There's no denying that getting fit is an amazing accomplishment. One day, after months or years of struggle, you wake up and discover that you look great, feel better, and have strength you'd never even imagined. End of story, promise land achieved... right?
If only! The truth is that your new awesome body and confidence level bring with them with a bevy of new complications—some embarrassing, some hilarious, occasionally both. Some happen in the gym, others in the dressing room, and a couple have more to do with other people than with you—although they still end up being your problem for some reason. Although every fit lady has experienced at least a couple of these, you'd never know it, because nobody is talking about them!
In the interest of making the fitness world a better place, I'm taking a stand and bringing these issues to light. If you think of any others, add them to the comments section below!
Fit-Girl Problem #1—Contents Under Pressure
You've just put a lot of weight on your shoulders—more than ever before, in fact. You're ready for this, you tell yourself. So you push your stomach into your training belt as hard as you can, sink down carefully into your squat, and all of a sudden, you get that old familiar feeling. Something's gotta give!
I guess you could call this a personal problem, although I'm pretty sure I can't be the only one that it happens to. You don't even have to lift pro-powerlifter-level weights to feel the danger. And given how long it can take for some women to set foot in the squat rack in the first place, it would be a shame for them to have to abandon their PR attempt to go running for the locker room. (No, you can't work in while I'm gone, bro.)
Consider yourself warned. And word to the wise: Don't eat anything questionable before you squat.
Fit-Girl Problem #2—Your Body Becomes A Discussion Point
Show the slightest bit of muscle definition, and all of a sudden men and women can't decide if they admire you, are intimidated by you, are disgusted by you, or are in love with you.
In any case, your body is now a thing to be discussed and analyzed. Plenty of it is complimentary, although a bit strange the first time you hear it. ("Damn girl, those arms!" "Thank... you?")
But let's not fool ourselves. There's always someone—assholes, they're called —who is very open to telling you exactly what they think about your body and how "You'll never find a man if you look like a dude." Because, you know, being highly attractive is every woman's ultimate purpose in life.
Lift on, swole sisters. Every day, you're getting a little bit stronger than the jackasses trying to keep you from coming back to the gym.
Fit-Girl Problem #3—Clothes Don't Fit
Seriously, this is the most annoying part of being fit. They don't make clothes for women who have a round butt and a smaller waist. They don't make fitted or button-up shirts large enough to fit any biceps bigger than Kate Moss' wrist. And they definitely don't make dresses that fit comfortably on those bad-ass lats you've been building.
Unless you're shaped like Heidi Klum, the fitting room starts to get pretty depressing. If you can find a pair of pants that doesn't have a 3-inch gap in the back, I salute you.
For me, the solution to all of this nonsense has been wearing loose tank tops and leggings. And I stand by this style choice. That is, until the '80s call and say they want their outfit back.
Fit-Girl Problem #4—The Itty-Bitty Titty Committee
There's a reason breast enhancement surgery is ubiquitous in the lady fitness world. If you had boobs before you started your fitness journey, be prepared to kiss them goodbye.
Now, having small boobs can be a positive thing. You can finally wear low-cut tops without feeling like a hussy. However, having tiny ta-tas and big lats makes those cute bandeau bikini tops a disaster waiting to happen. In fact, anything without straps is a ticking time bomb for a nip slip.
If you're in this pickle, you have three options: save up for a boob job; kick it old school and recommence the ol' stuffing technique you used in seventh grade; or my personal favorite, own it, girl.
The "traps are the new tits" movement is alive and well. So, grow those biceps, quads, and lats. You've got enough awesome new curves to replace the ones you lost.
Fit-Girl Problem #5—So. Much. Hunger.
Although it seems silly to complain about eating (#firstworldproblems), being hungry so often just gets annoying sometimes. Muscle takes a lot of energy to feed. The more you have, the more it feels like eating is your full-time job.
