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Monday, March 19, 2012

you were born for this

I have no idea what's going on in that picture. Sometimes I pop a phrase into google images and it gives me amazing shit. This is one of those times.

You may have read somewhere on this blog that I was not an athletic child by any means. I'm not saying I was picked last when choosing up sides, but I was definitely in the lower third, y'know? I wasn't particularly fast, I wasn't big, and most importantly, I had little to no coordination. But I was smart and I did well in school without putting forth all that much effort, so my self-esteem wasn't all that impacted. Being smart was my thing, being athletic was not.

As I got older, I did learn that I had a few more physical gifts. I was built for endurance and stamina. I could walk for miles and miles, and I was never the person whining "oh, it's too far" or "I'm tired."

In college I had a roommate who was a jazz dancer. It used to make her rage that I and our third roommate could plop down into positions on the floor that she couldn't get into as easily even with all her dance-mandated stretching. (We in turn tortured her mercilessly that this stemmed from the fact that she was a virgin and we were not.) Much later in life when I started doing yoga and found that some things were insanely hard for me (anything to do with balance) while others were naturally easy (anything that involved outward rotation of the femurs), I understood that, yes, I just had a natural hip flexibility that some other people lacked.

And then there was the whole pregnancy and childbirth experience which taught me that, for one thing, I was a lot physically tougher and had a much greater pain tolerance than I had imagined. While I was young and stupid and idealistic to have a completely natural childbirth, and from my vantage point now I'd encourage a woman in labor to take any damn drugs they'll give her, there was a great feeling of physical accomplishment. I felt like I belonged in one of those primitive tribes where you were inducted into adulthood with some kind of insanely painful endurance test. And then of course, there was the breastfeeding experience, in which I learned that my body made craploads of milk effortlessly. I used to joke that it was a shame I was born in the 20th century when wet nurse was no longer a viable career option, 'cause people *would* have paid me bank to feed their kids, for serious.

So, yeah, while along the way I *did* gain an appreciation for the ways in which parts of my body other than my brain worked pretty damn well, I also never had any kind of glimmer that I could be, or could have been, any kind of a successful athlete. I wasn't fast, I wasn't coordinated, I wasn't graceful, I wasn't big. I could be a gym rat. I could be in good shape. I could be healthy and active. But I had no athletic gifts worth mentioning.

Until very, very recently. I've been lifting weights for about a year and a half now, but it's only been since last July, around the start of this blog, when I started doing a program with more of a powerlifting component. I sorta resisted calling it that when Liz told me it was. I figured the piddly little weights I could lift didn't deserve that designation. And I sorta took it as a joke when Liz told me that I was built for squatting. (Yeah, yeah, short legs, whatever.) But it has occurred to me recently that, damn, my legs are getting really strong for my size. Not that I don't have online friends who move way more weight than me, and not that I'm basing my evaluation of my strength on all the people at my gym who are just amazed to see a woman actually lifting something. But a few months ago I just dearly wanted to squat my bodyweight and tonight I'm going for 155 for reps, which is about 35lbs more than my bodyweight. And I'm going to get it. Last week I Zercher squatted a plate. (Um, for those of you who don't know the cool weighlifting lingo, that's 135, all y'all.) My lower body lifts are just exploding.

And so it occurred to me that I have probably found the athletic endeavor that my body was meant to do. If someone had introduced high school or college Andrea to powerlifting, there's the possibility that I could have been quite good at it. Oh, my bench might have sucked, but my squats and deads could have been nice. I might have been an athlete after all, might have thought of myself that way. I feel kind of sad for myself that never happened, though I'm not quite sure what the state of women's powerlifting was in the late 70s or early 80s, and oly lifting (which is something completely different of course) didn't even have a women's division in the Olympics till 2000 (!) So, yeah, just like my failure to have a career in wet-nursing, I was probably just born at the wrong time for this shit! Alas.

Maybe I shoulda had connections.

Talk to you all at a later date after I've squatted 155, bitches.



  1. This makes me happier than even the sun today. Even without imagining you in spandex I'm getting pumped to hear the news that 155 has fallen on the inexorable way towards 160. (Bet you'll look bitchin' doing it, too).

  2. Done and done. 155x5x2. :-) :-) I originally was going for a 1.5x bodyweight squat by the end of the year, but now that's feeling like a conservative goal. Maybe 1.5x my bodyweight by the time I turn 50 in November? ;-)

    (I look red-faced and sweaty while doing it. So if by bitchin' you mean fucking badass, yeah! hahahahahaha)

  3. Congratulations! You crack me up. :-)

  4. First, could the image of that adorable little boy be any cuter? Major awwwwwww
    Secondly, what an awesome discovery and accomplishment!!!! I was one of the kids you describe, an athletic one (did fine academically too, incidentally), but these days I cannot lift a damned 50# bag of rat chow without using language that my mom did not teach me!
    Again, I know I am a bit late to this party but I am still thrilled for you! I wonder how much you lift today. Will find out soon enough.