Don’t Tell Me I’m Overreacting

This weekend, I helped two of my friends move. They had just bought a house and needed people to help them get boxes upon boxes of stuff into a moving van in the driveway.

As one of three girls who were helping, I got asked if I needed help more times than I would have liked. Whether I was bending down to pick up a box, or if I already had it in my hands, someone always seemed to swoop in and ask me if I needed help carrying it.

In fact, at one point, I was carrying a coffee table up a flight of stairs when one particular individual stood at the bottom of the stairs telling me that I “shouldn’t be lifting that”.

I understand that the people asking mean well. It’s not typical or common to see a girl who is able to pick up heavy things, or even willing to try for that matter. In fact, when I got frustrated at one of the guys, my friend responded with “he’s just trying to help”.

To me, helping would be to grab another box and to load it into the truck. Standing next to me asking questions while I’m trying to carry something heavy is actually the opposite of helping, it’s hurting.

My frustrations with this day brought up a lot of questions. Why do people believe that it is okay to assert the stereotype that women are weak, even when they repeatedly assure them that they are not?

My strength is a source of serious pride, and not one that I ever want someone to question. If you wouldn’t question a guy of equal size and stature about their strength, why is it okay to question mine?

The answer is it’s not. If I’m not questioning it, neither should you.

KBF

Fitness Magazine Makeover : Episode 1

This weekend I decided to revamp some of the workouts that I’ve seen in popular women’s fitness magazines. This week, I decided to use Fitness magazine, creator of the “Princess Push-up” as the basis for my first installment.

I went on their website and took a few exercises from different categories to build my own workout that I would actually do in the gym. I changed the exercises to ones that focus on the same muscle groups, in a more effective manner.

After warming up, perform three sets of eight of each of the following exercise:

Exercise # 1 : Face Pull (Formerly Fitness magazine’s Hitchhiker)

Muscles targeted : Rear Delts, Upper Traps

How to perform :

Set the cable stack to the highest point and choose a comfortable weight (I used 35 pounds).

Grip the rope with an overhand grip and assume a half kneeling position.

Pull the rope towards your face, with the metal middle coming between your eyes. Pull your shoulders together and hold either end of the rope by your eyes.

Return to start.

Why I think this exercise is better:

While the Hitchhiker is one of Fitness magazine’s less ridiculous exercises, it still doesn’t make total sense. This is more of a rehab exercise than one used to get in shape.

Exercise # 2 : Goblet squat (Formerly Fitness Magazine’s Heaven and Earth)

Muscles Targeted : Glutes, Quads

How to Perform :

Grab a dumbbell with your hands in a goblet style position, holding one end of the weight.

Stand shoulder width apart.

Push your butt back and sit into a squat.

Squeeze your glutes and push back into a standing position.

Why I think that this exercise is better :  First of all, the Heaven and Earth features a squat that involves rounding your back. This is a bad practice because you can hurt yourself if you add more weight. Sure it works with the beach towel that that model is using, but what’s your goal? If your goal is to “tone up”, you probably want to gain muscle and lose fat. You’re not going to accomplish that without adding weight to your squats, and a beach towel definitely isn’t going to get you there. If you want to get a nicer butt, add some weight and do some real squats.

Exercise # 3 : Standing Cable Row (Formerly Fitness Magazine’s Three Point Row)

Muscles Targeted : Midback, bicep

How to Perform :

Set the cable stack to a point near your ribs.

Assume an athletic position and pull the cable with one arm, keeping your arm close to your body.

Return to start.

Why I think this is a better exercise: There is no reason to do rows in all sorts of directions. A simple bent over row would suffice for the goals they show here. I like the cable row because it puts less strain on your back than a bent over row would, allowing you to add more weight than you would be able to do with a dumbbell.

Exercise # 4 : Glute Bridge (Formerly Fitness Magazine’s Toe Squat with Overhead Reach)

Muscles Targeted : Glutes, Hamstrings

How to perform :

Lay with your back, just under your shoulder blades, on the side of a bench, with your feet under your knees.

