How Powerlifting Makes Me Feel Femme as Fuck

Heads up loves, I talk about my body weight and weight loss in this post, so if you want to skip, feel free!

There are a few things that rarely, if ever, fail to put me in a better mood. Hot showers, naps, snuggling with my cat, painting my nails, and deadlifting 200 pounds off the ground.

I got out of a serious, long-term relationship in August of 2014, and immediately adopted a cat, cut and dyed my hair, and made an appointment with a personal trainer. It was the classic post-breakup cocktail. I told her I wanted to learn the basics of powerlifting, so she took me through the essentials of squatting, benching, and deadlifting. We discovered I had a knack for deadlifting especially, and that even though my bench needed some work to get my numbers up, my squat was pretty decent too. I left the first appointment on cloud nine.

There’s something really empowering about going into a gym after a hard day at work, putting on my pink shoes and leggings with my Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary shirt and picking up heavy things and putting them down again. I can see my progress every week, every month, and have tangible proof that I’m getting stronger than I’ve been.

It also makes me a lot more aware of my body. As someone who sits at an office desk for eight hours, connecting with my body isn’t something I do all day. Going to the gym and feeling my heart rate increase, sweating a bit, and feeling my muscles move and work is really key to getting me to focus on my body. The good parts, anyway. It’s rare that I leave the gym feeling bad about my body. It’s easy to get down in the dumps since I’m not at the weight I want to be, especially since I’ve gained weight in the last year or so. But it’s hard to be mad at myself or my body when I have a couple hundred pounds on my back. I don’t focus on my pudgy tummy when I’m watching myself in the mirror to make sure my squat hits the right depth.

It’s rare that an activity makes me feel everything I am, rather than everything I’m not. I’m normally so quick to focus on my shortcomings that it’s hard to focus on everything I do well. Even with other gym things, like running or something, I just feel like I’m on the edge of doing it right, but mostly dying and staring at the clock wondering when I can be done. Yes, there’s proof that I ran that mile or biked that hill… but any sort of movement would have gotten me there eventually. But in the weight room, I have tangible proof of my progress, and there’s no weaseling my way around it. I just pushed that really heavy weight off my chest. I just put that really heavy weight on my back and didn’t die. I picked up heavy things and watched myself do it. There’s no disputing it. It’s just fact.

I love sweating and feeling my muscles ache the next day. It makes me realize that my body is a good body, regardless of the way it looks in a dress or the way I feel in jeans. In a weird way, lifting makes me very aware of my “femmeness”. Maybe it’s because my gym is made up of mostly dudebros and I feel in stark contrast to them. There can be a lot of ego in a weight room, surrounded by testosterone and grunting and protein shakes. I won’t say I’m immune to getting in my head about missing a lift or not being 100% stoked on my progress (or sometimes lack thereof) sometimes, but in the same way that being the only woman in a conference room at work makes me hyper-aware of my gender and presentation, being one of the few women in the weight room makes me hyper-aware as well, but not in such a negative way. I like standing out there. I like being the only one wearing pink, with a fluffy ponytail, doing stupid dances between sets to keep myself having fun.

Lifting makes me focus and keeps my mind quiet. It actually makes me feel like myself. I’m a five foot four fat girl with amazing tits and a great deadlift. And when I leave the gym, that’s exactly how I feel. And for once, it feels really good.

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