(Thanks, Josh, for taking this picture of my nine-months-postpartum, thirty-nine-year-old, super strong body)
The first time I got in really good shape was my sophomore year of college. I broke up with my high school boyfriend over spring break and I walked and biked all the time to clear my head and heal the sadness. When I came home for the summer, my grandmother said to me, "Your legs look really muscular. Have you been exercising?" Now, from any normal person, that would be a compliment. My grandmother said it with a tone of pure disgust at the unfeminine, unattractive, unacceptable amazon I had become in her mind. I knew she was crazy, but her words still deflated me.
I feel sad for her because she never got to feel the joy of being physically strong - of having your body function just how it's supposed to. Because of her strange notions about femininity and gender roles, she never got to experience the pure pleasure of endorphins flooding your system when you push your body just a little further, just a little harder.
Sometimes, when I'm working out, I hear her words in my head. I know that she would absolutely hate the body I have now. When I think of that it makes me crack a defiant smile and it motivates me to push myself harder. It makes me love my strong body even more.