Goodbye to the Gun Show? Not so fast…


All my life, I’ve been naturally strong. People hand me the pickle jar to open. I’ll carry heavy things like air conditioners up 3 flights of stairs. Friends call me when they move. I’m no gym rat, I literally have not stepped foot in a gym in at least 20 years. I do NOTHING for this, but my back, shoulders, and arms have always been very strong and pretty cut for never doing anything other then working hard on my house and doing household chores. So much so, I’ve been a bit self conscious of my upper body. While I really like the natural strength I have, I don’t feel especially feminine. It’s always been a bit of an internal conundrum.

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 9.53.59 PM.png

2014-My first Spartan Spring Event, age 43.

This is not the body of a cyclist, which is the sport I most greatly identify with. Not only do I have a broad back, but I’m a bit busty. I stuff myself into cycling jerseys. And I hate the club cut, so I stuff away. While I have used my natural upper body strength to my advantage handling the bike in sketchy conditions, it hasn’t escaped my notice that other women just look sleeker doing it. I just accept this. I like being strong but will never be built as compactly as most of the women I ride with. My body is largely a result of my genes, and both my parents, especially my father, was extremely strong and muscular.

Then at some point this past fall, I was changing in the bathroom and noticed something was different. My biceps had shrunk. My triceps also looked diminished. My shoulders still looked strong but a touch smaller. At first I was happy–finally I was looking a bit more feminine and less like I could join the practice team for the Pats! But then I realized what was happening.

I’m getting older.

This was a cruel twist of biology and time at work. I was losing muscle mass as a result of my age, which at the time of this writing is 47. This was sarcopenia. I’m very physically active, but mostly on the bike. I’m almost to that magical age of menopause, and a probable factor is some hormone fluctuation.

I can’t fight biology or time, but I can put some work in against the loss of more muscle. I have decided to be earnest in incorporating weights into my weekly workouts. I need to preserve what I still have, and maybe carve myself some new guns.  It turns out, I value strength over whatever hangups I had about my muscles.

-Karen

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About Karen

Mid-life female amateur athlete focused on cyclocross, mountain biking, and road cycling.

3 responses to “Goodbye to the Gun Show? Not so fast…”

  1. bgddyjim says :

    Please forgive my commenting, as too often men commenting on this topic goes horribly wrong… Please know in advance, if there’s a good and a bad way to take this comment, I mean the good way.

    That said, you’re not too muscular. Muscular women, in the way you are, look great. You should feel good about the woman in that photo and you don’t look anything like any of the players on the football team. You look like a strong woman, and that’s all good.

    Push ups, maybe 50 a day, will fix the loss for the next 10-ish years. After that, it’ll be time to hit some weights. Getting old sucks. I’m with you there.

    • Karen says :

      no offense taken! I love the new campaign for young girls “strong is the new beautiful.” I allowed my own insecurities into this blog post, because I was being honest….and let’s face it, we all have them! I usually love being strong…I just get a little self conscious sometimes 😉

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