Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Struggling with self-image in the weight room

Bennett Xu

Appreciating and trusting my body’s strength is easier said than done, especially when trying not to compare my journey to those also balancing a college life.

Last year, I was granted the amazing opportunity to become a part of UT Spirit, an organization dedicated to cheering on UT’s sports teams. Being a member of UT Spirit has allowed me to gain a college experience from a deeper perspective while surrounded by strong women driven to accomplish goals as a team. 

With this responsibility comes a commitment to consistency. Weekly strength training has allowed me to grow stronger alongside my teammates, both physically and mentally. 

On the other hand, the growth I’ve endured this past year has sometimes brought feelings of self-doubt. I found myself needing to take moments to recognize how appearing strong and muscular made me feel internally. I felt that I was picking apart how I looked in everyday situations. Experiencing this was new, and with that came new emotions to acknowledge.

I was battling with my inner dialogue, trying to respect my body for allowing me to do what I love most while not criticizing how it appeared to me in the mirror. 

Emma Halter, marketing sophomore and Texas Women’s Volleyball libero, shared what she has learned from her dedication to athletics and a training regimen.

“At times it can get hard especially when you’re trying to gain strength and things are different and you don’t feel the same and you don’t feel great about yourself,” Halter said. “If I ever am struggling…I always think that my body is strong for a purpose.”

Halter explained that redirecting her energy to admiration allows her to remain driven and positive. 

“Being able to go to the gym every single day and work hard to get stronger and get your mind stronger is something that I’m very grateful for and thank God for every single day,” Halter said. “Not a lot of people get to do that.”

Mac Bechtol, a Plan II sophomore and Texas Women’s Lacrosse member, discussed her experience balancing athletics, academics and extracurricular activities.

“The way that I try and think about it in my brain is that this is fuel to make me stronger and to make me a better player,” Bechtol said. “This will sustain me in my life (to) have this muscle and have a stronger body. It’s not about how I look, it’s about how my body feels.”

Allowing myself to see the positive impact of gaining physical and mental strength has made me feel more secure and confident in my skin. From my time at UT Spirit, I’ve learned that rewarding pursuits often come attached to self-perception challenges. 

Regardless of your involvement in athletics, changes to your body are common, especially in college. While it’s normal to hyper-focus on the way we look, it’s important to praise your body for all it can do. 

I have and continue to learn that the gift and ability to grow stronger and perform athletically is a reason to treat my body with kindness and love — not to pick it apart.

Gannon is a journalism freshman from Houston, Texas.

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