Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mind and Matter by Sheena Hunter

It's time to take a break and laugh. After training hard and heavy all week, and practically force-feeding myself through the mental challenge of my current attempt at a serious bulk, I'm ready to take a deep breath and laugh. If you are a female bodybuilder, I'm sure you will relate to this one. In fact, I wonder what it must be like for the rest of you, especially those of you with more size and experience than I have! If you are not a competitor, then I think you can still find it pretty funny, but if you have any questions please do not be afraid to ask!. If you aspire to compete, then this is what you have to look forward, so prepare yourself to take any and every reaction as a compliment!

During my very first contest prep, I was approached by a lady in a grocery store who loudly raved about how inspiring I was. I had no idea what she was talking about, but I was embarrassed. After that, it was like a dam had broken. Starbucks, grocery stores, department stores...the attention was embarrassing, but it was flattering. The closer I got to my contest, however, the more negative the attention became. The second time, I was ready for it. In fact, it became a sort of progress marker. I began to embrace it. I mean, I understand—it's a little different. Something needs to be said. Normal conversation, even the simplest of small-talk, cannot go on until the oddity is acknowledged. I don't mind anymore. But, I can still laugh at all of the dumb, weird, funny, and downright inappropriate stuff people come up with.

.“...Do you work out?”

I pass the time on the treadmill by thinking of all of the sarcastic possibilities. So far, my favorite is to keep a straight face and say something like, “nah, it's not really my thing.” (Please feel free to post your funniest alternative response, I need ideas!)

“...How long do you work out every day, and what do you do?”

Hmmm...If I tell you, I'd have to kill you...yeah, that won't work. Mostly this question ends up holding up the grocery store line...I'm still working on a one-liner. I'm not sure anyone is ready to know what really goes on during contest prep...

“Do you take steroids, or protein, or something like that?”

This one usually comes from guys who still believe that whey protein and creatine are magic powders that will result in unearned mass, and that “steroids” are sold at GNC in a clearly labeled bottle.

“Are you a personal trainer?”

This one is fair. Until recently, though, I was not. Most people assume that all trainers are fit, and that anyone who is fit must be responsible for making others fit too. Not an issue, in fact it's flattering. The problem is the akward silence after I say no. I feel like I'm supposed to offer up an explanation, because no one really wants to follow that question with, “ok, then why do you look like that?”

“Ok, so then why do you look like that?”

...But, occasionally, someone goes for it. I am still new—I've only competed twice, so I'm pretty shy about throwing around the word “bodybuilder.” I'm getting a little better at handling this question without turning bright red. Odd, I never thought of myself as a shy person before.

“Why would you want to look like that?”

This question has two possibilities. Sometimes, the asker is truly curious and well-meaning. Unfortunately, this one is most often whispered by a dumb girl who thinks I can't hear her, to another dumb girl who whispers something like, “yeah, I totally don't get it..”

“Ugh, when you get those things that poke out over your sports bra, it's like, too much.”

This one is a sub-comment from #6. I was quick to inform her that “those things” are called lats. Ironically, she appeared to have been trying to “tone” hers that day...

“How can I tone, without getting too big like you?”

Most of the time, this one is phrased with more tact. But this girl was being mean on purpose! I just stammered a little and told her of a trainer I knew...However, I just heard an amazing response to this one, that I plan to use someday: “Don't worry, I can assure you that with your level of commitment, you will never be big.”

“With those arms, you should be holding the door open for me...”

Somehow this has happened to me more than twice, in more than one state. Once, the guy really didn't hold the door open. Seriously?

“...Are you...a...swimmer? Or what?”

Similar to the pesonal trainer question, it's an akward attempt to ask what they really want to know: “why do you look like that?” There are other variations--sub “swimmer” for pretty much any type of athlete. I prefer to give short responses that force the person to either follow up or akwardly let it go...

“Oh cool, you're a much can you lift?”

There is no way out of this one. I find myself either forced to explain the error(s) in this question, or desperately hoping someone will interrupt the conversation. From experience, I can say that “I don't know” will not suffice.

“Bodybuilding? You mean like when you get like all tan and oily and stuff?”

Yup. I love to oil up and head for the grocery store...

“...Ok, so what's with the arms?”

So far, the most fun I've had was when I pretended I had no idea what he meant, forcing him to try to explain to me why he thought I looked different than any other pretty girl in the coffee shop.

“I'm not sure if I can find a dress that will flatter your build, did you check ____?”

This came from a sales clerk at Macy's. Don't they work on commission?

“Oh, honey, maybe we could soften those shoulders with a cardigan...”

This happened to me while I was shopping for a wedding dress. I had not competed yet, and this was the first time anyone had ever acknowledged my build. I cried like an idiot, but clearly recovered!


There might have been more to this one (and its variations), but I try to cut them short to avoid having to talk about it.

“Man, remind me not to piss you off. You look like you could kick my ass.”

I love that the average person thinks that fighting, lifting, and posing are all elements of the same sport.

“Wow, you're getting big lately!”

This comes up when I start leaning out...harder generally seems to mean bigger to the untrained eye. Actually, I'm losing weight and size at this point, but there is no point in explaining this. Oh well, I'll take a compliment.

“I don't want to sound gay, but you have really amazing legs.”

I can honestly say that no one said this to me during my first contest prep, but it actually happened several times during my second. Instead of jumping for joy at the clear evidence that my legs had come in better this year, I think I just turned bright red every time. I will point out, though, that this compliment always came from girls in their late teens. A new ideal, perhaps?!

I know darn good and well that, as a lightweight and as a beginner, my experiences probably aren't anywhere NEAR as funny as some of yours! I would love to hear them, so feel free to email me yours!

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