Crushing Body Image Issues
Not feeling my über leanest right now. And sure that disappoints me a little bit. We all want to feel like the best versions of ourselves. But I'm also not freaking out because I know what to do to get back on track. I have the tools and nutritional knowledge it takes to lean out. I just am lacking time and motivation. But guess what? It's not something to dive off a bridge over. It's called L.I.F.E.
Life happens. I always tell my Upstrength Bosses, fat loss/weight gain is cyclical, just. like. life. Just as it is impractical to wish for consistently happy days with sunshine and steady green lights and rainbows 365 days a year, it is also impractical to think you will be 100% on top of your meal prep game, crushing life and constantly on a cutting phase with visible abs. Like. That's just not real life. Not only is it unsustainable, it's not something to strive for. Because you are a creature born to survive, life naturally shifts our focus from time to time, forcing our energy and attention in different percentages to different places, like family, career, school, etc. So if you are shaking your head like, "this is me!", or been hard on yourself for not maintaining a perfect nutrition plan for longer than a few weeks at a time, please know you are 100% not alone.
The flipside however is that while I might not be feeling über on top of my nutrition game, I am feeling über strong. And happy.
I assume I'm not alone in that I am a woman who lifts, who has battled body issues and disordered eating in her past.
Lifting heavy over the last 3.5 years has quite literally lifted me out of an incredibly judgmental, self sabotaging mindset of never thinking I was...
I am leaps and bounds from the self-conscious person I used to be, and yet sometimes not at all. Usually commentary from outsiders on my being strong or being muscular or lifting heavy sh*t bounces right off my #glutegains and into the compliment jar. But every once in a while, an ill-placed comment does affect me. Pointed statements, whether intentional or not, do hurt, as strong as I try to be on the outside and the inside.
So today I was feeling a little down on myself. The old me would have let it keep me down. "I'm not feeling my leanest today so I don't wanna go to the gym."
All the more reason to go and crush a workout. I'll admit I didn't want to wear super form fitting clothes. So, whatevs. I threw on a baggy tee and shorts, printed out my program and marched to the gym.
And guess what? I had a great lifting session. And it had nothing to do with how I looked in the mirror. And everything to do with challenging my body with things I could never have dreamed of 3.5 years ago. Or even last year.
So sure. I'm not the "skinniest" person you'll ever see. But I'm simply not interested in the exhausting quest to fulfill an impractical-for-my-body-type ideal. I spent too much of my life already trying to be "as skinny as possible". It's ironic, because even at my thinnest/unhealthiest (99#), it was never enough. It was almost as if the thinner I got, the MORE insecure I got. I was chasing something that was not only impractical but severely impacting the quality of my life, instead of honoring the beautiful shape I was given, instead of working toward tangible goals in the gym like I do now. Growing up as a ballerina, I literally wished and prayed every day that my butt would shrink. Which is hilarious to me now! But at the time, I hated my "bubble butt"! But it's like, guys. I'm so sorry, but I have a butt. There's no amount of starvation or cardio that will ever reverse that. I have well defined legs. These are things that used to bring me down, and now they are my most favorite part of my body! Also. Real talk. I don't have a flat stomach most days. Whatever! I'm human for crying out loud. When I wake up in the morning first thing after eating clean for a week, I have visible abs. But they disappear by noon. Like. Whatever! That's real life!
The point is, when I learned to lift, I traded in insecurity and self-consciousness for confidence, happiness and self-compassion (and hell yeah some muscle, yo!).
Today I am the strongest and healthiest I've ever been. Mind body and soul. I admire the things my body is capable of day in and day out.
I hope you celebrate the incredible things that lifting has done for your daily life. It's easy to take for granted, the stronger we get. We forget that there was a time where certain daily tasks were challenging, injurious or even impossible. I can bolt up 7 flights of stairs without flinching to avoid massive crowds like last night at the FSU game. I can carry all of my groceries from the car upstairs in one load using all of the technique I know from loaded carries. I can operate on a daily basis without back pain or fear that I might need to ask for help lifting something. I can walk into the gym and not feel intimidated.
This is why I lift.
This is why I strive for strength.
This is why I fight to educate especially females on the importance of strength training.
And look. Everyone's ideal body standards, and classifications of "too muscular/skinny/curvy" are different. If your goal is to look skinny, whatever that means to you, and that's the aesthetic you like or that your job dictates, cool! If your goal is to grow and build lots of muscle, that's also cool! My idea of what skinny or muscular looks like might very well be different than your definition. That doesn't matter, as long as we all respect one another's opinions without forcing our ideas on to someone else.
Don't let anybody tell you how you should look if how you look brings you confidence, health and joy. But if how you feel on the outside does not reflect how you feel on the inside, and vice versa? That's when the quest for strength can change your life.
At the end of the day, it is impossible and futile to try to fulfill everyone's standard of the "perfect" body, because then you'd be like, 25 different body types and crazy looking.
BE YOUR BEST YOU.
And FYI I may have more muscle than I did 3.5 years ago, but I love how my clothes & bras fit better than ever. Not only because of lifting, but because I wear them with confidence. So if that's what "too much muscle" looks like, bring it. Oh yeah. And baggy t-shirts rule.