Category Archives: Body Image

Starbucks Diet…

So some woman lost weight doing a “Starbucks diet.”

Whoopie.

Someone also lost weight eating Subway while another person lost weight eating only fast food.

Basically you can “lose weight” eating just about any old crap. I mean heck I could even go eat only M&Ms and frozen yogurt and even lose weight.

Losing weight on the scale is all about calories in vs. calories out. If you take in fewer calories than you consume no matter where those calories are from, you will lose weight.

BUT that doesn’t mean that you have good body composition OR are healthy.

Weight lost on the scale doesn’t mean instant good health and the body composition of your dreams!

Losing weight is easy.

Losing fat and being healthy is the difficult part.

I hate all of these articles about these fad diets because they make people associate losing weight to be “skinny” on the scale with health. When in reality, the two don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

I know many people hate the term “skinny-fat” but that is really what you become if you eat crap but maintain a weight that says you are skinny by BMI standards.

YOU AREN’T HEALTHY JUST BECAUSE YOU FIT INTO THAT SIZE 4 JEANS LADIES!

Health means eating the right stuff day in and day out regardless of what the stupid dang scale (that you should have thrown out the window by now) says.

AND if you eat the RIGHT FOODS day in and day out you will also be able to achieve optimum body composition if that is what your goal is.

Anyway, if you just want to “lose weight” go eat whatever you want.

If you actually want to be HEALTHY and change your BODY COMPOSITION, let’s talk about eating whole, natural foods and cutting out the processed, sugary crap.

So think twice before you start that fad diet…Think about whether or not “losing weight” is TRULY your goal…

Being one of the guys

So I got this great comment from Steph the other day:

hi, i love this blog and find such great feelings of accomplishment from lifting heavy and seeing myself grow stronger, and enjoy reading your insight.

In the next few weeks can you post something about the BENEFITS of being a woman? I feel like in the last few posts you have (understandably) been ranting about the struggle to be taken seriously as a strong and knowledgeable woman. but I think it has taken on a slant of “trying to be one of the boys” and trying to prove yourself as not just some girl. while i understand your frustration at the Ikea Girl and the frustration of seeing some women taking on the role of helpless weakling, I feel like in some areas you are thinking as yourself as having to catch up to your male counterparts- as if maleness were the norm, and being a girl is “other”
i am very interested on your thoughts on this, as i have had similar struggles as a bike mechanic- customers looking over my head to have “one of the guys” look at their bike, or asking one of my co-workers the exact same question to double check my answer… this left me feeling inferior and caused me to be frustrated with my femaleness, constantly falling short of my attempt to be a guy. It took some work to see that I had so many strengths that my co-workers did not that I think customers appreciated – such as taking the time to explain the problems with their bike, etc. I am still struggling with this- especially as i have become more interested in body building. I get so mad at myself that my boyfriend- (who does not work out) can still lift heavier things and beats me everyday on out bike ride to work

would love to hear what you think!!

And her comment got me to thinking because my intention was never to sound like I wanted to be “one of the guys.”

The intention of my last couple of posts is to show that I’m proud to be a female and that a female can be STRONG and still be FEMININE. Strength IS feminine.

I’m frustrated because people still define things like strength, competitiveness and command as MASCULINE qualities.

Which they aren’t.

I’m a woman of strength, power, competitiveness. I’m not afraid to command a room. I’m not timid. But I consider myself to be feminine. I’m not frustrated by my femaleness.

I’m frustrated by others’ view of femaleness.

But the only way to change that is to continue to be strong and spread the word.

To embrace all of the qualities that society deems to be “masculine” as feminine qualities. To be a powerlifting, dress wearing, bad at putting on makeup female. To help other women find strength in the weight room and empowerment through working out.

To embrace who I am and help others do the same.

I try to see the situations I’ve encountered over the last week as opportunities for change – not as blows to myself as a woman. I share the stories to make others aware and to hopefully lead to some change!

So Steph, be proud of your strength. Be proud of your knowledge. They define YOUR femaleness! 🙂

P.S. I also get mad when guys who workout less and are “less fit” than me can lift more than me. I also get frustrated when girls who are taller can naturally lift more than me. AKA I just hate in general when anyone can lift more than me!

Strong, Beautiful and Proud

So I’ve discussed this before with the Olympics starting shortly, but what truly is the “perfect” body?

Mainstream society tells women they should be thin and not even have that much muscle. If you base the “perfect” body off of high fashion, you should be rail thin and tall.

If you base the “perfect” body off of fitness models, you should be down to almost only essential body fat and be proportionally muscled.

If you base the “perfect” body off of a 100 different things, you will find that each one has a different ideal. Some ideals, however, are more acceptable than others.

