Armpit Stains & Stinky Sports Bras: Learning to Sweat Again

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There was a time I loved to sweat.

I didn’t mind the summer heat. I loved the way it radiated off the outdoor asphalt basketball courts. I let it envelop me.

I paid no mind to my sliding pads and the polyester uniforms. My mitt was always a little damp and my batting gloves were salty. Sweat was part of life on the diamond.

I played hard and I sweat buckets.

I competed. I hustled. I won.

Girls who didn’t break a sweat didn’t care. They had no talent for the game. No drive to run faster, shoot farther, or pitch longer. They sat out innings, warmed the bench for whole quarters.


Even though sweat was a badge of my game, I was never self-conscious about it. I didn’t need a towel. I didn’t change my clothes. I never worried that the drips down my face made me less pretty.

Of course, I was 13.

As I got older, I sweat less. On purpose. I stopped playing sports to concentrate on band. Not sweating in band is about as tough as not sweating during a summer basketball game. But I tried. Move less, wear less, keep your cool.

Hardly “no sweat.”

Slow down. No hustle. Stay calm.

For years – I suppose a majority of my life, really – I tried to avoid sweat, tried to stay dry.

Sometime in the last 2 years, I realized that I missed sweating. I missed the push push push. In learning how to not sweat, I forgot how to achieve.

I had tempered my drive. I had pulled back on the throttle.

I want to let it all loose.

I want to drip.

I’ve learned to sweat again – both physically & mentally. I’ve learned to embrace my desire to break free into a sprint. I’ve learned to stop holding back, let my pulse rush, and dive into the deep end.

I’m not here to sit on the sidelines. I’m here to play.

When was the last time you sweat?

16 thoughts on “Armpit Stains & Stinky Sports Bras: Learning to Sweat Again

  1. These days, I’m sweating mentally pretty much everyday. Physically, uh, not so much. Of course, I’ve always been the type of girl who would injure herself just suiting up to play sports. But I do desperately need to get a workout routine that I LOVE and enjoy and can stick to long term.

    Sometimes I think it would be easier to be one of those girls content to sit on the sidelines, but like you, that’s not me. (Metaphorically speaking, I mean. Literally, you don’t want me on your team when it comes to playing ball!)

  2. I sat here wanting to go ewww but totally getting you at the same time. Like Kathy, I’m not much of a physical sweating girl (although as a saxophonist, I hear you on the hard work of band) but I’m here to play!

  3. If you asked me ten years ago what I’d be doing today, the last thing I would have said was “exercise will be an essential part of my life.” I was fairly active as a child and spent a lot of time playing outdoors, but always HATED sports. I tried dance class for a couple of years but wasn’t very good at it and the other girls were cliquey and snooty. I would have loved to do gymnastics but you can’t just do it for fun, you have to get into competitions and I didn’t want to do that. I was a pretty good runner, but anything involving a ball was a disaster for me. I was the sort of kid who would try to calculate where the ball was least likely to go and stand there, so I wouldn’t have to worry about where I was supposed to throw it if it came my way, assuming I managed to catch it. And then I became an artist and went to art school, and if there was anything artists didn’t do (in my mind), it was sweating. How gross, how dumb-jock.

    But I wish someone had told me long ago that there is a huge difference between “sports” and “exercise.” After a brush with carpal tunnel/repetitive strain injury and getting fed up with a basically lifelong battle with low-grade depression, I joined a gym to strengthen my arms and relieve some stress. I discovered the mental calm and sense of accomplishment that comes from running further than I ever thought I could, lifting heavier weights, getting further into a yoga pose than before. I feel healthier and happier than I have in years, and contrary to what I thought as an angstful art student, being healthy and happy makes for a better artistic life than inactivity and depression. I think that pushing my boundaries physically is somehow related to pushing boundaries and self-imposed limitations in other areas of my life…

  4. I’m sweating mentally every day to build the life I want to live and fulfill my dreams.
    I’m sweating physically almost every day, either when I run (my moving meditation of choice) or when I practice yoga.

