I wore low cut tops to show them off and I loved my body, but that has slowly changed over the years.
I'm now 40. I've been pregnant three and-a-half times and breastfed three children for a total of five years. And while my breasts have served me well, our relationship isn't what it used to be.
Bra shopping always ended in tears
Through pregnancies and feeding babies and toddlers, they've grown a lot and shrunk somewhat, then grown a lot again. At my largest I wore a 10H, and now they've settled down to a more reasonable 12G.
Bra shopping over the years has been a harrowing experience. The last time I attempted to be fitted in a regular retail store, the heavily pregnant woman giddily asked me how many weeks left I had.
I was only eight weeks pregnant.
Sports bras were impossible
When it came to exercise over the years, I tried so many things to keep my jugs from jiggling. My most successful combination was a sports bra that had thick straps that occasionally came down, coupled with a super tight crop top. The crop top had to be firm enough to prevent bounce, which meant at times this constricted my breathing.
I got a little slack over the years, life got in the way, and I didn't really exercise much (who am I kidding? I got an office job, gained weight and the closest thing I did to exercise was watching my kids at soccer practice and trying not to look like a dufus if I had to chase after the ball). I gained a few more kilos than I wanted and my hips began to hurt when I sat at my desk. Then we moved into working from home due to COVID and I was determined to put the time I saved by not commuting into looking after myself better.
So I downloaded the Nike Run Club app and started to learn how to run properly. That was the beginning of June, and that first was a comical limp-walk coupled with repeated bra strap adjustments and many pauses to catch my breath, despite my crop wanting to suffocate me.
"Hey, what sports bra do you wear?" I messaged a former co-worker on Instagram who shares my large-breasted pain.
"Berlei Pro Elite sports bra," she replied, "with a tight sports crop over the top."
"How do you get this thing on?"
I stuck my head out of the fitting room, half in the bra, with the straps still under my arms and asked, "How do you get this thing on?" I managed to get it up, done up around the middle, but the racer back doesn't open completely, so you kinda need to squirm your way into it.
After an apology from the sales assistant about the fact that there's a pandemic and "I'm sorry, I'm not allowed to touch you," I got my five-year-old daughter to help me into it.
I adjusted the Velcro straps on my shoulders and did the obligatory fitting room jump.
And it doesn't look like an old lady bra either; they look like those cute little crop tops I always liked the look of but would never wear because MONO BOOB.
This one has that cute crop top look (it has underwire, but it's just not obvious from the outside), with the support of a heavy duty sports bra. And the best bit? Despite what my friend said, there was no need for a crop to layer over the top of it. The bra itself does a good enough job to not need the support of another.
That was three whole months ago, and I'm pleased to report that I'm still running five-to-six times a week now. I'm really loving it, feeling proud of myself. I may have lost a few kilos, too, but I feel like I've gained a whole lot more - confidence in my body again and a love for something I've not been able to stick to since before I had children.
I can guarantee I would not still be running today if I didn't sort out the bra situation. They are the most comfortable things I've ever worn. At first I thought the straps were a little too tight on my shoulders, but then I realised I can adjust the straps to be comfortable while working, but then tighten them a little before I head out for a run. I quite literally never want to take them off.
When I run, I can really get into a good stride and swing my arms without feeling that weighty tug on my chest. My breasts are actually held so tightly I don't look like a woman with two giant melons stuck to her front. But I can still breathe easily!
I love the silhouette it gives me, and I've found a confidence I didn't have beforehand. I'm not being paid to write this, I've told so many people about my awesome sports bras I researched and bought them myself; I just need others to know big boobs do not mean the end of fitness or layered crop tops that also restrict your breathing.