Unwrapping Motivation: Not All Who are Fit are Healthy

It’s been a minute since I last wrote.  Honestly, I’ve had a lot on my mind!  Between the recent inclusion of women in the UFC, mainstream acceptance of female muscle, and emphasis on body image I’ve been seeing in the media, there has been a lot to take in.  Sometimes it’s nice just to be quiet and observe. After a pause, here is my major observation: there are two conversations happening around women and fitness.  One is taking place within the sports and fitness industry, and the other is taking place outside of it—and each affects the other.

Let me sum up these conversations quickly with some tags and key ideas:

Fitness industry: metabolic disorder, too much cardio and dieting, becoming unhealthy, reaching goals, body image issues

Outside the industry:  motivational photos, muscle, too much muscle, body as work in progress, striving to get fit, reaching goals, body image issues

Did anyone spot the overlap?  While competitors inside the industry are coming forward with stories of metabolic damage, eating disorders, and ruined lives, people outside of the industry are being motivated by images of them.  And, in both circles, more and more women are blogging about body image and self esteem, while striving like hell to reach fitness and body goals.  You may also have noticed a little more optimism in the second set than in the first—I believe that the fitness industry is reaching a dangerous point of negativity and frustration, while still providing hope to outsiders who have still never heard of metabolic disorder.  So how can we be so focused on self-acceptance while still being so willing to abuse our own bodies?  Because goal attainment is extremely important to a person’s self worth; and, as has always been the case for women, deprivation, sacrifice, and self-improvement are the key motivating forces behind most fitness goals. And it can’t be ignored that somewhere, someone is making a lot of money off women who will buy anything to feel better.

This new ideal of the fit woman is being used against us and few even realize it. In fact, the conditions by which most eating disorders develop exist in extremely high concentrations within women’s sports, and it’s starting to show.  Despite messages of health and self-empowerment, we really are back where we started when Kate Moss was the reigning ideal.

What do I mean?  Well, to sum it up, I’ll use the most popular answer from a recent poll on Sioux Country which asked competitors to name one thing they wish they’d have known before they started competing:  “That I would never see my body or food the same way again.”  Many can never feel “good enough.”  Once you’ve seen yourself at single digit body fat, it’s quite difficult to feel comfortable at 18-20%.  Suddenly everyone comments on how great you look, and with all of that reinforcement, it’s difficult to go back to maintaining a normal and healthy body.  But, a woman generally cannot comfortably maintain low bodyfat for longer than is necessary to peak for her sport, and that can be really difficult to wrap her mind around.  This affects female athletes across many sports, including MMA, gymnastics, and even volleyball. The more the mainstream adopts these ideals, the more women outside of sports will be affected.

Many of you may be wondering what I mean by “metabolic damage.”  Basically, hours of cardio and extreme calorie deficits have caused hormonal imbalances that result in thyroids that become sluggish or completely shut down, reproductive hormones that cause their bodies and moods to go haywire, and adrenals that fail to function properly, among other complications. Eventually, not only can they no longer lose weight, but many gain more weight than they had to begin with, causing body images and relationships with food to deteriorate.   Somewhere floating around in that nightmare are psychological problems including but not limited to disordered eating and over-exercising.

This is increasingly common in the fitness/bodybuilding industry, but certainly not limited to it.  As acceptance of female muscle leads to new ideals in mainstream culture (which is GREAT!), unrealistic goals and misunderstandings about how to get there are making these problems more common outside of the fitness industry.  I’m already seeing them show up in my non-competitive clients in alarming numbers.

People often look at photos of competitors for inspiration and motivation.  At least, this is what they say.  But really, the motivating force behind these photos is the hope of one day looking like them.  Or maybe even half way—but even then, these photos become a measuring post.  And this is where the danger lies.  Many of these photos involve chemical enhancement, strict dieting, and more cardio than anyone should do.  Even the healthy ones have made sacrifices to their social lives, lifestyles, and careers that would be unrealistic for most people. I would invite anyone to look closely at my lifestyle and see how, exactly, I make it work—most of you would turn away immediately and readjust your goals and expectations.  If you want to be an elite athlete, you need to train and eat like one, definitely.  You might even look like one.  But not everyone needs to be a competitive athlete, and it’s ok to accept this.

And that brings me to my point: I promote health and fitness, yes, but I do not promote spending one’s entire life in the pursuit of looking better or different.   And, as much as I advocate for family fitness and women in strength sports, it’s just not realistic for most people’s households to revolve around fitness 100% of the time.  Yes, for most people fitness involves some level of sacrifice.  Like, sacrificing pancakes for oatmeal, and sacrificing Big Macs for home cooking.  But not like sacrificing all carbs, avoiding all social situations,  or depriving yourself all day every day in the name of glory.  There is no glory in that.

Fitness inspiration photos capture one of two things: someone who took drastic measures to look like that for a very short time, or someone whose life revolves around fitness.  Both are fine—I do both, and I know firsthand that both can be done in a healthy way.  However, it is not for everyone, and therefore the apperance is not for everyone. Strive for something else!  The question you have to ask yourself is, “what are these photos motivating me to DO?”  Diet harder?  Lose more weight?  Even the photos that show women working hard often depict THIN women working hard.  Or they focus on the [often temporary] end result, instead of the process.  Not to say that thin women can’t work hard, or can’t be motivating—the photos often focus on the reward of thinness, and not the work it took to get there.

To be clear, a large majority of what you see from the fitness industry is unhealthy.  Diets with no variety, two hours of cardio per day, demolished families, budgets, social lives, and even metabolisms are all heavily prevalent.  More and more women are coming forward with stories of eating disorders and metabolic disorders—many of whom will never compete again, nor ever get back even to the weight they started at!  And, sadly, many started in the same place: simply wanting to reach a body ideal.

I have been in that place.  During preparation for my first show, I was doing over two hours of cardio a day, while lifting and eating only 1000 calories.  After the show, when it was time to go back to looking normal, suddenly “normal” was no longer good enough.  I felt like everyone expected me to look like I did for the show, and I soon developed a very unhealthy relationship with food and my body that has taken me years to correct.  The second show was better, but afterward I took two years off with no plans of ever competing again.  I had a new goal: to let a cookie just be a cookie.  To eat a damned bowl of cereal from time to time.  To ban food guilt from my life forever.  And, honestly, I won the battle and went on to compete again.  In fact, this blog was created in the hope of reaching people with a new idea of what it means to be fit and healthy.

