sex

"I broke down in tears at the gym during the week."

One word.

One word from my partner is all it took for me to fling my weights, slink through the gym, run up the stairs, lock myself in the change room toilets, and let out a fierce stream of tears.

Usually I’m a quiet crier. I don’t like anyone hearing me or feeling obliged to ask if I’m okay. But after I heard that one word come out of his mouth, I couldn’t muffle my tears.

That one word played over and over in my head as I sat on the toilet seat, hands on my head and cried noisy, ugly tears all over the floor, for what felt like hours.

Let me start from the beginning.

Like any other twenty-something woman I enjoy going to the gym. I enjoy going for a run and breaking out in a sweat. I enjoy putting my headphones in, pushing myself and have an adrenaline rush when I’ve finished my session. But like most other twenty-something women (let’s make that, probably all women) I don’t always feel confident about my body.

Valentina with her sister doing The Colour Run. (Image supplied)

Sometimes I throw my gym clothes on, look in the mirror and analyse every unsightly lump and bump. Sometimes I hate the way I look. Sometimes I go to the gym feeling like absolute crap about myself.

This was one of those days.

My partner works at a gym so I’m lucky that I have an extra motivation to go. But I’ll often get to the gym and see women who look absolutely amazing, making me certain that I look like absolute sh*t.

I don’t like that I compare myself to other people but let’s face it, we all do it. When you’re at the gym, sometimes you can’t help but look and measure yourself up with those around you. So when a woman pulled up her mat next to me as I was in the middle of some ab exercises, I instinctively looked over.

Valentina with her sister doing The Colour Run. (Image supplied)

Her arms were lean, she had killer abs, her thigh gap was evident and to top it off she was gorgeous. Go figure.

I immediately began to shrink into myself. It was then that I noticed she was wearing a gym top that I had once tried on and didn't end up buying.

It looked absolutely atrocious on me, like a sausage popping out of its skin on the barbecue. On her it looked like a million bucks, as though she'd just run out of a Fabletics ad.

More self-resentment.

I finished my exercises and walked myself downstairs, where my partner was also training, to use one of the machines. As I proceeded to do one of the exercises while my partner came over to help.

She looked something like this. (Image via Fabletics)
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“You used to be able to lift so much more than this,” he said, trying to encourage me to push harder.

In the pits of misery about my body, I turned to my partner for a bit of a pep talk. “Do I look fat?” I asked.

"I love you no matter what you look like," he replied.

I should have appreciated this. I should have dropped it there, given him a hug, said thank you and kept on going. But being in the pits of myself, you don't do that. You keep questioning and probing and pushing.

"I know but I want to look good. Do I look fat?" I asked again.

“No, you’re not fat. You’re just… fluffy,” he replied.

That’s it. That’s the one. That’s the word that broke me.

“Fluffy? What the f*ck is fluffy?” I burst out.

Valentina and her partner. (Image supplied)

I could see the pang of guilt in his eyes as he said it but before he even had time to open his mouth I had gone, rushing myself off to cry in the toilet with ugly sobs and tears that wouldn't stop no matter how much I tried to get it together.

When I finally mustered up enough courage to walk down stairs after my meltdown, I was red faced and blotchy. My eyes were swollen and the evidence that I had been crying was clear. My partner apologised and I know he didn’t mean it in the way I took it. I know he used it as a term of endearment.

But sometimes we can have that one day in one hundred days where we just hate ourselves. You know what? That’s okay. We’re always told that we need to be happy and to have confidence. Yes that’s important but that doesn’t mean we’re not entitled to some self-loathing every now and then.

What’s important is that after we’ve done that, we put our big girl pants on and just keep going. We tie up our runners, get out the door and just keep going.

Have you ever felt bad about your body?