And somehow, some-when, it happened: I started to like going to the gym.
On Wednesday night, after a horrendous day in the office and with a throbbing tension headache threatening to burst forth from the left side of my forehead, I dragged myself along Garscube Road in time to begin my third ten-week boot camp with AG Fitness Training. I grumbled, and I whined, and then I had a really excellent workout and got a taxi home and took my sodden sports bra off in the living room and ate the biggest plate of pasta you have ever seen.
On Thursday I went to work with the familiar pain in my bicep – the one that says it’s been a while, and maybe you shouldn’t be walking with two 16kg kettle bells right away, but you’re going to try to do it anyway, aren’t you? It’s fine: I have another day to recover.
It’s been a long time since I recognised myself when I looked in the mirror. A big part of that was simply down to avoiding them as I began to put on weight. The changes happened gradually, as these things tend to, until one day there was no denying that my body shape had changed. Softened. Expanded, proportionately, just about everywhere. The first time it bothered me was when I discovered I could no longer encircle my wrist with my thumb and middle finger – something which I can laugh about now, given how small my hands have always been. That one was probably healthy.
I still avoid mirrors. I’m so short-sighted that I can only do a face of makeup peering into a little hand mirror, and there’s little way of seeing what I don’t want to see. The only full-length mirrors in the house are the mirrored wardrobes on what would be the second bedroom but is actually the office, and I’m always fully dressed before I stand in front of them to brush my hair.
I like my shoulders, but I don’t like the way my upper arms look. I like my collarbone, but I don’t like my thighs. And yet, the day after a gym session, these are the parts of my body I give thanks for the loudest. These are the ones I feel strengthen and burn. These are the bits that will propel me on adventures, and allow me to carry my own bags on the way.
I’ve been chatting a lot with Lazeme, a Kettering-based online boutique that specialises in loungewear, lingerie and what they describe as “designs for lazy living”, on social media recently. Among the premium brands that they stock is Elomi, who you might remember me raving about earlier in the year for making really pretty underwear available to those of us with big busts. Lazeme started following me on Twitter around about the time I shared that post, and we quickly bonded over our appreciation for their gorgeous designs.
We’ve both been swooning over Soraya, one of the most striking of the new season styles – and, with just one of my size left in stock, Lazeme offered to send it out to me. But the bra, when it arrived, made my heart sink: the kriss-kross straps at the front, reminding me of the corset I put on a credit card when I was a tiny-framed student, and the vibrant floral design are not made for hiding your figure away in.
So what if I didn’t?
What I have discovered I love about Elomi bras, in the months since I began wearing them, is that rather than developing a basic style and then sizing up for larger back and cup sizes, they really understand what makes fuller figures look good. Everything from the cup – which is divided into sections, the better to lift and shape the bust – to the three-hook back band is designed to flatter the busty figure; but the bold designs and flirty details make it clear that this is not the definition of “flatter” which involves all black and trying to make your bits look as tiny as possible.
The bra itself is incredibly soft to the touch, and the straps lie as flat against the skin as the edge of the cup. That bold design I was so afraid of can be worn under pretty much anything, adding a secret bit of excitement to even the drabbest of outfits.
Lazeme sells a really beautifully curated selection of products. A browse of the site quickly reveals their commitment to their luxurious, pro-“me time” philosophy – and, from all my interactions with them, they’re just the loveliest bunch of people too.
When I lift weights, I get to look like a superhero. When I wear something really beautiful under my clothes, I feel like one too.
This post contains PR samples, but all views are my own and unbiased.