So what does this mean for my non-competitor readers?  First, it is so important to have a clear understanding of the entire process—before, during, and after.  Here are some tips to help you stay in the safe zone with your fitness lifestyle:

  • Set appropriate and realistic goals
  • understand fully what it will take to reach and maintain them
  • be able to picture life “after” you’ve reached your goal
  • Single digit bodyfat will not happen year round for women; for most women, bodyfat in the low to mid teens will require ridiculous sacrifices—if this is your goal, be prepared to make them
  • Unless you are competing, I do not recommend setting goals that you have no intention of maintaining
  • HALF OF YOUR FITNESS GOAL SHOULD INVOLVE ACCEPTANCE OF YOUR BODY AS-IS.  If you can’t accept yourself now, how will you accept yourself after you’ve lost weight?
  • DO NOT divide food into black and white categories; once you view food as “good” or “bad,” it’s difficult to undo.  (It is ok, however, to recognize “fuel” and “not fuel,” such as McDonald’s)
  • Eat a cookie every now and then, and don’t you dare feel bad about it

If you are looking for healthy inspiration, I strongly recommend getting plugged into these two places:

http://www.siouxcountry.com/

http://www.sweatybettiesfitness.com/

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Post-Contest Update, and New Recipes!

As many of you know, I competed in an NPC bodybuilding show a week ago.  The 16 weeks leading up to the show were incredible, and as always, I learned so much.  Every time we compete, we become scientific experiments of cause and effect.  The greatest bodybuilders are usually the smartest–to be successful, it’s important to understand how the body uses food.  “If I eat _____, then my body responds by ________.”  How cool is that?  But this time, I came at it from a slightly new perspective.  Those of you who have been following my blog from the beginning may recall an earlier post in which I explained why I took a break from bodybuilding, and what I had hoped to gain—and keep–by coming back.  I think my most recent experiment has a lot to offer in terms of how we reconcile body recomposition with eating for overall health.  Sometimes it seems like two different conversations, and I feel that I was successfully able to blend them.

About two weeks post-show. A little fluffy but thank god the cankles are gone!

About a week and a half before the show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bodybuilding nutrition is often so focused on macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) that micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) from food sources often get overlooked.  Tired of knowing we weren’t as healthy as we could be, last fall my family took on an adventure—we wanted to go package-free, rely mostly on local produce, and find a more sustainable meat source.  We did not want to continue consuming the pounds and pounds of chicken and overlooking the importance of fruits and vegetables.  We went from a chicken-with-vegetables outlook, to a vegetables-with-chicken approach.  In doing so, we eliminated our multivitamins and several supplements that we were taking.  A year later, we are still maintaining our new lifestyle.  In fact, we’re just getting better and better at it!

Backstage with a client–she ROCKED her first show!

My decision to compete presented a problem—we knew how to use foods to manipulate my body, and we weren’t sure how our new lifestyle would fit into a bodybuilding contest preparation diet.  With some adjustments, we continued right on as best we could and I actually benefitted greatly from the new approach.  My meals were big, filling, and absolutely satisfying.  Using a variety of vegetables, I was able to blend flavors and textures that transformed my boring chicken into amazing meals.  Where before I would eat 4 ounces of chicken with a little bit of green beans, now I was eating mounds of vegetables with a little bit of chicken!  I was also able to incorporate my green smoothies—a boring, watery protein shake was transformed into a very satisfying smoothie by adding half a cucumber, a cup of spinach, and some cinnamon!

I basically ate my weight in fruit while everyone else was eating peanut butter cups. To each her own!

The one question everyone kept asking me, and understandably so, was “what are you going to eat when you’re done?!”  In my previous shows, I gave this a lot of thought.  Oh my gosh did I think about it!  I actually brought an entire cake to the restaurant after the show and dug in by myself with a spoon!  The next year may or may not have involved gas station goodies for the entire 8 hour drive home…but this year I had a different plan for my recovery phase, so I found a gluten-free, vegan, no-sugar-added cake that I had planned to eat right after.  But a funny thing happened—I found that I genuinely, after all of those weeks of dieting, really just wanted some fruit!  Similarly, I didn’t have any big cheat meal planned for the days after the show.  I had an eggplant on my kitchen counter that I was dying to cook—and so after an initial cheat meal (sushi!) and an omelette the next morning, the first thing I did was cook that eggplant!

Since then, I’ve had my cheat meals on Saturdays, but with the extra calories and macronutrients in my life, I’ve been mainly focused on having fun with the “clean” whole foods I already loved and grew to miss while dieting down.  If I had to make a list of these foods, I would include coconut, nuts, quinoa, lentils, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, almond milk, and the variety of fruits and vegetables I use in my green smoothies.  On a bodybuilding diet, everything you put in your body “counts,” so for instance, while kale is a great “clean” food and a nutritious green vegetable, a physique athlete must still be conscious of the fact that it contains three times the amount of carbohydrates and calories as other greens such as collards and mustard greens.  It might now seem to matter much, but when you’re hungry it’s easy to eat three or four cups of sautéed kale at a time!

I have made so many awesome meals since my show!  Among them has been a pasta-less lasagna, a fruit/nut “cookies”, a veggie saute/sauce that blew my mind, and a new post-workout protein bowl.  Enjoy!

No-Pasta Lasagna

  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into ¼ in rounds
  • 1 small container of fat-free ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • spinach

Sauce:

  • 5-6 tomatoes
  • carrots (the more the merrier, I say!)
  • zucchini or yellow squash (or both!)
  • onions (or onion powder—Mike hates onions)
  • minced garlic
  • fresh basil leaves (dried would work)
  • oregano
  • rosemary
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

1.  Lightly salt the eggplant slices and lay out on a towel for about 20 minutes.  Lightly press another towel on top of the slices to absorb any excess water.  This dries out the eggplant just a little and keeps it from getting slimy when you bake it.

2.  Place the sauce ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.  If you make a batch of this sauce ahead of time it is so much more flavorful!  But in a pinch you can make it as needed.

3.  Thoroughly mix egg and ricotta; set aside.

4.  Lightly salt the eggplant slices and lay out on a towel for about 20 minutes.  Lightly press another towel on top of the slices to absorb any excess water.  This dries out the eggplant just a little and keeps it from getting slimy when you bake it.

5.  Lightly grease (I use Pam) a large glass baking dish.  Spoon a small amount of sauce into the pan to form a light coating.  Lay down slices of eggplant, slightly overlapping, to create a single layer in the bottom of the dish.  Spoon ricotta mix onto the eggplant; use the back of a spoon to spread evenly.  Cover with a layer of spinach, and then add another layer of eggplant.  Cover with the remaining sauce.  If you prefer, you can cover this with a layer of mozzarella cheese before baking.

