Years ago I used to workout at a gym a few times a week. I kept this up for almost two years. I was almost to the point of considering getting into competitions when we decided to move again and a gym membership wasn’t an option anymore. (I did continue working out at home, though).
For most of my life I have been pretty thin. I never thought of myself as very active because I was never very athletic, but when I think back, I rarely sat still for long. I walked everywhere, played sports, started working in restaurants, and loved stretching and doing yoga.
Because of this, I have dealt with my fair share of insults for being thin, blonde, and whatever other beauty standard I apparently had and others wanted. I have dealt with too much unwanted attention and the fear and trauma of people asserting their needs on me.
This created an interesting effect when I found myself overweight after having two kids. I wasn’t enormous or anything, but the extra weight hurt and wasn’t healthy for me. So my mom set me up with a gym membership and I took a closer look at what I was eating.
When I started out, I was almost invisible. I could look like a fool and the response would be easy to take. I obviously needed to be at a gym to shed some pounds. Men didn’t look, women didn’t comment. I was free to focus on myself and my health.
I worked hard, ate a better diet full of rich variety and home-cooking, and made sure to rest when I needed it. As the months worn on I got stronger and more confident in my workouts. I began designing them specifically for what I had set as my goals. I stretched diligently and was a better mom for it.
Then others began to notice the results of all my efforts. None of it was about being healthier. It was all about being thinner, sexier, what my secrets were. I got really self conscious in the changing room and while using machines. I mostly did free weights and used the cable machine, but would often use other options and felt judged. Some of it was definitely my own insecurities. The more in shape I got, the more self conscious I became.
I went from clearly needing to workout, to why is she bothering? I went from being the chubby mom, to a fit one to be jealous of. There was no credit for how much effort I had put into it all. No recognition of the research, the trial and error, the struggles I faced. Just another thin blonde who had no business being attractive. Except for those that had actually paid attention, and those who also put in the effort of designing their strength. They knew what it had taken me to get to this point.
Funny thing is, I’ve always seen myself as pretty plain. Not in a bad way. I like blending into a crowd and being able to observe everything unobtrusively. I’m definitely not a beauty icon. I’m just me.
I did think it was interesting how shocking this revelation was for many of the women that I spoke to. How could being more attractive make you feel less so? Now, after three pregnancies, I am pretty set at a slightly squishy size. It fluctuates with my ability to stay active and eat right, but it’s the happiest I’ve ever been about my size. I’m not thin enough for rude judgments, nor large enough for the same. I’m just right to make most people feel comfortable.
It’s a refreshing place to be.