While checking into my barre class the other day, my instructor asked me, "How are you doing?" Without hesitation, I replied, "My leggings fit tighter and my body feels a little different. I've got some curves now." I surprised myself with my declaration but it was true.
Over the last few weeks, I had finally noticed that my butt was now rounder and bigger, and my thighs had grown an inch or more over the last year. My chest and back were also broader. My bras fit a bit tighter.
I shouldn't have been entirely surprised considering I had changed my workout over the last year, switching it up from entirely cardio and HIIT-based to more strength training, incorporating barre, weight training, and yoga as my main forms of exercise. Yet still, I didn't know what to think of my "new" body.
Here's the thing: I've been pretty scrawny for the last 10 years of my life, and I liked being scrawny. I've battled mild to moderate forms of body dysmorphia and body image issues off and on throughout my life since adolescence. I grew up in the '90s when thin was most definitely in. The "pancake butt" was to be desired, and the more obvious your collarbone jutted out from your torso, the more attractive you were. At least, that's what I gathered from watching a lot of "Ally McBeal" and "Friends," and having Kate Moss as the supermodel du jour.
However, I didn't look like that when I was younger. I gained fifteen pounds seemingly overnight in the ninth grade, and I had stretch marks and cellulite. It didn't help matters that my high school friends were pretty much bean poles while I was dealing with expanding hips and thighs. I didn't like my body. I wanted to be thin. I wanted no butt and an obvious collarbone. That remained my "body goal" for fifteen years.
Then, when I turned 30, I decided I wanted to be more fit. I took up HIIT and boxing classes, and long-distance running, and as a result, I developed a newfound confidence in my athletic ability -- something I never considered myself to possess beforehand being the "artsy" type since practically birth. I fell in love with fitness and wellness so much that I became a personal trainer.
But my love for working out turned into an obsession. I was addicted to exercising, even exercising for up to three hours a day. Sometimes I would even schedule appointments and meet-ups around my workouts. It wasn't until I moved across the country in 2017, and was able to gain some much-needed perspective on my life, including exercise, when I realized, "Brianne, you in danger, girl."
I was in danger of letting exercise and body image rule my life and my opinion of myself. I knew it was time to change.
So I revamped my outlook on what it meant to work out. I listened to my body, which meant exercising less, doing things that made me feel good, including becoming stronger and healthier. Which led me to sign up for yoga, barre, and weight training classes, and doing less cardio. That was over a year ago. Now here I am with a bigger butt and bigger thighs. And, yes, I weigh more.
FYI: I hate the scale. I think scales are not only inaccurate of what your body looks like (and is capable of), but they make us feel like shit, and I don't like a puny piece of equipment holding that much power over me. However, I was curious. I had been 116 pounds consistently over the last five years, which for someone who's 5'8", is admittedly low. But, as I said, I liked being scrawny. I weighed myself the other day and I currently weigh 125 pounds.
Now that might not seem like a big deal to some, and in fact, I haven't really changed much physically. I still am thin. But to someone who's had a love/hate relationship with her body, seeing that number was a big deal to me. When I stepped onto the scale at 14 years old and discovered I weighed 125 pounds, I cried myself to sleep. Now? I'm proud of myself.
I'm proud of myself because I've learned how to love my body more, but also -- damn! I'm strong. I can deadlift half my body weight. I can plank for two minutes. I can do a million bridges with a resistance band (maybe not a million but it feels like it). And I'm toned. I now have muscle definition, including on my arms and legs, something I never had much of before.
More importantly, I have a newfound compassion for myself. I decided to not only try something new, like strength training, but I also let go of an outdated version of myself because I knew it was no longer serving me. I take pride in my journey with my body, and with myself. I'm owning that part of myself who placed her self-worth on pushing and exerting and for needing to look a certain way. I know I was hurting and I now accept my role in healing that part of me.
I realize I am more than a number on a scale or how a pair of pants might fit around my waist. I know I am a badass who can try new things, who never gives up, and who strives to be more like her true self every day. And no one can take that away from me.
When I made my remark to my barre instructor I might have been a little caught off guard about my "new" body at first but I also just shrugged it off. This is who I am now, and I love my workout routine and I love getting stronger, so therefore, I love me.
Yes, I weigh more. Yes, I have a bigger butt (and yes I can fill out a pair of jeans like a proper #fitbottomedgirl). But mostly I have learned to accept myself for who I am right now in whatever shape or form. And that is worth its weight way more than whatever could be on a scale.
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