How Working Out in a Sports Bra Has Made me More Confident

Also pants. And sneakers. But you get the point.

I want to preface by saying that I’ve always been pretty comfortable with my body. Obviously there are things that make this difficult – I’m a small person, with a smaller frame, and I’ve been an athlete all my life.

But, that being said, my relationship with my body has changed since high school. I’ve gained weight and filled out, something which, I know, is perfectly normal, but shocked me when I first got to college. First semester, the freshman fifteen was a real and unfortunate reality of my first few months at college. And, for someone who’d barely been 120 pounds throughout high school and being 5’2 since middle school, those 10-15 pounds made a huge difference.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

I felt strange and generally unhappy, and I didn’t do anything about it. I tried watching what I ate and working out, but I was just unhappy with how I looked and too stressed with the overwhelming surge of college life that I didn’t commit to doing anything. It wasn’t until winter break, when I was home for six weeks and nothing to do aside from work my retail job, that I actually did something about it.Photo courtesy of Unsplash

I spent way too much time finding different exercise routines and ab workouts and how to lose weight without doing anything. After all, I’d spent the past ten years of my life as a runner doing track and field and cross country – I was used to working out for hours a day and eating whatever I wanted and my body never changing. The new factor now was no practice – no two-three hour periods six days a week where I’d burn off most of what I ate.

I knew that it would be unreasonable to try to incorporate that into my life. I just didn’t have that kind of time anymore, even when I was home.

I would work out in my basement where we have a large mirror, a treadmill, some yoga mats and weights – nothing crazy. And I would be alone, blasting my music, and I started working out in a sports bra and leggings.

When I first started this, I was extremely frustrated. Even in the dim lighting of the basement I’d see everything that I had wanted to be rid of. I didn’t know how to combat this anger that I felt, the disappointment in myself.

And then, after a few weeks, in the corniest way possible, I would take some time before and after I finished my workout to look at myself, and work on accepting myself. My lifestyle had changed, and it would probably never go back to being that rigorous in terms of exercise, and that’s just the way it was. Slowly, I began to accept all of it, and thanking my body for being healthy and keeping me alive and well despite the extra weight that (honestly?) didn’t matter in the slightest.

Photo courtesy of Melanie Haid

So now, two years later, I still work out in a sports bra. I love running and I love working out, and I do it a few times a week, but my relationship with my body and my appearance has also changed positively. Now, rather than being critical and shaming myself for being a natural human being, I admire all that I am. And, for the days where I’m still not satisfied (it happens every now and then) when I see myself in the window reflection or the mirror, I just work a little harder. It pushes me to keep going and making progress, and that's just what works for me.