Maia Wilson fights inner demons

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Silver Ferns shooter Maia Wilson has opened up about the physical and mental battles she has had with her body throughout her netball career.

Photo: Photosport Ltd 2021

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In a lengthy post on Instagram, Wilson has revealed she has been obsessed with losing weight from the age of 15 and while healthy now she hates the way she looks.

“Ever since I can remember I’ve always been bigger and taller than the rest. Size was always my strength and I absolutely loved it. Fast forward to 15 year old Maia coming through the ranks, and it was then I remember clear as day that I was advised that I needed to lose some weight.

“From that day on the scales became my enemy. Don’t get me wrong, as I reflect I do agree that I needed to drop a few kgs but now it has caught up on me and created some of my worst inner demons.

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“I remember when I wouldn’t eat or drink if I was going to see the nutritionist because it would be make me “heavier”. I created the narrative that the more weight I lost, the fitter I would be, and for someone who struggled making fitness targets which would lead to non-selection, you best be sure I wanted to be the “lightest” or “skinniest” I could.

“Let’s be real, I wasn’t and still aren’t the typical netball athlete’s aesthetic. As I got older I began to compare myself to my peers, I would become jealous because some of them could eat anything under the sun and I would just have to look at it and I felt like I was gaining weight.

“As a result, I became so strict and obsessive with food, getting anxiety if I didn’t eat at certain times of the day, feeling guilty if I had 1 treat during the week etc. After losing weight, it was the only thing people would comment on and was acting like my whole game had changed when to me it wasn’t a drastic change in performance.

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“The photo on the left [of Maia Wilson’s iinstagram post] was taken during lockdown 2020. I had hit what I thought was the jackpot, being the lightest and fittest I had ever been. At this point the scales were my friend, they were my motivator.

“I was so obsessed about coming out of lockdown without putting on weight and at least maintaining fitness that I started weighing myself 6 times daily to make sure I was staying “on track”. Most days I was doing double conditioning sessions and on my rest day I would sit on the bike and spin for 30 mins to burn off my 1 treat for the week.

“Coming out of lockdown I was on a high, got a PB on the yoyo and was playing some good netball but a couple of weeks in I started feeling exhausted after the first quarter and had lost my period for 4 months, I knew something wasn’t right. It was then I was told I needed to put weight on as I was too lean with bugger all body fat.

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“Imagine being advised for 8 years to continually lose weight, to then be told you now need to put on. Two words: mind f**k.

Maia Wilson of the Silver Ferns takes a ball under pressure from Sarah Klau of the Diamonds during the 1st Constellation Cup netball test at Horncastle Arena, Christchurch, New Zealand, 2nd March 2021.

Maia Wilson in action against Australia in the first Constellation Cup test in March this year.
Photo: Photosport Ltd 2021

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“As you can see by the photo on the right [of Maia Wilson’s Instagram post], I have loosened up and have put that weight on. But instead of battling physically, it is a raging storm in my head. I hate the way I look, I constantly feel fat and even though I know I’m healthier and performance wise I’m in a better state to do my job.

“I hate the way I look. In the left photo, it wasn’t sustainable for health or performance. In the right photo it is. Personally, if I have a bad performance once I get back home around friends and family I am able to learn from it but also get over it because at the end of the day we’re people first and athletes second. However, the biggest challenge is that I can’t run away from my anxiety/guilt.

“So why am I saying this? I know I’m not alone. I’m still coming to terms with feeling comfortable in body. I know I should be so proud of what it does because it is helped me get to where I am, no one plays the way I do because there is only one of me and on the other hand I can’t play like anyone else.

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“Don’t worry whānau, I have been getting help for a wee while but I know that it’s gonna take time to breakdown my inner demons but I can’t wait till I do.”

Silver Ferns Maia Wilson.

Maia Wilson in action against England in 2020.
Photo: PHOTOSPORT

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A number of Wilson’s Silver Ferns teammates have expressed their support on Instagram.

“Strong and powerful sis. We all grow through our inner demons, proud to see you facing yours head on, here with you whenever for whatever you need x,” Silver Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio replied to Wilson’s post.

“Love you my friend and so proud of you being brave and vulnerable so others can connect & feel they’re not alone. Got you ❤️ xx,” Silver Ferns defender Sulu Fitzpatrick posted.

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“Beautiful inside and out MaiMais xx,” Silver Ferns mid-courter Shannon Saunders said.

-RNZ

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