6.  Bake at 425 for about 20 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling at the sides.

Fig/Banana/Oat/Peanut Butter bars

  • 6 large figs
  • 1 large, very ripe banana
  • 2 cups oats
  • ½ cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup coconut flakes (look for some with no added sugar!)

Mash the figs and banana until blended and in almost liquid form.  Mix in oats, peanut butter, and coconut.  Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.  Cool in pan, and refrigerate.  Serve when cool.

Vegetable “sauce”

  • ½ lb okra, sliced
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • yellow squash, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1tbsp olive oil in pan; add garlic and heat for about a minute.  Add vegetables, onion powder, salt, and pepper.  Cook until squash has reduced in size and okra is soft.  This will look like a slimy mess, but when I served it over mashed potatoes with baked chicken, my daughter fell in love with this flavorful “vegetable gravy”!  Okra can get slimy, and this characteristic makes it ideal for soups and stews.   Otherwise, people fry it or avoid it altogether because they don’t know how to avoid the slime.  Embrace the slime in this saute!

Fitness and Body Image: The Existential Crisis

I have never really known “what I want to be when I grow up.”  At almost 29 years old, this would seem to be a problem, no?  But it has recently dawned on me that I am doing exactly what I have always wanted to be doing.  I basically made up a career out of intersecting interests and talents.  Even as recently as a year ago, I wished on a star that whatever I ended up doing, it would involve helping people.  I was afraid of getting sucked into a career of selfishness.  And secretly, I have hoped since I was a child that whatever I ended up doing, I could be writing.

“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I do not feel I should be doing something else.” –Gloria Steinem 

Well, shit.  This isn’t exactly what I had in mind.  I thought I’d be in Africa volunteering and writing about it.  Turns out, I help people get fit and I write about it.  Fitness?  Really?  God, are you sure—this must be some kind of mistake!? Not exactly earth shattering stuff, and I have a tendency to get discouraged.  How is fitness important in the grand scheme of things?  Why, of all freaking things, would God put me to use in this way?  I have spent the past two years running desperately away from fitness because, as important as it is to me, I haven’t wanted to see its importance to others.  I wanted to employ my mind, not my body.  I wanted to lead people, help people, and write. Once I use the word “bodybuilder” to describe myself, no one remembers or hears anything else I say.  This used to severely frustrate me!  Besides that, I have two degrees in Women’s Studies—if I were supposed to focus on fitness for a career then why didn’t I go for kinesiology or some other health-related degree?

I have recently changed my outlook on things, as I have come to realize what it really is I am supposed to do with this opportunity.  The truth is, my purpose in life is not to push fitness on anyone.  I am not here to send the message that going to the gym is a life priority.  I encourage it, and I love it and want to help others learn to love it, but that is not the end all of what I am called to do.  My degrees in Women’s Studies have been, ultimately, focused on body studies—how we think of the body, how we learn to use our bodies, body image and the influences surrounding it.  Through bodybuilding I have pushed the boundaries and helped to redefine it.  And these things put me in a perfect position to do what it is I really am meant to do: affect change in the way we think of our bodies.

For some people, positive change happens when we employ our bodies in some physical way, pay attention to what we put in our bodies, and find pride in what our bodies can do.  For others, it comes from the realization that “bad” food tastes good and fat is ok.  I am not a mlitant health and fitness evangelist—I am not trying to save the world by forcing everyone into fitness.  If you don’t work out, we can still be friends.  I am, however, attempting to question the norms of what we consider healthy.  I am calling into question what healthy can look like, what bodies should look like, and how we define fitness.  If you define fit as skinny, or use the term “fat” as a slur, then the odds are pretty solid that we are not friends.

There are, truly, people who are content with their bodies and have absolutely no desire to change them; I envy these people.  But there are also a lot of people who have given up on themselves and would rather pretend to be ok with their bodies than to face the public admission (by way of gym membership or any other public act of fitness) that they want to change and don’t know how.  I have met both types, and I have also been surprised at my own mistakes in identifying them.  I am frequently surprised to learn that people I’d have never expected to care are suddenly in the pursuit of fitness.  I have learned that there is no community, no subculture, no type of person, no religious or political subset, that is immune to the desire to be fit.  Fascinating!

Do you ever catch yourself prioritizing fitness in a way that scares you?  Really—in the

This is one guy who could have used some heavy compounds!

grand scheme of things, how important are these miles I’m about to run?  People are starving and here I am counting calories.  I call this my Fitness-Induced Existential Crisis.  But I am reminded that people commit suicide over body image and low self esteem.  They eat themselves to death in self-pity.  They harm others to make themselves feel better.  Maybe Napoleon wouldn’t have been such an asshole if he’d have realized short guys make good squatters.  Maybe Hitler wouldn’t have committed mass genocide if he’d have learned to deal with his own insecurities.  Did I really just suggest that fitness could change the world?  Don’t let me make more of it than it is.  My point is that rather than reaching out for help, people hide their own insecurities and act them out in terrible ways.  My job is to send the message that we all have them, and we need to rethink the sources of those insecurities.

There is no moment more absolutely flattering than when a woman comes to me for help with health and fitness—this moment is so incredibly personal and requires a tremendous amount of trust.  For her to approach me, she has to feel certain that I will not judge or criticize her, and she has to feel comfortable admitting to me that she wants to change.  As a trainer, it is absolutely necessary for me to honor this trust.

To that point, I want to thank every single reader and subscriber to my blog.  If you’ve clicked on my blog EVER, I’ve gotten your attention to the extent that you care what I have to say.  If you’ve made it to this paragraph, then I’ve succeeded as an entertaining writer.  If you’ve visited my blog and read more than one post then I have succeeded as an engaging blogger.  But these things also mean something more—it means that I have earned your trust.  Thank you; my site stats alone are reminders that what I’m doing with my life is not insignificant and unnecessary.

Tell me about you—your experience with body image, your outlook on health and fitness, your struggles and triumphs.  Leave a comment below!

Poop Talk

Alright, so here’s the deal: you need to…er…go…more.  First, let’s just be frank and get it out there: I’m writing a blog post about poop.  More accurately, about pooping. The more I tiptoe around it, the worse I’m making the problem.  We’re all friends here, right?  But I will make a deal with you: in order to make this comfortable for everyone, I am going to avoid horrible puns and poo-related jokes.  You are now safe to read on.  Note: There are no pictures because…well…what would be an appropriate image for this topic?

