Musings and Introspection

OH MY GAWD You’re so Muscular!!!!!!

Life can be pretty scary. Today all could be well, tomorrow you might find a little lump nestled near your right breast and you wonder if things are going to take a drastic turn in the opposite direction of where you think you might be going. I’ll put on the brakes right here and preface the rest of this post by saying – I’m totally fine, I’ve been all checked out, thoroughly mammogramed, ultrasounded, prodded and groped and it turns out I have a swollen lymph gland next to my right breast. Why? Probably because the universe wanted to remind me to wake the F*** up and manage my stress a little better and I guess because I needed some blog content. ; )

So this post is not really about the lump (swollen gland) that will not do anything longterm or shortterm to my health, but will rather just sit there and make me think about my lymphatic system and my immune function and if eating eggs or dairy or breathing all the insane pollen currently in the air in Chico or the bit of extra stress I’ve been under might be making my lymph nodes swell up. This post instead is about my encounter with the practitioner that I visited to examine me soon after I discovered the lumpy intruder. I typically stay pretty far away from mainstream medical folks – mainly because I haven’t been hit by any buses lately and also because I’m fortunately, overall, besides my adrenal fatigue stuff that I have help from Dr. Brooke with, I’m super duper healthy.

However, when foreign objects appear near my breasts, I’m going to look up someone who can help me identify what’s happening.

The morning of my exam I focused on my breathing, positive thinking, visualization of a good outcome, and pretty much tried to stay calm and focused on everything being ok. I lost my mom to breast cancer so there was some pretty real fear happening and some ugly flashbacks to my mom’s first diagnosis. I don’t often think the worst in any situation and I decided from the get go not to think the worst in this one, however the fear was real. When I reached the doctor’s office they eventually led me into an exam room where the typical procedure commenced. Strip off your top and your bra, put on this silly gown, sit at the edge of the table. The practitioner arrived and introduced herself. She was nice, very straightforward, a no bullshit kind of gal which I appreciated. We chatted for a second and she then asked me to remove my gown and raise my arms up by my head so that she could “take a look”. Like a good girl, I dropped my robe and raised my hands, kind of like you would if a police officer asked you to “put your hands up”. The woman’s eyes widened and she said, “WOW, you are really muscular, you must spend a lot of time in the gym!”

For real?? For freaking real??? I’m sitting here hoping that I’m not facing cancer and you comment on my body???? Wowzers. What if I was fat. What if I was super thin. What if I had deformed breasts or a hairy chest or a huge birthmark on my stomach. Would you say “WOW you have a blankety blank?” I think because of what I do for a living it really kind of hit home in a way that was rather shocking. I try to teach women to love and respect who they are NOW first and foremost before anything else – before talking about fat loss or muscle gain or health or learning to deadlift properly. Respect this shell you’re in, love it, own it, it’s all you have. Personally – I love my body. It’s taken me a long time to get here but I love it. I love my muscles in my arm and no I’m NOT all that “muscular” but even if I was, I would still love my muscular arms. I love my short little legs that just won’t pack on all that MUCH muscle even though I’m strong as shit for my size. I love my faded stretch marks on my butt and thighs because I earned them with my three kids and with all the times I’ve packed it on and then peeled it off. I love my breasts that have fed those three babies and that definitely don’t like like perfect nudie magazine boobs but they are/were functional and good to me and good to my hungry kids. I love my hands that have had several fingers broken and callouses from barbells and burns from cooking. I love my feet that look like my moms feet looked and my knees that will always be a little funky because I’m bow-legged and I love the small bump on my nose because that’s from my mom too and my big smile because most of the time I’m really freaking happy. I’m even learning to love the wrinkles around my eyes as I quickly approach my 40’s…

However, I am a unique butterfly. Not very many women have this kind of love or respect for their bodies. In fact, it’s not every single day that I feel this positive about what I see in the mirror. It’s a practiced effort to be OK with me – and I choose to be ok with me because what you see is all I have and what you see is ALL I will ever have so I better love it and most importantly, respect it –  or this ride is going to be a long and bumpy one. BUT – and here’s the but – why do we continue to comment, wonder, ask, ogle, or FIRST notice a woman’s appearance? What if I didn’t love myself and the comment of, “WOW you are muscular” put me into a tailspin, made me afraid to lift weights, afraid to be strong, afraid to be powerful, afraid to be a woman, afraid to be WHO I AM?!? What if I had issues buried deep inside of someone who used to tell me that how I looked was wrong, shocking, different. That day could have been a lot harder for me. I was at a doctor’s office, frightened – not at all thinking about the definition of my biceps or the size of my traps. I was sitting there praying that I wouldn’t have to go home and tell my babies that I have cancer. I was sitting there hoping that my breasts – my bosom – my womanly parts – that have been a part of me from day one would stay intact. I was sitting there focusing on my breathing and trying not to cry, wishing my mom was with me to hold my hand and tell me everything was going to be ok, and then, for whatever reason, the conversation turned to aesthetics??? I found myself stuttering something about how, “No, I don’t actually spend a lot of time in the gym, I just happen to own one, and I train a healthy amount – three days a week usually, and I am really not all that muscular I guess but ok, so what do you think about this LUMP THAT’S NEXT TO MY BOOB DOC???”

