When I was 16, something happened to me that scarred my brain for a long time. I remember it so clearly, sitting at a friends house upstairs listening to music, just hanging out — and one of the guys said to me — “You have big arms for a girl.”
Ryan was his name and that’s the only thing I really remember about him. It stuck with me. I remember the others in the group kind of laughed and were like, Dude — you don’t say that to a girl!
Another time soon after that, I mentioned to a girlfriend that I thought my arms were “getting fat” and she said, no you just have arms like Julie (another friend.) I proceeded to tell Julie that, hoping to feel validated like that was a good thing. She responded, “Oh god, you don’t want arms like me, their huge.”
And it was then that the hatred of my arms began. Until now.
What has changed? I have. What happened? Crossfit happened.
I’ve always been a cardio girl – from the beginnings of my unhealthy relationship with exercise all the way to when I found peace and happiness with exercise. It was run run run, cardio cardio cardio.
Then, I started crossfit at Trident.
“Instead of burning everything away, I started building everything up.”
Instead of carving out 2 hours for a long run, I went balls to the wall for 30 minutes. You don’t think 3 minutes is a long time but try doing 150 wall balls or heavy thrusters followed by rounds of pull ups. The seconds don’t move fast enough!
And while I used to attend a 45 minute step class, then jog 5 miles on the treadmill — this endless flow — that’s not possible these days. I once ran 5 miles before crossfit and said — NEVER again. I need ALL my strength and energy to conquer a class.
I always wanted “skinny arms” — dainty so I looked more feminine. I was so jealous of girls who just had that, while I felt tainted with flab.
But I’m done with skinny arm envy. I looked in the mirror the other day and thought — wow, my shoulders look bigger, my arms a little bulkier. I look…strong, athletic, the anti-dainty.
Instead of worrying my arms would look fat in my wedding pictures, I hoped they’d look strong. And guess what? I was happy with how they looked in all of the photos!
The thing is, my muscles just don’t get “cut” easily. I’m working on it, it’s taking time. And I can’t lift a really heavy weight — some may even find my weightlifting laughable.
But I don’t care. I lift things up and I put them down — and it feels powerful, exhilirating, confidence-boosting.
I can do kipping pull ups (most of the time), I’m finally working my way to reaaaal push-ups, I climbed all the way to the top of the rope and back down!
I love my arms because they help me become stronger — mentally and physically. Did I have big arms for a girl when I was 16? Probably not. Do I have big arms for a girl now? Well, maybe. But guess what? I built them that way this time around.
Thanks to crossfit, I can appreciate real physical fitness, strength and the beauty of a hard working body. And I have some great role models in the bad ass lady coaches at Trident who amaze me with their muscles every time I go! (Here’s to you Karen & Melanie — my morning ladies!)