(Content warning: FUCKING DIETS and cursing)
I am a late bloomer to athletics. Well, okay, actually I was on the swim team and a sprinter when I was young, but once the boobs started to happen, I basically refused to get into a swimsuit. Body dysphoria is REAL, folks, talk to your kids.
So it took me another twenty years or so to start exercising again. I began with running, which got me high (WIN), but started to wear on my body. I found an awesome bootcamp in Berkeley (Phoenix Fitness, Kelly Mills is my hero, I don’t know if she knows that though, I’m coming out with my love for you right now!) and actually made a few friends that I still see to this day.
Though the bootcamp was awesome, it left me wanting more in the realm of brute strength. I wanted to get strong and lift heavy. I discovered I wasn’t super into the long endurance cardio- which makes sense, since physically I’ve always been more of a sprinter than a marathoner (while mentally and emotionally, I know how to endure). So I found a CrossFit box that had opened up nearby just a few months earlier, and reveled in the phallic majesty of the barbell.
(Yeah, I know, CrossFit is cardio too, but I can handle 10 minutes of pull ups and cleans much better than a 45-minute bootcamp.)
I have done several CrossFit competitions, but none of them have involved weight classes. I’ve also participated in four annual Strengthlifting contests where my weight was used for calculating my Wilks score but not for determining how much I was allowed to lift. And being only quasi-competitive, I was just thrilled to participate and see if I could beat my own records each year.
This Strongman contest in September, however, does involve weight classes. And it’s not the kind of weight classes where you are simply compared to others of your weight class, sort of like they do with Master’s age folks. (I’m compared with others in the 40+ range, rather than with 20 year old whippersnappers).
No, no, that would be too simple and stress-free!
Instead, the weight we are required to carry/lift for our events is dependent on how much each athlete weighs. So all the physical prep I’m doing right now is to get me in a position to be strong enough to lift in the Lightweight class, which is not where I generally sit in my healthy happy emotionally stable place. Essentially, I have to cut weight to get into the weight class I have an iota of hope of becoming strong enough for.
Cutting weight while getting strong is generally not indicated. It’s kind of a bummer, actually.
It’s humbling to consider, every day, that all my training is based on the hope that I can cut weight to make this weight class. Which goes against two very important truths: If you want to get stronger, it’s best to eat more, and DIETS ARE FUCKED UP AND THEY ARE MEANT TO MAKE YOU FEEL SHITTY ABOUT YOURSELF. Also who the fuck wants to feel hungry when you’re trying to get strong and powerful? DOES NOT COMPUTE
But, this is where I find myself today. I have a lot of feelings about this, and SO MUCH MORE TO SAY about the intersections of self-worth, body size, taking up space, cultural expectations, restriction, personal choice, body modification, and disordered eating. So stay tuned…