It’s Not Just Muscles I’m Growing, Here

I had a mini-epiphany the other morning while I was driving to school.

You see, winter ended last week, meaning that this week it’s summer, so I was able to take my sleeveless dresses out of the closet and pack away my sweaters and pants. SoCal doesn’t know how to properly season.

But it’s the dress I was wearing the spurred the insightful moment. For the first time in months, I felt free, and confident. The scale that morning had read a full ten pounds heavier than my “preferred” weight as of not long ago, and yet I was happy. I was so, so happy. My body felt strong, I had my arms out and I just knew my students would remark on it, “Miss P, stop flexing, it’s distracting,” and we would laugh. I had spent the previous 8 weeks or so covered up in sweaters and pants, each day dreading getting dressed, feeling wholly unlike myself, like I was hiding, like I had for so long in years past.

 

And that’s just one of the things my sports have done for me- given me the ability to laugh with my students, while piquing their curiosity. This gentle ribbing leads to questions about what it is that I do, what it is that I eat, and how it is that society views me- a strong, muscular woman. Powerlifting and bodybuilding has provided me with a platform on which to educate my students about things that they have never encountered before. I revel in this opportunity, and I know that simply by being who I am, I am  broadening the perspectives of my students.

 

Beyond the obvious strength and muscle gains associated with my sports- bodybuilding and powerlifting- I have gained a wealth of other, perhaps more powerful, betterments as well.

 


When I walk in public, I feel confident. I can wear shorts, leggings, tank tops, bright colors or patterns, clothes that guarantee a person’s eye does not simply pass over me any longer. In previous iterations of myself, I wore mostly black, navy, or gray- background colors. If people notice me, I don’t worry too much that I’ve got something on my face, a stain on my shirt, or that they are thinking negative thoughts about my body. I am reasonably sure that they are noticing the hard work I’ve put in, and if they are harboring negativity towards me, towards what I look like, frankly I don’t give a damn. My body does not need to look like someone else’s ideal; my body has no requirement, no test to pass, in order to be allowed to take up space. What’s more, I am not shy to not long be seen, but to purposely call attention to myself, even! I feel confident in public, and that’s what my sports have done for me.

 

 

When a friend invites me to try a new activity that she loves- hot yoga, aerial silks, bouldering, stair sprints, snorkeling, or underwater blindfolded upside down basket weaving- I can say yes. I know what my body is capable of, and I know that even if something is hard at first, my body is strong enough to push through and give a valiant effort. I have a good idea where my limits are, and I also know how far I can push them. I know that I can try an activity and stand a reasonable chance at not making a total fool of myself, and perhaps have a chance at being good at it, even. I can say yes to trying new things, and that’s what my sports have done for me.

 

 

 

 

 

When I go to a restaurant, I don’t have to feel anxiety over what I’m orderingwhat is the waiter thinking? What is my friend thinking? Are they going to judge me for eating a plate of pasta? Oh god maybe I’ll just eat half so they don’t judge me… and I’ll skip dessert. My performance in the gym has become my focus- even when I’m on contest prep for bodybuilding and calories are lower, the goal isn’t to eat as little as possible, or worry about what other people think of my food. The goal is to fuel my body in order to achieve my goals. My sports have enabled me and pushed me to educate myself about nutrition, and freed me from worrying about what other people think about my consumption, because I know what I need to do, and I know that nobody else knows what my body needs quite like I do. I can order- and demolish- two entire breakfasts at a restaurant if I want to, or just two sides of steamed vegetables, and not feel guilty about my choices, and that’s what my sports have done for me.

When I step onto the scale, and the number is higher than it was the day before, it does not ruin my day. I do not feel like less of a person for being more of a person… most days. This one has been a work in progress, something deeply engrained into me by society, but I’ve found it getting easier and easier as I progress into my sports. This number is simply a data point for me, now, and I note it and move on. My height does not dictate my worth as a person- this is a number. My bank account balance does not dictate my worth as a person- this is a number. The collection of adorable printed socks I own for the purpose of deadlifting in does not dictate my worth as a person- this is just another number. Even my squat max, however proud I am of this number, does not tell you my value. What’s more- I am the only person who knows this number. Unless I specifically tell you, or a stranger at Target, what the scale said that morning, nobody sees that number hanging over my head as I walk around, to judge me by it. Numbers do not tell you, or me, or anyone else, my worth, they are simply numbers, and the one on my scale is no different, and that’s what my sports have done for me.

