Eat Sweat Play: How Sport Can Change Our Lives by Anna Kessel

Anna Kessel’s book has one main purpose – inspiring women to enjoy sports. The book is aimed in first line at women who are not that into sports. Therefore I hesitated, as I could call myself active. Moreover, I exercise quite a lot. I hit three times the gym for strength training and once a week I work on my endurance. It sounds weird, saying this out loud, but I guess I’m sporty. I have no clue why I have sometimes trouble to associate this word with me because I played for many years floorball but I never saw myself as someone who does a lot of sport.

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No, floorball is not a silly sport where you sit on the floor and throw a ball to each other. I’m not sure how familiar you’re with this sport. It’s like indoor land hockey or ice hockey without ice 😉 However before I discovered this team sport I hated PE (Physical Education) lessons. I guess, hadn’t it been for floorball I’d still be a lazy person. So I could, although I now can’t live without sport, relate very well to the readership Anna Kessel aimed at: women who are being taught that sport is only something for men, and more importantly, if a woman is sporty she shouldn’t get strong and muscular.

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#Fitspo #CleanEating

The book is written in an essay style containing nine chapters. It takes you almost through an entire life of a woman – beginning with the girls being forced to attend PE lessons (still somehow being able to skip them by having ridiculous excuses) and over the struggle of trying to maintain your sport regime while being pregnant and to the women in their forties who rediscover the joy of being active.

I really enjoyed the book as it contained not only interesting and educational interviews with professional athletes but also witty anecdotes of the struggle with sports. It contained every aspect possibly imagined about women and sports. Even the newest trend was a topic Anna Kessel wrote about – #fitspo. This section about this generation striving to be healthy and fit opened my eyes. I only saw the positive part while scrolling through the Instagram feed: “Great, women want to be active and eat clean. That’s amazing!” However, Kessel’s argumentation lets me realise that it’s just another trend to form the female body in order to look more attractive to society. They see exercise as a mean to a fitter body. Nothing against having an athletic body but this generation aims at being a little muscular with a tiny waist but having big breast and a voluminous booty. This is not something every woman can and foremost shouldn’t try to achieve. Of course, exercising is a great way to lose weight, however, we are not able to change our genetics or bone structure. We’re not able to tell our genes that they shouldn’t store fat on our thighs but on our boobs. And sadly, I haven’t realised this unhealthy “healthy” trend until Anna Kessel pointed it out in her book. Nevertheless, we have to give the trend some credit – it at least brings more women to being more active. Maybe the motives aren’t the best ones, but at least it gets women into the gym or pick up running.

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Women: often reduced to their body

Sport should be fun. And we women can also achieve great things in the world of sports. Anna Kessel interviews several amazing professional athletes about how they deal with the pressure of society. And one athlete fascinated me quite a lot, especially because I, unfortunately, had exactly the same prejudice like most others. When I as a child watched with my parents Serena Williams playing tennis I always heard comments about her figure. She’s way too masculine. Her muscles are ugly. She’s like an animal and nothing about her is feminine. Why should muscles make you less of a woman? However, I had a very similar picture of Serena Williams, because society taught me, mainly through media, already at a young age that women need to be thin and slim. Muscles are a guy thing – not something for girls. And not until I read the section about Serena, I understood that I was thinking exactly in the same way and never saw her great talent. I always saw her strength, no doubt there, but she was often reduced by media to her physical appearance. This is not only sad, it’s also extremly destructive.

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It’s more important than ever to start rethinking the entire subject of women and sports. Sport releases hormones like endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and much more. It should be a pleasure to be active and not a torture or a way to please society or your close ones.

My personal opinion on the book

Anna Kessel’s Eat Sweat Play is one motivational journey through the different hurdles women can experience while trying to pick up a sport. If you are lacking the last push to a healthier lifestyle, then this book is definitely something for you. However, even if you’re already sportive and enjoy being active it’s also a great lecture for you because it will remind you again how great the feeling is of being exhausted after an intense workout, experiencing the runner’s high or just feeling your sore muscles.

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