I think maybe, JUST MAYBE, it’s starting to happen.
More and more women of all ages are starting to come around to the idea of lifting relatively heavy weights.
Save for the few social media posts I see, about women bragging that they completed 750 bicep curls or 3,460 lunges in an hour- I’m starting to see more and more women turn to the good stuff- the heavy stuff 🙂
Back before I fell in love with the heavy fight against gravity, my body’s only purpose in my eyes was for it to look a certain way.
All of my efforts were in vain, and each of my workouts were done for the sheer purpose of burning as many calories as possible- either to earn my next meal or burn off my latest chicken tender and beer binge.
When my body didn’t change immediately in between obsessive workouts and eating-sprees, the answer was always: workout more.
I was constantly working against my body by punishing it and using and abusing exercise as a means to an end, with no real enjoyment for the entire process.
Because my only motive was to “look a certain way”, I began to resent my body more and more and more. What’s the fucking point of all of these workouts if I just look and feel like shit?
Any sort of comments about my body: good, bad, or indifferent, made me sick inside.
Any sort of comments about other people’s bodies also made me sick inside, because I was constantly comparing myself to everyone:
“Her legs are so toned!” Must mean that mine were not.
“She looks so strong!” Must mean that I did not.
Exercise back then was about getting as small as I possibly could.
Shrink this, shrink that, weigh less, be small.
ENTER: The Mindset-Shift of Lifting Heavy AF
And then one day, it just happened.
I used to teach at a private school in the city, and one of my students said:
“Ms. Christina, your legs are so…..BIG!”
Back when my body was my enemy, this would have ruined me.
I would have restricted food for a few days, gone on a few 10-mile runs in an effort to “shrink my legs”, only to binge again on the weekend and tell myself I deserved to overeat because my legs were so fucking big anyway.
I replied with a huge smile and said “THANKS!”
She then proceeded to poke my quad with her finger and say:
“Mine are so… SQUISHY! Yours are hard!”
Even if she didn’t follow up with that comment, I had already shifted to
the mindset of strength vs. the mindset of pure vanity.
The joy of moving heavier and heavier weight suddenly surpassed any sort of gratification from the scale.
My mind changed forever, for the better.
My legs were no longer ornaments and prizes for the exercises I was doing, but rather the vector in which I was able to do so.
The funny part? Lifting heavy AF just so happens to change your body as a byproduct of the whole journey.
It just comes with the territory.
Your focus changes from “what weight is on the scale?” to “what weight is on this barbell?”
I had always wanted my legs to be smaller.
Listen, I’m 4’9″, and I’m fairly certain I carry 80% of my weight in my quads alone. And you know what? I used to hate it.
I cannot explain the mental shift that happens when you learn to fall in love with the process of heavy lifting and with the progress of gaining strength.
It doesn’t always have to be barbells and kettle bells– can you do a pushup?
can you do a pull-up? can you do a box jump? can you sprint? Are you faster
now than you were before?
When my quads don’t fit in a pair of jeans, I now have a “fuckkkk yessssss!” feeling-
like, “you’re damn right these legs cannot be contained! DO YOU KNOW WHAT THESE LEGS CAN DO!?”
When my shoulders don’t fit in a shirt, I’m like “OF COURSE THEY CAN’T! DO YOU KNOW THAT I CAN DO HANDSTAND PUSH-UPS, I BENCH REGULARLY, AND I CAN OVERHEAD PRESS MOST WOMEN WHO *CAN* FIT INTO THIS SHIRT?!”
It comes with time, of course, but something about taking up space in the weight room of a gym allows you to validate your right to take up space in the world.
When your body doesn’t fit into clothes, or looks too big, or whatever when you’re inactive, it can feel frustrating and feel like it doesn’t deserve to be “this big”.
I’d love to sit here and lie through my teeth and say that this isn’t something that bothers almost all women- because I know it does. Although you really can be actually healthy & confident at any size (this is true!) but, let me tell you- when your body is “too big” because you’re fucking strong, and moving around heavy weight regularly, it’s like a right of passage. “I created these babies! I worked for these legs!”
My activity level and lifestyle has helped validate the parts of my body that I’ll never be able to really change- my legs will always be big, there’s just no way around it. When I walk around in the real world, it’s not like people know what I do for a living- nor do I expect them to.
However, knowing that my body looks the way it looks, regardless of how other people feel about it (their opinions don’t matter, but, everyone has an opinion) because my body looks this way by choice allows me to OWN my body instead of be a victim to it.
Lifting heavy AF allows me to know that the lack of a thigh-gap actually has a purpose- there’s muscle in these legs and they do some serious work.
The broadness of my shoulders serves a purpose- because these shoulders also do some serious work.
When my biceps don’t fit into the cute shirts at Target, it’s because these biceps can do pull-ups, and rows, and carry all of the bags of gravel from the front yard to the back yard with zero issues.
Lifting heavy AF is validating and liberating-have I said that enough? I find myself wanting my quads to get bigger and thank god- because I just so happen to love lower body workouts. I find myself wanting my shoulders to get even bigger and thank god- because I just so happen to love upper body workouts.
My body is a product of my journey. My body is a direct reflection of the choices I’ve made. And one of the best choices I’ve made is to lift and get strong AF.
Remember those amazing Nike ads from back in the day?
We need more of that.