How it all began

April 5, 2008 rooroo

As a child, I was quite familar with exercise. I did gymnastics, rode my bike everywhere, climbed trees and the like. As a teenager, I still rode my bike, but I soon took to disliking exercise thanks to PE at school killing any interest I had on the matter. Unaware that I was suffering from depression and anxiety at the time, I was pretty sensitive to things such as learning by humiliation. So when a PE teacher of mine picked me, and 2 overweight girls to demonstrate a few passes in netball, I was suspicious. After we royally fucked it up, she looked at the rest of the class and said, “So that’s how not to do it.” She then went on to pick 3 of the girls out of the netball team to demonstrate. That was the final nail in the coffin towards any love of exercise I ever had, which was probably the worst thing considering my mental health.

GCSEs, A levels etc, no exercise.

I started university and soon became desperate to ‘tone up’. So I went to the student gym, saw a great looking deal and paid for a year long membership. I was showed how to use the machines, and a couple of exercises using teeny tiny dumbbells. I would spend an hour on the machines three times a week. Nothing changed. I stopped going. It’s a good way to waste money, it’s probably what they mean when they say, “lose pounds instantly!”

Fast foward to the end of 2006 and I’m in South Africa. A short trek around Table Mountain leaves me short of breath, my abdomen could pass for a second trimester pregnancy, and I have absolutely no strength. The final straw came upon overhearing two guys talking about me on the beach, one saying to the other, “Does that [me] make you want to go into the sea?”

“No!”

I could have easily have taken the path of comfort eating and feeling shit about myself for the rest of my life, but as I was holidaying with someone who used to be an athlete, I thought I’d bend his ear. And bend it I did.

My boyfriend wanted to lose fat too, so as a gift, I bought him the Body for Life book. Being a total newbie to anything like this, I thought I’d have a quick look through. I read it from cover to cover in less than an hour. Something clicked, I don’t know what it was, but I was suddenly very interested in doing weight training.

I started in mid-January. By March, I began to notice my clothes were looser and I was getting stronger. I knew I wanted more. Then I discovered Stumptuous and it opened my mind to all sorts of things I could do: squats, deadlifts, pull ups etc. The next time I was at the gym, I asked the instructors to show me how to deadlift and squat. I still wasn’t strong enough (or confident) to bench press the olympic bar but soon I was trawlling the internet for other interesting things I could do. The only push ups I had ever done at school were ones were I was told to rest on my knees. I started doing proper push ups. Then ones with my feet elevated. I’ve yet to do one as a handstand, but I’m working on it.

I started measuring my body fat % about 9 months into starting out. I was roughly 23% then, I’m somewhere around 17% now. Physical benefits aside, I feel more disciplined and my self-esteem has grown in leaps and bounds.

And I’m glad to be strong(er). I never thought I’d go into this looking for strength, in all honesty, I just saw it as a side effect to looking better naked. But now, I want to see how strong I can get. I don’t believe society currently values strength in women, which is a shame, but for now, I’m keen to see where this can take me.

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Entry Filed under: body image, free range rude, gym, musings

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jlyoung23&hellip  | 

    It is true how society does not value muscular strength in women, due to the false belief that weight training and strength from training causes women to be less feminine. I would love to see more women in the gym challenging themselves and working to find their potential, rather than working with those tiny weights for years because they only want to “tone” and don’t want to get “bulky like men.”

    Sorry for the rant–this was a great post and a good story about a woman finding her strength. 🙂

  • 2. dommebell&hellip  | 

    Thank you! I agree though, and I think it’s a shame that femininity is somehow constructed to assume there has to be a lack of physical strength. I watched T2 the other week, and seeing Linda Hamilton kick some serious arse made me think about it – there’s a woman going to some serious lengths to protect her son, you can see the tension in her neck muscles quivering in the contempt she has for the machines – to me, that’s a lioness protecting her cub, dare I say, feminine? 😉

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