The Day I Started Loving My Calves

My calves have consistently been one of the parts of my body that I am most self conscious about. They’ve always been very thick and muscular since I played soccer as a kid, and I remember being so excited to see them shrink as I lost weight. While they did get a tiny bit smaller, they continue to be rather large and cause me problems when shopping for boots or skinny jeans that aren’t stretchy.

I’ve found myself looking at other women’s slender calves many times with a bit of jealousy. I know it probably sounds so trivial, but having to select boots based solely on the fact that I can zip them up around my calves kind of sucks. Boots are one of the best parts about Fall, and I only own ONE pair!

Because I am now at my goal weight and have to accept that my calves are the size and shape that they are and will likely not be getting any smaller in the near future, I’ve been trying to begrudgingly accept (and most of the time ignore) that they are the size they are.

And then yesterday morning that changed.

I met my friend Jess for a 6:45am (ouch) spin class at the gym, and while it was only my second class ever, it was an exhilarating and heart-racing workout even if the instructor wouldn’t stop talking. I had  chosen a bike towards the back (since I’m new-to-spinning) and also towards the side (since I had a backpack and didn’t want to go to the locker room) and it just so happened that my bike was positioned so that I got a good view of myself in the mirrors at  the front of the room.

As we were pedaling away, climbing hills, and “running” I continued to check in on myself in the mirror to make sure I had good form and wasn’t sticking out too bad since I still don’t really know what I’m doing. I was literally dripping sweat and loving that I was getting such a great workout so early in the day.

When I looked into the mirror I caught a glimpse of my calves, shiny with sweat and powerfully pumping those pedals on the bike. All humility aside – they looked GREAT. I couldn’t believe how muscular and defined my legs looked as they powered me through this workout, and though thicker than most, they were very toned and strong in the mirror.

I saw them in a different light then I ever had before.

Yes, my calves are big. But they also carry me through half marathons, help me to PR in shorter races, power me through difficult spinning classes, lunges, and squats, and are a part of who I am. Yesterday, I saw them for what they are and looked at them in a different way than I ever had before.

Yesterday, I finally started loving them.

36 Comments on The Day I Started Loving My Calves

  1. The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh
    October 28, 2011 at 9:06 am (9 years ago)

    YAY!!! Good for you for seeing those gams in the glorious way they were meant to be seen…the way others see them, I’m sure! Rock those bad boys! I can’t wait to have great calves, so I’ll live vicariously through you for now!

  2. Megan
    October 28, 2011 at 9:36 am (9 years ago)

    I love this!! I have always had bigger legs and calves from soccer and horseback riding as a girl, and was always self-conscious of them. I am starting to love them more as I do weight training b/c they always show change the fastest. Wonderfully inspritational post! I am so happy Strong is becoming the new Skinny!!!!

  3. Bess
    October 28, 2011 at 9:53 am (9 years ago)

    I have the same problem with boots! Do you have any suggestions for brands that fit?

    • Beth
      October 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm (9 years ago)

      You know I actually don’t! I’ve heard Nine West makes roomier calved boots, but haven’t tried them personally. The other brand I’ve heard is Ecco but those are a bit on the pricier side!

  4. Heather
    October 28, 2011 at 10:12 am (9 years ago)

    Amen, sister!!!! I have the same problem with boots, but there’s not much I can do about it so I’m just trying to accept it. Besides, I’m pretty sure I’d rather be muscular than skinny!! 🙂

  5. liz
    October 28, 2011 at 10:12 am (9 years ago)

    Thank you for posting this. I have the exact same issues and love boots. Nice to know others face the same thing.

  6. Laura @ A Lighter Laura
    October 28, 2011 at 10:15 am (9 years ago)

    Yay! What a great milestone! Not quite the same, but it took me years to accept that I have a big booty. No matter what size I am, I will always have a voluptuous backside. Instead of hiding it with baggy jeans and flowy dresses, I finally woke up one day and said, “I have junk in the trunk and should be proud of my curves!” I’ve been showing it off ever since 😉

    • Beth
      October 28, 2011 at 2:23 pm (9 years ago)

      That’s VERY similar. I have some junk in the trunk too, but never saw that as a bad thing! =)

  7. Samantha
    October 28, 2011 at 10:42 am (9 years ago)

    Yay!! That’s so awesome, I’m so happy for you 🙂 I too have bigger calves, gotta love soccer! I had that moment when I was in college. I worked at the gym and a male friend of mine had calves that were even bigger than mine. People would always comment on them, but he didn’t care. One day, after a 5K race that we both placed first in our age group, he said “That right there is exactly why having big calves is awesome. We wouldn’t have just rocked that course if we didn’t have em.” BOOM — it was an amen! moment.