Keeping your abs tight, lower your butt to the floor and lift up.

Return to start.

Why I think this is a better exercise: There’s a lot going on in Fitness Magazine’s “Toe Squat with Overhead Reach”. You’re on your toes, your hands are above your head and you’re pulsing in a squat. Sure, it burns after a few reps, but not only do you look absolutely ridiculous doing it, it isn’t going to get you the results you want over time. The Glute Bridge is a really great beginner workout that will get you the glutes that you want.

Exercise # 5 : Pallof Press (Formerly Fitness Magazine’s Paper Doll)

Muscles Targeted : Midsection and Hips

How to Perform :

With the cable stack at the same height as the cable row, stand with your side to the machine.

Pull the cable in front of you, pressing forward and slowly lowering back to start, keeping your abs engaged.

Do 8 reps and switch sides and repeat.

Why I think this is a better exercise: First of all, what in the world is this supposed to accomplish? This is looks like a child throwing a hissy fit, not a woman trying to work out. If you’re trying to work your obliques, you’ll get much better results with a Pallof

Let me know how it goes!

KBF

Working Out Shouldn’t Suck

Everyone thinks that working out and losing weight should be a miserable activity. We should go to the gym, feel the burn, and leave soaked in sweat and slightly nauseated. 

Most people even classify a “tough workout” as one that leaves you unable to move for the next three days or one that results in throwing up or bleeding. I think the main reason for tumblr_m54orvFGpm1r566gro1_500that is shows like The Biggest Loser, where people are worked until they’re sick or in pain. It makes for better television, but it’s not healthy in the long term.

As someone who likes to be comfortable, I’ve never much liked this mentality, but for a while, I sort of believed it myself. I would run on the treadmill even though it was the most boring and painful thing that I could possible force myself to do, all for the sake of a “tough workout”.

Recently though, I’ve decided that working out should be something that’s enjoyable, if not just flat out fun. I made a list of things that I like to do, and have been switching

photo-62up my workouts to include those things.

By adding in things that you really like to do, you’ll be less likely to get stuck in the rut of going to the gym every day and doing the same thing. I’ve also found that trying new formsof exercise can be really fun.

As much as I hate running, I’ve decided that maybe I’ll sign up for a 5K for a cause that I like or a fun obstacle race. It’ll give me a reason to train, and if I still can’t stand it after a few weeks I’ll be fine knowing that running is just not for me.

To get out of the routine of going out to dinner and sitting around on the couch, Billy bought tennis racquets and we’ve been going to the nearby court to play on weekend nights. It’s fun and competitive, and it gets us both moving when we would normally be watching TV or eating.

photo-61

Losing weight and getting in shape is hard enough as it is, there is no reason to make it harder than it has to be. Pick something you like to do, and stop doing the things you hate. With so many options, there’s no excuse to be miserable while working out.

KBF

Carb Cycling and Other Revelations

For a few weeks, I was attempting to eat 100g of carbs a day. This made me feel restricted and somewhat angry at times.

Then Billy told me that I could carb cycle so I could eat more carbs on days where I actually needed them. This led to the construction of a chart, based around workouts:

Monday: Lift (100g)
Tuesday: Conditioning (80g)
Wednesday: Lift (100g)
Thursday: Conditioning (80g)
Friday: Lift (100g)
Saturday: Off (60g)
Sunday: Lift (175g)

By having a couple of low days and medium days during my week, I can have one much larger day to reboot my metabolism and just have fun with what I eat. Yesterday we had an unexpected date day, so I ended up eating 175g on Friday instead of Sunday.

It worked out though because I had 60g on Thursday, positioning a low day before a high day as originally planned. 

The biggest thing yesterday was that I didn’t overdo it. Usually when I have a heavier carb day I feel like death for a few days after. I had a really big lunch of shrimp tacos and chicken nachos, with a margarita for good measure. Then we went to the movies and had popcorn and half of a bag of Reese’s pieces between the two of us.

