Stronger Than Before

Article written by Joan Jennings

I’m feeling stronger, fuller, and more confident in myself. I have made one with the bar. I have found, lost, and found again my happiness with the bar.

In my early twenties I was married to a man who found females with muscles repulsive. Once while he was giving me a massage he made a face at me and told me I was disgusting. It hurt my feelings and raised my insecurities so much that I stopped lifting weights.

I began running and picked up 5 lb dumbbells for exercise. So that I still had my sanity because I truly enjoy exercising, but I wouldn’t ‘bulk’ up. I was OK in my own skin. I didn’t have a lot of muscle and I was somewhat thin, so my husband would be attracted to me. That should matter the most right? Wrong.

My husband and I split after seven years of being together. Four months after the split I was stationed in Iraq. I was deployed with one of the Army infantry units and met a good friend who introduced me to Crossfit. Within Crossfit, I found the bar again, this time it was different. I was addicted to it. All I wanted to do was lift. When I got back to the States all the boys in my command were surprised at the ‘mass’ that I obtained. This did make me self-conscious again, and I tried to ignore it.

Nine months later I left the bar, and began cycling, running and yoga. I was hoping to find that happiness. I did a lot without the bar; I completed my first mini triathlon, century ride, and a few half marathons. But inside I knew I needed to lift.

Another ten months goes by and I went back to CrossFit and started to re unite with lifting. Fortunately it was about the time that ‘Strong is the New Skinny’ was making waves. I was so happy that there was a whole other community that understood. When I went back to CrossFit, I had lost a lot of strength and was completing the WODs scaled, but I was happy. Through each lift I was getting stronger. Inside and outside I was and am changing. With each lift I empower myself to become better, more confident, and more me. I love the way I feel when I lift, and I always try and empower others around me as well with lifting.

Some time goes by and I start hearing about Lift Big Eat Big. And I really felt like I have found a community where I really belong. There was no body types, just a group of people who want to lift a ridiculous amount of weight, while not worrying about counting calories but eating to fuel their bodies for all the training their bodies are put through. AWESOME!!

Now, I’m stronger than before, and with each PR my strength grows first in the inside and then out. Lifting is all-mental.

I had found myself with the bar.

It took time and acceptance of myself to be comfortable with the bar. My once unaccepted muscles were developing more and I had to learn to love and embrace them. Today I do. I love what my muscles can do and what challenges I have for them. I have lifting goals that my muscles will help me reach and within that I have found my happiness with my bar and myself.

And today, I am with a man who loves me and all of my muscle.

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