Two weeks ago, I had my first meeting with several Walden staff members and the patients in Walden’s Eating Disorder Residential Program. After meeting with the staff, I felt so lucky to be partnered with an organization that is dedicated to helping people recover from eating disorders and educating the public about this illness. But, by far, the best part of my visit, was meeting the patients.
The patients seemed quiet and shy when I first walked into the room, but I tried to make everyone feel comfortable and really show them that I am human, just like all of them. I feel that sometimes people forget that just because a person may have been on TV or competed at the Olympics, at the end of the day, they are just a regular person with passions and interests like everyone else. As the patients became more comfortable with me they started asking questions. One of them asked me where I get my confidence from. I explained that I would be lying if I said I didn’t have days when I look in the mirror and don’t feel as confident as I want to. That being said, I continued by saying that I realize being confident and happy with who I am is half the battle when competing in gymnastics. I told them that one of the ways I help myself feel more confident is to start every morning by looking in the mirror and picking out things I like about myself instead of picking myself apart with the things I could improve.
While I have never suffered from an eating disorder, I hope that my words inspired them to be a little kinder to themselves because their strength and courage to overcome their eating disorders was truly inspiring. I am so happy to be working with Walden to inspire men and women of all ages to live confidently and healthily and to embrace who they are.