I came to Solcana in May because I was feeling, for lack of a better word, crappy about myself. I had top surgery in December 2016. After top surgery, I thought everything would be different. I thought I was going to automatically love my body because it would finally look the way I knew in my head it was supposed to look. But I still didn’t like the way I looked. Instead, I was sore, bruised, swollen, and covered in surgical marker. I was tired and weak. Some of this was due to surgery, but some of this was because I hadn’t worked out consistently in two years. As I began to heal, and the bruises and swelling went away, I still didn’t love my chest. Sure, my dysphoria surrounding my chest went away, but I still wasn’t happy with myself. I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing. I had already gained back the five pounds of breast tissue my surgeon had removed. I had to buy new, bigger pants. And above all else, I was upset that I couldn’t be body positive about everything. I was upset that I was letting some stupid, arbitrary pant size number make me feel bad about myself.
This summer, I decided to make a change. I feel best about my body, no matter what I weigh or how I look, when I’m being active. I also know that I suck at working out by myself; I need accountability. Solcana gave me that accountability. And, it gave me a safe space to workout post-top surgery. I was nervous about working out after surgery. What if I couldn’t do an exercise because my chest was still tight? What if I had to explain about top surgery? Would I be respected? At Solcana, none of that was a problem. I feel safe and respected and I love starting workouts by sharing pronouns.
Through working out at Solcana, I have become so appreciative and in awe of my body and what it is capable of. I never thought my body was capable of a handstand. But now I can do a wall walk all the way up the wall and I feel confident I’ll be able to kick up to a handstand soon. I can do pushups from the ground and deadlifts and other Olympic lifts I never would have thought I could do.
I’ve also been inspired to work on goals I had long since abandoned. Before Solcana, I had pretty much given up on being a runner. I thought it just wasn’t for me and always used my bad knees as an excuse. When I started at Solcana, I could barely make it through our warmup jogs to the fish dumpster and back. I especially dreaded Morgen’s warm up jog route, which sent us to the corner of cedar, left to the set of stairs, then up and down the stairs three times. By the end of the third time up the stairs, I was always gassed. Recently, I ran a mile in 9:45. I can only remember running a mile in under ten minutes once in my life. My new goal is to get below nine minutes and then to finally run a 5k.
I’ve also seen changes outside of the gym. I work on the third floor and normally take the elevator up to my office. A few weeks ago, I came to work and there was a massive line of people blocking the elevator. They were waiting to check in for some event taking place in the first floor of my building. I immediately dismissed the idea of pushing through the crowd to get to the elevator and instead turned around and took the stairs without any sort of hesitation. I made it up all three flights of stairs and was only the tiniest bit winded. I could not have done that 6 months ago.
Overall, Solcana has been life changing for me. As a trans person, I never really looked in the mirror and liked what I saw. All I can say is that dysphoria sucks. Now, I am the most in love with my body that I’ve ever been. A lot of that was top surgery, but working out at Solcana has also helped tremendously. I feel strong and powerful and muscular. And I’m always excited to go workout to see what I’m capable of achieving.