I wrote this blog 26 months ago at the beginning of my adventures in CrossFit. Then I Tumbler’d about it 12 months ago. I am 2 and a half years into a life adventure that I hope continues for many many more years.
As mentioned in my original blog, I was painfully skinny as a teenager. I was a dancer taking 2-3 classes a week. Acting/dancing/singing in plays multiple times a year and singing in a show choir. I also played field hockey but was terrible at it. I repeat: TERRIBLE. I’ve never had an easy time with sports with bats/sticks and balls/pucks that also involve running/skating. I was able to be graceful when dancing, but add all those elements together and I was a mess. So I kind of gave up on sports. I also ate my weight in food and was hungry all of the time. And in all of the pictures of me (including the top left above), I appeared to be disappearing. And my smallness translated into my personality. I was a bit of a chameleon, shifting personas depending on the company, saying what I thought people wanted to hear instead of what I actually thought. I was often pretty shy and truly think that that shyness was perceived as aloofness a lot of the time. It wasn’t, though. I just didn’t think I was interesting enough to be an outgoing person. The only time I was truly outgoing was when I was on stage playing someone else.
When I got to college, I met a solid group of people that were a lot more my speed. I opened up a lot more and made some friends that I still cherish today. I was still small, but my personality bloomed a little, so I didn’t mind as much. I decided that I could be “cute” and that I was okay with that. I began defining myself by my cuteness. I never felt sexy or womanly, just cute. I figured it wasn’t possible for me to be those things because I was a smaller person.
My move into true adulthood and, coincidentally, to Chicago taught me a lot about myself. I became more solidified in who I was. I starting eating the cooking of my fabulous boyfriend (now husband) and gained weight. And it freaked me out. I don’t think I was aware of it, but I battled to get back to previous weights so that I looked smaller. I didn’t think I could still be cute and be curvier. I was confused and unhappy and honestly really ridiculous about it. Looking back I wish I had just rejoiced in my ability to gain weight and be a more substantial presence physically. Instead, I whiled away my time on elliptical machines and lifted tiny pink weights trying to get back to what I thought was an acceptable weight.
When I wrote that blog 2+ years ago, I was incredibly excited about my new adventure in CrossFit. I had found a sport/lifestyle that I wasn’t terrible at. And in the time since then, I’ve become excited about gaining weight and muscle. I’ve learned that I can still be cute and weigh more. I have decided that I like my body better when it is muscular. There’s a lot of rubbish out there about how lifting weights making you look like a dude or unwomanly. For me, that is total horseshit. I feel sexy now. I feel womanly. And the fact that I can almost deadlift 250 lbs? Just icing on cake. I also know that it has made me much more confident. I know who I am and what I want. I don’t define myself by the people around me, but strive to find people who appreciate me for me. I’m strong, sexy, cute, womanly and, finally, myself. CrossFit and weightlifting have brought me that.
More of this adventure, please.
Something amazing is happening around the world! The eyes of women (and men) are being opened to the elephant in the room when it comes to women and their body shape, ability and strength…
A yup! Thanks for finding this, Mariah!
Source: Box Rox
I have read more articles than I can count about the benefits of weightlifting for women and almost every single one has some iteration of the following phrase:
Lifting heavy weights will not make you bulky.
And you know what? They’re kind of lying to you. I know….*GASP*!
The seemingly hard truth is that lifting weights will change your body. You will not be the “delicate” flower you once were. You will not look like your other, non-lifting lady friends or the models in the magazines. But I wouldn’t say “bulky.”
Let’s take a look at the word bulky, shall we? Here’s the definition I found:
1. taking up much space, typically inconveniently; large and unwieldy.
"a bulky piece of luggage"synonyms:large, big, huge, sizable, substantial, massive;king-size, outsize, oversized, considerable,voluminous;cumbersome, unmanageable, unwieldy, ponderous,heavy, weighty;hefty, burly, blocky, sturdy, heavily built;informaljumbo, whopping, hulking, humongous, ginormous"bulky items"
The word bulky is obviously a negative one. I mean, just look at some of those synonyms: unmanagable, unwieldy. Can we stop using this word please? Because being bigger, stronger, more physically capable is NOT A BAD THING. It’s different to be those things as a woman, sure. But it’s also transcending what we’ve always been told we have to be. And that’s okay! In fact, that’s great!
