I am very passionate about fitness and its power to build confidence and strength for women. As a competitive roller derby skater, I am surrounded by female athletes with many different body types kicking ass on a daily basis. When we practice and work out together, we aren’t thinking about sculpting the perfect body. We are focused on perfecting our game. We aren’t thinking about losing weight. We are thinking about skating faster and hitting harder.
Even as a competitive athlete, I’ve often found myself plagued by doubts and insecurities about my body. As soon as the photos from our most recent game would start to pop up online, I would scour facebook with my finger poised over the “untag yourself” button as soon as I saw something unflattering. Most fitness enthusiasts will tell you, you are never “done” losing weight or shaping your body.
I remember the exact moment that fitness changed for me forever.
I accomplished something I never would have thought possible just a few years ago. And I did it during an ordinary workout on an ordinary day like any other at my Crossfit gym in Los Angeles. I deadlifted 300 pounds!
This was a huge milestone celebrated by everyone in the gym that day. I became known in the gym as “the girl with the 300lb deadlift.” It was a badge of honor that I have since surpassed but will never forget.
The amount of weight is not the point. I happen to be a big-thighed woman with a lot of strength in my posterior chain. You might say I was born to deadlift. Here is the point: when I hit that milestone, I began reaching for others. My goals completely shifted. I was no longer trying to constantly weigh less. I was on a mission to lift MORE. My thunder thighs became an asset. I stopped hating my body for what it looked like and learned to love it for what it can do.
I brought this strength and confidence to my roller derby game and to the rest of my life. When I finally stopped worrying about my weight, it was like a huge weight had actually been lifted from my shoulders. I felt lighter and happier and more confident than ever.
Unfortunately, this is not the experience most women have with fitness. For most, fitness is a constant struggle of dieting and exercise fads in an effort to always be smaller.
I’m fed up with how fitness and health are marketed to women.
I’m fed up with being told that I need to lose weight or look a certain way to be healthy. I would like to see more body positive fitness messages like those of Nia Shanks, who wrote in her article 13 Ways Women Can Be More, Not Less: “Instead of constantly focusing on how we look, let’s put the focus on what our bodies can do. Then let’s do MORE.”
There is a movement emerging to revolutionize women’s fitness. Coaches, athletes, and writers like Nia Shanks, Molly Galbraith, Amber Rogers, Caitlin Constantine, and Leah Gilbert are working to make fitness more accessible, inclusive, and empowering for women.
I founded Superfit Hero to join and support the Body Positive Fitness movement. Superfit Hero is a size-inclusive line of high performance activewear for women. We are committed to making high quality, supportive athletic clothing for women sizes 0–26 and to featuring diverse athletes as models and telling their stories. You can support us and pre-order Superfit Leggings on Kickstarter through August 11.