Usually, when we would get dinner after, I would figure my whole day had gone to hell so why not just get a huge plate of pasta. I broke this mentality last night when we chose a Persian restaurant for dinner and I chose to substitute the rice for grilled vegetables. 

Everything about that meal felt good and enabled me to feel pretty good this morning too. I started my day off with eggs, spinach and feta and a slice of white bread, and I’m going to have a protein shake before going to see King Lear at BAM at noon.

Hopefully by loading up on protein this morning I’ll be able to make better choices in choosing a restaurant after sitting through a three hour play.

The concept of planning a higher carb day (but not recklessly high) breaks the idea of having a “cheat day”. Cheat days always end up as “cheat weeks” and even “cheat months” for me. It might work for some people, but I can’t just go crazy one day a week and expect to go back to normal the next day.

The cheat day mentality signals that you’re doing something wrong for your body, while increasing carbs to boost metabolism is actually benefitting it.

KBF

A Short Workout is Better Than No Workout

This weekend was definitely a disaster in willpower to say the least. Although I ate everything, the only day that I did not complete a workout as planned was on Sunday.

Usually Sundays are my toughest lifting days, but this week I just felt sick from eati

photo-58

ng so bad and couldn’t do it. The fact that my eating choices effected what I did so much was definitely an eye opener. A year ago I would have been able to eat that way and feel fine, but now my body is like “Hey! What gives!”

On Monday we forced ourselves to do two workouts to kind of jump start our week back up. I noticed how hard it was from the very beginning. 25 kettlebell swings with the 35 pound kettlebell made me so winded that I thought I was going to throw up. That’s not normal for me.

 

Everything about the first half of the workout was exhausting and nauseating, and needless to say I took a lot of breaks. That’s not how I like to work out, so it was just anotherdownside of eating so much crap.

The kettlebell workout we did at night was a little easier on me. I kept it short with 35 swings with the 35 pound, 25 swings with the 25 pound, and 15 swings with the 15 pound.photo-59 It was tough and fun, and if I had more energy and wasn’t getting eaten by mosquitoes I probably would have done more rounds of it.

After Monday’s workout from hell, I decided not to let things catch up to me again. Although I had planned to workout before class yesterday, I ran out of time and promised myself that I would do it when I got home. This time, instead of just saying I would do it, I made sure that I actually did something when I got home.

I was tired so I did a short workout of 100 kettlebell swings and 4 minutes of jumprope. The entire thing lasted about 10 minutes.

photo-60

Usually when we are short on time, the decision ends up being to not workout at all. It becomes an all or nothing mentality. However, a 10 minute workout isbetter than nothing, especially if it becomes a consistent thing.

 

I got right back into the gym this morning and actually deadlifted 135 for 5! It was another short workout (30 minutes) but it was tough. Not every workout has to be the best one you’ve ever done and it’s not a contest of who can spend the most time in the gym. The most important thing is how you use your time, because that’s ultimately what counts.

KBF

Why Choosing a Gym is so Important

When I was in the best shape, I was going to a gym I loved. Once I stopped working there, I stopped working out almost completely.

I repeatedly said that I would go to the school gym or workout at home, but I hardly ever did. I gained weight every week and continued to tell myself I would start working out again the next day. I never did.

I eventually joined a new gym, which I hated, and stopped going to it after only a month. The decision to go back to my old gym has proven to be the best decision I could have made and made me realize one thing: you need to find an environment you love before you can get in shape.

That place can be a gym, a park, or your house, as long as it makes you comfortable and you enjoy going to it. My gym has turned into my happy place. I wake up in the morning and look forward to going to it instead of dreading the thought of checking in.

When you like being somewhere, you tend to go more often and spend more time there. At the other places I went to, I would try to get in and out as fast as possible, even if that meant sacrificing big parts of my workout.

