Is THIS View of Fitness Making You Miss Out On Life?
I just got back from an incredible 10 day road trip with my boyfriend, his best friend and his best friend’s girlfriend through part of the Southwest. We (Scott and I) ended up covering 40 miles of hiking and biking in 8 days, including hiking as far as we could down into the Grand Canyon (and back up) and an intense 9 miles of mountain biking in Durango, CO.
On the afternoon we were exploring Sedona, we decided to grab a quick 3.5 mile hike before dinner. About 10 minutes in, the terrain turned into slanted rock leading to a drop-off for about 5 feet before turning back into a dirt trail.
Three of us cruised across the rock without second thought, but #4 put the brakes on. She was completely paralyzed with fear. Even with our words of encouragement and holding out helping hands, she didn’t trust her body enough to cross without slipping.
She ended up turning around and going back to the trail head to wait in the car while we finished the hike.
It made my heart sink down into my stomach for her. To have to miss out on this view because she didn’t trust her body’s capability.
I’ve been in those shoes before, where I let fear and lack of trust in my body hold me back. But those moments aren’t as regularly occurring over the years since I started lifting.
Later on, we chatted about workouts. She asked me what I do in the gym and I told her my workouts consist of heavy weights with lower reps paired with intense conditioning like kettlebell swings and sled pushes. She told me she wants do those things, but just sticks to lower intensity cardio instead.
It re-illuminated to me that strength (physical AND mental), for women, still isn’t the norm.
Most women still predominantly believe that the only reason they should work out is for aesthetic reasons or solely to burn calories.
They are unaware of their ability to use their bodies in exceptional ways, that they can use hard work to harbor a mental toughness that drives them and motivates them and that they can learn to never accept the thought of “I can’t”.
I have consulted with many women who have told me “I’ve never had to work out before, I’ve always been able to eat whatever I want.”
Not only is this a super unhealthy way of viewing exercise and food, but equating the only value of exercise to making/keeping yourself smaller is holding women back from doing cool shit and from obtaining true ownership of their bodies and lives.
And that really, really sucks.
First of all, exercise isn’t the #1 driver of fat loss. Second of all, this completely overlooks the importance of strength.
But listen, strength training is not JUST benching 135lbs, deadlifting huge plates or doing chin ups, it’s also strength of balance, coordination, stability, being able to control your own body weight, properly engage your muscles and trusting in your body’s ability to do the things we were meant to do as humans – climbing, hiking, crawling, jumping, etc. so you can get the most out of life.
Unless you are extremely weak* (which is nothing to be ashamed of, we were all beginners once), you will not attain this from weight machines, yoga, barre, beach body workouts, tossing around 5lb dumbbells or any of the “bubblegum” fitness programs that typically target women.
*And even so, without progressive overload or an emphasis on progression your body will eventually adapt and you will stop getting stronger.
That’s not to say those workouts are inherently bad or wrong, or that you shouldn’t do them if they truly make you happy and don’t cause you harm. However, they shouldn’t be prioritized over true strength training if you want to get the most out of your workouts and your mind and body’s potential.
Despite how far we’ve come in society with regards to women’s empowerment, our media still eagerly feeds into the stereotypical ideas that influence women to sway away from seeking out physical and mental strength and even in the gym, women often do their best to avoid discomfort.
We are rarely told to BELIEVE in our strength and capabilities or to seek out physical strength in order to improve self-worth and tenacity. Instead we’re bombarded with articles like “How to tone your thighs without breaking a sweat”.
I just want you to know that you CAN do hard things. You CAN embrace discomfort to drive self-growth. You CAN be strong and you don’t have to accept “the norm”.
Because once you start to achieve incredible feats such as push-ups, heavy deadlifts or blasting through tough conditioning workouts, you start to realize that you can do just about anything.
Fitness is about so much more than aesthetics. It’s about creating a strong inner self because you persevere past heavy things (literally and figuratively). It’s about training your body like the magnificent machine that it is, to be powerful, efficient and to move with grace, so that you can be independent and not miss out on the amazing adventures life contains.
I don’t want any woman to have to miss out because she lacks physical ability – especially because she was duped by the fitness industry to not regard her physical performance potential.
(This post is a spin-off of yesterday’s Facebook post about good/poor reasons to exercise. Check it out here. It’s really important).