So here are some words we should be using instead:
These things are the truth. “Bulky” is for luggage, for objects. “Strong,” “mighty,” “athletic,” “unyielding,” and “beautiful” are for kick ass ladies.
CrossFit women don’t look like toothpicks because this workout isn’t about how we look. Itâ’s about who we are, and that looks different.
“For me, [CrossFit is] a place where I don’t have to hide that I want to be powerful, strong, a superhero. It’s also a place where I don’t have to hide the generous circumference of my thighs.”
Source: Fit Nation Magazine.
I couldn’t have articulated this better myself. I 100% deal with the same struggle except I have, luckily, never had to deal with an eating disorder. I can’t even imagine how that would compound this duplicity of being a strong, meaty lady but still expecting/hoping to see the petite one of yore. And, yes barbellsandsuch, I believe that more of us need to be talking about this. Let us all talk about this.
I’ve been struggling the past month with feeling “bulky”. It goes along with my history of eating disorders. So I did what I do. I stopped eating and I started running. Long slow runs. I stepped on the scale the other day and in a month I’m 6 lbs down. During a strength/hypertrofi cycle.I don’t even know what to say other then that I’m not feeling too great about all of this. I don’t care about the weight, I care about that I had this reaction. And I’m sorta stunned that I didn’t realize what I was doing.
This whole “lifting wont make you bigger” thing is crap. If you’re a small girl, It does, it changes your body composition. If you start a lifting/cf regime because you’re overweight it’s probably different. But if you’re a skinnyass yoga girl you’ll get bigger. You’ll also get stronger and faster but yeah bigger.
Why are we not talking about what it’s like to go from 115lbs to 127lbs in just a few months? How all of a sudden where there used to be a thigh gap theres now muscle. How all that lifting will make you crave foods you haven’t eaten for years. How you’ll be hungry all the freaking time. As in getting up to eat during the night hungry. And what about those obliques and lats who are all of a sudden sticking out at awkward angles. Why are we not talking about what this does to you emotionally in a society where the normative female body is extremely slim?
Don’t get me wrong. Most days I love these changes. I look like I workout, which I do and that makes sense. I know that every single muscle is a testament to my dedication to live a long and happy life. But then there’s those days when I’m off balance for some reason. And someone makes a comment. And I can’t brush it off. Like when I bend over in my bikini and my girlfriends go “DAMN what have you done to your back” or when my dude friends jokingly tell me “I really need to stop lifting” because I’m getting big/make them look bad or when I see pictures of my pre CrossFit self in cute dresses and skinny jeans. Which honestly just don’t look as good on me anymore since it’s clothes made for stick thin. And I look better in other stuff and yes my back is muscular and no I shouldn’t lift less you should lift more. But some days those comments just stick.
And they make me sad, and they make me want to stop doing something I love and go back to training that made me miserable but kept me thin. I don’t think it’s just me who struggle with this. But some times I feel so alone. I feel like there’s no natural forum for airing these thoughts. Outside of the fitness community we have the slim norm and inside it a hypertrofi one. What about the inbetween people? What about those of us who love lifting but still struggle with the norms of the “outside world”? The fitness community needs to start recognising that there is a difficult cultural crash happening between the box and the outside world when it comes to female body image. And all of us; we need to start talking about this. Because even tho I feel alone I’m very sure I’m not.
Elisabeth Akinwale, CrossFit extraordinaire, on the subject of beautiful, muscular thighs and how they make “thigh gaps” silly silly things.
But, even if you’re not fat, if you’re a woman, you’re probably still so caught up with your toxic weight shit that you can’t even see straight. During my working life I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been part of these ridiculous workplace group diets. Almost all of the participants have been women. Sometimes they even try to bribe one another with money. They all put in ten dollars on the first week and whoever loses the most wins the pool at the end of 4 months, or whatever it is. Look, I’m like you. I’ve done it too. And at a perfectly normal, healthy weight I’ve done it. All because of a sick, shitful, ugly little voice in the back of my head that tells me I ought to be smaller.
And that’s the rub, right there. Exactly why do we want to be smaller? What exactly is the appeal of being smaller? How does it benefit us? Does it make us better mothers? Better students? Better lovers? Better artists? Scientists? Friends? Does it make us more badass badasses?
