Two years ago I gained a lot of weight, and quickly. Within 6 months I packed on 15-20 pounds. I then lost it all in a month. Then gained it again.
“You have AMAZING legs”
“Why would you want to do that to yourself”
“Your back is perfection”
“You’re bigger than me” – some dude
The above are some comments I hear almost daily regarding my body. Compliments and insults–they come from complete strangers on the train to those closest to me.
I am gracious for the compliments because my body is a direct result of what it’s capable of. Bruised up and all (from event training), I am finally secure enough to not pick my body apart and insults do not get to me.
Women often ask me about how I have come to this acceptance of how much I weight and being bigger than the majority of the “average male”. Well here’s the short answer…
It was a process. A process of acceptance. A process of picking myself apart, counting calories, over-training, rewarding myself with food, and so forth. It takes learning, life obstacles, but most importantly realizing there’s more to life than what you weight. If the scale is your biggest problem, then you are one of the lucky ones, and don’t know what true hardship is.
My weight history through sports
High School/College: For almost 8 years I weighed 150-160lbs. I was a sprinter and then a rower. I had huge legs, not much of an upper body. In college, our coaches weighed us every few weeks. I was always around the same, whenever I got close to 160, I would track what I eat and lost weight. I took pride in getting myself in the lower 150’s.
October 2014: My first NAS Nationals. I had been training strongman since June. I noticed I was starting to gain weight and was TERRIFIED. The scale once hit 161 and I immediately started paying attention to my diet and doing fasted cardio. Got my weight back down to under 160 so that I was in the lower end of the Women’s Middleweight at Nationals (140-160).
October 2014-March 2015: 6 months and 15lb weight gain
I placed at nationals and it qualified me for Worlds “The Arnold”. My new weight class was 140-180lbs. At this level, it wasn’t divided into two smaller weight classes. I knew I had to step my game up and I started working with my now coach, Pro Strongman Eric Dawson for programming. My workouts were intense. At least three times a week I was deadlifting, squatting, or pressing a final AMRAP set (As Man Reps as Possible).
Increased volume leads to an increased appetite. I WAS SO HUNGRY. I was trying to eat the same amount I always did but would BINGE at night. Cereal, rice, pizza, Chipotle, anything. I was always starving. As a result, I started gaining weight. I wasn’t too worried because all of my lifts were increasing, I felt good, and my body was starting to really develop. I did notice my abs going away but I thought to myself, “No problem, I WILL get these back after March.”
March 2015-April 2015: 1 month and 15lb weight loss
Immediately following the Arnold, I went on a diet and increased cardio. I wanted to get back to my old weight. On my 23rd birthday in April 2015, I compete at the Hudson Valley Competition and wanted to be in the under 160weight class. I counted everything I ate and did cardio every day and lost ten pounds in a month. The last few days before weighing in I did a water cut, sat in a sauna, and even was spitting in a cup to make weight. I weighed in a 155 and was SO HAPPY, it was like I got satisfaction of going below 160lbs in such a short amount of time.
Following this competition, I was a mess. My weight and the scale were a constant battle. It was a double edged sword of wanting to be as strong as possible, but also still wanting to weight a certain amount. For a few months I was all over the place. I knew I wanted to be one of the strongest woman in the world but I still wanted visible abs! Not saying it’s not possible to have both but from heavy lifting my core was getting thicker.
Summer of 2015: I deadlifted 405lbs. This was a long-term goal of mine. When I pulled 405lbs it was as if a flashlight went off. I was eating more, I weighed more, not doing cardio everyday but my lifts were SKYROCKETING. I started embracing the parts of my body that I did like.
Since the summer of 2015, I have consistently weighed anywhere between 172-187. 175lbs is where I personally feel my best: strong, fast, and lean. My athletic performance has continued to increase. The more I learn about my body, the more respect I have for it.
I realize drastic weight gain at this point in my training isn’t going to happen like it did in the beginning. I also realize then when I overeat and get closer to the 180s, I do not feel good. I feel slower and lethargic. BALANCE. A key word that I swear by for all aspects of life.
It’s great to see the growing participation of people (women in particular) who are starting to lift weights. I realize most people are not lifting to participate in a competitive sport, but nonetheless you can NOT be afraid to eat more and have to take the scale with a grain of salt. The scale is a necessary evil and it’s a tool that has pros and cons. DO NOT LET A NUMBER DEFINE YOU.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…
When your body changes and your hard work starts to show, know that the comments from family members, friends, and strangers will happen. EMBRACE them. I’ve had “men” tell me they can’t date me because of how much I lift and my legs are bigger than them. For every positive there’s a negative. DO NOT LET OTHERS COMMENTS DEFINE YOU.
As Socrates once said, “No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”
Keep your ultimate goals in mind and remember balance. Who cares how much you weight, what you look like, or your lifts if every other aspect of your life is falling apart?