My Body, Right Now Redux

A friend recently pointed out that I am not living up to my description of FFG. In the ‘About’ section I explicitly claim that this blog will be devoted to exploring my own embodiment. Instead, she noted, I have been undertaking sociological interpretations of gym and fitness culture. How true. I think that I am more comfortable with analyzing things in a slightly abstract way than with blathering on about myself. Does anyone really want to read about boring old me and my boring old flesh? Apparently they do. Well, at least one person does.

So let’s get back to basics, namely my body right now. First of all, I am pleased to report that it is getting bigger. I love my guns. I am kissing them as I write this, which is making me totter awkwardly from side to side on the balance ball. There, all done with the kissing. And what can I say about my back? Mostly thanks to my lovely new trainer for hitting those lats so hard. I am learning how to flare them without shrugging my shoulders, and that’s not easy. Just try it for yourself. See? My legs are bigger too. The size 27 Silver jeans that I am wearing right now are almost too small; my quads and glutes are bursting out all over, and not in a bad way. How many other women can’t wait to buy bigger pants?

All this weight lifting is giving me more confidence. Yesterday my trainer told me that her other clients refer to me as that ‘skinny muscle chick.’ Wow. How I love that even though skinny is NOT a compliment. And the label ‘muscle chick’ makes me giggle when I think about the body of a real muscle chick, like G-Smash. Still, I just can’t stop looking at myself. Just a minute… Sorry, I had to strip down to flex in the full-length mirror in my office. It is there to make the room look bigger, but obviously has other uses. (Wink to my partner). Wait, one more time in the mirror…. And I’m back.

Is this project having a bad influence on me, giving me a swelled head in addition to my semi-bulging biceps? Not at all. Do I spend more time inspecting my expanding limbs and visible ab obliques than staring at this computer screen, developing eye strain like a good professor should? Quite possibly yes.

My efforts do not produce only positive results, however, for the fitter I get the fatter I feel. I want to be leaner. I especially hate the layer of loose jiggly fat over my belly area. Then again, I ate about 25 Lebanese baklava this weekend. That was not my fault; I had worked three 18-hour days both organizing and presenting at a local academic conference, which made me tired, cranky, and in need of sweet, sweet sugar. I must get rid of the instant weight gain this week. Because I am striving for a physical ideal I can always find room for improvement, even as I admire my shoulders.

Another potential downside of FFG is that my breasts keep getting smaller as I replace fat with muscle. Breasts are, after all, just big blobs of fat and the fatter you are the bigger they will be. My partner is not pleased with this development (or rather lack thereof) as he is a ‘breast man.’ Guess how much I am worried about that on a scale of one to ten? Zero. You might have assumed that my partner would embrace the hot new me 100%, but consider this: I used to be a chubby, fun-loving, booze guzzling, nacho eating, C-cup girl. Now I am a much smaller, wheat-bran for breakfast, soda water, fitness freak who wears 32 B push-up bras and would rather stick a knife in her eye than eat nachos. That is not what he signed up for 23 years ago. I hope he is not peeved when he reads this. My concern about his potential ‘man-rage’–I tease him with this term because he is so even tempered–ranks about a five or six on the scale.

So FFG is both positive and negative, both empowering and oppressive. It is making me a more outgoing person with better posture, even as I become more superficial, petty, and self-critical. Still, I am loving almost every minute of this process, except for my increasingly conflicted relationship with baked goods. I turn 43 in a few days and will post some new photos of my new bod on my birthday. As I regularly say to my partner ‘I think you’ve seen worse.’

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About feministfiguregirl

I am a 46-year-old professor named Lianne McTavish who receives as much satisfaction from working out at the gym as from publishing my academic research. I decided to combine my two primary identities (scholar/gym rat) to create "Feminist Figure Girl," a fictional character who both analyzes and participates in bodybuilding. I competed in my first figure show in June of 2011, and then wrote a book inspired by the process, to be published by SUNY Press. In this blog I will write about and consider my ongoing research on the body, while regularly making fun of myself. I recommend that you start reading my first post from August 2010 (available on the home page), instead of backwards from the most recent one, in order to get the full FFG effect.

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