I hope this post will help you all stay focused on what is important, stay true to what IS true. You are ok. You are just fine, exactly where you are and how you look. I WANT you to have goals and I want you to know it’s also ok to want things to be different but if you hate the process, lack appreciation for how far your awesome body has brought you, the journey is going to be a lot suckier than it needs to be. Stop being shocked by what you see in others and hateful of what you see in the mirror and instead be awed with the power that we all possess.

Start being thrilled with the way each of us has the ability to stand out in the crowd because of our uniqueness and because of our innate desire to be exactly who we are. The most beautiful women I know are the women who own and love and respect exactly who they are. The women who wear their scars with honor. The women who wake up everyday and face the world with joy despite the imperfections that make them perfect. The women who don’t give up, who keep on fighting, who keep on searching for what will give them joy and fighting for what will help them live their best lives possible. The most beautiful women I know trump all others because no matter what the size of their muscles or their guts or their butts or their biceps they are WOMEN with every ounce of their beings – because they love and work and give and trust and try and cry and LIVE more than most and THAT is worth noticing and talking about. Beauty is your soul. Life is in your veins and your scars and your heart. Love is loving yourself first and respecting the house you are in enough to figure out what it needs to be ok, to be healthy, to be vibrant and alive and cherished.

So there you have it. I’m ok. I’ll always be ok. No matter what happens next, I’m alright with this person that I am, this shell that I’m carrying, I own it. I want you to also. Let’s do this!

All my love,


Sarah Fragoso

Sarah Fragoso is an international best selling author of 6 books, co-owner of the Chico, CA based gym JS Strength and Conditioning, and founder of the Everyday Paleo franchise. Sarah is the co-host of the popular Sarah and Dr. Brooke Show podcast and she also conducts workshops and retreats on the subjects of nutrition, lifestyle and fitness.

Her message is from the heart and she carries a genuine desire to help other families looking for guidance. These attributes have contributed to her successes and provide the drive to keep the discoveries coming.

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  1. Angie says:

    I’m just going to say you have no idea how much I needed this today of all days!
    Can’t wait to follow your next moves Sarah! Thank you for all you have already done and are yet to
    do! Be true to yourself and take care of you first and you will continue to SOAR!
    Glad you are ok!

    1. Thank you Angie!! 🙂

  2. Great post Sarah. Thanks for the reminder to love, take care of and respect this “house” our being has been loaned for ous time here.
    And SOOOO glad you are ok. Swollen lymph nodes are common and typically a good signal to pay attention. Love you, June

    1. Thank you so much June!!! Much love to you!!! xoxo

  3. Everyday Paleo was my first paleo cookbook, it was only second to Nourishing Traditions 🙂 These words of yours are why I follow you. I don’t know you but I like your person. Thanks for being an encouraging friend to all the women that turn to your blog. Many continued blessings for health and happiness!

    1. You are very welcome Cyn and thank YOU for following along!!!

  4. Sarah K says:

    My experience was similar but different. After a regular biopsy and a hook wire biopsy I got the all clear but was in so much pain. I asked the Dr when I might be able to run and her response “That’s right, you’re a fitness f- enthusiast.” Sorry Doc, but all the middle aged women you see should be encouraged to get active again after their tests or (unfortunately) their treatment. Calling someone a fitness fanatic is negative and unnecessary at a time when their personal circumstances are stressed.

    For the record – it took over 4 weeks. I could ride sooner but running took that long. Longer still to face the water in the shower and I still get pain from time to time 5 months later.

    I googled like crazy and couldn’t find that info.

    1. Oh my gosh Sarah, I’m so sorry you had to go through all of that!! I’m grateful I didn’t have to have a biopsy and that they could diagnose what was happening through mammogram and ultrasound and I just can’t believe how horrible your overall experience was and that you are still having pain – but I’m SO glad you got the all clear.

