Ursula Macken, Personal Trainer and S&C Coach in Performance Therapy Ireland & Blogger at PS I lift Project Strength (https://ursulamackenpt.wordpress.com)
Ursula started blogging to share her journey with like minded people. Her ups and downs on this crazy ride to getting healthier and stronger. Her journey from athlete to coach. Her rants and reviews, and as anyone can see on Instagram her obsession with weightlifting and food.
Ursula shares with us her story on learning to accept and love her new – strong – body!
I’m in the best shape of my life! I love that I’m getting stronger and healthier. Yet I struggle to fit in regular clothes comfortably. I don’t feel feminine in a dress. I’m not sure if it’s my lil muscles on my shoulder, the bruises on my legs or my lil belly. I thought it would be a good idea to write a post on body image. It’s something I’ve spoken about so many times with gym friends, colleagues and family. So many of us have negative body image, no matter what size or shape we are. I never had the “perfect” body, whatever perfect is. I was always really thin, and now I’m still quite small, but gaining some muscle, not quite as much as id like, but ill get there. I always wanted bigger legs & ass, and some muscle on my back (I love strong backs!). I just find it quite tough to build any type of mass. My weight has gone from under 50kg to 58kg, which I’m obviously delighted with. My original goal was to get to 60kg, now however it’s not about the weight. The feeling good part is way more important now. I’m beginning to think about my body very differently.
Looking skinny was the reason I started this journey. I didn’t want to look that way. I didn’t want the comments. I didn’t want to look weak. I thought looking like everyone else would make me happy. I tried lots of different things, different eating habits, circuit strength classes, boxing. My body just never really changed. The first time I ever seen any change in my body, and changed how I felt about my body, was when I started weightlifting and Crossfit. It happened when I stopped obsessing about the shape of my body and how I looked. I wanted to lift or squat or snatch a certain weight, or learn how to handstand walk. That became more important than how much I weighed, how I looked, or how people saw me. Obviously I do care what I look like, and unfortunately I do care what people think, but my priorities and focus have changed.
Thankfully I’m surrounded by other girls with similar goals, to get stronger and healthier. And we all support one another, and are learning to embrace our new body shapes. I began to eat to fuel my body for performance. Although since I started the Olympic weightlifting programme I’m eating a little more than that! Okay okay a lot more than that! :’) My body is starting to change completely! I’d 100% say that lifting weights, and strength straining, gymnastics helped me have a more positive body image. I’m not there fully, I’m still learning, but I am definitely starting to embrace my shape. Again, like when I was super thin, I get comments. Although this time it’s “don’t get too muscley”… Hahaha I bloody wish I had more muscle! I don’t take it to heart. I’d prefer to be healthy than back where I was. I don’t feel I need to change in order to fit into a certain idea of perfect, a mold, or the need to change to feel beautiful. My body constantly surprises and amazes me… And I love it! I’ve never felt as strong, and positive. I know my weaknesses, they are frustrating at times, but it feels good to be working on them. I basically live in training gear now. But obviously there are days I can t wear tank tops and training bottoms. They are the days I notice how much I’ve changed the most. Especially when shopping for new clothes. Dresses fit me around the waist fine, but my bum and shoulders need a bigger size now… My long sleeve tops feel tight around the shoulders and arms..My skinny jeans have busted as my thighs and ass have gotten bigger! I cant wear my skinny’s anymore unless I want to lose all circulation in my legs :’)
It again can be frustrating but id prefer that that looking at a pair of skinny jeans on me that look like flairs! Which mine have looked like in the past! In real clothes, I feel uncomfortable. Retailers don’t seem to cater for the athletic build. I’ve accepted I don’t look like the girlie girls, I’m not tiny and cute. So I’ve stopped trying to dress that way. I like to feel comfortable. Maybe I just need to go on proper shopping spree and hopefully ill find some comfy “real” clothes. I’ll admit…It’s a slow process but I’m beginning to accept my new body, even with all its flaws… the bumps, the bruises, the jiggle. I have to shut off the negative voice in my head telling me I need to look better. After all we can’t spend life hating our bodies. I have to remind myself, all my bumps and bruises, and sore or tired muscles are down to dedication to something I absolutely adore doing. Training 5 days a week, no matter how busy my life is, how tired I feel. It’s from failing lifts and trying again and again. I worked hard for my lil muscles so ill show em off. I won’t hide them away for fear of someone making a comment. I do get self conscious at times when I’m not at the gym. Not sure why, but I think girls in general do care what people think. We all want to be accepted. We say we don’t care what people think but ultimately we do. I have to keep reminding myself I’m doing this for me. I love being strong, I love that I’ve gained size, I love how I feel, I love what my body can do! I love strength training and CrossFit, I even dream about it. Sad but true! I’ve woken up in the middle of a clean and jerk! Nearly loafed my bedpost! Yup I’m that weird! 🙂
There are the bad things obviously…its not all good! I think about food! ALL THE FOOD! I’m always hungry. I’m sore. All over. Alot of the time. But I love it secretly! haha! My skin breaks out. A lot. My boobs have disappeared. I have calluses on my hands, and bruises of course! But on the plus side my back, shoulders, arms are stronger. I have an ass for the 1st time in 32 years. My legs are finally growing! Woohoo! I’ve earned my bod! I’ve earned the right to be happy with it! And love it! So that’s a new chapter in my journey.. Learning to love this new vessel! I have to realise I am so blessed. My body does so much. Well most of the time anyway! It performs for me in the gym, it allows me to lift, and it has started to recover quickly to allow me to train again, constantly adapting…. And thankfully it allows me to coach in a community I adore . We all need to embrace our beautiful bodies. You only get one in this lifetime so why hide it… I’m so happy that people are finally waking up are realizing their potential. Strong is awesome, beautiful, healthy, and empowering! So we should only be judging ourselves by what we can do and not what we look like. Love your strength! Wear it with pride!!
“THE PERSON WE SEE IN THE MIRROR ISN’T ALWAYS A DIRECT REFLECTION OF WHO WE ARE!”