I joined the gym a month ago. I've been going three times a week, for four weeks, so it's only 12 sessions.
I'm lifting weights. I want bigger muscles. I was joking about this today, about how my husband - who sits at a desk all day and hasn't exercised regularly in years - is much stronger than me. His biceps are much larger than mine, and that just isn't fair, right?
A friend asked me, "why do you want big muscles as a woman?", and I wasn't sure what to say.
I don't want to be a body builder, or look like a man. I just want to be stronger. I want to see evidence of the hard work I've been putting into strengthening my body.
This world we live in, this "westernised" society sees femininity as smallness. Women go to the gym to shrink; men go to get bigger.
I don't want to shrink. I want to be substantial and tough.
Because I'm tired. I'm tired of being battered by images and words and ideas that tell me lies.
That tell me I'm not pretty enough.
Or that I'm not skinny enough.
Or that my path in life isn't worthwhile.
Or simply that I don't count, because I'm a woman at all.
Perhaps the reason why I want to be strong, is because it will instil something of that durability into my mind and heart.
Oh, I know that I am a child of God. I believe that my womanhood is something to cherish and that I am not, nor will I ever be, a second-class citizen to my Heavenly parents. On good days, I know that the amount of adipose tissue I carry around under my skin is not a measure of my worth. The length of my hair, the style of my clothes, the cleanliness of my house -- these things mean nothing.
But on other days, I am just tired. I feel weakened by the onslaught, and I don't want to look critically at my body anymore.
So I lift weights. I focus on strengthening the muscles I have been blessed with, and I watch in awe as they respond to the challenge. I am getting stronger. My body is a beautiful orchestra that works in complex synchronicity. And when I see myself in this way, the voices that tell me otherwise disappear.