I am muscular.
By no means am I anywhere close to a body builder, and I personally do not aspire to reach that point. But I do go to the gym, and I do take classes meant to work my muscles. Therefore I am muscular. Don’t get me wrong, I love the workouts, and I don’t do them just as a way to burn calories. But I am usually the youngest in the class (often, the youngest at the gym). I am a teenage girl, I wear tank tops. I also am enrolled in dance class. And recently, I have been becoming increasingly more self conscious of the muscle tone in my arms and shoulders. I am easily embarrassed when I lift my arms in class, because I am generally the only girl who has any sort of definition in her shoulders. Because of my history of self critique, I started to compare myself (again) to the other girls in the class. Oddly enough, in a room full of girls in body conforming leotards and tights and mirrors along 2 walls, it wasn’t my size that I was comparing myself to. It was my muscular arms.
This was causing quite a conflict in my head. I work these muscles to achieve and maintain a nice muscle tone, so why was I embarrassed by it in a setting other than the gym?
Well, the other day (as in yesterday) I was standing to the side of the room with some other girls while the teacher was going over choreography with a few other people in the class, and one of them out of the blue just looked at me and said “You have such nice arms! I love your muscle tone. I wish I had defined arms, I think toned arms are beautiful!” This took me a bit aback, but I stuttered through the whole “aww thank you thats sweet!” Another girl agreed with her, and after I started making excuses about how embarrassed I was to have the muscle, and how gross I thought it looked to everyone, she simply told me I had no reason to be embarrassed.
okay well that just made my day.
Of course, it didn’t really completely sink in until this morning at the gym, during a class intended to work my muscles (ahem, my favorite class might I add). I picked a spot to set up right in front, and once I got going, I remembered those words the girl in my dance class had said. Somewhere between the bicep work, triceps, squats and lunges I realized something. I really do love my arms.
There is a lady who goes to that same class who is noticeably, very sick. She is a stick and works out at the gym for hours a day. My mom has seen her do this through two pregnancies all the way till she was about to pop. She is constantly adding additional weight to the bars and dumbbells she uses, and wears ankle weights during class as well. Yet she is not gaining any muscle at all. Her body is eating it because she does not nourish herself enough to actually gain any benefit from the exercise. She is in a downward spiral. And today she looked sad. Defeated. Exhausted. She couldn’t keep up with the pace of the class so she did what pace she could with extra weights to make up for it. And the worst part? There was a part of my brain that used to secretly envy her. Comparison. And today I realized something. Not one day in a million years would I trade my life for hers. I would never trade my muscles for her bones. I stopped feeling jealous and angry and I started feeling sorry for her.
It was the best workout ever. I smiled in the mirror. I marveled at my strength. I am proud of the place I am at. And I decided to come up with a list of what I love about this beautiful body I have.
I love my muscles
I love the way I feel after I use them
I love feeling strong and empowered in the right way
I am blessed with the ability to develop muscle tone easily
I love my legs for carrying me through every step in my path
I love my body for having the strength to go wherever I take it
I love that I can run a whole 6 miles in under an hour, which I never would have thought possible before
I love feeling free
I love feeling strong
I love the way I feel when I am dancing
I love my beautiful body for every beautiful curve
I love being strong, but still feminine
I love being short
I love my crazy curly hair
I love my high pitched voice
I love my intellectual mind
I love my compassion
I love my emotion
I love my past
I love my future
I love my smile (even with my braces)
I love my laugh
I love my eyes and eyelashes
I love that sometimes I don’t have to keep talking, I can just smile and know
I love my shoulders
I love my arms.
I love my beautiful strength.