*Disclaimer: I am working with Under Armour and FitFluential on the “What’s Beautiful” campaign. As usual all thoughts, ramblings, opinions, and outlandish statements are my own. If you’re interested in joining the challenge, register and come join my team!*
The other day, I was having a very interesting conversation with a friend from my box – we were texting each other about lifting, her roping me into a powerlifting competition in the future (eek), and general fitness-y things. Regarding the powerlifting competition, we started talking about weight classes and both said we could/should drop a weight class to be a bit more competitive. And then she said: “…how idiotic is it that two women who are generally aware of and fight the unreasonable expectations placed upon women in an anorexic world are currently discussing ‘dropping a weight class’?”. AFREAKINGMEN.
I think most women who lift or do Crossfit or generally support the notion of strong, muscular women would love to consider themselves immune to issues like weight. After all, we lift heavy and work our asses off (or on rather) to gain muscle and concern ourselves with the weight on the barbell rather than the weight on the scale. But still, we are not immune. In this context we were talking about losing about 4-5lbs to be more competitive for a competition – but still, it was kind of ridiculous. That conversation got me thinking about weight, leanness, and strength and how I feel about it all. I’ve talked about before but it is still something that crosses my mind fairly often. I made a choice to stop worrying about getting lean and start focusing on getting strong and so far, it’s paid off in big ways.
Although my weight hasn’t really changed all that much – maybe 2lb gain total – it has been a really big mental shift. Instead of thinking about how my food is going to help me lean out, I think about how my food is going to help my squat. I eat, and eat, and eat some more – not necessarily all “paleo” foods and not necessarily even terribly “healthy” foods all the time. Rice has been my savior on high volume days and I’ve added a bit more dairy (mostly in the form of cheese) back in to my diet. And then there are weekends where I eat ice cream 3 times and enjoy every second of it. I don’t fret over whether something is “paleo” or not – I just eat. I eat more food than most girls and some guys I know and I’m constantly hungry. I stopped eating to make my body look a certain way and started eating to help my body perform.
I’ve been forced to look at food as a tool for strength and recovery. For awhile my body was beat up because I wasn’t taking in enough food, more specificially, I wasn’t eating enough carbs. Once I added more back in, my strength gains started coming back and I didn’t feel like I had been run over by a truck after every workout. As a result, my clothes fit differently – my quads will rip any non-stretch jeans in a second while being a size too big on the waist, wearing blazers is a trecherous game of “don’t rip the shoulders”, and my lats have become too big for any non-adjustable bathing suit top I own. And I’m fine with that but I’d be lying if I said that sometimes, I do wish I was leaner, smaller, whatever.
I start thinking about that and then I squat, clean, snatch, press and eat a pound of steak and remember how much better it feels to be strong than to wear a smaller jean size and I’m happy with my choice. Conventional standards of beauty are pervasive and as hard as we may try, we don’t ever “really” become immune to them. But, we can chose to give them the finger and help convince people that being strong is beautiful, no matter what dress size you wear.