Generally speaking, women who are big with muscle are not considered to have the “perfect” body – they are considered to be “masculine.”

Uhm…usually I’m the one flexing! 😉

Shoot sometimes even if women AREN’T BIG but can lift heavy weights are deemed to be unfeminine.

But says who?

I actually love the response that British Olympic lifter Zoe Smith had when she was told by people that she was “unfeminine” or a lesbian just because she can out lift many men.

The obvious choice of slander when talking about female weightlifting is ‘how unfeminine, girls shouldn’t be strong or have muscles, this is wrong.’ And maybe they’re right… in the Victorian era. To think people still think like this is laughable, we’re in 2012!

Actually the whole documentary about her and two other female competitors from Britain is awesome!

The “perfect” body for those three women in the documentary is a body that allows them to lift the most weight in their weight class!

The same goes for Cheryl Haworth.

Cheryl Haworth is 5’8″ and 300lbs and a top Olympic weightlifter. By mainstream standards her body isn’t considered “perfect.”

But if you were 5’8″ and 300lbs and America’s top Olympic weightlifter, would you really think your body wasn’t “perfect?”

NOPE!

I think generally our image of the “perfect” body is to focused on aesthetics. We never stop to think about how maybe our big butt or muscled arms (that society may tell us aren’t perfect) help us move and perform as well as we do!

I would much rather have a body that can run and lift and do any activity that I ask it to do than fit a standard of beauty that mainstream society has defined.

I would rather have biceps the size of the average man’s than sacrifice one ounce of my strength!

I’m glad to know that I’m not alone.

What the documentary about Zoe Smith and two other British weightlifters called “Girl Power: Going for Gold.”

Also, watch the documentary Strong! about Olympic Weightlifter Cheryl Haworth.

STRONG! explores the contradiction of a body that is at once celebrated within the confines of her sport and shunned by mainstream culture. Through Haworth’s journey of strength, vulnerability, loneliness, and individuation, we learn not only about the sport of lifting weight, but also the state of being weighty: the material, psychological, and social consequences and possibilities of a having a body that doesn’t fit.

I think Strong! is a must see. TV showings of the documentary started on Tuesday (July 24th). Here is the website if you liked to find a showing in your area!

Can we please start focusing on how strong and capable our bodies are instead of how skinny we can become?

Can we please stop thinking of muscles and strength as masculine qualities?

Surrendering to Aging

I’ve heard “older” women say, “My body just can’t look like that or do that any more. I’m just past the point of being able to have the body I want.”

That is completely and utterly bogus.

Why just surrender to the aging process? Why not work against it?

I mean people buy all those stupid face creams and get plastic surgery so why would they workout hard to help keep their body young and supple?

Yea, it’s hard.

BUT IT ACTUALLY WORKS!

You can have the body you want at any age. Getting older doesn’t mean you can’t have toned defined arms. Getting older doesn’t have to mean that you can’t do all the activities you love and enjoy!

The Man Bicep Mom is a great example of this. She lifts weights and does plyometrics. She goes on long hikes. She even sprints after her dog if necessary and goes stand up paddling. She has no problem taking on any new challenges! (Even if I ask her to do pull ups!)

She also looks great! She looks young, lean and toned.

The Man Bicep Mom is the exact reason that you can’t just surrender to aging, people!

You can also look great and be physically fit at any age!

Actually this post was encouraged by a recent story the Man Bicep Mom told me.

The Man Bicep Mom was standing in her driveway with one of her friends when Charlie, her dog, ran off. The Man Bicep Mom went sprinting after him and grabbed him and picked him up.

When she was walking back, her friend says, “Oh my gosh, Jamie! Your arms look amazing!”

The Man Bicep Mom then told her friend about all the weights she does.

Her friend says, “Well I used to have muscle, but since having my last child, I just have lost all tone. I just figured I would have to accept it since I was getting older. But I used to have tone like that!”

Of course what the Man Bicep Mom’s friend also didn’t realize is that the Man Bicep Mom is older than her.

Her friend was actually shocked and couldn’t believe that the Man Bicep Mom was 62. She even said she didn’t think that there was any way you could look that good at 62.

BUT YOU CAN!

If you commit to a healthy diet and workout routine, you can have the body you want at any age!

Age is just a number! You don’t just have to ACCEPT physical decline!!!

Don’t just surrender! Fight back! Lift and be active! Enjoy life!

Ma’am, step away from the scale!

Maybe the invisible man is messing with your scale!

A good or bad reading on a scale determines how you feel about yourself that day.

You ignore other signs of progress toward your goal because that damn number won’t budge.

Does this sound like you?

THEN STEP AWAY FROM THE SCALE!

Many women I know, myself included, have at one time or another been addicted to the scale. We would weigh every day and our moods would be affected by what that number told us.

