Welcome back to another “What I mean when I say…” Today we are looking at a pretty silly topic. What do I mean when I say “I’m athletic”?
Surprisingly, this seems to be a controversial topic for me. I’m either met with “Oh, you like exercising” or “What do you lift? How fast do you run? How far do you go? What can you do?” and neither of these responses I like very much. So, to clear the air, what do I mean when I (or other people for that matter) might mean when I say I’m athletic?
First things first, I mean I’m athletic. I fit the definition which is: physically strong, fit, and active. I exercise every single day and not for a measly twenty minutes. I pack several hours of exercise into my day. From yoga to weightlifting to running and biking to martial arts I’m doing it all. Or trying to. That classifies as active.
Next, I am physically strong. Can I pick up a car? No. But I can push one easily. With a flat. I lift weights so I don’t doubt my strength. I know I’m strong.
How about fit? Yessir. I am in good physical health. I don’t sick as often as others. My heart rate and blood pressure are phenomenal. And because I like to see food as fuel, I eat very well so all my nutritional needs are met. My lungs work great. Aside from injuries I get from exercise and some exercise-induced asthma, I’m in great shape.
So what do I mean when I say I’m athletic? I mean I’m athletic.
Problem is, when I say I’m athletic people think of this guy. Over here. Mr. Superman who may or may not be using steroids. They think of the zero percent body fat weightlifter, bodybuilder, Olympian, or any other elite athlete. Now this is isn’t very fair because I’m not doing this for a living and just because I don’t look like them or I can’t do what they can (yet) doesn’t mean I’m not athletic. I’m no elite athlete, but I am athletic. I have a lot of goals that I’m working towards. I haven’t reached all of them, but I’ve reached some. It’s a long process.
And the other problem is this. I get compared to a lot of very thin women who are considered athletic. By the standard definition, sure they are! And that’s good. They watch their diet, they don’t touch heavier weights, and they avoid looking bulky. Which is fine. I’m not attacking either of these choices. But since so many people expect me to be like that when I say I’m athletic, it’s a bit of slap in the face when I hear that I should be more like them. Things saying I shouldn’t get more vascular, I shouldn’t lift more, I shouldn’t get bulky, I should be thinner, or that I should do something more ladylike. Yes, I’ve heard that one. I won’t ever look like that girl not because she isn’t athletic (she is) but because I don’t want to look like her. I do want to bulk up. I do want to be vascular. I don’t care about being ladylike…I’m working out! And no, I don’t work out in makeup.
Whew, that’s out of the way!
Of course there are many, many misconceptions that I face, that other women face, that men face. Do your best and be happy doing your best.
That’s what it gets down to for me.
I used to be very hesitant to tell anyone I was athletic because I was met with the “You don’t look it” or once I told them what I did, condescending glares and conversations about my life choices. But now, I tell anyone who listens. Mainly because my exercise has taken over a large chunk of my life. As I think it typical for people who work out.
My personal definition of athletic branches off a little further than the dictionary definition. At least, for myself.
When I say I’m athletic, I mean I push myself until sweat has completely coated my skin. Not every workout I do does this for me, but most of them do. If I weren’t pushing myself to be sweaty and gross, I wouldn’t feel comfortable calling myself athletic. I have to be able to peel my clothes from my body or at least think I’m going to have cut my sports bra off. (Seriously, get out of those is a magic trick). Number one reason why I don’t wear makeup, I sweat too much for it!
I have to be uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean I need to be in pain, not really, and it certainly doesn’t mean that I have to be going insane. What it does mean is that I don’t allow myself to have a “comfy” workout. This goes along with sweating. If all my workouts were easy, comfortable they push me to be better. I might see a slow progression but I wouldn’t get nearly as far as when I push myself to feel uncomfortable. I need to have an elevated heart rate. I want to be out of breath. My muscles should burn. I should be sore. That’s just how I define it for myself.
I have to like what I’m doing. If I don’t, it’s time to switch things up. But as a general rule, athletic people enjoy athletic things. We like taking the stairs. We like exercising, as crazy as that sounds.
So what does all this mean? It means that I’m athletic. Don’t judge it, don’t compare me to thin girls without muscle mass…I’m not them. Don’t compare me to large men lifting crazy large weights…also not them. I’m me! My athletic journey is my own.
And that’s the takeaway.
My athletic my journey is my own just like someone else’s athletic journey is their own. Respect that.