I recently wrote a Facebook status about a phenomenon that I have experienced with my female clients: our fitness—or at least, our perception of it—is often profoundly affected by our pooping regimen.  Or lack thereof.  It happens often that, for no reason at all, we are bloated and heavy-feeling.  Our weight loss is on hold.  We are doing everything right, and yet we can’t figure out what the heck is so…off.

For competitors, this can be a nightmare!  We are looking for steady progress on a weekly basis.  While we don’t judge our progress solely by the bathroom scale, we do rely on a combination of how we look and what we weigh.  So imagine our mortification when, after five days, we are WORSE when we are supposed to be better!  After a while we learn our bodies well enough to know, for example, that Tuesday is not a good day—we’ll poop by Friday and then Saturday everything will be back to glorious perfection.  Until the following Tuesday…sigh.

But even for those who are not competing, the mental frustration can be devastating.  Again, you’re doing everything right—you’ve been seeing some great progress, but then for no reason at all you’ve had five days of steadily getting worse.  Maybe the difference is on the scale and maybe it’s not; maybe your pants are a little tighter when they should be looser.  Maybe you just feel…yucky and you can’t quite put your finger on it.

Don’t immediately assume that you’re doing something wrong!  It is common for me, at this point, to ask a client very bluntly: “when was the last time you pooped?”  (Yes, my friends, your trainer will know more about your poop than your immediate family members).

And then, just when you can’t take it anymore, you have what I called in my Facebook status a “hallelujah moment” when all of your progress comes together at once.  You’ve pooped!  You feel flatter, lighter, healthier, and…just plain better.  This moment feels like it deserves some kind of applause and recognition, but you can’t tell anyone.  (Unless you’re my client, and then you’ll tell me and I’ll be excited too.  I love my job).  Maybe you pooped once or twice this week already but you know it wasn’t…well, you weren’t finished.  I’m not talking about those.  I’m talking about the one that you’ve waited for at least a week for.   The big one.

How can we have more of those?!  Is this what men do every morning?  Is this why they have so much pride in their poo?  Ah-ha!  This must be why they show each other and talk so openly about it!  They’re onto something.  Why the hell can’t we do that?  As you may know, my academic background is in gender and body theory—how do we think of the woman’s body?  How do we use our bodies, move our bodies, and constrain our bodies?  How have we come to be the way we are?  What does it mean to “throw like a girl,” and why do we do that?  These kinds of questions have helped me re-learn how to use my body for things like pullups, squats, and other movements that I struggled with as a result of social pressures to sit, act, and present myself “like a lady.”  And they have helped me learn to poop.

What does theory have to do with poo?  (Go ahead, make a joke).  Maybe the answer is less about food and more about attitude.  Or at the very least, a combination of both.  When was the last time you made pooping a priority?  I swear sometimes my partner only goes to the bathroom every morning to read a magazine.  Can he really be pooping all of that time?  Whether he is or isn’t, he’s got a good idea—he reserves time every morning just for it.  Nothing—I do mean nothing—comes in the way of his “morning routine.”  Maybe we could all benefit from this undying commitment to the toilet.

If you’re still not convinced that pooping is a learned behavior, then you’re wondering what the heck you can do about it.  As for the science of the body and how to establish regularity, I think it’s going to depend on the cause of your problem.  While I believe that, to some extent, the best explanation for why these issues seem to primarily affect women probably has to do with the mental blockage I have discussed, from a physical standpoint I refuse to believe that every body is the same.

There are so many websites that offer tips.  So much contradictory information—one site tells you what not to eat, and the next tells you to eat it.  Everyone has a different answer, and if you’re like me, you’ve tried them all.  I hate to tell you that I don’t have The Answer.  But I have compiled a few posts that have informed me from multiple perspectives.   Drawing from the links below, here is a rough synopsis of common causes:

  • Not enough fiber
  • Not enough water
  • A lack of time
  • Gluten allergy
  • Grain intolerance
  • Not enough grains (see the contradiction?!
  • Too many legumes
  • Too much red meat
  • Dairy allergy/intolerance
  • Too many processed foods
  • Too much caffeine (although coffee is my perfect go-inducer)

Is your head spinning?  Try these five steps first:

  1. Drink more water –buy a gallon jug, fill it, and aspire to finish at least half of it by the end of the day
  2. Reduce or eliminate processed foods
  3. Make time every morning to poop; if you don’t have to go, just sit there for ten minutes
  4. Add more green vegetables to your diet (try my green smoothie below)
  5. Add a probiotic to your diet

From here, it’s a process of elimination (joke not intended) and experimentation.  But don’t try eliminating more than one thing at once, or you’ll never know which one worked!

Today’s Green Smoothie Recipe:

1 cucumber, peeled
2 cups spinach
1 carrot
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 avocado
1tsp stevia
1tsp cinnamon
5 ice cubes

Blend together, drink while cold.  Just trust me on this one.  🙂

For an overview:
http://www.realage.com/gastrointestinal/bowel-health

Legit, helpful tips:
http://welladjustedbabies.com/13-tips-for-better-bowel-health/

From the Gluten/Grain People:
http://glutenfreehelp.info/gluten-free-research/gluten-sensitivity-and-constipation-understanding-the-link/
http://www.smart-healthy-eating.com/foods-that-cause-constipation.html

From the Paleo people:
http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/05/treating-constipation-without.html
http://healthyedge.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/the-paleo-diet-for-constipation/

Great Greens!

As some of you may recall, last fall and winter I took a hiatus from meat.  In fact, my whole family did this with me.  We did this for two reasons: first, we didn’t feel good about the ethics or sustainability of the meat we were buying, and second, we saw it as an opportunity to re-learn how to prioritize vegetables.  We realized that we would plan a meal around what carb source and meat we wanted, and then the vegetables would be thrown on sometimes and other times left off completely.  We became interested in more ethical and sustainable food sources in general, and this led us to our local farmers market and eventually to a close relationship with one or two local farms.

If you’re interested in my homemade pasta, check out my recipes.

 

If you missed those early posts and want to go back to where I started, you can READ MY OLD POSTS HERE.  You’ll find some of my first recipes and experiments with package-free eating.

 

 

 

Our break from meat forced us to look for other sources of protein (like lentils!), and our weekly trips to the farmers market forced us to get creative with vegetables we had never even heard of but which were in season.  During this time we also gave up all packaged foods in attempt to understand why and how pre-packaged foods became so popular and necessasry.  I learned to make tortillas, pasta, bread, sauces, and a number of other staples that I had always assumed must be bought in the store.