Even if pants fit the same (or better!), or we can see our abs more, if that number said we were “fat” then we are!

But that isn’t the way it should be.

Everyone has different builds and different amounts of muscle. Just because your friend is 4 inches taller than you and weighs the same thing, it doesn’t mean you are fat!!

Weight is just a number on a scale!

There is no “right” weight that you have to be!

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again…I’ve gained over 10 pounds since starting Primal and heavy lifting and my body fat percentage has been better than it ever was before.

The weight I thought was right for me is no longer attainable unless I starved myself and stopped lifting.

I will probably never see that number again on the scale.

But my new number is healthy even though it is above what someone my height is “supposed” to weigh.

So stop weighing yourself!

Start finding other ways to measure “success.”

Do you feel healthy and fit and energized? Do your clothes fit well? Is your body fat lower?

Shoot even take circumference measurements and check in every month!

Just stop using the scale every day. Once a month or even once every couple of months is fine, but find another way to measure change in your body!

P.S. Another bad measure of “success” is clothing size. It freaking varies inside a store from style to style so it is no way to tell if you have gained or lost weight!

Defining Beauty

I’ve been watching the Olympic trials and I must admit that I’m impressed by all of the athletes’ bodies.

ESPN Magazine Body Issue

Their bodies aren’t beautiful by traditional standards necessarily.

But how can you say a body that can do such amazing athletic feats isn’t beautiful?

You can’t.

You can’t say that these bodies aren’t beautiful. All of these athletes are at the top of their sports because of their bodies. All of these athletes are healthy and can do what they LOVE because of their bodies.

A body that can accomplish things, to me, is way more beautiful than a body that is weak and frail and starved just to fit conventional wisdom’s standards!

Take Michael Phelps for example. I’m not saying he isn’t attractive but he definitely is no fitness model. BUT his body is perfectly designed to make him POSITIVELY AMAZING at swimming.

How can you say his body isn’t beautiful!?! He was at the top of his sport!

In my opinion, physical beauty isn’t defined by what percentage of body fat you have – it is defined by all of the wonderful things that your body can do!

And I’m not saying we can’t workout to “look good.”

But the thing that KEEPS us working out and eating well day in and day out, isn’t six-pack abs.

It is the knowledge that the workouts and healthy food we eat keep our bodies healthy enough to do all of the things we love!

So what really is beauty? Is it looking like the models in the magazine or having a body that allows you to do the activities you love even if your lats are too big or you don’t have six-pack abs?

Why would you want to lift heavy?

So last night I met with one of my clients, Juliana, who also does my lifting class.

Juliana has gotten super into the lifting and has grown by leaps and bounds. Her movement patterns have improved and she is now lifting human beings! 🙂

She seems to enjoy the lifting and seems to like the way she looks!

But then this week, a situation that has happened to almost all of us female lifters, occurred. It is a conversation that can scare off many beginning female lifters.

The “you don’t want to get bulky do you” conversation. Juliana had two people start-up that conversation.

Luckily I didn’t even have to convince her that they were wrong! She already knew what she was doing was right!

Lifting heavy won’t make you bulky people!!!!! COME ON!

Having extra fat is what makes you “bulky.” Eating crap so that you have bad body composition is what makes you “bulky.”

Not leaned toned muscle mass!

I’ve gained about 17 pounds in the last two years. I still wear the same clothes I wore when I was 17 pounds lighter. Actually some don’t fit as well now because I’ve shrunk in certain areas…like my waist. I’ve shrunk because I’ve lost FAT. I haven’t become any bigger by adding muscle because I cut off the fat that was previously holding its spot!

If you don’t believe me because you know I’m biased, take a look at this Women’s Health Magazine article! Mainstream media even agrees that lifting heavy is good for you! (Of course as I go to post this and click on their link from Facebook it says “Page not found”….Maybe I shouldn’t yet think so highly of mainstream media!)

BUT here is a quote from what was up there.

Lift Heavier Weights! A recent study showed that women who lifted a challenging weight for eight reps burned nearly twice as many calories as women who knocked out 15 reps with lighter dumbbells.

See burn more fat and look LESS bulky by lifting heavy weights!

Working Out – It’s no beauty pageant!

I just want to start off by saying, “I sweat A LOT when I workout.”

I literally drip.

I’ve even been told I look like a drowned rat.

I would definitely not win any beauty pageants.

Why do you want to know this?

Actually you probably don’t. But too bad! (And I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before so it should come as no surprise!)

The reason I’m telling you this is because working hard in the gym isn’t always about looking good. You’ve got to get down and dirty to get some results.

Granted you don’t have to sweat as much as me, but working up a little sweat at least is good!

Actually, why is it that women seem so much more concerned with looking “cute” in the gym than men do? (Or maybe men actually think they look good in their stained armpit shirts….)

