The Wellness Practice That Gives Aly Raisman The Strength To Use Her Voice
23-year-old Aly Raisman has been making headlines over the past few days, but not because of her talent as an Olympic gymnast. Raisman used her voice in a powerful speech against former Olympic doctor Larry Nassar, who has been accused of sexually abusing more than 140 Olympic gymnasts.
"Larry, you do realize now that we, this group of women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time, are now a force, and you are nothing," she said, looking directly at him during a hearing on Friday. "The tables have turned, Larry. We are here, we have our voices, and we are not going anywhere."
As an Olympic superstar, Raisman is already a role model for young women. Now she is standing up a strong advocate for women's rights. She spoke with mindbodygreen about her decision to speak out against abuse and share what keeps her going.
Taking self-care seriously.
While the meaning of wellness changes for Raisman from day-to-day, lately she's found that it means prioritizing herself, forgiving herself, and realizing that every day she needs something different.
"Even when I'm feeling exhausted or I'm having a rough day, I know I need to push myself to do that thing that will make me feel better," she explains. "For example, last night I worked out even though it was the last thing I felt like doing, but I knew at the end of the workout I would good. And I did feel better. I think it's about listening to your body and doing what you know will make you feel strong. Sometimes a workout isn't what I need—sometimes I'll take a hot bath and read a book and relax."
Supporting other women.
Raisman finds strength and hope in knowing she is not only supporting her peers, but supporting female athletes who are younger than her and only just starting out. "We need to give each other advice, and we need to listen to and support each other. It really goes a long way," she says. "Being sensitive to what everyone is going through—the more we can talk about it and listen to each other, the more we can hep each other out. Everyone's a survivor of something, so the more we talk about it the better everyone will feel."
On a smaller scope, Raisman is working with teenage athletes to help them feel less shame around their bodies. "According to Playtex Sports’ online survey completed by 1,000 women between the ages of 13 and 17, a majority (75%) confess they frequently decide not to play a sport or exercise specifically because they’re on their period," she explains. "It's not something to be ashamed of, and I want them to know they should absolutely stick to their sport. They can do anything."
Using her platform for good.
While it's not always easy to speak up, Raisman knows it's never been more essential—especially with a platform as large as hers. "I think it's really important to do the right thing," she explains. "That's why I have been so vocal in speaking out against the organizations that protected Nassar. Its not always easy, and it's scary, but there's never been a more important time for girls and women. Some days I feel anxious or scared, and other days I focus on how empowered I feel. We have an army of women and men. Times need to change, and we need to be there for to support each other."
As for her next mission, Raisman is focused on making sure future generations of athletes are safer than she was. "U.S.A. Gymnastics needs to make a lot of changes," she says. "They need to conduct an investigation to figure out what went wrong. We need to figure out the flaws in the system, because there are still a lot of answers I don't have. In order to create change, we need an investigation we can figure out how to fix it and make sure future generations are safe."
Inspired by Raisman's words? If you're a victim of sexual assault or abuse, here are some action steps you can take toward healing.