    • Beth
      October 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm (9 years ago)

      Damn girl! I am definitely not winning any races anytime soon, but they certainly help me FINISH them. =)

  8. Pamela
    October 28, 2011 at 10:46 am (9 years ago)

    Great post! I echo Bess’ request for any boot brands that others have found for larger calves.

    • Beth
      October 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm (9 years ago)

      Hi Pamela! I’ve heard Nine West and Ecco make boots with roomier calves, but I haven’t personally tried either!

  9. Jenny
    October 28, 2011 at 10:51 am (9 years ago)

    Congrats Beth that’s awesome! And about boots, I feel I have normal sized calves and I can hardly find a pair that are comfortable. Sure, I can get them on, but in 5 minutes my calves are screaming for more blood flow. I think they make average boots for the ladies with smaller than average calves, if you ask me 😉

    • Beth
      October 28, 2011 at 2:26 pm (9 years ago)

      That actually makes me feel a little better, and isn’t something I’d ever thought about before!

  10. Amy B @ Second City Randomness
    October 28, 2011 at 10:52 am (9 years ago)

    Giiiirrrrrlll I know the boots thing- both bc they’re too tight and too loose. It’s weird. I’m convinced the only people they fit perfectly on are the models- and I’ll bet they’re custom fit for the shoots… :p So frustrating!

  11. Jennifer
    October 28, 2011 at 11:03 am (9 years ago)

    Yay!!! Unbeknownst to you, other people have probably looked at your calves and been envious. 🙂 Rock what ya got!!

    • Beth
      October 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm (9 years ago)


  12. heidi
    October 28, 2011 at 11:18 am (9 years ago)

    my friend spins like a mofo at Soul Cycle up in NYC and has been for as long as I’ve known her (we worked at lulu together in CT) and that girl had calves of STEEL! Spinning = rock star calves/legs/bum 🙂

    i loathed my ah-hem larger calves but later found an appreciation similar to yours – i mean hell i’ve run FOUR marathons, soon to be THREE half marathons and if shoe makers can’t make a boot that fits these babies, then that’s their loss. 🙂

    • Beth
      October 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm (9 years ago)

      Good point! And damn – FOUR marathons. That is amazing!!

  13. Roz
    October 28, 2011 at 2:19 pm (9 years ago)

    Hi Beth. That is SOOO great!!! Boots be damned, love that you embraced your calves the way they are. (that does sound a bit “wrong” but wasn’t meant to 🙂 ) Have a great Friday.

  14. Sara
    October 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm (9 years ago)

    My sister has been telling me for YEARS that I have awesome legs. And I have to admit – even 67 pounds ago, they definitely were the best part of my body (which wasn’t hard, given what the rest of me used to look like, though). But it hasn’t been until lately that I’ve begun to really appreciate how awesome my legs are, especially my calves. For a while, I kept waiting for them to get smaller like the rest of me, but they’re still there and I finally love them because they make me a stronger runner and athlete all around. (Plus, I can dance for hours in the club like it’s nothing!)

    That being said? I just finally bought my first pair of boots a few weeks ago and nearly cried in the store because I was SO HAPPY that boots finally fit me! Yay, boots!

  15. Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
    October 28, 2011 at 2:48 pm (9 years ago)

    This makes me think of the Nike Women campaign that I love so much – my favorite is the thunder thighs ad. I had such a hard time finding pants after I started running because my thighs got huge compared to my waist. I kept getting upset to go up in sizes but had to remind myself that gaining muscle is hot and gaining muscles means that I’m doing something right with working out 🙂

    • Beth
      October 28, 2011 at 2:53 pm (9 years ago)

      I saw the butt one a few years ago, but never saw the others. Thanks so much for sharing!! Funny, the first comment on that post is “what about calves?!?” haha!

  16. Cait @ Beyond Bananas
    October 28, 2011 at 4:52 pm (9 years ago)

    Beth, I still do not love my calves.. which I feel are far too large from both soccer.. and running only on my toes until someone made fun of me for doing it in high school.
    My calves are definitely my lease favorite part of my body. And I too have to get certain boots that will zip… and still aren’t a huge fan of the way they look.

    Maybe I will position myself in a place similar to where you sat in your spin class so I can love mine, too!!!