Don’t get me wrong here. I love cute gym clothes. I just can’t bring myself to care though how I look when I workout. I actually even like to try to save my cute workout clothes for when I’m not working out and instead wear big, old, stained t-shirts when I am!

What type of woman are you? Do you dress up for the gym? If you dress up for the gym, why do you do it?

Also, are cute workout clothes just another way for us to feminize the gym a bit more?…What do you think?

Models and Body Image

I never really discuss my views on models and negative body image because I think my opinion is VERY different from the majority of people’s.

I’ve never been one to “feel bad” because of an image of a woman with a “perfect” body on a magazine cover or on the TV. I personally like seeing attractive people. I personally don’t want those actors/actresses and models to look like me.

I WANT them to be some of the most beautiful people in the world. If they weren’t some of the most beautiful people and looked just like the average Jane, why would we pay them so much?!!

But that’s just me. I know a lot of women don’t feel that way.

I know many women see these actresses and models as something to aspire to. Since they view these women’s bodies as a “goal” they believe that if they can’t attain the “perfect” body, they’ve failed.

And they try a ton of ridiculous diets and exercise programs in their attempts to achieve the “perfect” body.

I’m not making fun, but if you are one of these women, now is the time to stop!

Let me let you in on a little secret…THERE IS NO PERFECT BODY!

For one, even models aren’t perfect. Just check out the latest article about the use of Photoshop! (Or how the models looked without Photoshop!)

Everyone has flaws and you just can’t change some of them. Just learn to accept them and live a lifestyle that makes you healthy and happy!

For two, do you really want to pay people who look like you to be models? I don’t. I want them to look better than me…or I would rather be the model and make the money myself!

We pay hairstyles, trainers, masseuses…even doctors to do things we either can’t do ourselves or that they do BETTER.

Why would we pay models that aren’t the best looking?

Am I crazy? Does anyone else agree or should I have continued to keep my opinions to myself? Am I missing something?

Support

I’m a health and fitness addict, but I’ve surrounded myself with people who support my lifestyle.

It is very hard to commit to a healthy lifestyle when you go it alone – when everyone around you in someway tempts you to “cheat.”

I sympathize with clients who are trying to lose weight but their husbands refuse to diet or exercise with them. Their husbands won’t force them to eat badly, but watching someone else eat something you WANT while you stick to your diet, isn’t easy. Going to the gym while your significant other sits on the couch or sleeps in isn’t easy.

And the worst part about all of this is…You can’t just brainwash your significant other into committing to a new and healthy lifestyle….Can you?

Ok you can’t brainwash them, but here are some ways to try to convince (or trick) them into supporting you.

You don't want to be the hubby that looks like THAT behind a confident, sexy, fit woman do you?

First off, it usually isn’t hard to convince men to eat steak and bacon, which is more than acceptable on the Man Bicep diet. Actually it is usually harder to convince women to eat fatty cuts of meat.

Just look at Ron Swanson...the epitome of manliness. He ONLY eats red meat, bacon and eggs!

Our society definitely associates manliness with meat – especially red meat. So serve your man some meat and I guarantee he will be more than happy to be eating healthy with you. He will be so happy in fact that he may not even realize that he is eating well! It seems you would have way more trouble convincing your spouse to eat vegan than you would to eat red meat…at least it seems that way based on the fact that vegans feel the need to put out videos about “manliness.”

Don’t make exercise all about going to the gym. Find active hobbies that you both enjoy! This will make working out less of a chore for you and a way that you two can still spend time together! You can simple go for a walk or a hike together. Or you can try something like kayaking or rock climbing. It can honestly be anything. Being active together is a great time to bond and get your spouse to realize how much FUN being active can be!

Get results. As hard as it may be to go it alone, the end results are worth it. If you can go it alone long enough to start seeing results, trust me…he will see results too. And there is no better encouragement for him to support your lifestyle than seeing you look great, have more energy and feel healthier. He may realize he needs to change his lifestyle just to keep up with you!

Ok and let’s face it…the best way to convince them that they should support you boils down to….SEX.

  1. Eating crap like simple sugars and grains lowers your testosterone levels. That means you are less interested in sex than say when you are eating tons of meat and bacon, which actually raises your testosterone levels!
  2. Working out makes you look better and FEEL BETTER about how you look. If you like the way you look, don’t you think you will want to show off? Plus, who wouldn’t be turned on by their significant other looking sexy and lean!?!
  3. Eating well and working out usually combines to make us not only look better, feel healthier but also be more confident. I don’t know about you, but when I feel like I look good, I’m much more apt to show a little skin. I want to strut my stuff!

So don’t let your significant other sabotage your diet and exercise plan!

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