Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn says she ‘struggled’ with confidence for a long time: ‘My body is my body’
Lindsey Vonn opens up about her mental health struggles during and after her career. The four-time Olympian explains how she’s helping other Olympic hopefuls avoid similar highs and lows.
LINDSEY VONN: It's important to, first of all, support not just athletes but anyone who expresses that they have a mental health issue.
I kind of thought for a long time, you know, well, I'm not normal. And it's like there is really no normal.
I've been skiing since I was 2 and 1/2 years old, been racing since I was 7. It's really been the focus of my life for as long as I can remember. And then retiring, it's basically you wake up one day and you're no longer doing what you always did. So as much as I had prepared for it, it still emotionally was really difficult to deal with.
I think there's a common misconception with athletes that because we're strong and we stand on the podium that we're somehow immune to mental health issues. I think on the contrary, it leaves us more susceptible to things like that, because we are isolated and we oftentimes don't have a support system for our mental health.
After I won the Olympics in 2010, I kind of got bombarded with a lot of negativity that I wasn't quite equipped to handle. And so I definitely struggled with that and struggled with just confidence and body image for a long time. But now I'm kind of at a point where I just don't care what other people think, to be honest. My body is my body and it's helped me succeed in so many ways in life.
I've always worked out. But I've always worked out for a purpose, which is to compete. And now I work out for my mental health. I feel like honestly, it helps me more mentally than it does physically. And it's a great way for me to start my day and just to feel really empowered and confident. My support system, you know, hanging out with my dogs has definitely helped me in my day-to-day life.
Partnering with Allianz and their Dog Squad program was really, really important to me, because it combined my two favorite things that are sources of therapy, like my dogs and giving athletes that are going to the Olympics for the first time, these athletes have never been in this position before. So they have obviously extra anxiety, extra pressure. And to help alleviate that and to be able to speak about mental health, I think was really important to me.
When you travel and compete and you're always on the go, you don't really have a lot of stability. And my dogs have really given me a sense of home and a sense of grounding that I don't get from anything else. I wish there was a human that did that. But so far, it's just my dogs. We're quite the pack.
I feel like you're always working on your mental health. Just like everything else in life, I'm always learning and growing and every day become a better person and I learn more about myself. But I'm at a very happy stage in life. I'm very present right now. I'm not looking too far in the future. I'm just enjoying and working hard and mentally, physically, emotionally, I feel very good.