A choice that I quickly corrected: strong and small. Cause I'm living proof that the two aren't mutually exclusive.
When talking to a friend earlier this week, she chuckled after I mentioned my plans of joining my college's recreational soccer team next year.
Looking at my frame, she said, "Don't you, you know, need to put on a few first?"
I didn't need a mirror to know what she was referring to. I've always been a small girl. (I do brag on a daily basis, though, that I was the tallest kid in class until 3rd grade growth spurts spiked up everyone besides yours truly). Even after gaining back most of the twenty pounds I lost from celiac complications, I'm not breaking the scale anytime soon. (Unless it's a baby one, I suppose!)
While my fun-sized stature appears so obviously to others, though, it always escapes my notice. In my senior year of high school, my recreational soccer team moved into the 18+ bracket. But until I reviewed the game pictures, I never recognized that my opponents often gave me dwarf status - even with my 4" hair bun. If invincibility syndrome is a thing, I definitely have it.
Contrary to popular opinion, though, it's not just girls that comment on others' weight. A few weeks ago, I was hanging out in my boyfriend's room and mentioned being sore from lifting weights that afternoon.
"You weightlifting?" A few boys laughed. "I'd like to see that."
Honestly, I'd like them to see it too. I'd like them to see how I walked into the weight lifting room last Sunday. Five boys whose biceps probably boasted a higher diameter than my calf. One girl - me - in a thin t-shirt and shorts. Five boys whose machines were set at 80-100 lbs. Me, my arms aching from a combined twenty pounds.
Freshman year of college, I never went into the weight room. And, in the rare occasion when I did, I always struck right when it opened and with a few girlfriends by my side. Safely in numbers, people say.
Now, the only numbers I worry about are the weights stamped on my dumbbells. Yeah, I'm puny. Yeah, the guys in the room would probably lift my weights and me for a warm up. But, everyone's strength is different. Mines 8 lb hand weights, his are 80. My size (or lack of it) doesn't make me any less strong.
Because, to me, strength isn't a roller coaster "you have to be this tall to ride." Rather than being distinctly quantifiable, it's relative. A person isn't officially "strong" once they can lift half their body weight - though if you can, high five to you! It's lifting a heavier weight than a few weeks before, or the same weight more times, or even picking up your first 2 pounder!
Last Sunday, I was scared at being laughed at yet again for trying to be strong and small. I almost walked out when I saw the crowd of testosterone in the room - though, on the plus side, I was surrounded by more guys than I had been in weeks (insert a sarcastic thank you note to my college's 4:1 female to male ratio).
But, I didn't. I just adjusted (i.e. lightened the heck up!) the weights on my own machines, and did my own thing. Not only did no one care, but I watched in amazement as all five guys slowly trickled out of the weight room a few minutes after my arrival! (Sorry, guys, that these huge guns of mine are so intimidating).
And, when I told my boyfriend that story, he laughed again. Not at the idea of me lifting - though he still finds that slightly hilarious - but at the "sassy" way I did. A sassy, I'm-lifting-so-boys-watch-out attitude that, in my opinion, more strong and small girls should rock.
My daily routine already overflows with commonplace either/or decisions. Do I wear workout clothes all day or actually get dressed? Should I join in on that late-night donut run or not? Do I bake granola or don't I? (Spoiler: the first part of all those questions always wins).
One thing I don't worry about, though? Whether other people believe I can be strong and small. Because I know the feeling of my knees shaking as I finish that last weighted squat. I know the satisfied layer of sweat that covers my body after ten minutes of various weighted planks. And I know I'll kick butt at soccer next year, dwarf or not.
I'm small and I'm strong. Are you?
*Also found at Runningwithspoon's link party!*
What's one of the exercise stereotypes that annoys you? Is your strength or exercising ability ever doubted because of your size? Comment below!