we could just look around in wonder and see how God created everyone to be different, formed us all in different ways, and made us all for different purposes instead of trying to fit bodies into a box, there would always be so much freedom to really appreciate each person. And that’s exactly what all my blogger friends do; it’s such an encouragement to see.

    God made us all to show His wonder and His glory. <3 And you are one of those evidences to His love and Jesus' saving work.

    Thank God for all those different athletes! It's so awesome seeing that they are all different and all working so hard.
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    • Reply Alyssa August 16, 2016 at 3:39 am

      He DID make us to show his wonders and his glory 🙂 and girl, you are as well!! I love seeing these athletes hard work pay off- it is so amazing to watch!

  • Reply Kathleen August 15, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    Preach. Even if you don’t explicitly think that “I need to be X pounds to be an athlete,” it’s easy to think that you can have it both ways: a stick-thin body with some muscle and power too. Only now am I realizing that those things are mutually exclusive (but better late than never!) Thanks for talking about this.
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    • Reply Alyssa August 16, 2016 at 3:56 am

      It is so easy to fall into the black and white mindset when it comes to having a thin body and a muscular body. But the vast majority of people do fall in between, and that is totally okay!! Thank you for reading Kathleen <3

  • Reply Claire @ My Pink & Green Life August 15, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    I love this! I also wish that the commentators would talk less about female athletes’ bodies and admire more what they can do. You’re right; everyone on this year’s female gymnastics team looks so different from one another, but they are all amazing athletes! 🙂 I wish they’d just focus on that and not say anything else.
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    • Reply Alyssa August 16, 2016 at 3:40 am

      I could not agree more with you Claire on that!! I get so frustrated when commentators talk about the girls bodies so much. It takes away from what these ladies can actually do, which is so so sad.

  • Reply Ellie August 16, 2016 at 12:04 am

    I really appreciate the coverage of athletes and all the interesting articles about what they eat to perform best. They are all fantastic at what they do and have the correct form to do so. I do think it is dangerous to compare us normal people with them (even if it is the strong gymnasts) because we simply aren’t them. Simone might not have a thigh gap, but that doesn’t mean we should mimic her workouts or diet, because it’s probably not sustainable for us.
    I love that scripture verse as well. We are so wonderfully made!
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    • Reply Alyssa August 16, 2016 at 3:42 am

      Obviously our bodies are going to look different than an olympic athletes body, as they are intensely training pretty much every day of the week. What I was hinting at is that none of these girls bodies are alike and that you don’t have to have a certain body to excel in athletics!

  • Reply Kristy from Southern In Law August 16, 2016 at 12:23 am

    It’s not just gymnasts who have different bodies – we all do! And I think that’s what we need to remember.

    Even when you see a line up of people who are all the same weight and height – they all look different. There is no “perfect” body because each and every one of us are unique. Even identical twins have their own quirks!
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    • Reply Alyssa August 16, 2016 at 3:43 am

      yes, we are all uniquely made and that is beautiful- just like all these athletes and gymnasts are too!

  • Reply sarah August 16, 2016 at 12:58 am

    I admire the gymnasts so much for their strength and athleticism. They are incredibly talented and they work so hard to be able to do what they do. Their bodies are strong and they wouldn’t be able to do what they do if they starved themselves or were stick thin. I like watching the Olympics because it helps me to see that strong is beautiful. I love that verse and I remind myself of it often, God created us beautifully and uniquely and flawlessly. We are so much more than our bodies.

    • Reply Alyssa August 16, 2016 at 3:44 am

      Yesss- strong IS beautiful. Sometimes our society gets so unbelievable caught up in being skinny and these athletes show us the amazing gift of being strong!

  • Reply Heather @ Polyglot Jot August 16, 2016 at 1:16 am

    Love this! I used to put the same pressure on myself as a former dancer! I still catch myself thinking stupid self-hating thoughts on a low day! Thanks for the awesome reminder that we are all unique!
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    • Reply Alyssa August 16, 2016 at 3:45 am

      I totally feel like dancers get that pressure too. I felt it so often as a gymnast! I’m glad you could resonate with this post Heather and found it an enjoyable read. Hope your week is off to a good start!

  • Reply Megan Hallier August 16, 2016 at 7:50 am

    I think the gymnasts are incredible. I mean who really cares what they look like when you see the amazing things they can do! They are so inspiring.
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  • Reply Steve August 16, 2016 at 8:09 am

    Thank you for a very truthful post, Lyss. I feel that it goes for every person on the planet. Admittedly, there might be a gender bias to this, because the fads are often targeted to females. The thigh gap is just a fad. Most women go to the gym, exercise relentlessly and still would not achieve that. You sharing this post to everyone out there will hopefully open their eyes to it too.

  • Reply Diana @ Live Lean Eat Green August 16, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    I’ve been thinking the exact same thing watching the Olympics. It’s just incredible to see the range of strong, powerful, healthy bodies from Simone Biles to Alison Flex to Katie Ledecky! All incredible in their own way!
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  • Reply Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday August 17, 2016 at 1:20 am

    Yesss to all of this. I think it’s amazing that all the athletes – and even so many athletes within one sport – look SO different, yet perform at such a similar incredible level. Bodies are so cool.
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