Reflections on Women, Fat Loss and Ooey Gooey Self-Love
It’s easy to assume that because I own a gym (and post a lot of obnoxious deadlift pictures) that I work out all of the time, spend my free time prancing through fields of kettlebells and mobilizing my hips with the grace of a Greek goddess, but it’s actually quite the opposite.
I spend the majority of my time when I’m not coaching clients glued to a laptop, on the phone or hunched over a notebook working ON my business or studying. The amount of stress and “busyness” that comes with running a business solo is some days unbearable and overall doesn’t leave me much energy or time to work out (although I MAKE time, even if it’s just 10 minutes) or to make sure I’m eating the right amount for my body. I’m not complaining, I’m building up my dream, but over the past year, after recklessly putting my body and mind through the ringer and dealing with the hormonal complications of doing so, I needed to make some changes.
My intentions for my body will always be rooted in being strong as fuuuuuck, annihilating my workouts and treating my body with the utmost respect and care – not obsessing over body fat or attaching my self-worth to my physicality (as I have in the past). But I let myself get to a point physically where I just didn’t feel like the healthy, vibrant person I wanted to be and front-woman of a fitness facility who coaches other women to be their best selves. I was sluggish, losing motivation, gaining body fat and my performance was starting to suffer as a result. I knew my nutrition was a major culprit and based on the hunger and cravings I was experiencing, that I probably wasn’t eating ENOUGH of the right stuff and was allowing my self-care to slip.
Years ago, before getting into the strength and conditioning field, I destroyed my thyroid by over-exercising while dieting restrictively and believing carbs would make me fat. If I’m not careful now, stress (whether physical or mental) and changes in my diet can easily flare up symptoms.
So I reached out to my friend Luke for some help and have been working with him to increase my food intake, get my metabolism cranking again and heal my ol’ shakey hormones.
I’m only 5 weeks in but I’ve lost over 7 inches off just my mid-section (waist, belly button, hips), have so much more energy and am happily enjoying a more satiating food intake.
Although these kinds of pictures aren’t typically my style, I wanted to post this to help prove a couple points.
-There is only a .5lb difference between the left and right pictures. If I had solely relied on the scale as a measure of progress rather than the 7+ inches I lost or the vitality I gained, I would have been VERY disappointed. Losing WEIGHT and losing FAT are two very different things.
-My motivation did not stem from a place of self-loathing about my body, or wanting to change my body because I hated it – rather the opposite. Over the past 1-2 years I’ve put in a ton of introspective work learning how to embrace my body and nourish it with compassion and ooey gooey self-love no matter what its appearance. Because of this, I’m now able to approach wanting to change my body from a place of calmness, health and compassion rather than the obsessiveness, restriction, perfection-seeking and poor self-image I would have approached it with in the past, constantly berating myself and never making sustainable progress. I made PLENTY of slip-ups over the past 5 weeks, but not once felt guilt or shame or beat myself up over it. I just learned from each experience and moved on.
A mindset change towards self-acceptance and compassion, not self-doubt and loathing is what makes body transformation happen with simplicity and sustainability. You can totally love yourself while also still striving to improve yourself, but you cannot hate yourself into a leaner body. This is something I preach endlessly to my lady clients.
-Carb-phobia and restrictive diets are two of the worst things women can get sucked into. Deprivation is NOT the name of the game and fat loss is not a world of black and white extremes. It’s about thriving in that “grey” area of balance instead. I enjoyed mac and cheese, pumpkin pie, mounds of stuffing and mashed potatoes on Christmas, chocolate, burgers and fries. Although my diet is comprised of 90% whole foods – lots of veggies, lean proteins and healthy carbs with every meal, I make room for not-so-healthy things and have found a way to eat that works for ME to feel satiated, enjoy my food and still stay in line with my goals. I want nothing more than for every woman to do the same and eat without fear. If someone ever suggests you cut out an entire macronutrient from your diet, beware. No healthy person can thrive without a good balance of protein, carbs and fat.
-Coaches need coaches too! I am fully rooted in the value of having a coach for guidance and accountability – whether it be with your training program or nutrition. Everything that I worked with Luke on, I already knew I needed to do. It was just putting it into action, having that extra push and confidence from him that I was in dire need of.
-The last time I was at the weight I am now, it was because I cut down improperly to make weight for a powerlifting meet. I couldn’t deadlift 200lbs and totally blew my 3rd attempt of 195lbs at my meet. I now toss 200lbs around for fun and deadlift over 2x my body weight. Getting strong does not make you bulky or less feminine. It makes magic happen and is the only way to sculpt the “lean, toned” look that most women I consult with tell me they desire.
I also wanted to post this to show some vulnerability and transparency – that fitness professionals struggle with body fat, health issues and getting their training and nutrition solid too. We’re not mystical beings blessed with infinite willpower. I also wanted you to know that whatever YOU’RE struggling with, that you are not alone.
I want you to believe that no matter where you are on your fitness, strength or fat loss journey that if you work on honing your mindset to stop viewing exercise and food as punishments, rewards, or things that you’re obligated to do to “fix your flaws”, and start seeing them as nourishments and things to enhance your vitality and physical capability that you will find joy in the process. You will also begin to appreciate your body, all of its normal ups and downs and want only the best for it. This is what a healthy lifestyle truly is.
I want every woman to know that it is possible to live sustainably and cultivate a healthy relationship with food and her body. It requires a lot of mental digging, self-awareness, embracing discomfort and learning how to become your own best friend, but if you put in the work (for me it’s taken years, and I still have much ahead!), embrace the journey of self-improvement, the pay off is well worth it.
Need help? Reach out: Erika@HurstStrength.com