Short Update/The Darkness Continues

I thought I’d throw out a small post regarding the state of things in my lifting. While my lifting goes quite well, I continue to not be in the best place mentally regarding what I’m doing with my body. I think if I had not spent a year defining myself very specifically as a 105 and 114-er, I wouldn’t be going through what feels kind of like a “sport shock” right now. Based on what I do, desiring to put on mass to be stronger is not in and of itself illogical. But I’m so conflicted by how it feels to “regress” in a competitive way in relation to the idea of actually competing in weight classes that it overshadows the progress I see in my lifting. 

Continuing this post’s theme of honesty, I feel intensely unattractive almost all the time. I break this awareness into several levels–the “non-lifting, societal engagement” level and the “lifting community” level. I now move faster than ever towards being a mediocre blob of a physical specimen in both territories. I don’t relish it. 

I absolutely wish I could be more positive about all of it. Rah rah, this is for my greater good, maybe in few years it will pay off on all levels, I should just exist inside my own little mental bubble in which comparison, as I’ve written about in a prior post, is not an option. 

Not today. Not for the past many days. My final injection of honesty here is that I don’t even really feel like keeping this blog up. It now feels like an attempt at false hubris–an attempt I can’t even get behind right now. 

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12 thoughts on “Short Update/The Darkness Continues

  1. I know this may not really help, but your post about gaining weight and rebellion really resonated with me. I have also had conflicted feelings about putting on mass, and I found the perspective you expressed in that post very helpful. Sometimes taking your own advice can be the hardest thing. Maybe if you can remember that sense of rebellion–even if for now you don’t feel attractive, or impressive–you can see how strong you are for going against the pressure to be ever smaller.

    1. You know, the fact that it resonated with you helps ME. I’ve had a few discussions with others recently that helped me feel less isolated in my goals and actions right now–because in a way, they are isolating in their “going against the grain of cultural and beauty norms”–and it greatly helped. I have to come up with a way to champion this rebellion more habitually mentally, because I think you’re right, doing so will help.

  2. I know how it is to feel intensely unattractive almost all the time, and it’s heartbreaking to hear, whenever someone else is going through the same thing. But the work you are doing is worth doing, even though it sucks and is a struggle most of the time. You absolutely do not have to be positive. And your writing evidences no hubris at all, false or otherwise. Maybe it’s time to take a break from the blog. Maybe you’ll decide to stop bulking for now, and that’s ok too. You are a good human-beyond just being a good athlete-and whatever you chose to do, you are worth it.

    1. Thank you so much for your words, Gwyn. I walked away from this post (posted earlier this morning) and was frustrated with myself for “breaking down” and posting it but also felt somewhat positive and, yes, more honest for doing so. My blog is useful to ME if I am able to discuss my insecurities and the struggles with my lifting life. In all honesty, it is amazing to me how much lifting bleeds over into psychology, internal life, and emotional activity. I have helped support people through difficulties they’ve faced and the commonality of lifting is what made that possible. I want to forge on with my “rebellion” (as mentioned in my response to Strongerer, above) and I want to keep engaging with the online women-who-lift community, because it is incredibly supportive. You certainly have been in this instance.

  3. omg I need to talk to you! I’m really sad this is taking you to a dark place, and I hope you can pull through. I’m going to write something longer for you. Of course no words will convince you to think differently, only you can decide yourself. I wish you could come train at my gym for a week…. I think it would take your mind and body image to a better place. Please don’t stop writing!!!!! (even though I’ve been incredibly LAZY about it!).

    1. Alex, I would love to talk to you. If you have any thoughts on this, it’s really helpful to me to go back and forth with people and just “sort things out.” Are you on Facebook? I tend to communicate best there, and I’d love to add you to my connections! If you’re on and wouldn’t mind, I’ll come up in a search for Janis Babyeater Finkelman. Thank you for your response to this post, every word of support I’ve received in the last few weeks has fortified me more than each speaker (or typist) is probably aware.

  4. Janis please do not loose your sight of the goal that you have….you are a strong and beautiful woman and i take inspration from you to do extraordinary things in my ordinary surroundings. Love from India

    1. Thank you Tanay!! I am working hard to not lose the ultimate goal as I work through this process, and I think today I’m doing a better job. I am going to post a vlog about this issue in a few minutes. Thanks for taking the time to encourage me. I hope all is well for you in India–what a beautiful country.

  5. I haven’t been following your blog for a long time, but you look awesome to me, chickie.. and seeing big numbers in your lifting is super inspiring!!
    I know there is probably some line between lifting for performance and lifting for aesthetics, but why not embrace the body you have that has been made so strong by your performance?
    Since I started lifting last February, I am up 15lbs.. and honestly, at a point where I’m okay gaining even a few more. It’s definitely emotional and I’ve had to get rid of half of my clothes because they no longer fit in the shoulders or pants in the thighs, but when I look in the mirror, I see more than just how my body is transforming; I see so much progress that I have made in the past year, becoming more physically and mentally strong.
    I hope you can find your balance and continue to lift and inspire others!!

    1. You know, the crazy thing about the whole issue is that the lifting I do is TRULY for performance. There is no aesthetic judgment component to powerlifting. But as a woman in a relatively small world of female strength trainees, what seems to happen is that a lot of the different sectors of strength training values get conflated. I interact with many women who lift primarily to do shows, who are most focused on how their bodies are composed and shaped–not maximal strength numbers. There’s crossover between sports. Women are already so closely identified, qualified, and judged by their looks in Western culture that even in the niche activity of strength training it seems to be far easier to identify a female lifter in part by her physique even if she is purely into o-lifting, powerlifting, strongwoman, whatever–sports that are about ACTIVITY, not muscle shape, size, symmetry. I feel like I lift weights, therefore I need to look like a physique competitor. That’s just the amount of overlap I experience in my narrow lifting world as it relates to women.

      This is one of the reasons I follow men in my sport far more than I follow women. It just gets to be frustrating, annoying, and confusing sometimes. I feed into it, in a way, by expressing my own confusion and discomfort–I feel bad for that. I’d like to present an image of a woman who’s solely focused on her sport with a FAR greater sense of its priority than I’m demonstrating having a sense of in my blog of late.

      1. “I feel like I lift weights, therefore I need to look like a physique competitor.”

        I think this a widely recognized perception from both inside and outside of the female lifting community, men and women. Do I ever think I will look like a figure competitor? Absolutely not, and frankly I’d rather be able to lift one than look like one. Do I want abs? Sure, but at what expense?
        Being truly successful in your sport, whatever it is, is going to be being confident in yourself in all perspectives. You know that if you lost 10lbs there is on way you can sustain lifts like you lift today.
        Do I have all the right advice? Heck no. But I do know that I am now focusing on eating for my performance goals and not eating to be lean. I feel strong and think I look strong, and absolutely confident in this happy place. Even want to gain a few more pounds (though the scale is evil and I still cringe when I see the numbers go up sometimes!).

        Keep doing what you love to do. I think you can inspire so many other women who are in your position or who have reservations about powerlifting because of the stigmas attached.

      2. I love this response, and what you say in it is vey much what I think i’ll be discussing in a future post on the subject. Priorities really need to exist for those who get serious about one sport or the other, as well as self-knowledge. It can be very easy to get sucked into what’s ideal for some other sport because of overlap in training practices/eating practices, etc. We’re our own lifters. Thanks for running your blog and getting similarly positive and strong messages out there to women into fitness!

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