Okay I’ll admit, the “Big Butt” part in the title is definitely a little click-bait. But alas, you’re here, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that. Lifting weights DID in fact give me a bigger booty, but that’s not entirely what this blog post is about. (I’ll have write about how I grew my glutes soon since several girls have expressed interest.)
This post is about how I started from the bottom of a completely new endeavor, and built a better version of myself because of my setbacks.
When I first began training in January of 2016, bodyweight exercises were my jam. The jump squat and plank were my staple exercises. You could often find me hiding in an empty stretch-room pushing myself through an ab-focused calisthenics routine with a few ten pound weights.
I didn’t actually train with a barbell until May, five months into my newly found gym habit. This was partly due to me being embarrassed of my apparent weakness. My gym is crowded with strong and aesthetic men and women, which is pretty intimidating to a newbie gym-goer like myself at the time. I’m sure many understand how that scenario can dampen motivation. (Read my one tip on how to stay motivated here.)
Picture this: military meat-heads grunting through each rep, beautiful women with strong legs I had only before seen on social media, and glistening muscles busting from the seams of everyone’s clothing…
And then there was me, barely over a hundred pounds, struggling to do ten real push-ups. I felt like Judy Hopps from Zootopia, a tiny wannabe bunny trying to fit in with a group of giant beasts.
My reluctance to start training with the barbell was also because I simply had no idea how to properly use it. The barbell was complicated to me. It seemed HEAVY. I was intimidated by that long forty-five pounds of metal, especially since it took several months for me to work up to a forty-five pound kettle bell squat.
But one day, I gave it a shot. Social media fitness gurus, like Heidi Somers and Amanda Bucci, influenced me to get into the weight room and use a barbell. I didn’t really care about having high numbers until months later. To be frank, I just wanted a booty. (hashtag relatable)
In May 2016, I started training with the barbell in most of my workouts. My “powerlifting” numbers, or one rep maxes for squat, bench, and deadlift, at that time were 70lb/50lb/95lb respectively.
Today, almost a year later, my numbers are s140/b85/d155. Not very high, but compared to a year ago, my numbers each improved well over 50%, with my squat improving over 90%. Not only has the weight increased, but my form also improved drastically. And not only has my form improved, but my confidence in the gym has shot up!
Although I’m still small, I’m no longer embarrassed to enter the weight room. I’m not self-conscious that I’m weaker than almost everyone around me. I’m actually quite proud of how far I’ve come! I stopped measuring myself to the meat-heads around me, and started comparing to who I was in the past instead.
This is so important to me to share this because I genuinely want you to know that you don’t have to already have some level of skill to start something new. I hope my journey helps you realize that it’s never too late, and that you’re never too far behind to start something that you think is impossible. This is true for all endeavors, not just powerlifting, or losing weight, or “gym stuff.”
Everyone starts as a beginner.
Often times we are afraid because we compare ourselves to others who are at the peak of their training, or careers. Instead we need to look at how they started and where they started from.
When I first drafted this blog post, I had every intention of competing in a powerlifting meet in May. It has since been cancelled, but I want to share my mindset. I would have been among the smallest girls competing, and most definitely would not have come close to placing. But I wouldn’t have been competing with the girls who lift thrice as much as I do. I wouldn’t have even been competing with the girls in my weight class. Who would I really be competing against here?
Who I was. 2016 Cansu vs. 2017 Cansu. Nobody else.
This journey has ingrained into me the notion that the only person we should truly ever be competing with is who we were yesterday. “Can I be better than that person? Can I be nicer, stronger, happier, and more mature than that person?” The people who we perceive as stronger or smarter than we are, are the perfect mentors.
With all of this being said, here’s why I wanted to compete in a powerlifting meet when I knew I’d be among the bottom placers: I truly wanted to showcase that I am better than I was a year ago, in more ways than just physical. My numbers increased, but what also increased is my patience, perseverance, acceptance, and self-love. This meet would have represented all of those “gains” for me.
I learned 3 tremendously important “rules” throughout this year of weightlifting. And no they aren’t about correct squat depth or when to do cardio. These rules helped boost my confidence inside and outside of the weight room. If you live by them too, you will no doubt start building your own confidence and self-love. Write them down, tweet it, re-pin this on Pinterest, do what you need to do to remind yourself these things daily:
- Be proud of your accomplishments, even if they are small, even if they are not as “big” as someone else’s. Your accomplishments are unique to you.
- It’s okay to be a beginner. You are not too old, uneducated, overweight, underweight, unhealthy, etc to start anything new. These excuses always stem from my next bullet which is….
- Stop comparing yourself to others. You can only compare to who you were yesterday. Work on yourself to be better, LIKE others. Not better THAN others.
PS: I’m still going to be working on my strength goals despite the cancellation of the meet! And I might do a mock meet in May 🙂