“Sport saved me”, I know, I know that sounds like the kind of tripe sports celebs trot out when they are trying to sell a book, but it’s my reality. At sixteen the mental health complications of an eating disorder led me to an attempt to take my own life. It’s hard for those who haven’t experienced eating disorders to understand the feeling of trying to make yourself smaller so you disappear from the world, an ambition I would have no doubt continued to pursue had a university friend not persuaded me through the doors of a Thai-boxing club. The moment I laced up the gloves and hit the pads something inside me shifted. When you punch a bag, no matter your size, the feedback from the bag gives you the feeling of strength, strength which helped me overcome the initial challenges of getting to compete, and strength which eventually helped my become a champion. More importantly, the lessons from the ring have transformed the way I see both myself and my place in the world. Boxing gave me the intrinsic knowledge that my value did not lie in the number on the scales, or in the opinion of others, but in my contribution to making change, both in myself and for those around me.
I have an intense dislike for the popular “strong is the new skinny” meme. Skinny represents, for me, all that is wrong with the fitness industry. Aspiration of small size in order to conform with a stereotype that establishes your worth by the size of your pants. I’d like a rebrand “Strong is the new Strong”, for strong to mean women embracing the incredible capacity of their human, for our pursuit of physical strength and fitness to empower not only ourselves but the daughters who are forever mirroring our actions.
I am strong, not just because I have the physical capacity, I am strong because finding strength in sport developed in me the mental strength to follow my own path, a wall strong enough that no one can tear me down and the power to face any challenge, safe in the knowledge that “I got this”…and that is my hope for every girl I meet, and for all of you.
Rachael Mackenzie is a World Thai boxing champion. Having overcome initial prejudice Rachael became the first woman to compete in Thai-boxing under the same rules as men. An injury forced a switch to boxing in 2016 where she has already achieved her goals of becoming British champion and boxing as part of the England team
A mum of twins, Rachael is a Chartered Physiotherapist, Ante/Post Natal Exercise trainer, Crossfit Coach and nutritionist. Currently pursuing an MSc in Psychology, Rachael speaks about and delivers workshops addressing all aspects of wellbeing and performance. Passionate about enabling young people to fulfil their potential, Rachael is an ambassador for The Youth Sport Trust, a charity using physical activity to transform opportunity for young people.
Rachael will be sharing wellbeing tips for mums and families as part of the MMB blog.
MMB Magazine is the magazine for modern working parents. Since its launch in late 2015 MMB Magazine has grown through the North of England and is starting launch new regional office to support working parents.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by the authors and those providing comments on these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of MMB Magazine, or any employee thereof. We make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability or validity of any information presented by individual authors and/or commenters on our blogs and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.
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