Why To Exercise Today If You're An XL Person

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Am I bragging? Oh, yes. I'm pretending to be concerned but I'm definitely, undeniably bragging. Here's my disingenuous worry: I'm starting to fear that I'll run out of weights at the gym.

I've only been working the weight machines for a couple-three months, but I'm already up to 240 on the leg press, and it only goes up to 400.  And I'm pushing 110 on the abductor machine, and it only goes up to 160.

In the midst of a grunt on the leg-press, I had this revelation: Well, of course my legs are stronger than most women's! I've been carrying more weight than most women ever since I reached my full height — nearly 5'9" — and weight — around 170. I don't mind being tall, but being all-around big has sometimes made me feel mountainous, hulking, oversized. (Especially on certain long-ago dates. And in countries where people tend to be smaller. A Thai driver: "Why are you American women so large?")

Of course it doesn't matter how many pounds you lift during strength training — all that matters is that you challenge your own muscles. But still, we are numerical beings. There's a whole movement called "The Quantified Self" that involves all kinds of geeky self-monitoring. And I must say it gives me a definite charge to lift weights well over 100 or 200 pounds.

[module align="left" width="half" type="pull-quote"]For once, my size is about more than appearance — it's about function.[/module]

I feel palpable pride as I move the weight pins down many notches from where the last user left them. For once, my size is about more than appearance — it's about function. My new pride acts as an antidote for the subtle discomfort of fitting into the XL clothes at the very end of the rack. Instead of the mildly distasteful "Extra-Large," I can think of myself as XF, Extra-Forceful.

Please don't accuse me of size-ism, though. Could somebody please write a companion piece about how being petite can be an exercise advantage? Just click on the "Get in touch" button below and send us in some balance from the other end of the bell curve.

This program aired on January 25, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.