If you're busy or have any kind of life, eating enough can be a pain. There's really nothing worse than being trapped somewhere without food when your stomach decides it's time to eat again. That's just a recipe for some hangry conversations and hurt feelings.
Now, I'm not a physique athlete. If I had to get super lean for a show, let's just say there would be a lot more people walking around knowing exactly what I think of them. So if you're cutting for a competition, I take my hat off to you!
Fit-Girl Problem #6—Armpit Shaving Sucks
I'm not joking. This is for realsies. Your biceps, lats, pecs, and even your delts all crowd together in and around your armpit. When these muscles are small, shaving is less of an arduous task. However, as these muscles grow, your armpit becomes a collection of hills and crevices that are impossible to get at with a razor.
Some girls can get fit and muscular without this being a big problem, but for others, it is the problem. I think hair-removal companies are totally missing out on an important marketing group: the fit girl. So, Nair, if you're listening, help a sister out.
Fit-Girl Problem #7—You Carry A Torch
There's absolutely nothing wrong with spreading "the good word" and helping your friends and family find fitness. But, there is a sense of pressure that comes with getting fit. If you can't stay chiseled, then you're a failure.
As if that's not tough enough, you're also expected to know exactly how to help everyone else get fit. Even crazy Aunt Sally, who has a bad hip, is color-blind in one eye, and can't eat solid food wants you to write her a program so she can lose 10 pounds. Good luck with that.
Fit-Girl Problem #8—Hand Destruction
Barbells, dumbbells, pull-up bars, and other implements of torture straight-up wreck your hands. Oh, you want to shake my hand? Well, here's a grizzled paw for you to grasp. Hopefully you work in a place where hardened calluses, half-healed rips, and chalk stains are viewed as professional work wear.
And it's not only your palms that look like those of a mountain man. Any polish that's not lacquered onto your nails is gone after one good deadlift session. Now, I've seen the Instagram shots of women working out with cute nails. If you have any tricks on how this is possible, please leave them in the comments!
Fit-Girl Problem #9—UR-In Trouble
Women everywhere, especially those who have had children, can have problems with uncontrolled urination. Doing box jumps, heavy squats, and jumping rope can all be transformed from exercises to terrifying experiments on Ye Olde Pelvic Floor.
Although you can avoid this embarrassing situation by avoiding those exercises that could make you lose control of your bladder, it kind of sucks having to limit your gym activities. If trying in vain to remember to do 100,000 kegels a day outside of the gym isn't working, maybe you need a fit solution to a fit problem. Swallow your pride and hit up a knowledgeable trainer or doc about what accessory work you can add in to strengthen your pelvic floor.
Beyond that? Toss a pad in your booty shorts and live without fear. They make those things for a reason.
Fit-Girl Problem #10—Fitness Cliques
OK, this isn't exactly something nobody talks about—on the contrary, some people can only talk about their clique. Nor is it exactly a gender-specific problem by any means. But it's magnified in the women's-fitness world because are far fewer resources for us to utilize and communities for us to participate in.
In the fitness industry, it's difficult to be taken seriously as an athlete unless you're prepping to compete at something. For plenty of people, that something has to be physique-oriented. There are plenty of women who compete in powerlifting, weightlifting, strongman, the highland games, CrossFit, and a number of other strength-related activities, but unless they're rocking sub-trimmed-chicken-breast body-fat levels and a sparkly thong, they don't count. And the feeling is often mutual.
Let's not forget that there are also plenty of athletes who look at the time commitment, injury risk, and expense of competition and decide it's not for them. Far be it from me—or you—to tell them that their hard work doesn't matter.
Fitness is awesome because it's personal. One person's goal is no better or worse than anyone else's. So, instead of putting down another woman's interest in participating in what you might consider the "wrong" type of fitness, be a better ambassador of the fit life as a whole.
What you do now might be the exact opposite of what you're doing 10 years down the road, so stay open-minded. Let's encourage each other to be happier, healthier people, no matter what that looks like.