Wanna Be Bodybuilder; Gonna Be Figure Girl

I won’t be your blog slut anymore. That’s right. I hereby refuse to blog day and night. For God’s sake, I have posted almost 50 times since August! Don’t get me wrong; I like writing, and I like you. I like you a lot. But I feel that we are moving too quickly. Look, it’s my fault and I take full responsibility. I am going to slow down and withhold my posts, giving them up only once a week, spacing them out evenly. You will enjoy the anticipation. I promise. I also promise to intersperse my more academic discussions with sillier ones. Since I regaled you with Foucault last week, it is time for a fun-filled romp through the banalities of my everyday life. There. Don’t you feel better? Now dry those salty lady tears and let’s go…    

I met with my diet coach for the first time yesterday morning. I had referred to her in an earlier post as the ‘Queen of My Regime’ (QMR) and I still find that name suitable. She is a professional no-nonsense woman with pro-cards in both bodybuilding and figure. I wanted her to take a good look at me, and to explain to her my Feminist Figure Girl project, however briefly. After weighing me in at 144 pounds (that was something of a surprise), she suggested that I change into the tank top and shorts that I had brought with me, either using the bathroom or right there, because she had already ‘seen it all.’ So I stepped out of my jeans that are now too tight in the quads, wishing that I had brought more flattering shorts. The tiny black ones that I had hurridly grabbed on my way out the door squeezed my waist, causing a roll of fat to pop over the top. Then I faced the full-length mirror while she applied her expert eyes to my frame.

‘You are too muscular for figure,’ she declared. ‘Are you a bodybuilder or a figure girl? You will have to decide.’ I was visibly shocked. ‘Well, of course I would rather be a bodybuilder,’ I stated, ‘but I am going to be a figure girl. I don’t have time to get huge, and I am 43 after all.’ I like telling people how old I am, sometimes as a form of bragging, sometimes as an excuse for my limitations. ‘You need to lose some thickness in your mid-back and chest,’ she explained, ‘focusing instead on growing your shoulder caps and quads. You should work on developing the ideal figure girl shape from now on.’ Get smaller! Lose size! Fuck fuck fuck no!

She then applied sticky tape to my right arm and ankle, running an electric current through my body to measure my fat percentage. When the results were an implausible 37%—!!!—she said that she would have to re-enter my statistics using the category of male rather than female. Yes, all you gender studies students, it is time to get excited: my muscle mass had shifted my identity from woman to man. The manned-up set of results was more accurate, revealing that I would have to start my stricter contest diet the very next day, and lose between 1-2 pounds per week for the next 20 weeks. We discussed the foods I would eat, the items I needed to purchase, including a high quality heart rate monitor, and when I could meet for posing lessons. Oh God, I thought, this is really happening.

I had heard other competitors claim that you should indulge in whatever you wanted, especially those foods you would be most likely to crave, right before starting a contest diet. So while watching the Coen brothers’ remake of True Grit last night I ate: a large bag of Twizzlers, a tooney’s worth of jelly beans, five handfuls of chocolate-covered peanuts, and 7 toffees. It was intensely satisfying, and I vowed to remember this sugar binge whenever I felt hard done by during the next five months. This night would be my happy place, providing a ‘ground’ during my contest preparation. Grounding is a term I learned during my yoga classes; it is a process that connects the physical body to earth energies via its root chakra, often with visualization or vibrational exercises. Instead of imagining my feet growing roots to anchor me securely to the earth, however, I would remember watching a great film, sitting beside a great man, and gorging on a great deal of sugar. I would also remember the vibrational exercises that terminated that date, though luckily I can continue with them as often as I like both before and after my competition.

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About feministfiguregirl

I am a 51-year-old professor named Lianne McTavish who receives as much satisfaction from working out at the gym as from publishing my academic research. About eight years ago, 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, published by SUNY Press in February 2015. 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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