The Time I Trained for a Bodybuilding Show
Once upon a time, someone asked me if I would join them in training for a bodybuilding show.
It sounded like a good idea at the time: I’d have a group of women that would hold me accountable; I had a deadline that included me being on a stage in a tiny sparkly bikini; I had a meal plan perfectly laid out for me.
All I had to do was follow it.
Any guesses on how long that lasted for me?
A: ONE WEEK. Literally. One.
It was in a line of 3 women on an inclined treadmill at minute 7 of 45 on the 4th day of the week that I got angry.
I'd been trading cardio for cuts and fitness for fat loss for my entire adult life, and I wasn't any thinner (let alone happier).
I'd bought what I was sold: that my worth is enshrined in the size of my waist, and I didn't measure up (or down, I guess, in this case).
I was fucking bored on the treadmill, bored of time spent spinning my wheels, bored of that conversation, bored that that was seemingly all we had to talk about as women, bored of that particular camaraderie, bored of lettuce and bland ass chicken boobs, bored of it all.
I'm an angry little elf when I'm bored, and I didn't even finish the 45m. I hopped right off that treadmill and went outside. There were stairs behind the gym, and I ran those. And jumped. And squatted.
I didn't have a plan. I moved and bebopped around and exhausted myself in an effort to stop thinking about how ANGRY I was that my only option was to shrink.
And, for the first time in my life, I looked at these thunder thighs and felt pride, not shame.
I know I exist in a privileged body, and my preoccupation with cellulite pales in comparison to having to spend extra money on clothes or tickets or flat-out being excluded from activities and conversations.
Sometimes, in the face of racism, fatphobia, and homophobia, the issues with which I preoccupy myself seem very small. That level of guilt sometimes makes me feel unworthy of unpacking those issues, because there are people with “real” issues out there. And I know that you may, sometimes, talk yourself out of body image work, because you feel that way too.
But I also know my preoccupation with cellulite distracted me from the work I'm here to do in this world. I couldn't be there for anyone while I was wrapped up wondering how to get small enough to not hate myself.
If you're there, know you can do important work with juicy thighs. You're worthy of love, belonging, and dopeness, here and now.
You’ve tried one fitness program after another, hoping that each one will unlock the secrets to feeling strong, confident, sexy, and powerful.
You can access all of that, right now.
It took me 15 years to learn that, and I’d love to share that knowledge and experience with you.
I’d love for you to wake up in the morning, and, instead of heading to the mirror to examine your love handles in disgust, you walk into the bathroom to brush your teeth without using your mental loudspeaker hating on your cellulite as a timer.
I’d love for you to get dressed and put on your favorite outfit and head out the door, without taping it down or peppering it with safety pins.
I’d love for you to go to work or take care of your children or go on a date with your partner and just...think about those things, not about how you look while doing them (and if it’s okay).
The first time I went to the gym to lift and didn’t watch myself in the mirror for extra rolls, and I didn’t watch every calorie on a machine and keep myself on there until it hit 900 (an arbitrary number I chose based on how many slices of pizza I shoveled into my body until the point of pain the night before), I felt free.
I also felt a little afraid.
I didn’t know I was allowed to enter the gym without a fat loss goal.
I didn’t know I was allowed to both not hate my body and still want to change it.
I didn’t know I was allowed to feel good in my skin if it didn’t look like the covers on a magazine.
I went through so many programs, none of which were designed for me or my needs, all without asking myself what I was hustling for. I never got the results I wanted, and I didn’t know why.
But now I do:
I didn’t get the results I wanted, because it was never about my body.
Unpacking my body image issues and finding a fitness program that makes me feel strong (not weak), capable (not defeated), and empowered (not like a failure) brought a peace, comfort, and ease to my life that I didn’t know was possible.
I’ve helped hundreds of women discover joyful movement, powerful mindset shifts, and a strong sense of self-worth, and I’d be honored to help you do the same.
It’s time for you to discover how to get the results you’ve been chasing.
Enrollment for the first round of The Bold Body Initiative closes at the end of the week, and it will never be this price again.
Join an intimate group of womxn working to achieve their own peace here → www.strongbysteph.com/bold-body-initiative.
See you there.