Tag Archives: body positive

The benefits of powerlifting (according to me)

Last week I was feeling a bit uninspired for things to write about on my blog, and @davegw on Twitter suggested I write about the benefits of powerlifting. I was a bit skeptical at first because I don’t lift for weight/fat loss or to “look great naked” (I look great naked anyway, thanks – just not your stereotypical white Western ideal of “great”!) – and besides, there are 10000+ articles out there already on the benefits. But he urged me to reconsider, because a post on my benefits of powerlifting might make an interesting alternative. So, here are the things I perceive as benefits:

The social aspect

I think many peoples’ idea of a gym is a place where people stick their headphones in, get on the treadmill & zone out. Neither of the gyms I go to – BGWLC & Urban Kings – are like that.

At BGWLC, we train as a squad (even the newbies), we talk to each other and I’ve made some really great friends. I’ve not been training at Urban Kings as long, but I get the impression that the atmosphere there is the same – people go to the same classes week after week and socialise together outside the gym.

Making friends can be hard, especially as an adult in London, so this is a huge benefit for me.

I read a lot of Crossfit articles which seem to suggest this social/tribe mentality only exists at Crossfit boxes, and it doesn’t – you just need to find the right gym. Commercial big-box gyms usually aren’t it. If you feel lonely at your Fitness First or LA Fitness, try another gym & see if it has a better social scene!

Routine

I am a creature of habit & I like to know where I will be & when. So powerlifting with a coach & partner(s) suits me well, as I have to stick to the timetable otherwise I let them down. This might not appeal to everyone, but it does to me!

Being strong is just cool

Just that, really. I like being able to pick up heavy stuff, and I look forward to being able to pick up more heavy stuff. Uninitiated people hear you can deadlift Xkg and go “oooooh”. It’s nice.

Getting bigger

I know, 99.9% of articles about women lifting weights say “You won’t get bulky!” but I started bulky and I’ve STAYED bulky. I like being big(ger). All my powerlifting idols are men (as are pretty much all my life idols) and while I know I won’t ever get as impressive as them, I like taking part is a sport where size isn’t frowned upon. OK, so it is kinda frowned upon for ladies, but fuck that gender bullshit! MOAR BULKY LADIES PLS!

My favourite big bits (gym-honed, not food-honed) are my traps and my arms. My arms are large but lacking definition, though, and I’d maybe like a little but more. But my big traps are the bomb. And as for my behind…

Butts

… I know, I’m being a bit hypocritical here. But hear me out. I have always had a very large bottom – what can I say, I’m a big girl. And yes, squatting does give you a larger, more shapely butt (mine has stayed large but gone from kinda flat to perfectly rounded).

But what all those millions of articles telling you (women) to squat for your butt’s sake DON’T tell you is… squats give men big butts too. No, really. I guess it’s just not talked about because patriarchy. So if you like men with big butts and cannot lie, or are a man who likes the idea of a big butt, powerlifting is for you. If you don’t, just wear a longer t-shirt.

Confidence

I have never really lacked in confidence, but powerlifting has definitely given me more. I mean, if you can stand in front of a hundred people wearing The Outfit(TM) and pull those awesome lifting faces, how can you not be confident?!

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Sexy.

If it wasn’t for the confidence powerlifting gave me, I wouldn’t have felt confident enough to do a talk at Ladies Who Code, or walk into the (all male) grappling class at Urban Kings & take part without even a second thought. Getting up close & personal with big, sweaty men? No biggie. I’m a freakin’ powerlifter, man!

So tell me: what are your benefits of the sport you do? Or what do you hope to achieve through doing it?

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Confession

For the first time in my 36 years, I’m sad about it being Autumn because I want to keep on wearing shorts! Normally I can’t wait to bust out the tights & long boots, but this year I want to keep on getting my less-than-perfect pins out.

It’s never too late to start loving your bod!

Ramblings on weight, fat and food

Sakurasenshi wrote a good thing today about body acceptance & shame. I’ve been having some similar thoughts recently, but it’s hard to put them into words (coherently, at least). But for definite, recently I’ve been realising that lots of the fitness blogs & Tumblrs I follow, which also focus on weight/fat loss, make me question myself.

As I’ve said before, I discovered fat acceptance (and later, HAES) before I started lifting. I didn’t start lifting because I wanted to be leaner or lose weight; in fact I didn’t even really realise there was all this stuff about fat loss and getting leaner until I’d been lifting for about a year. Most of my lifting idols are men, like Andy Bolton, whose body type don’t even grace the door of of fitspo/fat loss etc. So I had no idea at first. 

