Tuesday, March 04, 2008

you know the T is working when...

I had a few flashes of insight this morning into things that I take for granted now that now fly under my radar until something happens to jolt me into reflection.

The change in my upper body strength, for instance. I've never been one for really working out (despite frequent thoughts and plans and mapping out of three day workout splits), and in the past 2 years, my musculature has increased significantly. I've mentioned before how funny it was the my biceps seemed to show up overnight, and my chest- which seemed so worriedly sunken and ill-defined immediately post surgery, has filled out considerably in the time since.

I was reminded of my muscle gains this morning when, in a fit of resolution, I decided to finally start doing the daily push-ups/sit-ups regimen I've been thinking about for months. Not having done a push-up since well before the end of 2007, I was able to crank out 10 with no effort, 15 before I started to feel it, and 20 before my arms got shaky. Not great numbers in the grand scheme of things, but it reminded me of how two years ago, I couldn't do three consecutive push-ups. Same diet, same exercise (or lack thereof) in my life, but presto! Different muscles.

It reminds me of how envious and weak I felt in my early teenage years, hanging out with my cousins and their friends, all boys, all 1.5-2 years older than my sister and me, and all carrying around seemingly effortless muscle that I couldn't hope to match. Of course, they were all active with the hiking and the basketball and the wrestling and the climbing everything they could find...and some of them 'pumped iron' as well. I remember especially vividly one of our late night shenanigans which involved climbing up onto the roof of the local elementary school. They all hoisted themselves up to the dumpster, then the ledge, then the roof, and while I was still struggling to find purchase, ,one of them reached down and basically hauled me up after him. It wasn't unpleasant- it's a bit exhilarating to be lifted through space by someone so much stronger than you- but it was a bit embarrassing even then, while I was still blithely accepting the label of adolescent girl, to be shown to be so clearly different from these boys I unconsciously compared myself to.

Now, seeing how much easier it is to gain and keep muscle with a body powered by testosterone, it makes sense to me and doesn't rankle. I have more respect than ever for female athletes, particularly female bodybuilders, who make the most of their bodies at what seems to be to be a comparative disadvantage to their male counterparts. It was frustrating to me, before T, to work out and see slow/agonizing progress in strength; I invariably quit my few brief forays into training. Now, though I still don't much exercise (which may reveal more about my willingness to commit to training than my capacity for muscle gain!), it's much more tempting, and more rewarding when I do. If some of the external factors go away (like living in this crazy city demands fast busy living, or the fact that I don't wake up in the same place every day), I think I'll be more willing to work out. It pays off better these days!

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