Now, I’ll spend more than an hour in the gym without even realizing because the environment just makes me happy. I go at a time when the gym is basically empty and I like having a big area to myself to swing kettlebells and deadlift.

The decision to switch happened when I asked myself why I wasn’t going to the gym and I realized that the answer was “because it makes me sad”. A gym should never make you sad, it should do the opposite. You should leave energized and happy and in a better place than you were in before you entered.

If you’re not going to a gym that you’re paying for, ask yourself the question as to why you’re not going. If your answer is similar to mine, maybe it’s time to test out some new ones. You can almost always try them for free or really cheap for a few days.

Don’t let your environment be your excuse. Let it be your reason.

KBF

Badass, Not Bulky: The Argument for Lifting Heavy

Today has been a lazy week, but I’ve pushed through it so far. Although almost every day I’ve come up with some excuse not to go to the gym, I’ve gotten there on all of the days I had originally planned to go.

My new plan for what to do when I don’t feel like working out is to tell myself that I only have to go to the gym for 15 minutes, and if I still don’t want to be there I can go home. By the time you get moving, you don’t want to leave!

Yesterday was a pretty awesome day and I’m definitely feeling it today. I went into the gym planning to do a kind of lame workout, just some swings and maybe a few Turkish get-ups.

As soon as I walked in, I remembered that on Sunday I had originally planned to do some heavy deadlifts and an overall heavier lower body day. Once I remembered this, I felt like a failure for not wanting to do it anymore.

I started with some heavier swings than I’ve been doing (40 pounds) and then went over to the trap bar to deadlift.

I put a 35 pound plate on both sides and did three sets of 5. When I told Billy about it, I told him that my 95 pound deadlift felt a lot harder than it usually was. Well, that’s because I photo-55can’t do math and it was actually 115. Yay for accidental improvement!

The funny thing about deadlifting yesterday was seeing a girl that I know from high school in the gym. We had talked a few times before, but we don’t really know each other very well. When I saw her, she had just gotten off the treadmill after an 8 mile run, something that the very thought of makes me want to cry.

She took one look at the trap bar and said “Don’t hurt yourself! Girls shouldn’t lift heavy”. I think this is a really interesting (common) belief for a lot of women. We’re told that we aren’t supposed to lift heavy because we might hurt ourselves.

Well, a lot of things can make us hurt ourselves, but we do it anyway. Wearing heels can damage the length of your calf muscle, but there are girls who wear them every day. That kind of muscle damage is deemed acceptable, but lifting up 115 pounds seems insane to a lot of women.

It’s another side of the whole “you’re going to get bulky” argument. It’s all said with good intentions, but a lot of it stems from a lack of knowledge. How can we know all of the benefits of lifting weights if no one explains it to us? For so long, lifting weights has been for319903_la men and scary looking bodybuilder women.

Most girls don’t want to look like that. So instead, they use the argument of getting bulky or getting hurt to justify hours on the treadmill that don’t accomplish the goals they had in the first place. 

I was one of those girls for a really long time. I would go to back to back spin classes and strictly do yoga even though I thought it was boring and somewhat a waste of my time, all because I had an image in my head of what I wanted to look like and a skewed idea of what would get me there.

That doesn’t mean that lifting is for everyone. I know a lot of people who just flat out hate it and actually enjoy long, endurance sessions on the treadmill or the elliptical. I’m not one of those people.

However, I do think that it’s so important that we talk about why lifting can be so great for women, instead of focusing on what it used to mean. My favorite conversations are with friends of mine who tell me that they want to look like specific celebrities or Victoria’s Secret models and are completely dumbfounded when I tell them that those girls all lift.

Being strong is awesome. It allows you to be independent in ways that you might not have been able to in the past. One of my favorite moments I had recently was helping my dad shovel piles of rocks and wood chips after we had a tree removed. A year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do that, but now I can.

You can be a badass without looking like a She-Hulk or ending up in a body cast. You just have to take the first step and trust yourself.

KBF