“Mommy, I’m begging you—please don’t wear that for Halloween!”

Rachel Flanagan Uncategorized

PictureI have to top last year’s costume, where I went as a tooth fairy. James didn’t seem to find this one nearly as embarrassing.

I took my kids to Walmart recently to go shopping for Halloween costumes. I have a love-hate relationship with this pilgrimage every year. On the plus side, I love the fun of dressing up for Halloween. It’s a chance to step out of myself for the night and try out a new persona. But on the flip side, I am usually pretty disgusted by the girls’ and women’s costumes. Costumes for 6 year old girls should never have the title “naughty” in them.

But Paige was on a mission. She had set her sights on being Mal from The Descendants this year. When she struck out in the store after looking through every rack, she decided without missing a beat to be an angel. Needless to say, I was thrilled. The costume cost $5, was very sweet looking, and looked pretty comfortable. Winner winner, chicken dinner.

So now it’s my turn to look around at the costumes and try to find some sort of inspiration for myself for this year. As I was about to give up and wear an old costume again, I saw the most amazing pair of striped tights for women. AH HA! I will use my Lilliputian stature for good and be a munchkin from the Wizard of Oz. I found a short white tutu, grabbed the tights, and went to collect my kids to go to the register. I was feeling pretty excited. I had some serious Pinterest-ing to do to fill in the rest of my costume, but that would be fun.

But then as I turned to make sure my kids were ready to check out, my son caught a look at the costume stuff in my arms. “MOMMY!” my son cried. “PLEASE don’t wear those tights for Halloween! How embarrassing!”

His reaction caught me off guard as this sense of embarrassment about things I do or wear is new. I guess 9 is the turning point, but I naively thought I’d have another couple of years.

Of course I bought the tights. I love to dress up, and I love wacky tights. I knew James would get over it pretty quickly.

For me, this sense of boldness about what I wear in public—and not caring what people think of me—is really new for me. I was the teenager with the hunched over shoulders, cringing at the idea of doing anything that was out of the ordinary.

When I was in 7th grade and had friends over to watch movies, I remember being afraid to go to the bathroom because I was afraid that they would talk about me when I left the room. My early teenage years were full of painful insecurity that left a pretty profound mark on me.

That insecurity faded as I got older but never really went away, especially after I had my kids and was carrying around extra weight. But do you know what turned the tide? Two things: turning 40 and discovering weight lifting.

Lifting weights has made it much easier to keep the weight off, and has changed my whole physique, and how I feel about it. Lifting makes me feel like I am invincible. I stand taller, walk more upright, and feel better about myself.

My goals now are to take up more space, not hunch over and wish to be as small as possible. When I’m working with clients, I find myself standing in a power stance with my legs in a wide turnout. Shoulders thrown back. Strong posture. Confidence.

I often do my errands now in my gym clothes (is it a bad sign that several people sent me a link to the “activewear” song video when it came out?) as I’m usually running from one thing to the next. I used to hate walking around in tank tops, but now I could care less. It’s freeing.

When I went to my Uncle Bernie’s second bar mitzvah over the summer, I wore a sun dress (with a sweater over it in the temple, don’t worry) with spaghetti straps. Several relatives made comments about my “scary shoulders” or asked why I wanted my muscles to be so big. Honestly, though, I’m really not that big, so I found the whole thing pretty amusing.

For a long time, I wanted everything on my body to be smaller. Smaller arms, smaller quads, a smaller butt. Now it’s the complete opposite. I love when my shoulders get bigger. I’m proud when my glutes get bigger (strong glutes = happy knees!), and I like having muscular quads.

Why? Because I worked hard for that muscle. I put in the time in the gym, rep by rep, set by set. Those muscles represent consistency, steadily making progress, and adding plates to the big lifts. They equal happier joints with less pain, and better posture.

After I hit a PR on a big lift like a deadlift or bench press, I feel like I’m walking on air for the rest of the day. I feel invincible. And I have the iron to thank for that.

So I’m going to wear that munchkin costume, and show off my big quads in those striped tights. I guess I’ll be the munchkin who was probably too busy in the gym to come meet Glynda in Munchkinland. I’ll be the munchkin who represents the Iron Guild.

Anyone want to trick-or-treat with me as Dorothy the powerlifter?

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