Since then we have identified the products we’d rather buy than make ourselves, and we have returned to eating meat, but the lessons learned during that time have forever changed how we approach food and make meal choices.  It also brought us closer together as a family, and my daughter officially became our team member, willing to take on adventures with us.  Buying foods like pasta and breads is a much different experience now that I know we aren’t dependent on someone else to make them.  And there are still some foods, such as sauces, that I will probably never buy pre-packaged again.

Contest prep diets never tasted so good!

Now that I am back to competing it is a whole new experience now that I have had time to re-prioritize the role that vegetables play in my diet.  I am currently on a very low carb nutrition plan (I don’t recommend this normally, but I’m 5 weeks out of a competition) and not feeling anywhere near as hungry and miserable as I did in the past at this time.  I now eat copious amounts of kale and ENJOY it, where before I would just choke down some spinach as an afterthought.  Where before I’d eat 4 ounces of chicken and some veggies on the side, now I see my meal as a full plate of delicious kale with a little bit of chicken to go with it.  Totally new outlook on the same macronutrients.

I have also benefited greatly from the green smoothies I learned to make from my CSA share.   Each week I get a large basket full of more veggies than I know what to do with!  A simple solution is to make either a sauce or a smoothie out of them.  What does anyone do with two pounds of cucumbers, knowing that in a week they’ll get two more?!  For me, kale and cucumber pair very well with some diet Sprite for a delicious and easy to make green drink that not only satisfies my taste buds, but also adds nutritional benefit to my life and takes advantage of the bountiful harvest from my local farm.

 

So now for some recipes and ideas!

Sauteed Kale:

I got this recipe from my mother-in-law, whose kale sautee tasted like candy to my low carb taste buds!  I enjoyed hers so much more than my own that I asked her to walk me through EXACTLY how she made hers.  Somehow just the smallest differences made a huge difference in taste!
2 bunches raw kale, chopped
1 whole onion, chopped
½ cup apple cider vinegar (ok, who am I kidding…just dump some in!)
1 cup of water
1 or two cloves of garlic, minced
1tbsp veggie boullion
3 tsp sweetener (I use stevia)

 

Add chopped onion to lightly greased pan; cook until onions are transluscent.  Add kale, water, boullion, and cider.  Cover just long enough to allow the kale to shrink up.  Uncover and stir; add garlic and sweetener.  Cook on medium heat with lid on until stems are soft.  The amount of time this takes depends on your kale—some takes as little as 20 minutes, but I’ve gotten batches that took 40 minutes.

Green smoothie (makes two)

Honestly, you can just make this with whatever you have handy.  You can’t mess it up, but it’s important to balance the bitterness of the greens with something sweet like carrots, cucumbers, apples, etc.  Sometimes I leave out the apple when I can’t have the extra sugars, and it tastes just fine!

1 whole cucumber  
2 whole carrots
1 whole apple
¼ lemon (with peel!)
1 or 2 cups of greens—any will do!  Romaine lettuce, turnip greens, kale…whatever you have on hand
1 tsp stevia, sugar, honey, etc
water or diet soda such as sprite or fresca

Add all ingredients to blender; blend until smooth.People often ask me what kind of blender I use for these, and to be honest I use whatever cheap blender I bought on sale at Target two years ago!  This blender has been through hell with me but continues to make good smoothies.  I won’t tell you that sometimes I don’t have to chew the pulp a little, but since I don’t know how smooth a Vitamix or other expensive blender would get it, I’ll just continue to chew my pulp happily.  J

Is Your Gym a Community, or a Destination?

FIT IS NOT A DESTINATION.

IT IS A WAY OF LIFE. 

Maybe you’ve seen this quote on a T-shirt, in a Facebook status, or plastered across a photo of some girl doing dumbell presses in her underwear.   In any case, it’s true (but not because the chick working out in her underwear proves it). But I’d like to offer a new one:

A GYM IS NOT A DESTINATION.

IT IS A COMMUNITY.

Fitness is not something we do, it’s the way we live our life.  My fitness is not over when I leave the gym.  I don’t take a break from my life to stop in and do a few curls—rather, I pursue a life that supports my workouts.  It all works together.  I always tell new clients that if they can go to bed at the same reasonable time every night and wake up at the same reasonable time every morning, they are half way to fit.  I can write you an awesome nutrition plan and stand next to you while you do lunges, but if you can’t organize your life well enough to eat regularly or work out dilligently, then you won’t get very far.  While not everyone needs to be as rigorously disciplined as a competitive athlete, if you desire to be fit then it is necessary to integrate fitness into your lifestyle.

Your fitness also depends on the people you surround yourself with.  Do your friends respect your lifestyle?  If the answer is NO, then you need new friends.  (Don’t worry, if you pursue fitness long enough your unfit friends will give up on you after you turn down repeated invitations to drink or eat pizza).  In order to accomplish any lifestyle goal, you must join a  community of like-minded people.  And where else would you expect to find this community but at a gym?

Unfortunately, not all gyms are equal.  I have been fortunate enough to have been a part of gyms that are like family, but I have also seen plenty that weren’t.  Oh, they all try, but at best often end up forming cliques that make many members noticeably excluded.  How many of those excluded members stick around long enough to see their fitness goals happen?  When people don’t feel welcome at a gym, they give up.  Don’t let this happen to you!  If you go to a gym and feel excluded, out of place, or lonely beyond the first couple of weeks, then you are at the wrong gym!

Father, son, and the instructor who teaches them both. How cool is that?

I am very lucky.  At my current gym, everyone is welcome.  And I don’t mean that in the bull$** utopian way, or because I’m a bodybuilder and I just naturally fit in at a gym.  At my gym, our kids can train at the same time as their parents.  We invite each other to birthday parties, outings, dinners, and events.  We friend each other on facebook and support each other.  Husbands and wives with very different goals can train at the same time.  A hard-core professional fighter can take the same class as an accountant in his mid-40s trying to get fit for the first time.  Stay at home moms become instant badasses, and people in all stages of fitness lift right alongside bodybuilders.   Some people even lift with their kids.  And everyone talks to everyone.  I dare you to visit my gym and escape without someone introducing herself.

