Katie Austin says mom Denise Austin never talked weight loss at home
Katie Austin talks about creating a “non-intimidating” fitness brand. (Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
It Figures is Yahoo Life’s body image series that delves into the journeys of influential and inspirational figures as they explore what body confidence, body neutrality, and self-love mean to them.
If Katie Austin has learned one thing as one of the 2022 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Rookies, it’s that comparison gets you nowhere when it comes to your relationship with your body. That is why she has paved her own lane.
“I’m like the real normal girl in Sports Illustrated. I think I represent that, to be honest, because I’m not like the traditional model,” she tells Yahoo Life. “I just want to represent that normal girl. And that goes for my fitness brand as well.”
It might seem like an impossible goal for the daughter of ’80s fitness icon Denise Austin, who built her career during a time when women’s fitness was marketed as a tool to lose fat and shed pounds. However, Cathy says those outdated ideas about exercise were never preached at home.
“A lot of her tapes are like, ‘Lose the last 10 pounds,’ and they’re also about weight loss. But during my childhood and growing up, there was nothing about weight loss and numbers on a scale or anything like that. like that.”, she explains. “I think it’s because I was an athlete. My dad was a professional tennis player so it was always about working out to get stronger and training for something, it was never about aesthetics. I wasn’t working out or running because I wanted abs and I wanted to lose weight or I wanted to drop so many inches off my waist.”
Her parents’ combined philosophies when it comes to exercise placed an emphasis on physical and even mental health before that conversation became mainstream. “Working out because it’s good for the heart, it’ll make you feel better, it’ll give you confidence,” Austin recalls learning.
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Katie and Denise walking hand-in-hand on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit runway during Paraiso Miami Beach. (Photo: Getty Images)
But that didn’t mean she’d be immune to the toxic messages of diet and exercise culture she was exposed to once she left home — especially as a college athlete.
“In college, there was no emphasis on mental health and it was all about success. …It was always a battle,” she says. “That’s when my anxiety really started, when I got to college and started playing lacrosse.”
As much attention was paid to Austin’s diet and training as her success on the court. While her body image coincided with her identity as an athlete for much of her upbringing, it was after college that that relationship really began to suffer.
“I’ve never had a weird relationship with food in my life, but as an athlete, they just feed you so much and carb load and you have to chug two muscle milks after practice just to make sure you get the protein, ” she explains. . I wasn’t training like that anymore, so my body couldn’t take it.
Austin says that not only did she experience a kind of identity loss after her athletic career came to an end, but she also faced dissonance with her body for the first time since she was no longer training for her sport. At about eight months, she started running. “I accidentally lost a lot of weight,” she says. She then realized the need to focus on identifying a new regimen that would fit her updated lifestyle.
“I stayed very internal about it. I don’t think I ever vocalized it,” she says, wishing she had. “It can be really hard to get out of something if you’re down or if you’re not motivated, you’re not inspired. Having a community and asking for help with that is really, really important.”
When she couldn’t find that community, Austin tried to create one. Her mission was to be her coach after missing the team structure in her life, but also be relatable in her approach. It was not her intention to follow her mother’s path as a fitness professional. However, she embraced the opportunity to recreate Denise’s journey for her audience.
“I feel like I have a very unbearable brand because I really am a normal girl. I work out for 30 minutes a day, I eat honestly 70% of the time and I want to show how, you can do both. you can be both. And then you can grow a brand and be an entrepreneur and be in a Sports Illustrated swimsuit,” she says.
Even after walking alongside her 65-year-old mother on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit runway and being named Rookie of the Year with her best friend and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Christen Harper, Austin is shunning the comparison and prioritize her happiness when it comes to setting her goals for 2023.
“It’s really important to remember why you exercise. It’s not to fit these beauty standards, it’s to make sure you feel like your best self. Exercise not because you hate your body, but because you love it,” she says. . “I have the best relationship I’ve ever had with my body and it’s not an overnight thing.”
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