 

 

When I think about all of the things I can do now, as a direct or indirect result of bodybuilding and powerlifting, I’m astounded. Yes, I’m stronger and leaner, but I’m also more educated, more aware of my body and how it feels, about what I put into it and what I get out of it. My entire view of myself and my perspective of how people, how society views me is different. Bodybuilding and powerlifting have shaped me, in more ways than one, to be a better person. I could have never anticipated these changes when I first picked up a barbell fourth-ish years ago. I have not only transformed my body, but my mind, my perceptions, and my attitudes as well, and for that I will be eternally grateful to the iron, for molding me, shaping me into the person I am today.


What have your sports done for you?

 

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56 thoughts on “It’s Not Just Muscles I’m Growing, Here

    1. Thank you! I think we are all works in progress- and it’s important to reflect on changes and to take notice of them in order to appreciate them- it’s too easy to get jaded and ignore progress otherwise.

      The videos are old- from the end of 2013 I believe, but a friend took me to a few aerial silks classes and I really enjoyed it for a minute! It’s a really fun, and challenging, workout!

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Very well written post. Insightful and honest. Bold and true. Good for others to see this not only for what you have done and become but how it frames and forms your perspectives, thoughts, feelings, reactions and emotions. Our sport be it fitness, powerlifting, crossfit or marathons, impacts our mind and body and lifestyle just as much as we impact the sport itself. We can either build it up and make it better and more attractive to others or we can destroy and defame it, undermine it and let it dissolve into nothing. Look at where NPC fitness is now. There are now more divisions then at any other time in history for men and women to partake! Good or bad this sport and lifestyle are growing indeed!

    Liked by 7 people

  2. I felt freed by your words: freed from my obsession with my scale, freed from my refusal to enjoy the occasional “cheat food” (by wallowing in self-hatred). I love what you wrote. A strong body feels so good, and that is what it is all about. Thank you for expressing yourself so well!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Wow, wow! What an amazing feeling, thank you for sharing that! It is so important to love your body, and to accept that life is imperfect, that sometimes a life worth living includes more than broccoli and exercise- life is about LIVING! About experiencing and enjoying! I’m so glad to have helped you find a little more perspective!

      Liked by 3 people

  3. It’s great to hear a women as young as you are comfident about her body. I’m really into politics so I read a lot. I’m older 50 and I’ve never weight trained even at your age. Things were different then and I wasn’t as kick ass as you.. Anyhow, I’ve read a lot about women my age should be trying to get some muscle and strength. It’s good for your bones and lifts your metabolism. Do you know of a good blog or read for someone like me. Good luck to you on your joirney.
    Thanks

    Liked by 5 people

  4. A truly inspired post! Liftin’ posts are are shameless plugs showing how strong we are, or how good we look standing around the gym. These people seem to need constant recognition, so I their motives seem less pure.

    It was a pleasure to read about your lifestyle because you seem so honest. But I was most impressed you didn’t apologize for being a powerlifter.

    The fact you chose to write about the overall benefits of powerlifting seemed so genuine. You look amazing, you’re sting as hell, and it was a pleasure getting to read your story. Great videos!

    Like

  5. It was really nice reading your post. =) Made me even further motivated on my own path to better health in both physical, mental and deeper way. =) Taking sports back into my life alongside eating much better has given me incredible amounts of energy, happiness and all sorts of good feelings. I hope that more and more people will find happiness through taking care of themselves too. =)
    Ps: The way you wrote “And that is what my sports have done for me” made kind of a song play in my head with some of your sentences as lyrics. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post, I love that a number doesn’t define who you are. A lot of times it can be easy to identify yourself by what others think of you or get discouraged when something changes in our day to day goals. Thank you for the encouraging words.

    Like

  7. I admire your strength, confidence, positivity and drive girl! Your way of thinking on the body image topic and your growth/ progress both physically and mentally, you’re such an inspiration 🙌🏼🙌🏼
    And I definitely knew how it felt when I used to always overthink on how people viewed me by what I ate or how I dressed – definitely not worth your time or even a single thought at all. You do you! Thanks for sharing your story ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love this post. So accurate. People often believe that a sport will only bring them surface level satisfaction. They neglect to see the personal growth and character building that it brings with it as well. Awesome post!

    Like

  9. Beautiful! I’ve e just started my own blog about my fitness journey. In the last months, I’ve put on a lot of weight, I enjoy the gym but my anxiety has been holding me back and I’ve been working my way through your blog which is so eye opening!

    Liked by 1 person

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