  5. It crushes me that you had to go through the experience of finding the lump, the fear and uncertainty while waiting for doctor results and this on top of it. However, the way you turned that experience into such an affirming and uplifting message is such a testament to the depth of wisdom, insights and compassion that is Sarah Fragoso. Keep it up!

    1. Thank you so much Kim!! Every crazy thing that happens in life often has some sort of message/lesson/gift – I guess you just have to keep your eyes open!!! Miss you!

  6. Alexandra says:

    This reminded me that during my first mammogram, I was also told that I was really muscular. I think it went something like “Wow you have really impressive pecs!” I don’t really care what other people think of my physique, so I just didn’t know how I was supposed to respond…thank you? Just awkward.

    It’s not appropriate to greet someone with comments about their skin color, or to say something about someone who is obese or underweight…yet it’s okay to comment on other physical attributes? I agree, we need to stop focusing on the external, thanks for the reality check.

    1. Thank YOU Alexandra for commenting, and I’m right there with you – I had no clue how to even respond!!

  7. Good stuff as per the usual :). I’m so glad you are healthy, wise and willing to share your lovely soul!

    1. Thank you Melanie!!!

  8. Kristin Frane says:

    Wow – GREAT blog post! I hate it when people comment on the muscles in my arms – they aren’t overly muscular at all but I become insecure and wish people just wouldn’t even comment. Thanks for a great read. Good luck with everything Sarah! Looking forward to hearing you on the Jassa Podcast again.

    1. Hi Kristin!!! I’m sure your ams are AWESOME so don’t let peoples comments ever make you insecure about anything! You are exactly as you should be – own those awesome muscles!!!! 🙂

  9. Maiken says:

    What a great post. As much as I am sad to lose the Jassa podcast I am super excited if it means getting more things like this from you! I find your words so inspiring. I really do take what you say and truly think about it – I hope you continue to be awesome because it inspires and pushes me to keep my focus and perspective on what really matters in life. So thank you! You’re brilliant 🙂

    1. Thank you so so much Maiken! Yes, I plan on pumping out more content on a regular basis now. I’m motivated!!!! Woo hoo!!!

  10. Geeralda says:

    You are such an inspiration. Love this post. Just like the Warrior one.
    Thank you…

    1. Thank you so much Geeralda!

  11. Tia says:

    Hi Sarah! Thank you so much for this beautiful post. A friend of mine lent me your book a week ago and I decided to visit your website this evening after looking through the 2nd book she lent me “Make Ahead Paleo” where your colleague, Tammy Credicott, listed your website. As a Mom changing her family’s liefestlye I need all of the help I can get! While I read your post, I laughed out loud, teared up, and argued with my 10 year old daughter about not having anymore sugar tonight as we start our journey to the paleo way of life. I was also reminded of my appointment that I will have the day after tomorrow for my overdue mammogram. Thinking about how last time I had the dreaded callback. I’ve gained 30 lbs since then as I started my own art studio in addition to being a full time art teacher and mother of two and have lost site of healthy living. I have totally let my health go (I used to run) and in the back of my mind I feel like the excess weight is hiding something. After reading your post, I know I will handle everything just fine. I admire how you view your body. It was so interesting to hear how the comment by your doctor made you feel. You are so right, we should never be judged by outward appearances and that doctor had no right to do that. I love that every “imperfection” makes you perfect. Thank you for sharing your intimate thoughts so that others may find strength through your experience. I’m glad everything turned out well for you!

    1. Hi Tia,

      So glad you found me and I just LOVE Tammy Credicott – so kind of her to list me in her references. You will absolutely handle everything just fine and please keep me posted! Big hugs to you!

  12. Liz says:

    Wow, chill out. She paid you a compliment. You work hard and ARE muscular, so why wouldn’t she comment. I doubt her comment intended to take away the reason you were there.

    1. Hi Liz. Thanks so much for your feedback. You’re right, in the moment I was probably overly sensitive to her comment because I was pretty scared and not at all thinking about anything other than the reason I was there. The whole point of this post was to simply share my experience and to hopefully help women love and respect their bodies more – exactly where the are and no matter what they might be facing – and hopefully we will notice each others power and presence and personality first before we notice aesthetics. I can tell you are powerful and awesome and totally ok with who you are simply by your comment, so thank you so much for simply being you. Have a wonderful day!

