I recently went to put on a dress that I had worn two summers ago. To say the dress didn’t fit would be an understatement, it needed at least another two inches of fabric to close, my butt looked like it was about to bust through the material, and my back looked like it was being squeezed into a kids sized bathing suit. For a moment, I panicked. I have been working out more consistently and harder this past year than any other year of my life. I was focused on eating clean 80% of the time, getting proper rest, and staying well hydrated. While I had been aware I had put on some weight the last two years, I was still surprised to see that my body had changed so drastically. In that moment of panic, I saw this as a negative.
I took a step back (literally from the mirror) and closed my eyes for a moment. I forced myself to think about the changes my body had undergone and what they really meant. I reminded myself that I have spent the last seven months focused on heavy strength training at least three days a week and cut down my cardio and body weight workouts to three times a week. I reminded myself that I have needed to eat more to not only fuel my workouts, but also to allow me to lift heavier, grow stronger, and put real muscle on my skinny bones for the first time in my life. I reminded myself that even though I was bigger size than two years ago, that this was due to positive growth rather than purely weight gain. I thought of the things my body could do now that it couldn’t do at that time. I couldn’t squat 135 pounds for reps, complete six laps of bear crawls, bench press (at all), or do one legged box jumps. I realized that the fact that this dress didn’t even close to fit was not a negative, but instead a positive. It showed me truly how much I had accomplished in a few short years.
As a woman, it is easy to get caught up in the mentality that we should be a size 0. That weight gain or increasing in size is always to be viewed as a negative. I’d be the biggest hypocrite if I didn’t admit that I get lost in these negative thoughts more than I should. However, this incident reminded me how important it is to take a step back, reframe our thoughts, and remember that progress can take so many different forms. Specifically, inside so many of these moments where we meet this frustration, are the exact things we should instead be so proud of. If our clothes fit tighter than they used to, it’s probably because we put on muscle. If we get frustrated we can’t keep up during speed drills in class, remember that a year ago we were scared to even come to this studio. If we are feeling down that we can’t PR our bench press or squat, look back at how much stronger we are than when we started. Although on the surface these situations appear frustrating or upsetting, we are only in a position to have these moments because we have made so much progress to begin with.
So next time you try on a pair of jeans that are way too tight, take a step back and check out your glutes in the mirror. If your dress won’t zip, flex those arms and look over your shoulder to see your back muscles pop.