Athlete embraces her body years after being told she wasn't 'small enough' to be a gymnast – Express

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CrossFit star and coach Lucy Campbell, has had quite the journey when it comes to accepting herself and her body. The 25-year-old started her sporting journey as a national-level gymnast aged 12, but after leaving swimming behind due to burn-out, she decided to try a new sport altogether and has thrived.
CrossFit is a form of high-intensity interval training that is made up of functional movements such as squatting, pulling and pushing.
She finished first in the UK in the Quarterfinals of the CrossFit Games earlier this year, but her phenomenal rise through the elite sport has been met with struggles around body image and her relationship with food, due to being constantly told she “wasn’t small enough to be a swimmer or a gymnast”.
But it wasn’t until she successfully competed in CrossFit which helped her realise a certain aesthetic doesn’t equal performance and found what her body was truly capable of.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Lucy said: “I’ve always been incredibly sporty. I grew up with swimming and gymnastics being my ‘main’ sports, but when I quit swimming at 20 years old, I started training in the gym more to try to keep up some fitness.
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“When I was a gymnast, my coach used to shout at her daughter that she was fat. I always used to think that she was in great shape and so I thought ‘if that’s what she thinks of her, what does she think of me?’
“That made me become much more self-conscious about my body.” Lucy recalled being only 13 years old when a coach first made a comment about her weight – her legs specifically.
“It was horrible,” she admitted. “I started tracking my calories at a dangerously young age.
“I was incredibly aware of the food I was eating and I had an awful relationship with food. I’d feel guilty every time I ate something that wasn’t ‘healthy’ so I’d try to train even more to compensate for it, despite already training nine to 10 times a week.
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Lucy recalled hiding behind her bag when she entered the pool and hated wearing shorts.
“I look back at pictures of myself where I thought I looked significantly bigger than I actually was and it makes me really sad that at any point in time I was made to feel that I wasn’t good enough by people I looked up to and respected,” she said.
The athlete admitted that she also tried hard to meet other people’s expectations when it came to her weight.
“Initially I tried to lose weight because I was under the impression, and had been told, that it would help to improve my performance,” she explained.
READ MORE: Michael Mosley weight loss: Remove three foods to stay slimLucy was told she wasn’t 'small enough' to be a swimmer or a gymnast when she was youngerShe finished first in the UK in the Quarterfinals of the CrossFit Games earlier this year“Swimming is a sport filled with very slim women. Then when I quit swimming, I put on weight and didn’t like the way I looked or felt.
“Although honestly, I don’t remember a time (until starting CrossFit) when I haven’t been trying to be smaller.”
But Lucy has dramatically changed her outlook and mindset for the better and it’s all down to her new-found love for CrossFit.
“I realised I didn’t actually want to be skinny, I wanted to feel good, and I mistakenly associated feeling good with being skinny,” she said.
“So I stopped focusing on trying to be skinny and fell in love with training and the process of trying to feel fit and strong.
“And now I like how my body looks as a muscular woman, but I love what it can do as a strong one.”
She added honestly: “I still have days where I want to be leaner, but it always comes from a performance standpoint, rather than an aesthetic one.
“My priority is that I am healthy and performing well. So right now I am comfortable with that.”
Now she has a good relationship with food she feels “free”, adding: “When I improved my relationship with food, my quality of life improved dramatically and I’m incredibly thankful for that.”
She revealed that while her dietary needs are that of an athlete, she doesn’t eat 100 percent healthy all the time and still enjoys food that makes her “feel good” and that “keeps her sane”.
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