Guest Post by Julia Knowles
Let’s talk about thighs, baby.
Let’s talk about you and thighs.
Let’s talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be.
Yes, ladies I said thighs! Are you happy with those thighs or are they a source of shame? To create some pride and happiness you may need to look less at the outside world and more into your own strength.
Friends who have known me for a while agree that I have changed a great deal physically, over the past year and a half. When I started CrossFit in June 2012, I was eating in a healthy manner and had just started to go to a gym on a regular basis. My pursuit of fitness had been on a long hiatus, thanks to graduate school and a running injury.
I thought I was on the road to fitness, but I was deceived. I had serious misperceptions of what it is to be healthy and fit. I was brainwashed by the culture’s image of “beauty.”
When I started CrossFit, I was a size 12/14. I had a particular idea of what I wanted my physical appearance to be. Like many women, I thought the ideal was to have a flat stomach, small toned arms, and a little waist.
I remember watching the movie Bridesmaids and wanting to be skinny like Kristin Wiig. I was embarrassed of my flabby arms. I hated my stomach and “muffin top.” Then there were my thighs. “Thunda Thighs” is the phrase that my family often used to describe “larger than desired” thighs.
I was anxious regarding what the emotional and physical cost that it might take on me to attain the look I desired. I have watched someone very close to me struggle with an eating disorder for many years. At one point, she was so emaciated that she required hospitalization to stabilize her condition and to restore her to a healthy weight.
The biggest change is a new love of my body, and a different type of woman to look up to.
My goal was to get rid of my Thunda Thighs in a manner that would not compromise my health. Having witnessed what severe caloric restriction had done to my sister, I was concerned that I might be drawn to that obsessive place.
Then entered CrossFit. While running focused on my endurance, CrossFit also focused on strength. The varied movements and intensity of CrossFit, have changed my life in so many ways. The biggest change is a new love of my body. I have also discovered a different type of woman to look up to.
I recall being about a year into CrossFit. I was frequently hitting my goals, my strength was increasing, even in my arms, and my clothes were no longer fitting because I was dropping in size.
On one particular morning, we were doing back squats. Nicole, our coach, was observing my form and technique, when she exclaimed, “Julia your thighs are huge!” I was of course mortified, but she and all the people around me began to admire these huge thighs. It was the first time that I had ever heard people admire thighs for being “huge!”
When you just show up every day and do the work, things just happen so gradually. Then someone looks at you, or snaps a photo and you realize that your body has been transformed. When that happens, you no longer look at yourself the same. Your confidence grows, you are encouraged and you are motivated. All of a sudden, you realize that others are looking up to you .
The transformation continues. I have gained additional weight in the past several months, but my clothes are loose. All my new weight is muscle mass.
Something else has been transformed: my perception of womanly beauty. Fast forward to August 2013 – I saw the movie Bridesmaids again. But this time, when I looked at the star, Kristen Wiig, I recall thinking “her arms are so small and weak looking!” My image of beauty has completely changed.
I now view images of women, that I once saw as beautiful, with sadness. I have a new group of powerful women that I look at with awe and respect. I watch these women lift weights, they push their bodies to their physical limits, not with how little they can eat, but how heavy they can go.
As I watch the CrossFit games and local competitions, I have changed my gaze from being envious of the “skinny girls”, to looking at the muscles of these healthy, fit women, wondering when I will get there and look like that. It is no longer “what can I eat to reduce my waistline” but “what can I eat that will build muscle and fuel my next workout?”
Another benefit of doing CrossFit workouts 5 to 6 times a week, is that I have dropped to a size 6 dress. I now sport toned arms and back muscles that I never knew existed. My stomach is not flat, but it is much smaller. My thighs though,…I still have Thunda Thighs. But I walk with these thighs proudly.
A co-worker called my thighs “out of control”. Yes they are out of control , but in a manner in which I love. I do have trouble fitting into pants because these Thunda Thighs and my butt are disproportionate to my waist. But I gladly accept that and I do not perceive it as an inconvenience.
The dressing room is no longer my enemy. It is a place to take note of how my body is changing. I guess I just have to wait for designers to understand a body like mine. These thighs give me pride and appreciation for what I can do. I may not be lifting the heaviest in the gym but I have goals to get there and can’t wait to see how my body will help me do that.
Julia Knowles describes herself as: “a full-time Social Worker, and a full-time CrossFitter.”
Note: 2017 Update – Julia is now a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer