The 1 Workout That Finally Made Me Feel Confident in My Own Skin

When I was in middle school, I subscribed to just about every teen magazine out there. Back then, there wasn't a variety of body types to help girls like me feel sexy or confident in my own skin. Granted, we didn't know about things like Photoshop back then, but my friends and I would stick to strict workout regimens that would revolve around a ton of cardio. We kept it fun by throwing dancing in there every now and then, but a majority of our workouts were running for extended periods of time, which, don't get me wrong, is super fun for a lot of people. I loved it for a few years, but I think I overdid it during this period of my life (thankfully I learned to love it in a healthier way later in life). Those types of workouts continued on through high school, but I never felt like I looked like the models in the magazines. I enjoyed working out, but I was also expecting more results than I was getting for putting in so many hours.

I finally decided that working out so often wasn't worth it, but I noticed myself gaining a lot of weight during college. I struggled to find a balance between a social life, pulling all-nighters for tests and assignments, and working out. The stereotypes of the perfect body type also kept shifting, and I didn't know how to find a way out of my lack of motivation. I started eating out more often and failed to make healthy choices for myself.

I graduated from college and actually wound up losing a lot of unhealthy weight due to implementing an overall healthier lifestyle. I've been focusing on my career and health for a few years now, so I can safely say that I'm officially becoming an adult. And perhaps because of that, in addition to a ton of reflection and appreciation for myself and my life, I've come to the realization that my body is going to continue to change, and that's OK! I finally came to the conclusion that I really just needed to love my body. This wasn't easy for me considering I've struggled with body issues since I was teased on a daily basis starting in elementary school. I realized that although I've had just about every body shape out there at some point in my life, the problem was that I was never comfortable enough in my own skin to appreciate it in the moment.

Now I choose to do workouts that I enjoy not necessarily because of the physical results I'll see, but because of how I feel. That's why I'm constantly switching it up between cardio, strength training, yoga, Pilates, barre, and dance — sometimes all in the same week.

While I love all of those workouts, strength training is the one that makes me feel, dare I say, sexy. I'm a pretty short girl (5'2"), and my petite physique always bothered me a little at times because it made me feel like I was viewed as weak, regardless of whatever body shape I had. That feeling pushed me to take self-defense classes, but the instructors pretty much always pointed me out as an easier target due to my appearance. Granted, that was a pretty low blow to my confidence, but it pushed me to work harder on my strength.

My parents didn't raise my sister and me to be delicate little flowers; we were always taught to be strong, motivated young ladies. No workout made me feel like that until I started strength training. Over time, I wasn't afraid to unleash my stronger side in those self-defense classes. The other students telling me I'm stronger than I look and being able to stand my own ground while practicing various techniques made me feel proud.

The more I practice strength training, the more confidence I seem to gain. Being able to increase the size of the dumbbells and weights I use or performing exercises that I wasn't able to execute when I started strength training makes me feel confident. Confidence equates to sexiness for me, and knowing I can now leg-press my 170-pound husband is an extremely satisfying feat. Being able to flex a little bicep every now and then, and knowing I can kick some ass if necessary, doesn't hurt, either.