Muscle is more dense than fat. I’m going to say that again for myself and all my ladies: Muscle is more dense than fat. What that means is that if you put on muscle and lose fat, the numbers on the scale are going to go up. And up. And up.
Thank you to Sophie and this article for saying it first and saying a number of other important things like “Think of all the potential that is thrown out the window when women deprive themselves of food on their quest to be thin.” My struggle, and the struggle of a lot of women I think, is reconciling what we might know, to what we feel when it applies to us.
We might know that lifting is going to give us that rocking bod we want in addition to making us feel like a badass. We might know that building muscle is the best way to look better nekkid. We might know even that we feel our best, or sexiest, our most desirable, our healthiest when we aren’t starving ourselves and are instead eating all the fudds and drinking all the beers because we are also lifting all the weights and running all the miles.
My struggle, and I think the struggle for a lot of women, is separating the physical feeling from the emotional ones. We struggle to remember reality is real for us too.
My Fight With The Scale
One day, you might see a number on the scale you have never seen before. You know why: You also are putting up other numbers you haven’t seen before — your deadlift weight, your splits time, the number of burpees or pushups or situps or pull-ups you can do.
But, in the moment, where you are looking at the scale and realizing that you will likely never be a 4-Bricker again (in GORUCK terms that means under 150#). It can be devastating. Your rational brain might click in with the “yes but look at all the things that you can do” but your emotional brain is going “I’m HUGE!”
And ok, I’m going to step out from behind this “we” business and get real because I admire the courage in others when I so often fall short of showing it myself…
I had watched the numbers tick up over the last few weeks but when I looked at the scale and saw 175.2 — I had a very much emotional freak out.
I am still struggling with that number. I’m struggling to accept my real, muscular, but still-pudgy-in-places body as it is. I’m struggling with my self perception.
Mostly, I’m struggling to place more importance on the physical feelings rather than the emotional ones.
Physical: I feel strong and able and healthy and my clothes fit well and all my other numbers are good, I’m able to lift and do more than I was a year ago, and damn I rocked that dress the other night the eyes told me so… I am a full fledged, beast-mode warrior princess!
Emotional: I am SO HEAVY! That is a full 30pounds more than it was 18months ago! I must be HUGE. What the hell?! Back to the 6-abs Challenge Diet!
The Reality Check
Both are true feelings — all the feelings are true and valid.
The challenge then becomes accepting. Body image is so difficult because we think, emotionally, that somehow the rules apply to ourselves differently. We “should” ourselves into negativity. We might know that the supermodels are airbrushed to oblivion or it took 10,001 pictures to get that one runway shot… but we think somehow our hasty selfie should live up to those standards. We think we should be a certain weight to look good and be healthy. We think we should be x or y or z. And weight is an easy measurement to look at to see if we are there.
We simply must not take the easy route.
We might know that the numbers are going to go up as we build muscle, that is half the battle. The other half of the battle (red lasers and blue lasers aside) is acceptance.
Actions have consequences. The incredible and incredibly hard part is that we have to chose how to look at and frame those consequences.
Keep it Real
I can look in the mirror and see this:
Or I can see this:
Both of these pictures were taken today, within hours of each other, same bad overhead light and all. Thank you to Lauren and the #keepitreal campaign for blazing the trail. Don’t see much difference? I do, and likely I am the only one. Something tells me either way I’m not going to get kicked out of bed.
It might be easier to just look at one number but I’m not about doing what is easy. I refuse to let one number define my worth. So I let the emotional ego-shot have its moment and then basta that bitch back to her corner of non-importance.
I am worth struggling to find my own potential against the voices (even my own) who think I should remain small. I am worth finding the balance that works for me. I am worth accepting myself as I am, not who I think I should be.
I am a worth believeing I am a beautiful badass and it is pretty damn awesome.
I am worth keeping it real with myself. And so are you.
I likely will have more words on this subject but keeping it simple today. Please ladies and gents tell me I am not alone in my struggles nor alone in being worth it — courage is best shared. And do check out Lauren and Sophie’s posts as they gave me the courage to write and share what I have been thinking and discussing over the last weeks.