I definitely didn't start out jumping for joy as I continued squeezing myself into jeans that had fit me just fine before my move to Chicago. Instead, I started down the easier path of shaming my body and wondering why the damn things still wouldn't fit comfortably even though I was teaching fitness classes and continuing to work out 4-5 times a week.
Maybe it's the donuts.
Maybe it's the deep dish.
Maybe it's the gelato. (Okay, I like desserts).
In reality though I was not eating these things in any greater quantities than I ever have in the past few years. I tend to eat pretty well and these delicious things were not occurring in excess to the normal way I live my life. So it couldn't be that.
Rather than deal with the awful, critical Erin that lives inside my head, I decided to not even give her the chance to berate me. I began living in yoga pants and exercise tights most days, which, let's be honest, are way more comfortable anyway. When I did wear jeans, I would wear looser shirts in hopes that you wouldn't see the nice muffin top I had going on when I wasn't continuously pulling them up. Every time I pulled them up I found a reason to bring myself down.
Then it clicked.
I have talked before about how I run in the warmer months and hibernate with weights during winter. True, I had been attending a lot of high-intensity interval classes, but those also incorporate weights. What I was experiencing wasn't dessert-induced weight gain, but the inevitable muscle gain that comes with strength training. As someone who has immersed herself in fitness, this should have been one of the first things I realized, but my brain so quickly clouds with self-doubt and shame that sometimes it's hard to wade through to the other side.
When women start to lift weights, we gain weight. This is because we are building muscle. Before we get to the point when that muscle starts burning more fat and we actually lose weight, however, we stop. We are afraid of "bulking" and looking "too manly." This is almost impossible for women since we are not built like men. More muscle leads to more definition and more weight loss since muscle actually boosts your metabolism.
So I'm happy my jeans are too tight because it means that I am getting stronger. I love the feeling of going into a workout and being able to use a heavier weight than I did the week before. I love being able to see more definition in my muscles and feel more confident because of my strength. I have been a slave to the number on my clothes for far too long and it's time to celebrate the work that I've done to improve myself instead of finding reasons to condemn it.
Oh, and I'm going to buy bigger jeans.