On Body positivity, shorts making and crossfit

I decided to finally do it, I was going to tackle shorts, as a way of ramping up to jeans in the fall. Why the drama? Why the dread? Well, to be blunt, making pants/shorts means really understanding my hips, butt and lower abdomen. These have always been parts I’ve struggled to accept, and parts I wish looked better, parts that because they stuck out the way they did, meant that I was a failure as a person.

When I really started to re-organize my thinking around my idea of body positivity 2 years ago, I decided to commit to this idea. That accepting my body as the miracle it is was ok, and that I didn’t need to constantly push myself to show that I was a “good” curvy person. Eating 3 pieces of lettuce a day, working out constantly, that I was trying to get better and not be fat. Because that made being heavy a little more acceptable, the fact that I acknowledged it and was working on being “not fat”.

But in 2014 I got heartily sick of that spiral, and decided to just be. To start sewing my own clothes, to fill my instagram with beautiful curvy bodies to reset my view of what a normal body should be [this totally works by the way. After daily views of beautiful curvy bloggers and normal folks who blog about sewing, traditional runway models look too thin, and my own self image is so much better], and to give myself permission to accept myself for who I am and what I can do, and not think the shape of my hips or abdomen is something to apologize for.

Fast forward to now. I am at a 90% handmade wardrobe. I haven’t weighed myself in 2 years, and I don’t count calories. I eat when I’m hungry, and try to stop when I’m full. I’ve made a bunch of progress in 2 years. 3.5 months ago, I decided I wanted to move more, and I wanted to be stronger. At the encouragement of some good friends at work and at hockey, I started doing Crossfit and began to learn how awesome my body could be. How strong and powerful I am and could become.

So great! Living my best life (Oprah would be so proud)! And then 2 days ago I did a try on of my first woven shorts pattern since I was 14.

Horror. As I looked at how my butt stuck out, how the top of my lower abdomen stuck out, How lumpy my right hip was, how the little roll of fat in the center of my tummy stuck out, all the work in the last 2 years evaporated. I didn’t cry, but I just felt like crap. Like a failure, like who was I kidding showing up at the gym? I was a fat woman, and I should just wear tents and tent like clothing. Go sit in a corner and acknowledge my failure as a human being.

But stubborness is a gift sometimes. I hauled myself to SLSC for a special July 4th workout. I hadn’t missed a Monday workout since March 27, and I didn’t want to start now. I knew it would be different than my usually 5 am/ 6 am friends there, full of traveling crossfitters who had .5% bodyfat and could do pull-ups with 2 fingers on 1 hand. But I went anyway.

And here’s the thing. My body didn’t fail me. I did back squats with one of my workout buddies. She looks amazing as she heads off to her destination wedding, and she told me how much stronger I am than she is, and how she can see the changes in my body. She has no idea how much I needed to hear that. And another crossfitter asked me to be on her team. And I didn’t suck as bad as I thought I would.

And then I saw some beautiful shorts that a fellow curvy instagrammer made, the same pattern I’ve chosen, but in a beautiful red sateen. And she looks amazing.

I came home  last night, installed the waist band and the shorts aren’t bad. I’ll continue to adjust the fit on my next pair and the next. But for running around with my hilarious 4 year old? they are more than fine.  I’ll post the finished Colette Seamwork Weston green twill shorts on Instagram when I finally get them hemmed.

My take away from all of this is that progress isn’t linear. That accepting your body doesn’t mean pursuing an unrealistic ideal, nor does it mean ignoring how powerful it can be. That sewing can cause you to really acknowledge every lump, even if you’ve been studiously in denial about exactly what those lumps are and how big they are. And the really great thing about sewing is that you can make what ever size you want. When I order garment labels next time, it will say “Made by McBotts Manor. Size: Badass”

My body is amazing. I can play ice hockey, I can lift weights, it gave me my son when I was 40 years old, it perfectly fits under my husband’s arm. I have run marathons, hiked parts of the Appalachian trail, sailed in 10 foot seas. My body has toured China while 6 weeks pregnant and keeps setting PRs on deadlifts each week. My body has nothing to apologize for.

My self worth is not based on how my hips compare to the Athleta model on the catalog cover, but on what my body can do.  I just needed to remember that.

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