A Dainty Diary of Lifting

June 2: A bit of benching and a bunch of feelings


I lifted this evening. Technically it was my second day of GZCL method and it just so happened to be the biggest, bro-iest workout I’ve had in a while. I was okay with this plan. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but that Insanity circuit left my legs pretty sore.

So I went and benched, working up to 110x3x3. It looks like I’ve lost all of the work capacity built up on Sheiko, despite the fact that I still haven’t managed a PR in several months and I’m 20lbs heavier. But my last rep looked smoother and more controlled than my first, which is at least a good sign. I did eat approximately at maintenance-level calories today because I’ve been feeling pretty hungry. I suspect that’s why these felt really strong and fast, even though I struggled to set up on the bench that is too tall for me.

Accessory work was OHP, one-armed rows, curls, and tricep extension. Like I said, I was okay being a bro. And I’m glad this was kind of an easy day, because I’ve been feeling kind of down all day.

I know that I’ve been saying for a while that I’ve been struggling with my lifting and my weight and my diet and my self-esteem. Like, really struggling. And I realize all of those things an interrelated part of my state of mind. But today just so happened today that they all came crashing down in a giant meteor of dysfunctionalism.

It started with the internet. I read this article, It’s Hard Out Here for a Fit Chick which was so relatable in fact, that I finished reading it and thought, “Ya, but she is not actually fat. She just has poor self-esteem due to the fitness industry’s culture. What if you are actually fat, like me?” Congratulations brain! You totally missed the point!

I also read an article on women who eat Paleo, noting that the women who are leading the current Paleo trend all hot, fit, conventionally attractive chicks. There seems to be a requirement to look a certain way if you claim to be “fit”, regardless of the fact that fitness is a measure of work capacity. And note that while each of these articles seems to be geared towards professionals in the industry, the problem is much more ubiquituous.

I am by no means a fitness professional. But I feel like my current level of fitness is one of my biggest barriers in attempting to date. Let’s play out the scenario, like I’ve done many times in my head. You’re me. You sign up for a dating site and you find a guy who is into lifting and eating Paleo and generally being active. What does he look like? Probably pretty hot. And because he values his own physical appearance, he expects the same from a partner. He’s looking for a fit chick. How does he react when I show up on a first date? I may be able to squat +300lbs, but dudes looking for a fit chick are looking for some muscle muscle definition, low body fat and abs. I have none of those things. In fact, I think some of those things are kind of overrated, which is not necessarily a socially acceptable viewpoint.

In fact, I am pretty objectively fat. I was playing around with BBC’s global fat scale this morning. My BMI is higher than 97% of women aged 15-29! And you know what? That’s 90lbs lighter than I was 5 years ago, yet my self-esteem couldn’t be any lower.


When I weighed 250lbs, I knew that my self-worth was based on factors other than my bodyweight. It was like all of that extra weight made me deaf to all of the comments about how I needed to lose weight. I was so far from being hot that I was a lost cause, or people at least knew that it was in poor taste to disparage fat people in my presence. And then all of a sudden I lost some weight and suddenly I started hearing all of the comments at once. Now I’m bombared with messages from everywhere about how disgusting fat people are, or how women always need to be skinnier, leaner and more toned – or whatever else it is that I’m supposed to be. I’ve kind of lost track.

Now I’m at this point in my life where I feel like all of my social interactions are dictated by my weight. I’m always wondering whether the person I’m talking to would like if they knew me when I was heavier? And what if someone rejects me for being overweight? On the one hand, it makes them an asshole. But it also makes me feel like shit. It negates all of the progress that I’ve made, and it scares me that I simply might never be good enough to feel accepted by other people. Needless to say, this is not a healthy attitude for approaching social scenarios or dating.

[Redacted some parts that maybe I don’t want on the internet for open commentary]

In the meantime, the cure for an internet-induced bout of depression is always more internet. You know what made me feel a bit better? First, a tumblr entitled “What Kind of Guy Tells Women To Make Him a Sandwich?” – which reminded me that tough guys who vocalize their opinions on the internet are sometimes kind of lame. And second, these adorable Corgis.


4 thoughts on “June 2: A bit of benching and a bunch of feelings

  1. I don’t know you nor have I seen you, but as another woman, I admire you and your strength. I’ve faced similar problems, but my younger brother (a powerlifter) keeps telling me, I’ll find someone as dedicated to the sport and lifestyle that I’ve chosen for myself. And that makes sense to me, because at the end of the day thats what I want– a life partner. And I wish that for you as we’ll. keep inspiring. Xo

  2. I read your blog fairly frequently, and every time, I’m all like “OMG, she’s like a Canadian version of me.” But I usually keep quiet.

    This blog post just hit a little too close to home to not comment on.

    I had the same issues when I was your age, and I still do, to an extent. I’m still in the awkward zone of “fat, but not fat enough that people stop commenting on it… but if they only knew how fat I used to be maybe they’d shut up.” I’m (somewhat) strong, but that doesn’t effing matter because I don’t look like I lift anything besides a fork to my face. Any fitness I may possess is irrelevant because I’m fat. That girl that falls more into the socially-acceptable levels of body but can’t bench press the bar? Waaaay more fit than either of us, clearly.

    Anyway, now that I’m done ranting, I advise you to Honey Badger it up. It’s hard. It took me years (literally almost a decade) to reduce the amount of fucks I gave about such things. Getting older and realizing that you can provide useful services to people independent of your weight will help, as will realizing that just because a specific endeavor failed, that doesn’t mean that you are a failure.

    Re: adventures in online dating, I have encountered 4 types of guys: 1) guys who lift and think it’s awesome that you do; 2) guys that lift and think that you should be toning because muscle isn’t attractive on a girl; 3) guys who don’t lift, but respect your hobby and encourage you because you enjoy lifting; and 4) guys that don’t lift and think that you should be toning because muscle isn’t attractive on a girl. My boyfriend (who I met online, I might add) doesn’t lift. But what matters more than his lifting state, to me, is that he respects that I do lift. He’s all for living a healthy lifestyle; he just prefers to go about it in a different way.

    A bit of perspective: when I was younger, I was all about contacting guys on dating sites based on common hobbies. But, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to the realization that other qualities are more important to me, and that shared hobbies do not imply compatibility. Respecting certain differences, though, is key. I guess what you’ll need to figure out for yourself is whether a life/temporary partner has to be a lifting partner as well, and where in life you’re willing to compromise.

    Because there will be compromise, but you’ll learn when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em, so to speak.


    (FWIW, If I were a lesbian or bisexual and single, I’d date you. And we could go to gyms and hog all the racks for hours! 😛 )

    • Okay, so since you left me such an epic reply, I felt obligated to reply and let you know that you’d made me smile.

      I think we are somewhat on the same page, because my recent foray into roller derby has definitely been an attempt to find non-lifting commonalities with other people. And trying to take a step back from lifting really seems to have been the right call for me in this situation. Sometimes I forget that lifting and its culture does not exist in a vacuum, and there is in fact a lot of diversity outside the gym.

      But now I am just sad we will never go on a date. 😦

  3. Thank you for this. As someone who has also lost a lot of weight (over 100#! woot!), but is still sort of fat, or at the very least I still see myself as fat (uuuuuugh), and also as a woman who has fallen completely in love with heavy lifting and wishes that being strong were the way success was measured (in my own head as well as everyone else’s), rather than leanness or whatever, I really, really appreciate what you are saying. Thank you.

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