How November Project and Weight Lifting Changed My Life

Several years ago, I discovered November Project. Anyone who was Facebook friends with me at the time could tell you that I fell hard for the group. It was exactly what I was looking for. Internally, I was uncomfortable with the shape of my body, with my level of activity-despite biking to work every morning for 4-5 miles. I wasn’t happy with my job  and had a burgeoning eating disorder that exacerbated discomfort with my body. I turned to this group as a way to change the way my body looked.

I didn’t exactly get that out of the group. Instead, what I got was a community that turned the focus on fitness instead of weight loss. I was reminded that my body was a tool for me to use. The idea is to challenge yourself, not to feel defeated by the 3:03 marathoners who also participate. It’s about the community and personal fitness growth. So instead of getting just a changing body to make my body look better, I suddenly became more invested in how my body could perform, like I had when I was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. I ran two miles. Three. And then eight on one of the coldest nights of the year for a ninja race. (http://november-project.com/bostonninjarace-further-training-and-super-sunday-brunch-runners/) Sitting half frozen on the redline with other finishers, it occurred to me that if I could run 8 miles, I could run a half marathon and then I had a goal. It was once I completed the half marathon that I started looking for a new challenge and I discovered weightlifting.

Weight lifting changed my life. Suddenly, exercise was definitively not about my weight or how skinny I could get, but about how many weights I could lift up and put down. I suddenly started seeing definition in my arms and my quads. I was able to distract my little skinny-focused voice with the new muscles and capabilities. It filled the little need in me to be in control, to be powerful instead of feeling powerless in the face of weight gain, confident in my strength instead of feeling like the only solution was to run for miles and miles just to be able to eat food.

My therapist and I both agree that weight lifting was a turning point in recovery for me, giving me another outlet to feel in control in my life and less a slave to the fickleness of trying to be smaller, to be more socially acceptable. If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, or eating disorders, I hope that you have found effective tools for your recovery. If not, I hope that you can.

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7 thoughts on “How November Project and Weight Lifting Changed My Life

  1. Eric Garza says:

    Have you ever considered CrossFit? I don’t think I have ever been around women with as positive of body images as the women I work out with at my local CrossFit gym.

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    • radiantselfcare says:

      I haven’t. I know there are good crossfit gyms, but originally they were too expensive and the research to find a decent gym too intimidating. I’ve been to a free intro class and was pretty unimpressed. I do pretty good at my medium-expensive gym and self guided heavy lifting rather than prescribed whatever. If it works for you great! It’s too expensive up here for me and it’s too full of danger.

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      • Eric Garza says:

        Sad to hear that your experience was less-than-stellar, though I’m sure the quality of individual gyms ranges widely. I’ve been very lucky in that the coaching staff at the gym nearest me (a 15 walk from my house) is quite stellar, and has given me a huge amount of one-on-one coaching to improve my lifting form so that I don’t injure myself. I suppose it is expensive, but I see it as a worthwhile investment. And the community is wonderful. I’ve made several new friends, and constantly meet new people who are well-balanced and have great attitudes.

        Liked by 1 person

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