How Rebecca Adlington beat the bullies and found self-acceptance
-Apr 4, Jenny Paul, Living -
Rebecca Adlington has accomplished more in her life than most of us could ever hope to achieve over several lifetimes.
The 29-year-old Mansfield, England born competitive swimmer won two gold and two bronze Olympic medals and smashed a series of world records whilst representing Great Britain in two Olympic games, four World Championships, two European Championships and the Commonwealth games, all before retiring from competitive swimming at the age of 23.
She was awarded an OBE by the Queen in 2009 for her sporting prowess. Next, Rebecca Adlington went on to guest star in a series of British television shows, married former swimmer Harry Needs in 2014 and gave birth to their daughter Summer in 2015. In March 2016, the couple announced that they were separating and now Becky is a busy working single mum who is busy forging a solid career for herself on British television.
We wanted to know how she does it all and what lessons Rebecca has learned during her years in the spotlight.
“The most fundamental thing I have learned is to always be true to who you are,” the star tells Lumity in an exclusive interview. “Trust your gut. Swimming is an individual sport, it’s only you in that pool so you have to learn to trust and believe in yourself. That translates to so many things in life, whether it’s being a parent or career choices or in life in general, I have learned to trust my intuition and gut feelings and to do what I believe is right.
“Obviously I still have a lot to learn; I have friends who say, ‘You have done so much with your life!’ but of course I’ve made a lot mistakes over the years. But I really believe in just being true to myself.”
Back in 2013, Rebecca Adlington spoke frankly about insecurities over how she looks whilst appearing on a reality TV show that is set in the Australian jungle called, ‘I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here’. She admitted that the pressure to look good once she was propelled into the spotlight at a young age due to her sporting career left her “very, very insecure”. She also revealed that she was subject to a flurry of online cyber-bullying, with strangers writing nasty comments about her appearance on social media on a weekly basis.
“I have realised now that every single woman in the world feels the same to some extent,” Rebecca tells Lumity about finally coming to terms with her body image. “No woman is 100% secure in how they look every second of every day. I was 19 and thrust into this crazy world that comes with fame. And I took all the comments on Twitter really personally at the time. I was thinking, ‘why are they attacking me?’. But the jungle helped with that, talking about it in such depth was great because I finally realised that I wasn’t alone in the way that I felt.
“When you’re with a group of friends you might stop and say, ‘do I look good in this outfit?’ or whatever before you go out but I had never really sat down and openly admitted how I felt and said, ‘this really bothers me’. But talking about it really helped me, and I have changed because I’m older now as well. I realise that people only write horrible things on social media because they’re bored and they don’t really mean it. So I have learned to ignore it and I’m much happier and more secure these days.”
Rebecca adds that what really helped was becoming a mum to daughter Summer, who is now three years old: “I think becoming a mum has massively changed everything for me. The pettiness has gone, because she’s what’s important. When I take Summer swimming I’m not worried if I have cellulite because I am focused on my daughter and keeping her safe and making sure she has fun.
“I look at my stretch-marks and I think, ‘I am PROUD of that’ – because they were a part of creating a whole new life. I have this whole new appreciation for the human body and how amazing it is. My body has given me four Olympic medals and a daughter and I just think, ‘wow, it’s amazing what our bodies can do!’, so all the insecurities of my younger years have completely turned on their head and I am really thankful for my body now and I want to look after it.”
Rebecca once posted on her Instagram that she has had a “love-hate relationship with exercise since retiring.” She added, “This year I have finally found that balance. But I have maintained doing four workouts a week, eating a balanced diet, getting at least 7/8 hours sleep a night, taking Lumity every day, drinking 3 litres of water a day and taking time for me. I’m hopefully being a good role model to my daughter.”
She tells us that the new fitness drive and learning to love exercise again wasn’t motivated about how she looks or about fitting into skinny jeans, “This year wasn’t about being a certain weight,” Rebecca reveals. “It’s about being as healthy as I can for my daughter. I want to be around for her for as long as I possibly can.
“Since taking Lumity I have noticed that I have the energy to do things with my daughter as well as working hard and taking on exciting challenges like Masterchef.
“I don’t want to be starving myself, and then end up constantly ill all the time and unable to take Summer out for the day because my body isn’t getting all the nutrients it needs. Also, I can have the odd day where we go out and have pizza and ice cream together because I know that I’m being healthy for the majority of the rest of the week.
“I want to live and enjoy life and not feel guilty for enjoying the odd treat. I feel so healthy and I am rarely ill. I feel very grateful.”
Did you enjoy this? Perhaps you’d like to read how one woman went from being in a wheelchair to doing a record-breaking swim across the globe. If you have a love-hate relationship with exercise here’s how to fall in love with working out again. And here’s the exercise trend that will fill you with joy.