Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Weightlifting vs. Bodybuilding

Okay, I guess it's time to remove the fig leaf.

From the beginning, I have been referring to what I'm doing as "weightlifting." And it's true that I am lifting weights (I'm up to 5 reps at 95 pounds on my bench press). But the reality is that, while I love getting stronger, my real goal is to change my body in a fairly radical way. And that, my friends, is bodybuilding.

It's weird to admit that. Bodybuilding, and especially bodybuilding for women, has a more than slightly unsavory reputation. It's an underground hobby, easy to make fun of. Especially since one component of it is watching yourself pose in a mirror.

To some folks, there's something disturbing about using the body as a canvas for self-expression. In that respect, bodybuilding is not that far removed from piercing or tattooing. The possibility of pushing the look to its extreme is certainly there. I honestly haven't decided whether or not I want to look like this. That's the woman from Napoleon Dynamite; a movie in which she was the butt of unspoken jokes about the nature of femininity.

Perhaps luckily, I don't think it's a decision that's mine to make. I think there's only so muscular I can get without the aid of steroids.

I remember the moment I decided that I wanted to get big. I was in the shower and noticing that my arms were a little bit more muscular than they had formerly been. "But will men still want to date me?" I thought to myself. I reflected for a second and landed on this answer: "Who cares? I'll do it because I want to."

The other day, I flexed my arms and looked in the mirror. I had just had my body fat percentage measured (with a version of the fat-o-meter, no less) and found that, at 20.6 percent, I was verging on have an athlete's level of body fat. My shoulders were defined and as broad as a fullback's. Even with my body dysmorphic disorder, I realized that I was pretty close to having the body I set out to create.

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