So why don’t you want lose weight?

Because at ~72kg, I’m pretty much spot on for the GBPF 72kg class. I could try to lose weight and end up maybe at 67kg, say. And then I’d be even less competitive in the 72kg class, as I’d be giving away 5kg to my rivals. Why bother?

Or, I could try to get down to the next class below – 63kg, that’s over 9kg. I very much doubt I could lose that in much less than a year while still maintaining my strength. So that’s effectively a year out of competitions. And would I be happy at 63kg? Probably not; I’ve not been that small as an adult. It would be hard and I wouldn’t like my body as a result, because it wouldn’t be me.

But what about body fat?

Let’s be honest here – boobs. I’ve had big boobs since I was 15ish, and they’re kind of an essential part of my body image. They’re also my aesthetic. I know lots of people think abs are better than boobs or whatever, but I don’t. Some people also think small boobs are perfect, and that’s great! But I like my boobs as they are. 

Plus, a life without being able to wear a Freya Deco bra is a life I don’t want to live. I’m very much into my bra bloggers & bra shopping. Big bras are like… a cult I really really want to be a member of!

But don’t you want to be a smaller dress size?

I’m on the very smallest side of plus-size, and I wear both straight- and plus-sized clothes. But I still associate myself with the fat acceptance & fatshion communities.

If I had to choose between the online fitness community, and the online fatshion community, I’d choose fatshion every time. Basically, because it’s supportive, it’s inclusive, and it’s full of women who say things I want to listen to. People like Marianne Kirby, Gabi Gregg, Georgina Horne & Bethany Rutter are my kind of women. 

That’s not to discredit the online fitness community; but I’ve found it’s a lot less welcoming, accepting and inclusive. It’s a bit cliquey, to be honest, and I’m too old for cliques. 

Why don’t you eat “clean” / Paleo / wheat-free / sugar-free etc?

Up until now, it’s been because I find those things restrictive. I live in London, I’m dating my boyfriend (we don’t live together), we have plenty of money between us & we’re serious foodies. I would much rather spend my money at a restaurant, than save it (for that hypothetical rainy day) and invite my boyfriend round to cook. I don’t want to plan my meals, not when I don’t know in advance what nights I’m going to be home. I don’t want to stay in at the weekend because there’s a big bag of broccoli at home that needs using up. 

All that said, next month I’m going to be cohabiting for the first time (eep!) and my boyfriend has suggested that we spend Sunday prepping meals for the week. I’m pretty excited about this. I’ll have access to a car for the first time (buying weekly groceries without a car = a pain) and I’ll also have my Sundays “back”, as right now they’re spent hanging out with my boyfriend, then travelling 1.5 hours home. When he & I live together, we won’t have all the travel time, and we’ll probably go on fewer dates (since we’ll be together all the time!). 

So, I can see myself eating “clean”-er in future. But not Paleo or gluten-free or sugar-free or dairy-free, because I enjoy foods forbidden on those plans (and the most important macro is deliciousness). Just fewer restaurant meals, most likely, and more home cooking. 

In conclusion.

This has been a big old ramble, and if you read it all the way through you get a cookie (not gluten- or sugar-free, sorry). 

At the end of the day, I don’t think weight- & powerlifting should be about losing weight, losing fat or getting lean – unless the individual wants it to be. There should be no obligation to eat “clean” or Paleo if you want to train (one of the reasons I’ve avoided CrossFit is because the Paleo aspect seems to be almost mandatory). 

There is no reason why fat people shouldn’t train, nor thin people, nor anyone in between. People who lift weights should not have to justify their eating habits, body image or desired aesthetic to anyone. If you’re a woman who wants to lift to get a lean, fitspo-type body, then go for it; if you’re a woman who want to lift to get bulky like Andy Bolton (or Kristen Rhodes!) then knock yourself out. I’ll join you in the bulky camp 🙂

Just lift & eat what you want. 

Plus, I promise this stuff gets easier as you get older & more comfortable in your own skin (but it probably won’t ever entirely go away). 

Positive things

After yesterday’s wobble I think it’s about time I listed some positive things about my body:

  1. I have visible triceps, which for a 36-year-old woman who used to have bingo wings (and who didn’t take up exercise until she was 32) is a pretty awesome thing. 
  2. I still have my boobs. I’ve only lost about 10% body fat in the last 4 years (from a start of 42%) so my boobs have gone nowhere. I know many people don’t like big boobs, but I’ve had them pretty much forever and they’re a part of me! 
  3. I have a wicked vein which pops out of my neck when I squat. 

What do you love about your body?