Jenna Hoffstadt – Indy Contributor
Photo taken by Corey Allen – Indy Photographer
I love my calluses because they showcase the dedication and perseverance I have to my health.
Throughout my childhood I was the weak one. It was always a joke when someone would ask me to pick up something then say “never mind, you do it” to the closest guy.
I hated being the joke, the typical weak female in the room, another victim of sexism.
My sister introduced me to weight lifting when I was 17. Since then, I have improved my health both physically and mentally.
I wear my scrapes and bruises like a medal of war because when I walk into the gym, I’m walking into the arena ready to fight for my well-being. I pride myself on the curve of my shoulders, the cut in my calves. Dead lifts leave their mark on my shins and my hands. At first, lifting would tear my skin perpetuating my weak self. Eventually my skin began to heal itself covering my hands in calluses. These calluses protect me from the bar, allowing me to lift heavier and become stronger. My calluses are my armor.
Beginning to lift is like beginning kindergarten. You have never been to school before and you have no idea what you are doing. Your parent walks you to the classroom, holding your hand and everything is fine until they let go. Then it’s just you all alone in this new place with new faces.
My sister and I would work out together but eventually I had to do it on my own. My first day at the gym was terrifying. I thought everyone was staring at me, judging me. Eventually I came to the realization that they all started where I did – alone and afraid. Everyone is at a different place in the path to their goals.
Amazing things happen once you overcome the stigma of being the person with no clue. You become completely in charge of your health and that is an amazing thing. When I took control of my body, I took control of my mental health. I no longer allowed myself to be the punch line in someone’s joke.
When I look at my hands, I am reminded of all that I have accomplished in the past three years.
Lifting helped me overcome anorexia. Like most angry adolescents, my parents had issues. I had no control over their fighting or anything in my life so I controlled my eating habits. No one had authority over what I put in my body except me. When you start working out you have pay attention to your nutrition. You have to eat to fuel your body. This is where I began to shift my control from restriction to giving my body everything it needs to flourish in the weight room.
Lifting replaced the negative voice in my head with a positive one. Divorce situations are different for everyone. I never blamed myself for their splitting but living in a constant argument does damage mentally. The negative voice developed in my head and grew with each day. The gym became my therapy, my happy place. I am able to blast my anthems and drown out the world for the two hours I focus on me. My motivation grows and devours the negative. There is nothing but the weights and me.
Lifting taught me to dedicate myself to the process and my perseverance will reward me in more ways than building muscle mass. The release of worries allow for personal growth. I strengthen my body and my mind to become my best self.
Lifting taught me to love my calluses.