 

I recently had the pleasure of visiting a gym in Maine that I haven’t been to in about three years, and when I got there it was like nothing had changed; the owners were still motivated, excited, and full of projects for themselves and their clients.  After all of these years, nothing was stagnant.  They were my first experience with what a gym community felt like.  The owners, Sean and Wendy, engage their members on Facebook regularly.  If you join their gym, you are instantly a part of a community and you know it!  They will know your name, what you do, who you live with, and what your goals are within your first week.  You will not hide or fade into the wallpaper, but no matter how shy you are you will not want to.  Sean and Wendy are always up to something (muahahaha), and you become a part of it just because you’re there.  Likewise, they become a part of your goals whether they are training you or not, and eventually you’ll start to realize that the encouraging voices in your head sound suscpiciously like Sean and Wendy…

The only downsides to gyms like the ones I’ve described are actually the benefits you need in order to maintain a fit lifestyle.  For instance, it will never fail that you’ll run into Wendy at the grocery store on the one day you decide to give in and buy a bunch of junk food (happens more than you can even guess).  Or, where I am currently, if you haven’t been to the gym in a while, someone will call you on it right on your Facebook wall for everyone to see.  But guess what?  Any one of us will publicly congratulate you for something you’ve accomplished, such as a difficult lift you finally got, or for sticking it out when you would normally give up during a cardio kickboxing class.  You should feel like your goals, no matter how big or small, matter to the other people in your gym—because they should.

Tell me they don’t look interesting and up to something? 🙂

So look around your gym—are you invisible?  Does the owner know your name, or do you even know the owner?  Do people from your gym say hi to you in the grocery store?  Do you have at least one person, outside of your training partner or close circle of friends, who encourages you in the gym?  Do you feel like if you stopped going to the gym no one would notice?

If you know your gym is not also a community that welcomes you and your family, switch gyms!  If you’re in Maine, visit Bangor Brewer Athletic Club and say hi to Sean and Wendy for me.  If you’re in the Atlanta area, come visit us at Iron Clutch Fitness!  And you know what?  If you’re nowhere near either of these gyms but you want to be a part of a fit community, check them out on Facebook!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bangor-Brewer-Athletic-Club/148939615124253

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Iron-Clutch-Fitness/246131018105

What Fit People Really Think of You

Maybe you’ve said, or overheard someone say, one or more of the following:

  1. “I want to hire a personal trainer, but I have to get in shape first.”
  2. “I am too out of shape and I feel self conscious in the gym, so I want to lose a few pounds before I join.”
  3. [Loudly, in public, usually to the ‘more fit’ friend]  “I was good today.  It’s 7 p.m. and all I’ve had was a salad and some crackers.”
  4. “I feel so awkward, like everyone is laughing at me when I go near the weights.”
  5. “My body is ruined anyway, so why even bother trying to lose this baby weight?”
  6. “I feel stupid running with a stroller.”
  7. “I’ll get back in shape once my kids are older.”

I can’t count the number of times I have run by a woman on the trail in a baggy t-shirt and a few extra pounds who looks down self-consciously and avoids eye contact when she sees me coming.   Or a woman running or walking with an infant in a stroller and a look of shame in her eyes.  I want so badly to pass out cards that say “hey we’ve all been there, rock on!”  How about the women who sit on the sidelines at the gym and watch what the rest of us are doing, dying to jump in?  Or the ones who cling to the treadmills, honestly believing that they have no place in the weight room?  Worse still—the ones who never even try because they are too self conscious about being judged.

And it’s impossible sometimes to know: do we avoid fitness because we’re not motivated, or do we lack motivation because we’re self-conscious about our lack of fitness?  I can tell you that when my thyroid was at its worst (just 6 months ago!), it was probably a combination of both!

Who says you need a babysitter?

Ladies, and I mean all of us, in whatever shape we happen to be in—where’s the love?  Shame on those whose judgement has caused the problem (though this is a problem that runs in cycles, so who knows who deserves the blame).  Here’s the truth: WE HAVE ALL BEEN THERE. Whether you’re already fit, trying to get fit, or looking on from the sidelines waiting to start your journey, this post is important!

While I can’t speak for everyone in every gym everywhere, and I can’t promise that every gym is a judgement free zone, I can tell you that the super “fit” ones you expect are judging you probably aren’t.   I don’t mean the wake-up-skinny-and-blame-it-on-the-salad women who normally occupy the treadmills in clusters—they are the gym version of Mean Girls and they probably are judging you.  The ones I’m talking about, and the ones whose opinions still don’t matter but are more meaningful, are the knows-what-hard-work-is fit women.  The ones who sweat and lift weights.  The ones who look the way they do because they work damn hard.

We all started somewhere that was not where we are now, and we know what it means to start from the beginning.

The Good Fit women (again, the fit women who are not the Mean Girls) see your potential the minute they lay eyes on you.  Personally, I find myself spotting good genetics everywhere I go—I think “hmmm I wonder if I should tell that woman she’s built for power….” Or “would it be creepy if I told her she has great genetics for bodybuilding?” I pass women on the trail who are clearly trying lose their baby weight and I want so badly to stop them and say “OMG I was really really fat with my pregnancy!  You look awesome–You can do this!”

I am often inspired by the badass moms with their months-old babies in running strollers.  Or the ones who put their babies in backpacks so they can hike.  Really—how hard core IS that?  Those posters and Facebook memes with pictures of really skinny women and messages like, “how bad do you want it?” have absolutely NOTHING on the real-life image of a woman dragging her tired-mommy butt out of bed to run with a stroller, or a woman hiking up a mountain with a baby on her back!  So if you’re sitting at home with an infant, avoiding the trails or the gym because you think someone will laugh, keep in mind that the only people who would even raise an eyebrow are the people driving by in cars—not running.  Those of us on the trail beside you are thinking, “damn I thought I had a hard time getting out for my run this morning—look at HER!”  We are rooting for you.

It’s the same in the weight room.   When you see women lifting weights, you can safely assume that we all want to see MORE women lifting weights!  Give it your best shot—if you have no idea what you’re doing, just ask someone who does!  The secret is that  most people don’t really know, and the ones who do can all remember a time when we didn’t.

True story: Several years ago, I was a treadmill clinger with a twice weekly, four-exercise “free weight” adventure.  I stuck to the basics, such as dumbell curls, front raises, assisted pullups (done horribly wrong, looking back on it!),  and maybe a rope pulldown.  I chose what few things I thought I knew, and I stuck with them exclusively.  I was absolutely terrified of the idea of breaking out into other things because I had no idea how.  But then one day I saw a girl squat, and after that I desperately wanted to try it.  Maybe I was just a little mad because it was a girl I didn’t even really like that much, and there she was being a badass in the gym while I did my stupid 10 lb. front-raises.  But damn if it wasn’t inspiring!  For me it was the little things that were paralyzing—what were those butterfly-shaped metal things she put on the bar?  How did she know how much weight to put on?  How did she know how to adjust it to fit her height?  I was mortified at the thought of someone watching me try to figure it out.  I was also mortified at the thought of asking my then-boyfriend—oh the horror of having him “lead” me!

