Plus-Sized Personality Pt. 10: Moving Muscles

I have purposefully avoided talking about working out because I feel I am the least qualified to talk about it. If you asked me my opinions on working out, I’d probably be able to tell you some sociological reasoning about why it’s linked to control from the patriarchy and continues to perpetuate the Westernized standard of beauty and health. But, now I’m not so sure.

I used to work out in high school. I was in marching band, and we ran/did pushups/moved more than the football players did. A lot of the band did more than just band -- some were on track, others did swim, a couple did basketball… so there were a lot of athletic kids who were out in the middle of August running suicides, doing jumping jacks, and (my personal favorite) calf raises.

When I say that we had calves of steel, I’m not kidding.

But, I hated it. Still do. I tried to work out outside of band (somewhat successfully during the off-season, and I would've had a better go of it if it weren't for the hypothyroidism I developed), but when I got to college it was ridiculously difficult. Not only was I lazy/didn’t really have time, I had never actually used a gym before (yay for growing up without the money for a monthly gym membership), and I also have a fear of working out in front of people. This made working out completely not-doable for the first two years of college because I had roommates.

Enter senior year: I have my own space, and my own bathroom that I can jump to right after working out to shower. Recently, I’ve just been bored: my schedule is lighter (for now), I’ve felt really lethargic, and I want to look better in pictures. So, I’ve started working out again. And, I think it’s time I share some of my experiences that might help you fellow Plus-Sized women out there, too.

1. Go slow

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You’re not going to be able to do 3 sets of 30 reps in one day. Sure, you can try, but when I say you will be hurting the next day, you will be HURTING. My body hurts even when I do like 1 set of 15 of various exercises. But, go slow when you do the exercises, too. It’s not about how many you can do, but how well you can maintain posture during the move. Yes, you’ll shake and things will hurt, but that’s how your muscles grow stronger.

2. STRETCH

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This one is something that I think even thinner people sometimes forget. Stretching is a vital part of working out. Your muscles are about to be used -- and some of them haven’t been used in a REALLY long time. You don’t want to pull one or tear something because you didn’t stretch. Don’t worry if you can’t touch your toes yet; that will come with time the more you stretch (and for longer)

3. Vary your exercises

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If you do too much of the same thing, you can actually run into this thing we call a plateau -- where you all of a sudden stop seeing changes and put weight back on. If you do different exercises, then your body is constantly having to adapt to new moves, working new muscles (or the same ones in different ways).

4. Quality not quantity

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We’re always hearing new rules for working out: “30 minutes everyday,” “Have a cheat day or two,” “Take rest periods between exercises,” “Power down with a smoothie,” “Do an hour,” “Do more cardio than anything.” I mean, it’s ridiculous. Don’t over do it: if you feel like you’ve accomplished what you meant to do, then okay. Do what works best for you. Personally, I start with some basic full-body stretch yoga poses, standing ab workouts, jumping jacks, dumbbell moves, more jumping jacks, and then lying-down moves, ending with some jumping jacks and cooling down by stretching. It works for me, but it might not work for you.

5. Invest in a pair of dumbbells

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Y’all. I freaking LOVE dumbbells. They are SO versatile. Half of the gym equipment can easily be mimicked with dumbbells right in your own room (plus, they’re like $300 cheaper). I have a pair of 5lbs and 8lbs, which are great because the 5lbs are when I want to just lose fat and the 8lbs are when I want to get muscle. My dad is currently “renting” my 8lbs, so I’m only using my 5lbs for the moment, but they have made what I can do so much more interesting and varied. They also serve as a stabilizer for certain moves, too,

Working out is something that I’ve struggled with in the past and am going to inevitably struggle with in the future. I’m just hoping that I can keep this up for a few months and tone some of the muscle mass that I lost when I started college. What are some of your workout tips? Leave a comment below and let me know!