No, no, no, no, no. You must see that it doesn’t. It doesn’t do anything but make us smaller.
Babies and puppies are small. So are dimes and Skittles. You’re a fucking woman. A woman! You are entitled to occupy as much fucking space as you like with your awesomeness, and you better be suspicious as fuck of anybody who tells you differently.
Why, ladies? Why must we continue to whittle ourselves down? Who is it for? What is it for? You can walk through a certain aisle at the pharmacy or at the grocery store and see the language of diminishment all over the packaging for weight loss aids of all kinds. “Shrink your waist.” “Lose inches off your thighs.” “Slim down.” “Get skinny.”
How about “Grow your mind.” “Increase your confidence and productivity.” “Beef up your knowledge.” “Enlarge your scope of asskicking.”
That’s a valid message for women and girls: grow, expand, branch out, open up, get bigger, wider, faster, stronger, better, smarter. Go up not down. Get strong, not skinny.
You are not here to get smaller. You are not here to have a thin waist and thighs. You are not here to disappear. You’re here to change the world! Change the fucking world, then! Forget about “losing a few pounds.” Think about what you could be gaining instead.
Prepare for the clean deliciousness that is this blog by Vanessa Barajas from San Diego, CA. She’s a CrossFitter and says “You gotta eat clean if you wanna train dirty.” I couldn’t agree more.
I, personally, have trouble eating strict paleo, but I do try to eat cleanly whenever possible. That said, humans need delicious comfort food and desserts now and again. This is a great place to find some recipes!
A very interesting read. My husband and I do the exact same workout and I honestly think my health is the better for it.
Interesting. I’m not sure if this is a sure thing, but it’s certainly something to think about.
Has anyone else had experience with this issue?
Yulia Viktorovna Vins, or Julia Vins, as she is known in the online bodybuilding and powerlifting communities, is a 17-year old Russian powerlifter who recently shot to Internet fame after a series of photos showing her doll-like face and impressive physique went viral.
omg she’s a beautiful titan
O___O… holy shit
No comment necessary.
Yesterday, Beautiful Barbarian, Eden, posted this picture with the above caption. She is mom to this wonderful little lad, has overcome some seriously tough stuff and she is a triumphant, beautiful lady. With incredible triceps, biceps and shoulders. And her caption/pic got me thinking.
I definitely struggle with the whole “skinny arm” thing. I see pictures of myself where I’m not employing the little pose of smoke and mirrors and sometimes I just see these big slabs of arm hanging at my sides. Other times, I see the well-earned muscles that make up those arms and I smile. But I definitely teeter between these two. And yet I look at this picture and I only see well-earned muscle and beauty. I’m going to try harder to demolish the negative and embrace the positive when I look at pics of myself. And maybe, someday, I won’t feel the need to prop my arm on my hip to hide what should be seen as beautiful.
In it for Yourself
(Been away for a bit. Summer is crazy. Will be back with more frequency at some point. With more full sentences.)
I was listening to Pandora at work and saw this ad pop up. It got me a’thinking: Why is there such focus on getting healthy and fit form someone else? Shouldn’t you, first and foremost, want to change and be better for yourself? I mean, sure, it’s nice to come home to someone who goes “wow, you look so sexy/beautiful/fit/strong, honey!” but your motivation is askew if you’re only working out and eating well so that you’ll hear those words. You should want to hear those words come out of your own mouth when you catch a glimpse at your reflection or notice that you just feel great after all your hard work.
Surprise yourself with a new body.
Today I competed in my first Crossfit competition with my teammates from CFD Team Bacon. The picture above is just before the first of three workouts. I’m trying to calm my intense nerves and focus on the task at hand. To say I was scared would be an understatement, but one of the things that crossfit and adult life have taught me to do is to face fears and to conquer them whenever possible. Today, I can happily say that I conquered this fear and found that I have the potential to be pretty good at this. While I can credit myself with some of this conquering, I also had the help and support of my teammates, coaches, friends and husband, without whom I would have given up early and convinced myself that I’m not cut out for this. But I could be cut out for this. Today has created this possibility for me.
Embrace your fears, try to conquer them and surround yourself with loving people who have your back always.