Magazines and Instagram photos of girls doing headstands on surfboards in the middle of the ocean promote the idea that there is only one type of fit body, but I’m living proof that that’s not true. I spend 30 to 60 minutes six days a week doing everything from kettle bell to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts. I’ve completed two half marathons and literally fought my way through kickboxing classes taught by an MMA fighter. You’d think I’d look like an instagram fitness model, but I don’t. I’m 5’4 and weigh 185 pounds.
Yeah, I said it. I don’t mind telling people my weight and letting them do the math. It’s okay if you think I’m 40+ pounds overweight, because I’d argue 20 of those are pure muscle and the other 20 is a mix of stubborn fat and ice cream. Chubby girls can be fit, and I am a very fit chubby girl.
I have a six-pack somewhere beneath a layer of chub. You can actually see the first two abs before my belly juts out in a way that might make you wonder if I’m pregnant. I never skip abs day and I know how to eat well. I know what foods contribute to belly bloat and how to balance carbs, proteins, and sugars. I follow the rule of halving my weight and drinking that many ounces of water each day, meaning I pace myself through over 90 ounces of water on a daily basis. Tracking the food I put into my body isn’t part of a fad diet, it’s part of my lifestyle. I know that I have to combine exercise with a balanced diet, but for a combination of medical, genetic, and random reasons, my belly has never been and will never be flat.
My legs and butt, on the other hand, respond to workouts incredibly well. All those squats and lunges manifest in thick but toned muscles that show off all my hard work. Simply put, if my body was made up of fitness clichés, my booty would be all "I squat it like it’s hot" and my abs would be all "nah’maste in bed."
My arms aren’t quite as stubborn as my belly, but they’re far from cooperative. I’ve been in kettle bell classes with ladies who don’t have the slightest hint of bat wings but are using a 12-pound bell. Meanwhile, I’m swinging around 25- to 30-pound bells and my arm flab is flopping along for the ride.
My workouts leave me with thighs that bust out of jeans Clark Kent-turns-Superman style, arms that prefer to keep it casual and hide their strength in the skin-equivalent of sweatpants, and a belly that is easier dressed in the maternity section.
People tend to look at chubby girls and think things like "if only she’d eat a bit cleaner" or "perhaps if she knew what type of workouts to try." People assume we don’t know what we’re doing when it comes to our health. We receive unsolicited advice on our diet and unwanted fitness tips. I can’t tell you how many times a well-meaning fitness instructor or fellow gym-goer has jumped to conclusions about my fitness level. Don’t let my appearance fool you, when I workout, I freaking bring it. I’m a sweaty, cursing, warrior, and I dress like one.
Do you know what it takes to hold 38DDs in place during a HIIT workout? Remember Xena the Warrior Princess and her body armor? That’s basically what I use to strap my ladies down.
Look at that zipper. After bringing this incredibly expensive bra into the fitting room, I spent a good 10 minutes convinced that I would never be able actually zip it up. A saleslady had to stand outside the door and coach me through the boob-smooshing technique needed to properly lock my boulders in place. I then spent 10 more minutes jogging, jumping, and squatting as quietly as possible in order to test out the boob body armor. I left that store sweaty and poor.
So when you look at those extra 20 to 40 pounds, keep in mind that I’ve got to launch all that extra weight off the ground every time I do a jump squat. So, let’s have a moment of silence for all the beautiful knee-high boots I had to leave behind because my muscular calves wouldn’t fit into them.
I’m not here to judge women who might appear fitter than I do. Well, maybe surfboard yoga girl because seriously, who is taking those photos and how is her hair so perfect? The point is fitness isn’t always something you can judge from a photo or even in person. Maybe you see a girl with a belly and think she spends too much time on the couch or maybe you see a skinny girl and assume she starves herself. The reality is, you couldn’t possibly know if either of those things are true. I’ve lapped girls with six packs and landed punches on dudes twice my size.
The number on the scale may say fat, but the numbers on the weights I lift and my race times say fit. I’m not saying I don’t have days where I’m frustrated with the excess fat I can’t seem to lose. I also can’t say I haven’t had momentary lapses in my no-judgment rules, but I can tell you that when I destroy a workout, I feel nothing but pride in my body. I’m a chubby fit girl, and no one else’s body or opinions could ever change that.