    I am sweating and I like it, armpit stains, sweaty sport bras, rejuvenated brain et al :)

  5. What a juicy post!

    I was the reverse of you, my dear.
    No sports or sweating as a girl. I played the flute, I read books, I wrote poetry. Even riding a bike, which I loved to do, wouldn’t cause a sweat.

    Now, as I sit here at age 45, I love it.


    The moist heat of summer makes me happy. I love to power walk and bike and get soaked. Even in these winters months, I hop on my Nordic Track and don’t stop till the sweat is rolling down my nose.

    In my work life, I like to sweat too. I like to go to the edge, not knowing if I’ll fall over.

    I love that phrase: “I here to play.” Totally yummy.


  6. This is a great post. We all have our different versions of “sweating” I suppose. I was on the sidelines at PE because it wasn’t where I thrived. I pushed myself to be the top of the class and the best of the best in the classroom, but not so much on the baseball field :-)

    But you’re right. There is something really healing about sweating and working hard and it just releases all that pent up energy. I should go do something right now!

  7. “I’m not here to sit on the sidelines. I’m here to play.”
    That could be my new motto.
    Like Jen anything with a ball made me run the other way as a kid but that doesn’t mean I didn’t sweat. We played hard outside in all weather. Mentally I have always been a voracious reader and eager to learn new things. Physical and mental sweat are natural for me but I have spent most of my life on the sidelines.
    I wish someone had told me being competitive does not have to mean being brutal. It’s taken more than half a lifetime to learn that and now I want to be a player! No more holding back over here either. Thanks for being a part of helping me dive in! Game on….

  8. Love the analogy! Game on! Love the picture too…I’m one of those people that needs the overt reminders like that to get moving, like the “TRY” sign I have up in my home & the “Floss B****” sign up on my bathroom mirror!

  9. I got my sweat on yesterday with Jillian Michaels circuit training. I about made myself sick. It was a good Monday workout cuz I feel it today! In school I was the chubby, sweaty girl and at least PE was at the end of the day, but then I would get my red faced self on a hot bus. Not good memories really.

    But I have decided not to sweat in a bad way for my business, its no fun. I don’t want stress sweat, I want “I am having fun and I am busy” sweat. The kind that keeps you out of depression because you can’t keep up with the rest of your life and not worried that your biz is failing. I definitely want to play and be noticed.

    Fun post!

  10. my parents signed me up for soccer when i was five. we still have the 70’s square faded photo of me in my Soccer Boppers uniform. funny enough, i’ve never stopped playing except maybe for a few years in college (too cool and art school for that). i even met my husband while playing on a co-ed soccer team here in DC (he scored a lot of goals-no pun intended).
    i still sweat buckets every monday night along with my sister playing indoor soccer. we play like we are five (just not as quick), we are competitive and wild. fun. fun. fun….the best kind of sweating.

  11. I am literally sweating right now! Haha – I just got back from a 4-mile run – I’m in training for my 2nd half marathon this coming April so I can’t slack off 😛

    I like to push myself physically (Today I finished my run with a sprint – I went as long and as hard as I could until I couldn’t go anymore. I don’t care if people we’re looking at me weird as I gasped for air or made strange running faces – I challenge them to push themselves as much as I just did!) and mentally (I’m starting to hear back from grad schools – I was just accepted to my first one today! I want my PhD in environmental chemistry and I know I will be doing a LOT of mental sweating to earn it!).

    Thanks for the empowering post!

  12. I didn’t realize how much I loved literally sweating until I injured my foot last month and got surgery! Now I miss running every day because I don’t get to.
    Figuratively, I feel the same way about work. If I think about an entire project, I might see it as a huge, impossible hill. But if I sit down and start chipping away at it (after all, even slow exercise is still exercise), the sense of accomplishment I get is unparalleled. As a newbie web designer, I love figuring something out and making it work. Nothing beats that high.
    So glad to share this with other hard-working commenters here at SG!

  13. absolutely! I need to run/walk every day. Sometimes I get frustrated with the time it takes…but in reality, I always work/live better when I get more oxygen to the old brain.

    I think it’s time for more non-competitive sports/exercise options in schools.

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