08/15/2014 10:36 am ET Updated Oct 15, 2014

Nope, My Super-Fit Sister Is Not My Trainer

I really struggled to write this story.

I don't talk about the fact that I am not a skinny person very often, but I figured this was about as good a time as any to "come out the closet" as an, ahem, "not size 2." Or 4. Or 6... you get the drift.


Here is what happened.

Over the last month or so, I've really fallen in love with lifting and look forward to my strength exercises every other day. My dad and I have built up a fun routine that we do together that helps keep me motivated, and I feel super hardcore and awesome after I complete a new workout.

This weekend, my sister came into town and she invited me to work out with her and try some new moves. AWESOME! I love adding to my strength exercise bank.

Our workout together went great. This was also my 21st day working out, which means that I had completed the 21 days straight challenge, another milestone that left me feeling hyped and proud of myself as I was leaving the gym.

On our way out, this trainer stops us. Wait, actually, he stops us, talks on his phone for five minutes and THEN proceeds to tell my sister that, and I quote, "it has been brought to his attention that you are training someone and you can't do that."

I'm sorry, what?

"This is my sister, we were just working out together," my sister said.

"Well, you can't train. It doesn't matter. We have a policy against training in our gym and you were training her." He said, making sure to not make eye contact with me.

Apparently, there is a policy. You can't train anyone at the gym unless you are a trainer hired by the gym.

If you ever been to a gym, you have probably seen mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, and friends working out together. It's pretty common in the workout world. But because my sister is super thin and I'm not, I must be getting training. We must be breaking some type of rule.

This is, of course, not the case. I have a trainer who is not my sister. I work out regularly. I was just doing the moves I already knew and we were doing them together. I even showed her one or two moves she doesn't usually do.

He made an assumption. A sizeist one. Someone looked at me and then looked at my sister and decided something fishy was going on.

My sister flipped. My dad furrowed his brow and I tried to keep myself from crying. In the end, they apologized. The manager said it would be addressed. We went on our way.

In the words of everyone on the Internet, SMH.

My first instinct was to hate. Hate that gym. Hate everyone who works there and everyone who goes for being such sh*theads and creating such a sizeist environment.

Then my next instinct was to feel hurt and vulnerable. I've always been that girl who has NEVER cared about going to the gym. Even at my heaviest, I never cared because I didn't think anyone noticed. But now, it seemed like people were watching. Someone had to be.

Then I felt self-righteous.

This isn't about me, I thought. It's about the other women who finally gathered up the courage to go to the gym and make a change only to be reminded that even though she is at the gym, she still has no business being there. I was ready to go to war.

But then I  had a eureka moment. All of the body love crap (and I'll be honest here, I've always secretly thought it was bullsh*t) finally made sense to me.

My body has ALWAYS (in my mind) been a work-in-progress.

Don't get me wrong; I happily cheer on my plus-sized sisters-in-arms, encouraging them as they shared their body positive posts, wrote articles and shared pictures in bikinis. I like. I share. I retweet. I've even taken classes. I just quietly go about my business, stressing out over an English muffin, jumping on another cleanse or forcing myself to jump on the elliptical after a big lunch. As a result, despite my best efforts, I never truly connected with the movement. I never thought I needed it. I was on the way down, anyway.

What I realized after this experience is that body love has nothing to do with our bodies, but the stories they tell. It's about taking ownership of our stories so that we can be resilient in the moments when the visions and hopes we have for ourselves are challenged by what other people think. It is for those moments when we can't stand everything we are, because of what everyone else thinks.

It's about knowing, in that moment, when the tall, attractive trainer told my sister that she couldn't train her chubby sister at the gym because it's against policy, that it's not about me. It's about him or that other person who somehow felt threatened while watching my sister working out. SO threatened that he/she felt the need to say something.

I know, duh. But I never got that.

MY body acceptance movement is not about big sweeping gestures. We don't have to wear bikinis because we can or take pole dancing classes because we can.

I don't have to stop working out and just "be" when I KNOW I have goals and things I want to do that I can't do right now. I can keep working. I can keep watching what I eat.

It's about knowing how to feel and how to act while we do whatever we want to do. Body confidence and acceptance is for the journey, whatever that journey looks like for you. Before now, I never understood how those look together.

This is how it looks: I am going to go to a gym (maybe not that one), and keep doing what feels good. Lifting weights feels good, so I'll keep doing it. Working out with my sister is fun, so I will keep doing it. It's my hope (and this is MY version of doing what I can for the movement) that my story encourages someone else to pick up some dumbbells or try out one of the machines. I want that woman out there, wherever she is, to have the bravery to take the first step that she wants to take because she knows another girl her size can do it.

And I look like a bada** doing it.

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