But eventually he did.  I asked him, somehow without telling him that I had never squatted before, and he got me started on some basics.  After that, more people jumped in to help me out around the weight room…and here I am, six years later, ready to pay it forward!

Moral of the story: you have to be willing to be the Effin New Guy.  You have to be willing to put yourself out there and be vulnerable just one time.  But I promise that if you do take that leap, there will be people ready and waiting to help you discover your full potential.

…As long as you’re not the Effin New Guy know-it-all…but I’ll save that for another post!

Ok, so I know a lot of you are reading…but feel free to jump in at any time and tell me what you think!  Leave a comment, follow my blog using your email address, or simply share with your friends via email, Facebook, or Twitter.  Help a sister out!  🙂

[re]Learning to Enjoy Real Food (Gluten Free Friendly!)

Who misses my recipes?!  I haven’t been posting them because quite frankly I don’t have a lot to say–on a contest prep, foods are eaten (or should be eaten) as simply as possible.  And how do I explain how much I love these foods?!  The way I covet my little crispy shreds of chicken (always shredded, never in chunks!), or the way I get excited over a piece of fruit, or the way I enjoy a tbsp of peanut butter…I assume no one but a fellow competitor would understand.  But I think there is something to be learned from it–if everyone could enjoy an apple, or oats, or grilled chicken as much as I do, McDonald’s would be out of business.  So I will share my take on chicken and veggies with you.

One thing that I want to mention about these “recipes” (it would be more accurate to call them concoctions) is that they are gluten free.  People ask me from time to time why I’m not talking about Celiac’s anymore, or why I’m no longer discussing my gluten free life.  The answer is really simple: on a contest prep diet, everything I eat is naturally gluten free.  In fact, on a clean diet in general–that is, one that focuses on whole grains, fruits, meats, fruits, nuts, and vegetables–gluten is a total non-issue!  On a contest prep diet there is little room for condiments, sauces, or other “extras” that typically contain gluten.  So life is relatively simple and I rarely think of Celiac’s disease.

In my last post I talked about learning to enjoy the taste of foods.  What I meant by that is learning to enjoy the taste of foods as they are, with little or no manipulation.  A mistake I made in my first contest prep was trying to manipulate foods into other foods.  I tried to turn things that were not bread into bread, such as my turkey-oat muffins.  I tried adding all of the meats and veggies to a food processor and making a loaf.  And I don’t even want to talk about my failed attempts at egg white “cookies”!!!  This list is endless!  Now, as I am maturing in my outlook on food, I am relearning how to taste the sweetness in a carrot, or the wholeness of plain oats.  I am also learning how to enjoy the flavors that happen when I pair foods that compliment one another.

Sometimes, on the go, I will eat raw asparagus and plain chicken breast.  I have even eaten dry oats–whatever I had to do in order to fuel my body.  I don’t necessarily enjoy these meals, but I see these as reminders that food is fuel.  When I do get to cook my meals, one of my favorite ways to enjoy meat and veggies is in a scramble.  The combinations are endless and I can change the ingredients based on my macronutrient needs–if my meal calls for carbs, then I add some.  If it calls for fats, then I add some.  If it calls for neither, then I scramble it without carbs or fats.  See how great this is?  Here are some examples of my scrambles.  Try them–they pass the kid test, and they act as great training wheels for anyone who is interested in re-learning how to enjoy whole foods.

Turkey, sweet potato, asparagus, onion, mushroom scramble You can’t tell me this doesn’t look good!  🙂

Chicken/Asparagus/Onion/Mushroom scramble:

4oz cooked chicken
a small handful of chopped onion
a small handful of sliced mushroom
4-5 stalks asparagus, cut into pieces

Shred the chicken into small pieces.  Coat a pan liberally with butter flavored Pam (or lightly with olive oil); add chicken and veggies.  Fry until just a little crunchy.  I use potassium salt to give it a great salty flavor without the water retention associated with table salt.  Doesn’t sound like much, but it’s one of my favorites!

Fun little tip on what to do with those leftover scraps: collect them in a container, and when the container gets full simply add them to a crockpot full of water and cook! It smells so good and this broth is a great way to add flavor to things like rice and quinoa. Cook for a minimum of an hour (the longer the better!); remove veggie scraps and pour remaining liquid into an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator and use in the place of water or broth in cooking.

Turkey/Sweet potato/green scramble:

4oz ground turkey (I prefer to grind my own)
4 oz sweet potato, chopped in food processor
green beans, asparagus, or kale, broccoli, etc
small handful of chopped onion

Same as above.  Fry all ingredients together in a pan, until the sweet potato gets just a little bit crispy.  Again, it doesn’t sound like much but even my six year old loves it!

To keep variety in my diet and to keep my diet as sustainable and locally sourced as possible, I rely largely on what I get in my weekly CSA share. This photo is from a few weeks ago when I stir fried my bok choy and broccolini. I later scrambled this with whatever protein source I was using, probably chicken from our meat CSA.

This last recipe is one I have shared before but I’ll list it again here, because so many people tell me they have a hard time eating eggs, oats, or both together.   My measurements vary based on my nutritional needs.  On lower carb days I’ll make it with ¼ cup oats, and on normal days I’ll do the full ½ cup serving.  Also, depending on where I am in my cycle, I will use either all egg whites, all whole eggs, or a combination of both.  Basically, you can’t mess this up.

Oatmeal Pancakes, standard recipe:

2 eggs whole
½ cup oats (uncooked)
baking powder (1/2 tsp?)
cinnamon
sweetener, to taste (optional)

Mix ingredients together in bowl; add to greased pan and cook on medium heat, 2min on each side (like a pancake).  What you top this with depends on your nutritional needs and preferences.

Five Steps to Achieving a Long-Term Goal

Earlier today I took some progress photos, as is normal for a competitor to do along the way to a contest.  The point of the photos is not only to measure how far you have left to go, but also to show you how far you’ve come.  Today when I looked at these photos, I remarked that in the past two years I have made the improvements that I had hoped to achieve.  But someone else had to point out to me what I had overlooked: while I did see the progress and was proud of my achievement, I had failed to notice that it took me TWO YEARS to accomplish this.  TWO YEARS of tenacity, hard work, and dedication.  It didn’t feel like work, it didn’t feel like two years, and I didn’t even notice that I was getting anywhere.  I simply looked up, two years later, and realized what I had done.  And I had failed to recognize that what was more important than the result was just the sheer fact that I had kept at it for so long!

