Alright, y’all, you’re in for a long one.
To be honest, I’m not even sure where to begin because this is one of those hot button issues that makes my little feminist head spin. But, here we go.
On Friday, after going to the gym and murdering legs day, I took my obligatory #FitPic for my progress folder on my phone that’s been amassing SnapStory screenshots over the past couple years. Due to a number of girls asking me why I squat so much and, honestly, feeling damn proud of my progress—I figured why not just post it and let it speak for itself(okay, and a few hashtags). After all, my fitness idols (Michelle Lewin, Mariza Villarreal and so many others) and even my friends post body shots from all angles, bearing MUCH more than what I was about to post—so what’s the big deal?
Well apparently it was.
Although I didn’t receive any hate words, I did receive a few “I don’t approve,” “what the hell are you thinking?” texts and FB messages.
Well, let me tell you.
If you’ve remained up to date with my blog, then you would know that I became heavily interested in working out during my sophomore year of college. After meeting a boy and getting busy and making excuses, I let that love of improving upon my body, health, mind and spirit slip to the wayside. And it impacted me greatly—not only did my body slip into shambles (I gained 17 pounds) but, before I knew it, I was experiencing anxiety and depression symptoms like never before. It was noticing those impacts of letting go of my goals and daily routine that made me realize I needed to find a way to reconnect with them.
That’s when I headed over to XSport and met Joey—the guy who, though I didn’t know it yet, was going to push me to regain the portion of myself that I’d lost—the part of myself that I needed in order to feel a bit more at peace with the day-to-day happenings of my life. You see, that’s what the gym does for me—it clears my mind, makes me less analytical and reactionary, it lets my anxiety take a back seat, it gives me a goal to work towards because there’s nothing better than a new PR—ultimately, it makes me happy.
On a daily basis Joey would text me to get my ass up, in the gym and ready to hit new highs. He called me names that might offend some, but motivated me (I don’t know, there’s just something about a marine yelling at you to keep going and using expletives that makes you really want to push on through). He would ask me who embodied my ideal physique (Again, Michelle, you’re a goddess (and, if you don’t know who she is—go, look her up (you’re welcome))). He would design routines to help me target specific areas to reach my goals. He made me a meal plan. Had it not been for Joey, I wouldn’t have made it as far as I have, because I’m not sure I would’ve ever gotten as serious as I did with him as my trainer.
After a couple months of serious time in the gym, even two-a-days—Joey and other trainers were telling me I needed to compete. At first I said absolutely not due to 1) stage fright, 2) being judged on my physical appearance by an entire room full of judges and elites? No thanks, and 3) I simply didn’t think I could cut it. But, again, Joey got me thinking. He started pushing me harder and every so subtly dropping hints at the May 2015 NPC (National Physique Competition). And, before I knew it, I was squatting 185lbs, leg pressing 500+ and could finally do a pull-up—and, realizing how far I’d come made me realize how far I could go in the next six months leading up to competition—I was in.
A gallon of water a day, counting macros (40% protein, 30% fat and 30% carbs), neglecting my sweet tooth, saying no to alcohol (okay, when I drank I’d cut mixers apart from soda water or I’d stick to straight tequila (d a n g e r o u s)), one cheat meal a week—the process of preparation was teaching me self-discipline, to remain goal-oriented, to never give up on myself, to love myself and to do everything with purpose.
I once read that if you want to live a happy life, you should tie it to goals, not a person or thing. And that’s exactly what I was doing. I had my head on straight, the goal was down the road but in sight, I was bettering myself and happier than ever.
Then I got injured. I couldn’t squat—nor do any lower body lifts in general. Seeing as legs day was (is) my favorite day, I got discouraged very quickly. One thing led to another and I was out of the gym all together. And just like two years prior, when I’d let it all slip to the wayside, I was again, feeling all the adverse effects of caving to the excuses and disregarding my goal. I felt like a shell of myself.
It wasn’t until moving to New York City and getting a bit settled before I started to force myself back into the gym, knowing that it’s the one place that makes everything fade away and one visit can turn my whole day around—talk about the beauty of endorphins y’all! Anyways, over the past 2.5 months, I’ve been working out at least a few times a week and working my way back up to my PR’s and even hitting a few new ones on the way (I officially do 60 push-ups a day—hell yessss), I upped my hyper extension from a 25 to 45 plate and slowly, but surely, I’m beginning to be able to squat low without freaking out about reinjuring my extremely sensitive right groin/hip (I’m still SUPER careful with it, though).
All in all, it’s been an awesome week of fitness for me as I’ve begun to embark on my 30 Day Challenge—my gym game is strong, I’ve been running in prep for a half marathon (though I don’t actually have one that I’m signed up for, I just want to prove to myself that I can do it come mid-September), and, much to my father’s surprise and satisfaction, have been regularly attending ass-crack-of-dawn mysore Ashtanga yoga practices all the way downtown.
So, yeah, on Friday, I felt pretty damn good about the strides I’ve made with my body, mind and spirit and I wholeheartedly owe it to the active lifestyle I’ve reestablished in my daily routine (and the occasional Tara Brach or Thich Nhat Hanh meditation, R.M. Drake quote, Pinterest Fitspo, Pandora and sunsets at my favorite place in this entire city). And what do you recognize in all of that? It’s very self-oriented—and not in a selfish way. No, it’s self-oriented in just the way it needs to be—in the way that it’s helping me make the most of being on my own in an unfamiliar city, not actively seeking a romance to bide my time for the first time in God knows how long, accepting everything that comes my way with an open mind (or at least more open than it has been in the past), learning to be alone, to make new friends, try new things—to focus on myself.
So, that being said, before you so easily gasp, judge me and gossip to whomever you deem fit, do you realize that would mean you’re judging some of the very key elements that I’ve built my life upon? That you’re judging some of the cornerstones of what make me the person you call a friend, family member, confidant, co-worker, old acquaintance? Do you realize that you’re shaming me for something that has helped me evolve to such a higher degree than would’ve been possible had I not gotten back into the gym and focused on my body and well-being?
Do you realize that some of you incessantly upload content to social media that I consider just as judge-worhty? Some of y’all protest gay marriage and equality in general, act racist, shove religious views on everyone around you and then act so appalled when we don’t see life the same way as you, snap MDMA and coke in your SnapStory, support the so-called “Meninism” movement, curse like a sailor, snap the porn you’re watching (honestly, why?) AND SO MUCH MORE—but have I been anything but conversational to better understand where you’re coming from, to have something constructive come of it? No, because guess what? It’s not my place to judge—especially if it’s what makes you happy— just keep doing you.
Who knows, maybe it’s because I’m not recognized as a pro (yet (but hey, maybe one day!)) or maybe some people just can’t wrap their mind around the fact that what I’m wearing in my #FitPic actually has more coverage than the majority of my bikinis (which never once have been judged for having a picture posted), so instead you fall back on being judgmental. So, is it because I’m not on the beach? Is it because I’m too blunt and made it clear that I was showcasing my derriere (unlike girls who pose in cheekies on the sand without a single lash bat their way (but c’mon, really, what do you think they’re trying to show you)?
Or, even worse, is it because you find it too difficult to be happy for someone who’s happy with themselves, so you find something to critique?
Well, for those of you who know me; you know that I’m always saying that “I’m sorry.” If I think you’re upset, something’s wrong—you name it, that’s my first instinct because the last thing I want is for someone to be offended, hurt or pushed away.
As for recently, though? I’ve been living unapologetically. I’ve never done that before, and I think it’s about damn time.
(**For those of you who pressed “like” and texted me the nicest (and funniest) things, y’all are awesome and I appreciate the encouragement and support**)