Don’t Be Afraid of Muscle

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From the time I was 10 years old I have been aware of my size. I have always known how much I weigh and what size I am wearing. Sometimes it has been a bit obsessive (read: all of the time it has been a bit obsessive). I have always worked out, watched what I ate (or at the very least was aware of what I was eating). I can tell you the caloric content of almost anything. Go on, test me… bag of M&Ms? 250 calories. Arby’s Roast Beef… 350 calories. A piece of wheat bread… 60 calories. I’ll stop. It’s annoying.
CrossFit changed this for me. One of the main ways it has changed my life is how I view food. I LOVE to eat. Seriously, it is my favorite thing to do, but I do not let it control me. I am not obsessed with the caloric content of anything. I eat real food. I stay away from some things, have some glorious cheat meals, and indulge from time to time. I’m in the best shape of my life. Here’s the issue: while I am the same size as far as measurements, I am the heaviest I have ever been (excepting my two pregnancies, of course).
The inner obsessive girl struggles with this. I was weighed the other day, and panicked a moment. I stared at the number in disbelief. It’s tough to see, but my inner dialogue immediately began the diatribe of “it’s mostly muscle,” and “think about your body fat percentage not your weight.” And I did, but as you see from this blog, it still bothers me. I have years of thinking this way, and have been wrestling the last two with changing this. I think this is a common struggle with a lot of CrossFit girls. Some of us have spent years in search of the thigh gap and a protruding collar bone. Now we are combating quads for days, a big butt from squats, and the shoulders that would make the shoulder pad fad of the 80’s really easy.
Don’t get me wrong, I am in love with what my body can do. I can squat thirty pounds more than my body weight, deadlift my body weight and a half, and can ALMOST clean my body weight (I need to work on that). I have not reached my goals yet, but I’m getting closer. But, I digress. I’m strong and I love it, but with that strength comes a mass I’m not used to, and that society is not used to. We talk about being “bulky” and “manly” and worry about how others view us. We need to start focusing on what our bodies can do, not how well our bodies fit with society.
On top of performance strength, muscles actually help you burn fat. That’s right, the more muscle you have the more it’s going to help you lose fat. You get to sit on your couch and burn fat long after you have left the gym. How cool is that? Muscle is an amazing thing. You want more of it. So, don’t get bogged down in the lumps and the bulky. First of all, for most of the women to look manly, it’s going to require more testosterone than we possess. Second of all, the muscle is what makes you looked “toned.” Stop focusing on someone else’s perceptions of what your body should look like. What matters is what your body can accomplish. How well you perform at the tasks you wish to perform.
So, let’s embrace our quads, hams, glutes, biceps, triceps, and lats. Let’s enjoy what we do, and look good coming and going, no matter what size your shorts are, or which way the scale tips. Be happy with who you are and what you can do.

By: Amanda Stewart, CFL1 trainer, Contributing Writer

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