I realized that if, during those two years, I had watched the scale and the mirror intent on  seeing the result I was searching for, I would have missed it anyway.  I might have even gotten frustrated and given up.  After all, I wasn’t hoping to grow five inches or gain ten pounds of muscle—what I wanted was much more subtle than that.  Who wants to watch paint dry?  Instead, I took on this goal knowing that the improvements would happen over a long term, and I trusted that it would happen if I diligently pursued it.

December 12, 2009

June 4, 2012

What’s your goal?  Are you trying to “get healthy” but you don’t know how or even what that means?  Are you trying to lose weight?  Gain muscle?  Get stronger or more confident?  Are you in pursuit of a degree that feels light years away, or are your career goals progressing more slowly than you had hoped?  Bodybuilding has given me a pretty solid five step plan for achieving a long-term goal.  Check it out:

  1. Set the goal.  Don’t get caught up too much in defining it, because it will shift and define itself as you get closer.
  2. Determine a plan of action.  If you were lost in the woods, you could simply choose a direction, but you don’t necessarily have to know all the details of the terrain you’re about to face.  You can cross the bridges when you come to them.
  3. Get off to a start in the right direction.
  4. Stop thinking about the goal.  Who wants to watch paint dry?
  5. Just keep swimming.  Dense as she was, Dorey knew a thing or two about how to move forward, didn’t she?

Spotting the Bull$%^: The Unhealthy Messages Behind Thinspiration

Because anyone who doesn’t look like her eats junk. And because we all want to look like her…WTF America? And I hope they aren’t implying that her trunk holds junk!  Um, you can see her…er, front…from the back…kinda weird.

This post was born from a Facebook status that I posted recently.  I had had enough of watching fitness industry leaders and competitors posting statuses and photos with captions that militarize fitness and place blame and shame on anyone who is not fit.  And by “fit,” or “healthy,” they clearly mean thin.  My status was a little rash and was missing context, but basically expressed my frustration at people who post such things.  As highly visible participants in the health and fitness industry at a time when obesity and chronic illness rates are skyrocketing at an alarming rate, we have to recognize that people are looking to us for answers.  We have a responsibility, whether we want to accept it or not.

So first, let me explain something about participants in the fitness industry: we feel bad about ourselves at times, just like everyone else.  Some more than others.  We feel pressure to be thin, even if we appear to be thin or fit.  We don’t have the answers, and even if what we’re doing works, we are constantly striving for more.  In fact, many of us came to the industry because we felt bad about ourselves.  So not one of us can speak with authority as though we have been delivered from the natural human conditions of jealousy, body image crises, or mistakes—even if for some of us these conditions are temporary and fleeting.  The ones with the lowest self-esteems are the easiest to identify, because they are the ones most likely to fling shame on anyone they possibly can.  Especially those yucky fat people who don’t have the decency to get thin.

Is it fair to assume that anyone who wishes to look like this can achieve it by simply working for it?

That said, a lot of us do find success.  We find what works for our bodies, and we find balance in a rigorous and mentally challenging sport.  But none of us can—or should—deny the role that genetics plays in all of it.  I do well at maintaining a muscular frame because my body is inclined to do so.  But what most people outside of the industry don’t realize is that there are different categories within the fitness industry, and my body is really only genetically cut out for one or two of them—and even that depends on the judges.  The same goes for those in other categories—a bikini competitor is going to have to work for a very long time to compete in bodybuilding.  So not a single one of us is qualified to hold other women to our own standards of what “fitness” looks like.

If you don’t know your body type, or want to learn more about them, click here.

What really irks me, however, is when competitors take on the attitude that hard work and determination alone are enough to win shows, and that if every woman in America simply had the same work ethic, we could all win shows.  This is as ignorant as the super wealthy who believe that privilege had nothing to do with their success.  They are not wealthy because they work 60 hours a week, or plumbers and nurses and small business owners everywhere would be rich too.  The truth that no one wants to admit is that what you’re born with largely determines the cards you have to work with.  Can someone born into an obese family work his ass off to stay thin?  Sure.  Can someone with a high school education from a poor background find wealth through hard work?  It happens.  But neither happens often.

So there is no excuse for posts that shame and blame people who are overweight (and I take issue with that term—over what weight?!).   There is no excuse for the ignorance I see from  ectomorphs who honestly believe that hard work gave them a small bone structure.  Or that they naturally maintain 16% body fat because they eat less than “those fat people.”   The truth is, some have to work harder at it than others.  And some, despite all the hard work in the world, will never achieve thinness.  There is no excuse for constantly representing the fit body with a thin body.  With equating hard work with thinness.  I’m pretty sure I have worked for the photo on the left, but somehow still always have muscles in my arms and legs…

Just to give you an idea of what I mean, just in case you aren’t sure, I’m going to post some of the ignorant “inspiration” I see floating around on FB.  Even those with positive messages are plastered over images of half-naked, thin women with big boobs.  So even the very industry that claims to be helping women feel better about themselves contributes to self-hatred and mass production of unrealistic images of perfection.  In my next post, I’m going to discuss the ways that this language of “inspiration” in the fitness industry is identical to the language of self-hatred that can be found on virtually every pro-anorexia website.  Am I claiming that competitors share the same pathology as those with eating disorders?  Absolutely.  So please, if you are a competitor reading this post, cease and desist from using language of self-hatred; if you won’t do it for yourself, do it for the women who look up to you.  And for everyone else, please be careful of who you look to for inspiration.

This is the one that put me over the edge. Posted by a bikini competitor who is also a personal trainer. Be careful who you hire.

From this image, I see no evidence of hard work. But I do see a formula. Big boobs+thin+pretty=fit. I guess the rest of us are F$#^ed.

Because anyone who doesn’t look like her is a loser. And we are losers because we don’t work hard. And why the hell is she just hanging on those chains?  I’d love to hear her thoughts on the benefits of training with chain weight.

(Posted by the same person who posted the first one on this list). Like, duh!  Isn’t it obvious?  Clearly every woman at the gym is hiding an ass like this. Genetics have nothing to do with anything…the rest of us just “overeat constantly.”

Side note: I have an ongoing game I call “spot the bullshit.”  Athletic apparel ads featuring women who clearly don’t work out posing in their best athletic poses pretty much always win.  Photos of people squatting hardcore with 65lbs are a personal favorite.  And the #1 most over-done B.S. photo is hand wraps on women who have probably never been hit in the face, trying to look bad-ass (and they NEVER wrap between the fingers…solid giveaway).  Oh, and chains.  Because chains look pretty bad ass–but I guarantee that very few–if any–of them have ever actually trained with chains!  Play this game yourself and see how fun it is!