Enjoying Body Changes from Fitness

Posted: August 1, 2015 in General Fitness
Tags: , ,

I’ve probably talked at least a little bit about this before, but I’m going to again. I was thinking the other day about how awesome it is noticing physical changes to my body from working out.

My goals are not aesthetic, my reason for lifting isn’t to change how I look, my reasons are mainly that I enjoy it, to be stronger, and to be healthier.

That said, I still will get excited and happy about the physical changes that come with those things.

Though for me I can feel changes better than I can see them reflected in the mirror. I’ve always had muscular legs but after I started lifting again I definitely could tell I had more muscle there- especially my hamstrings. Interestingly I’ve noticed more curve to my waist with lifting. I notice a bit more muscle on my arms, even if my upper body is still incredibly weak. Visibly the biggest change was with my lower back, which is a completely different shape thanks to adding muscle back there.

Most recently I can feel more muscle than ever before in the back of my arms which is really cool. Doesn’t look much different to me, but certainly feels different.

This all probably sounds pretty standard and seems silly for me to bother writing about, but the reason I am is because it frustrates me how often talking about such things is reacted to negatively.

On one hand, there is a group of people who feel that I shouldn’t be talking happily or proudly of changes to my body from fitness unless it’s weight loss- and even then there are those who will say you shouldn’t post about it until after you are not longer fat.

And yet, I’ve been shocked to find how often “body positive” people who do not believe in measuring the success of fitness endeavors in terms of weight loss react poorly to any kind of talk like this. I have been told that talking about changes to my own body from fitness in a positive way suggests that  certain bodies (presumably mine) are better or more worthy than others, or that it implies that everyone who engages in some sort of fitness endeavor should see the same changes. Which is just absurd.

I know I have said this before but it bears repeating- talking about what I like about my body is not the same as putting down people with different bodies! One type of body does not have to be raised above another. I can like things about me without thinking it’s bad if you are different.

Along the same lines, talking about my experiences, of any kind, with fitness, is not a judgement on others with different experiences. Acknowledging and even celebrating my own experiences does not invalidate other experiences or make them any less worthy of being celebrated in their own right.

Also- different fitness endeavors are… well- different. My goal is not aesthetic, but my goal is to be stronger. And being stronger means building muscle, you will not get stronger without doing that. So yeah, I love when I can see or feel more muscle because it’s another sign of my increased strength. Lifting heavy will have all sorts of different outcomes than running which will be different than cycling which is different than swimming, et cetera, et cetera. Even withing the same activity we don’t all have the same goals, the same programs, and will have individual factors that dictate our progress toward those goals. Still, all that progress is still worth celebrating and being excited about. I can be happy for someone else making progress toward their goal even if that goal is different than mine or their progress is different than mine.

  1. My focus has, over the last few years, been strength and functional fitness. As you get older, functional fitness takes the lead over everything else. However, I admit when I start seeing more muscle definition, I can finish a run easily, and my clothes hang more comfortably, there is a real sense of pleasure and pride in my own body. No number on a scale ever gave that to me.

  2. Jessica Venable says:

    I love seeing posts like this from people with long term health goals, it is a good thing! I love your positivity and general encouragement! My goals are probably more leaning toward aesthetic than anything, but I do enjoy the added strength and muscle gains in my legs from running. Anything that keeps the cycle of positivity going in your head is a good thing. If you didn’t see results, you would be less likely to continue.

  3. keen peach says:

    Great job!!! And I totally agree with everything you are saying. I KEEP getting caught up in aesthetics! I honestly want to be healthy and strong but it’s like I keep getting off track. I have actually cut my training back to 3 day a week and just trying to eat healthy and be active the rest of the week because it’s like the gym puts me in the wrong mindset if I’m there too much. Does that make in sense?
    Anyway, this is a great post and congratulations on your hamstrings and increased strength!

  4. KateB says:

    I have no idea who to talk to about my body! ha! My politics/goals/experience put me square in the middle between “Visible Weight Loss or It Didn’t Happen” and “The First Rule of Body Positivity Is Don’t Talk Positively about Your Body.” I’m really glad I found your blog from the Fit Is a Feminist Issue fb page. Keep on keepin’ on!

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