Below Jen shares some great tips on thinking about weight-loss differently, and how to set goals when it comes to getting stronger.
Be sure to check out the bottom of the post for an awesome giveaway and a Paleo Parent’s reader exclusive discount code!
(photos below were provided by Jason Albus of http://jalbusphoto.com/)
More often than not, the reason a woman gives me for why she wants to join a gym is some variation of “I want to lose weight” — at least in the beginning.
And that’s perfectly fine. The truth is, it doesn’t matter much what brings you in the door. What matters is what keeps you coming back.
Culturally, it would be a wonderful thing if every woman knew that it doesn’t matter in the slightest what the scale says, so long as she feels good and comfortable in her own skin. Hope isn’t enough, though, and action needs to be taken to make this shift occur. From my 12-plus years in the fitness industry, and my years as an athlete before that, I can attest to the impact of the iron in transforming feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth into feelings of empowerment and high self-efficacy.
Invariably, and without conscious thought, this is what happens: The goal itself changes. The focus shifts from what a woman wants to lose when she realizes what she has the potential to gain.
Strength In Numbers
Although women aren’t new to the strength game (historically, women have participated in strength sports such as strongman as far back as the 1600s), in more recent history women were steered toward different pursuits: ellipticals, treadmills and light hand weights, if weight training is introduced at all.
Times, they are a-changin’ (again), thankfully, and women are returning to the weight room, even if it’s tentatively at first. The fear surrounding woman and resistance training is in the process of being jettisoned for two reasons, as I see things: The first is, for a woman to build muscles that even remotely resemble a fit man’s she will have to consume massive amounts of food and train absolutely relentlessly in the gym with heavy weights and high volume at a very high frequency. The second reason is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting totally jacked. A woman’s femininity is not defined by her muscle mass and she does not have to turn in her woman card even if she doesn’t fit into someone else’s idea of what a woman should look like.
That said, not every woman is quite there with this idea. Not to mention, the fear of looking stupid and helpless is enough to keep a lot of women from seeking out new strength skills. Joining a supportive strength community, where a woman can learn how to work with barbells, kettlebells and dumbbells in a safe, nonjudgmental environment is a highly effective way to foster this mindset shift.
Not to mention, there are the cheers that erupt as a training buddy executes her first strict pull-up. There are the shouts of exultation as another deadlifts four plates, standing tall with a smile and the words, “I never thought I’d be able to do that!” There are the hugs, the high fives, and the shared vibe of working towards something greater. Gyms that create this environment are out there, and such communities also exist online.
The importance of sense of community is borne out in research: Support and accountability from those near and dear is an important indicator of sticking with a program. That accountability, that “stick-to-itiveness,” is key: When you are accountable, you are consistent. And with consistency comes the fun part: progress.
Passionate About PRs
And progress there is. Yes, men are, for the most part, stronger than women, because their muscles tend to be larger and their bodies have more mass. When you compare the force generated by a woman’s muscle alongside a man performing the same activity, however, there is no significant difference. Our muscles may be smaller overall but, relatively speaking, the weight we are able to move is not.
At The Movement Minneapolis, we encourage all of our members to track their workouts so they can see exactly how much weight they move from workout to workout. They log their resistance, reps, sets, and the time it took to complete each movement into our online training tracker once class is over. This is important, because how can you know where to go if you don’t know what you’ve already done? And, more importantly, it can be difficult to see how far you’ve come if you don’t know or remember where you were when you started.
Tracking your training sessions gives you immediate feedback that you are improving — it provides instantaneous positive feedback, or a nudge in the right direction, if you need it. The psychology of positive reinforcement has been proven over and over again: The addition of a positive stimulus following a behavior makes it more likely that the behavior will occur again in the future. (This is critical for the days where you’re not feeling quite up to snuff, whether due to a bad night’s sleep or a stressful day at work.)
The truth is that consistent, smart, strength training will change your body. Muscles will grow, and with the support of a well-balanced, mostly whole-foods diet from quality sources, body fat will drop. Progress in the gym also dictates physiological change — it’s inevitable.
It’s just a matter of reframing. Whereas weight-loss goals come with a hard ending, oftentimes with the accompanying feeling of “What next?” with performance-based goals, the question changes to “What can I do next?”
And from there, the options are limitless.
Jen Sinkler is a longtime fitness writer and personal trainer based in Minneapolis who talks fitness, food, happy life, and general health topics at her website, jensinkler.com, and writes for a variety of national health magazines. Earlier this year, she authored Lift Weights Faster, an e-library of over 130 conditioning workouts for fat loss, athleticism, and overall health.
Jen is a wealth of knowledge in this area and we are so grateful to be able to share her words of inspiration with you all!
In addition to sharing this guest post, Jen is offering our readers an exclusive discount and one lucky reader a chance to win one gold Lift Weights Faster membership and a Lift Weights Faster t-shirt!
To enter the giveaway use the rafflekopter app below! A winner will be selected and announced on Wednesday, November 5.
And if you can’t wait to see if you won the giveaway to get your hands on a Lift Weights Faster Membership, we can’t blame you! While the Lift Weights Faster platinum package is regularly priced at $99 and the silver package at $79, our readers have an exclusive opportunity to purchase these packages at $59 and $39! Simply click here to receive this mega discount!
Now go get your lift on folks!