Doing Some Deadlifting And Thoughts From the Dark Side

Here’s my deadlift session from yesterday. I plan on posting a concise, thoughtful–or an awkward, dorky–written post early next week. For now, training is going quite well and I’m slowly but surely turning myself into a cow.

Actually, I probably shouldn’t make fun of my bulking like that. It’s not a show of solidarity with the part of myself that’s all “long term goals! Work towards them!” and it’s rather cruel. It speaks to the insecurity I harbor about getting bigger. I feel bigger. I can see it. I, in turn, feel clunky and highly unattractive. I guess I’ll get used to this, but I’m definitely not at peace with it right now. I wish I could be more positive about this process, but I am generally doing pretty well if I cruise on neutral in my attitude about it at the moment.

As I’ve mentioned before, the dark truth of the matter is that I’m very happy (and simultaneously very miserable) keeping myself as small as possible. I’m good at it. A part of me cannot WAIT till I make the decision to try to bring my weight down again–because I will, in service of my lifting and competition and at least partly my own vanity. I wish I could write otherwise, but I can’t. I should, perhaps, be focusing on other thoughts about my training and my body in this blog, but I also don’t want to be anything other than honest in this space.

I believe the true key to making peace with the relationship between oneself and one’s body when choosing to, as a woman, get bigger is to step far above the process of championing a larger body as being comparably beautiful to a smaller one. I don’t think finding a bunch of images of ripped women, “curvy” women–whatever iteration of the female body’s composition that carries more mass–and declaring that aesthetic as “beautiful, too!” is going to solve one’s issue of self-denigration. There are two problems with this type of “fitspiration:”

1. As I have said before, if you look at a picture of another woman, you are looking at something that is unattainable for your own body. I don’t care if you end up with the same lean mass to body fat ratio as anther woman–your proportions do not exactly match hers. Your body is genetically programmed to carry muscle mass in certain areas more than hers probably is (example: I have stupidly large obliques for absolutely no reason other than training and mostly genetics. I NEVER spot-train obliques, but proportionately they are very large on my abdomen, partly due to how short my torso is). Comparison will always fall short when the goal is to “feel better” about oneself.

2. The bigger issue of the two problems I’m outlining here is worth as defined by perceived beauty. We cannot get over this idea that we have worth, social currency, and yes, power, if we possess pleasing aesthetics. I believe this is a far greater problem than whether or not I feel good about how I look–because I feel less of a need to have an opinion related to how I look if I don’t feel like it’s my key to social survival. No one wants to talk about this for fear of getting labeled as unreasonable–“of course looks are important! You can’t deny it! It’s irrevocably entrenched in our collective, perhaps biological consciousness to consider looks!” I won’t deny this. I also refuse to be prisoner to it, I refuse to not work towards and promote a mentality that is “above” it when judging my own worth at a fundamental level.

I like pretty things. I like stupid Pinterest. I like makeup, I like screwing around with my somewhat hopeless hair, I like neat-looking workout clothing that I can’t afford. I acknowledge that I hold a mental duality in hoping to rise above a qualification of myself that relies on aesthetics while simultaneously taking pleasure in engaging in augmenting them. I believe, however, that I can separate myself from being wholeheartedly devoted to my image as being what determines my effectiveness as a human being. When I’m down on myself for metamorphosing into a cow in the name of my sport, I am failing to rise above the lines drawn by subjectivity that determine a false worth.

I’m pretty good at picking up a loaded bar. I’m trying to be good at picking myself up.

My lips disappear when I pull.
My lips disappear when I pull.
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9 thoughts on “Doing Some Deadlifting And Thoughts From the Dark Side

  1. I realize that it’s not really about this, but you don’t LOOK like a cow. You actually look pretty tiny (at least, way too tiny to be moving that much weight. Which I hope you take as a compliment). The changes to your body are probably 1,000x more noticeable to you than they are to everyone else.

    I realize that it’s more about how you feel than how you actually look, but sometimes it helps to keep it in perspective. Hang in there, I think it will all be worth it.

    1. It really will–sometimes, we have to do some pretty concerted things in the short-term to reap the benefits years down the road. I think that’s what I’m doing right now. I KNOW my body is extremely happy with it; I feel incredible lifting, and I just feel like I”m feeding myself so well to do the job I need to do. That speaks volumes about what’s going on at a biological level–it’s the social and psychological that get a little lost in my efforts to do better athletically sometimes. My legs really do need to grow and I am not going to be able to have that happen without a considerable surplus going on in my diet at some point. I ate all the samples at the grocery store today–steps are being taken! Lol.

      Many thanks for your thoughts here. They help, and your reminder regarding perspective is absolutely a key one.

    1. Absolutely appreciate it, I don’t think I’m ALWAYS as broody/negative about myself mentally right now, but my relationship with my bulking/whatever I’m doing is definitely dichotomous.

  2. I know this dichotomy. I seem to have the sort of body that likes to put on muscle mass (at least it used to prior to it going all auto-immune on me). While in isolation I don’t mind being bulky if I’m also strong, I partake in another sport that loves scrawny people. As a result I feel like some lumbering blob when I’m amongst climbers. It’s a constant battle, and that isn’t even taking into account how I’m learning to adapt to my newer less-healthy body. Of course, that all said, I think you look great now and will probably look just as great with more pounds of muscle. I often wonder if the need women have to be small and tiny is linked to the social pressure for us to be quiet, passive, and to take up little space.

    1. We have a three-story climbing wall right next to the lifting area of our gym. I’m quite aware, based on watching it, that bird-like individuals are at an advantage in that activity. If that’s not your natural body type, you are to be commended for just getting in there anyway and doing it. It’s almost a reverse in the lifting world, if you think about it–bigger has the advantage, because physics. If I was “programmed” to be bigger, it would kind of solve the conundrum I feel like I face. My body isn’t inclined to stay particularly lean, but my height and proportions and genetics all align to make being stocky not actually something I do very well. I often feel that people look at me as a joke in the gym–this tiny girl whose body would probably be more well-suited to running (I have giraffe-like proportions, even at a short height, that make me an efficient runner), is lifting weights. Bleh. Not in a good place on the whole thing right now.

  3. As an ex-professional dancer I have spent about a decade trying not to hate my body, at various weights. I remember how fat I felt when you could see all my bones and veins and my period was intermittent at best. I struggled with it for so long, and I finally gave up and accepted that I could not see myself in a positive light. Then one day I woke up, at the peak of my last bulk, and found that it had changed. I still have moments of negativity but over all, I pretty much like myself at my highest weight as much I do at my lowest weight, which is a 50 pound spread. I don’t really know how I got there, and it took a really really long time. Lifting and martial arts helped a lot, since neither of those things depend on aesthetics the way dance does. Being an ardent feminist helped. Really hating that I be valued for looks rather than skill, helped a lot too.

    Also, great double. You made it look easy. 🙂

    1. Your thoughts here are very helpful, and very astute. I really take some comfort in reading this. I honestly cannot imagine the psychological life of many professional dancers–it must be incredibly difficult, as aesthetics are such an important aspect of that existence. To be honest, I really didn’t consider myself a feminist and never was interested in feminism to the degree I suddenly (and strongly) am before coming into powerlifting. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this and think I’ll post about that evolution eventually. Again, thanks for your comment. The support from others is helping me through this period, which hasn’t been easy about me–indeed, I’m about to make a short update post.

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