  13. Joanna says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Thank you for sharing this very intense and difficult experience and for the huge amount of positive work and energy that you put out there so consistently.
    I have followed you for years and I realise I have come to view you almost like a friend although we have never had any contact (hope that’s not too creepy…but you know what I mean…)
    I’ve never commented to you before. In fact, I never comment on the Internet – even on Facebook.
    I really, really want to offer my two pennies’ worth here though. I hope that it will help you find some peace about this and maybe other women who find themselves affected by similar comments during such vulnerable times.
    First, I’m so sorry that you had to go through this terrible time of worry and so happy for you that you had a ‘good’ outcome diagnosis-wise.
    Secondly I should say that I’m an ex-conventional medicine, now a Chinese/functional medicine practitioner, real food scoffing, heavy liftin’, nature lovin’, homeschooling, righteous momma.
    So I’m with you sister.
    Here’s my point though (I’ll get there eventually).
    I think your doctor may have had sound, clinical reasons for saying what she said.
    Part of her examination should be to look at and evaluate your overall physical and emotional appearance. If she is worth her salt, she will start assessing you from the moment she sees you. Once you’ve got your gown off – skin quality, fat deposition, musculature, posture, smell, tone of voice, you name it, are all vital parts of her clinical assessment. Most likely, the vast majority of the women that she sees (if she does a lot of breast exams) will be in a very different place from you health wise.
    The majority will carry more body fat, be more tired, more stressed, less well, be taking multiple meds, not have much in the way of muscle definition.
    If you had excess body fat, that would be clinically significant. If you were very slender, that would have been clinically significant.
    If you had a defined musculature, that is clinically significant. All these things are important factors in making an informed assessment to rule out cancer.
    “Is the patient very slender or below normal weight as the result of intended calorie restriction or is it part of a pathological process?”
    A doctor pushed for time may ask you: “you are very slim, do you mean to be, or have you had any unexpected weight loss?”
    Similarly, if we were to see defined musculature, and this will not be normal in most patient populations, it is important to quickly establish if this is of clinical significance.
    Is it benign? Does the patient work out? Is it familial? Is there something endocrine going on?Do I need to do a hormone panel? Is she (extreme scenario, but it happens) abusing testosterone?
    Now, I’m with you perhaps in not liking the way she went about asking you. Saying ‘Wow’ when a patient takes their gown off is never a good plan under any circumstances. But you are Sarah Freakin Fragoso and you just took your top off girl.
    (Sorry, couldn’t resist).
    What I really mean to say is, that it is very probable that your doctor, in what she thought was a friendly, light manner – wanted to establish the aetiology of your body shape in order to inform the clinical picture.
    It is important for her to ask. She is not being nosey while waxing your armpits. She is trying to make an informed diagnosis.
    In hindsight, her manner was clearly not appropriate for you in that time and place. She should have spoken using more professional terms: “Sarah, I notice that you have more defined musculature than the average woman we see. Do you work out at all, or are you naturally muscular? Excuse me for asking, but it is important for me to understand”
    Indeed, she may have spoken to her previous patient in this manner and spoke more casually with you in the mistaken belief that, because of your friendly demeanour, you would feel more comfortable there.
    It is a real skill to gage how to speak to individual patients and not something that is well taught. We learn from every encounter. No doubt, your doctor learned from this encounter also and may have been inwardly cringing about her own choice of words. When she saw your reaction.
    Possibly, possibly not.
    I don’t want to detract from your message here Sarah. What you have said about judging physical appearance is incredibly valuable and I thank you for writing it and sharing it.
    I could be completely wrong about your doctor, she may be an idiot. I think it more likely though that she misjudged her communication with you at a time when you were extremely vulnerable to influence. She overstepped a mark, but it is a mark that she must overstep. It is part of her job to judge and appraise you physically. This is a special relationship and cannot always dwell within socially acceptable boundaries.
    Hopefully she will deepen her wisdom and improve her ‘bedside manner’ as she goes along.

    Oh look, insanely long comment. I guess I know why I never post now

    With very best wishes to you.

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback – I agree with all of your points but felt inspired to share my story – with the hope that I might be able to help the reader to feel more secure with who they are and with their appearance no matter where they might be in their journey. Yes, you are correct, and I understand that practitioners must assess appearance but it could have been done in a more professional manner, but I really was not at all offended as much as I was simply surprised when all I was focusing on was the reason I was there. I’m so glad that I am secure and confident with who I am because if I was someone different, the lingering effects of my experience could have been pretty negative – but for me it just gave me some insight on how people tick and how maybe we should view not only ourselves but each other. Please keep on commenting, I love it – long or short or somewhere in between my goal with this blog was to create a safe place for all of us to share our perspectives, experiences, and opinions so that we can continue to learn and grow from each other. Thanks again!! 🙂

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