Before starting pole, I was self-conscious. Having recently gained the “Freshman 15”, I was sensitive about my weight and size. I buoyed between not caring about my physical appearance and meticulously tracking everything I put in my mouth, making sure I was consuming only a certain number of calories per day. I didn’t know how to hold myself, had poor posture, and sometimes felt out of place among my friends. Once I started pole, I noticed a change. Having never been an athletically-inclined individual, I marveled at the things my body could do. As I progressed through basic spins, then climbs, then inverts, I amazed myself at every milestone by accomplishing something I never thought I could do. This isn’t to say that once I started pole, my body image issues immediately disappeared. I continued to have bad days, where all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and hide from the world. Overtime, I noticed that I felt more confident in myself; I focused on what my body could do rather than what it looked like.
This change coincided with a change in my eating habits. After similarly bouncing around with my diet for months, I settled into a largely consistent pattern – focusing on nutrition rather than calories. Now, my diet consists of things that I love, while being mindful of nutrition. I make a greater effort to eat more fruits and vegetables, complex carbs, and drink lots of water. I also still eat ice cream, cookies, tortilla chips, and other unhealthy foods that I love. My goal with my diet is not to ban my favorite foods from my life, but to incorporate healthier foods into my existing diet (butternut squash mac and cheese, anyone?).
Overall, my body image has shifted from the superficial – weight and calorie intake – to the robust – nutrition and ability. Pole has played a large part in this transition, and my self-love grows as I continue to train on and off the pole.