    • Beth
      October 29, 2011 at 11:27 am (9 years ago)

      I mean honestly if I could pick different calves I would, BUT you gotta rock what you got and our calves aren’t going anywhere. Appreciate all they do for you! =)

  17. Maya
    October 28, 2011 at 10:28 pm (9 years ago)

    Good for you!
    My calves were always very muscular and large from years of ballet. I have the same boots problem.

  18. Cheri
    October 29, 2011 at 5:40 am (9 years ago)

    What a wonderful post to wake up to this morning, Beth!

    I remember to this day, after working out in our basement in Fairfax, Virginia (about 20 years ago), hearing my husband say, “Honey, turn around.” I was thinking after losing some weight, he was going to tell me I had a nice behind. :o) Imagine my horror when he said, “Boy, you sure do have over-developed calves!”

    From that day forward, I became very aware of my calves. I know he didn’t mean it in a bad way, in fact he “claims” he was saying they were firm, toned and great. What a sweetie.

    Anyhow, to this day, I call them my, “ODCs”. (Over Developed Calves)

    After reading your post, and walking over 600 miles since February 1st, I’m feeling pretty good about my ODCs. Like yours, they have carried me to and through 5Ks and many miles more than that and in January, my husband and I will be doing the 1/2 Marathon at Disney. Oh, and yes, they too have carried me to a 50-pound LIFETIME status at Weight Watchers!

    Although I don’t have a desire for high boots (I now live in Florida) I am looking forward to getting some low boots that will look the same from beneath my SIZE 6 JEANS!

    Thank you for your encouraging and inspirational posts, Beth. While all of them have been wonderful, today’s post reached the “PHENOMINAL” status in my book.


    • Beth
      October 29, 2011 at 11:28 am (9 years ago)

      Hi Cheri – Thanks for sharing your story! I actually love the term ODCs and think I’m going to use it from here on out. Tell your husband thanks! =)

  19. Sarah with an H
    October 29, 2011 at 10:44 am (9 years ago)

    Hey! Just want to say I find your blog and all the comments TOTALLY motivational! I am just at the beginning of my journey, but I look forward coming home in the evening after the gym and reading your latest post.

    Oh, and I have big calves – former soccer player here – and even in the face of put downs, etc. from family, I’ve always loved my large, strong legs.

    Duo Boots is company from England that makes wide-calf boots, it looks pricey but the boots look gorgeous…

    • Beth
      October 29, 2011 at 11:41 am (9 years ago)

      Hi Sarah (with an H!) – So glad you found me and look forward to reading my posts after the gym – – that makes me smile! And thank you for the boot recommendation. I have to buy at least one more pair this season!

  20. Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning
    October 29, 2011 at 4:06 pm (9 years ago)

    I completely relate to your story and have had big calves my whole life. It wasn’t until I started spinning that I really began to appreciate them either- and really, I began to appreciate my whole legs! My quads are huge, but super muscular (I call ’em tree trunks) and I love them. Some women might not want big legs, but I wouldn’t trade them- they’re the one thing on my body that I’m the most proud of!

  21. Shannon [Tropical Eats]
    October 30, 2011 at 11:04 pm (9 years ago)


    and im bookmarking this too come back and read the comments tmrw morning.

    powerful calves FTW!

  22. PretoriaRunningMan
    November 14, 2012 at 3:39 am (8 years ago)

    That’s an amazing story. It’s great you’ve embraced your thick and muscular calves and it’s interesting that it took seeing them in the mirror in spinning class for you to finally appreciate them. Awesome story. And I’m glad to see you’ve inspired other women to embrace their muscular calves. But there’s just one thing missing from this post. Pictures of your calves. It would’ve been nice to see how they look. Do you have any that you can post on your next post?

    • Beth
      November 18, 2012 at 9:31 pm (8 years ago)

      Hi Pretoria! This comment didn’t show up because I hadn’t approved it yet! I’ve been away traveling for the last several days, but your comment didn’t upset me at all! I don’t really have any pictures of my calves in particular, though I’m sure you can see some if you browse the site. that said, I think we all have things we are self conscious about, however reasonable or not those feelings are. I do think its important we embrace our bodies, even the parts we don’t like, because these are the only ones we’re ever going to get!

  23. PretoriaRunningMan
    November 18, 2012 at 3:23 am (8 years ago)

    I see my comment hasn’t appeared on your post. I hope it didn’t upset you.

  24. seeka
    December 13, 2012 at 10:30 am (8 years ago)

    Thank you!
    My calves are big and muscular. Nothing that would need to be noticed by the guiness records though unlike some mean lady y seems to think.
    I needed to be cheered up 🙂
    And I should indeed be proud of my calves they’re very strong
    Thank you


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