I recently read this post in The Cut: I spent Two Weeks Working Out ‘Like a Man’ and I was slightly annoyed.
The author writes about a 14 day period in which she tried out a bunch of different workouts she determined to be ‘manly’, like Crossfit, P90X, Martial Arts, and Bootcamps.
Showcasing to women these workouts that traditionally appeal to men is an awesome idea. The author could have done so much to encourage women to add them to their fitness regime.
For one, she could have refrained from defining male and female dominated exercise styles as mutually exclusive. She might have highlighted all the great fitness and women’s health benefits that come with these workouts, or the fact that women are often welcomed and made to feel comfortable in male dominated fitness environments, or the fact that the challenge of trying new workouts can be extremely rewarding.
But she doesn’t. So, to me, the article is a total failure.
Instead the author draws the line in the sand about what makes a workout ‘manly’ (we’re trying to break down these stereotypes and she just sustains them). She complains about the smell of the mats in a Muay Thai gym, laments about how she couldn’t keep up in many of the classes, and dramatizes about how her unbearably soreness is making simple daily tasks impossible for her.
Even I don’t want to try any of these workouts after that sort of review. Evidently neither do some of the commenters:
“I’m pretty happy with Tracy Anderson‘s workouts”
“I will stick to my yoga, spinning, and elliptical circuit, thank you. Just reading about not being able to put my shirt over my head is not appealing to me personally.”
Men should feel comfortable in a yoga studio or aerobics class. Women should feel like it’s okay for them to lift weights or kickbox. Can we just stop with the stupid exercise stereotypes already?
I think it’s awesome that the author tried out so many new exercises (and I’m kinda jealous too). Trying new forms of fitness is a great way to learn new skills and discover a new passion. But by framing the article around the fact that the workouts she chose to try are traditionally preferred by men does nothing to encourage women to try them out.
She missed a great opportunity to get women excited about trying something new.9 Comments
I’ve been feeling a bit bloated lately in a way that always makes me totally uncomfortable with how I look and how I feel.
It makes me start to second guess myself and all my healthy living progress and think things like
I’ve probably been eating too many cookies
I must be slacking in my workouts
I shouldn’t have cleared my plate at that restaurant
So before I start on a downward spiral toward fat talk and bad self-esteem I need to regroup, refocus, and reflect on all my healthy lifestyle habits as a reminder that, hey, I’m doing ok!
I eat breakfast every day.
I load my cart with vegetables at the grocery store.
I cook dinners from scratch at least 4 days per week and I eat leftovers for lunch every day.
I eat out once and maybe twice per week.
I prioritize exercise and do it regularly and consistently.
I keep variety in my workouts with heavy weightlifting, interval training, yoga, and steady state cardio.
I life-hacked a standing workstation at my office to reduce my sedentary time.
Given all that, I think I’m doing a pretty good job at maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Of course, no one is perfect and some bad habits have been starting to creep up that might need to be nipped in the bud:
I have been drinking a lot more caloric beverages lately– lattes, sweetened coffee, hot chocolate, or beer (umm… ’tis the season?)
I haven’t been taking the dog for as many long walks.
My fat consumption lately has been more bad fats (mmm. . . butter) than good ones (still mmm, but not quite so much. . . avocado)
Slowly I’ve been incorporating more processed grains into my diet whereas I was trying to focus on solely unrefined ones.
It makes me feel better to pause and say, this is what you’re doing right and this is what you’re doing wrong, rather than just flying off the handle and telling myself I’m a failure at being healthy just because I feel a little bloated. I’m not a failure. I’m doing a lot of the right things.5 Comments
There was a psychology study done recently in England to learn more about people’s preferences for certain body types.
At the beginning of the study, all participants preferred images of ‘thin’ bodies. Then in the experiment, participants were shown series of images of women’s bodies in plain grey leotards. Researchers determined that participants preferred ‘thin’ or ‘large’ bodies when shown a series of images of thinner or larger bodies respectively. This preference shift toward the body type being shown occurred even if the images were extremely thin or extremely fat.
Basically, we like what we see.
So these images of thin women that are dominating every visual media form from advertising to Hollywood are just making us all like thin bodies even more.
Especially since those media images are of women who are made up to look their best. . .
Next participants were shown pictures of glammed up women. They always preferred these well-dressed bodies, fat or thin, regardless of the perception change that had already been determined by the series of grey-leotard bodies.
Our attraction to thinness has been learned: being constantly fed images of a single body type in the media is narrowing our preference to that body type. And it’s making all the rest of us feel undesirable and inadequate.
This study is not such a stretch. Body image advocates have been encouraging more variety of body types in the media for years in order to increase tolerance for bodies that are outside of the dominant ‘thin ideal’. Now there’s research to back us up.
Can you imagine if the fashion and entertainment industries embraced fuller figures? If we saw beautiful plus-sized models share the runway with their thin counterparts or if we saw glamourous but soft-around-the-edges actresses playing leading ladies with a thin supporting cast?
We just might appreciate the beauty of all different body shapes a little more. And we just might have girls grow up without hating their bodies.3 Comments
After the pathetic Hallowe’en showing of about 3 kids to our house in the first year we lived here I was thoroughly disappointed and vowed to give away full sized chocolate bars the next year. And we have been since.
One year we even gave away shots to the adults.
Last year, we got 6 or 7 kids. This year we got 10.
Maybe word is spreading about the full sized chocolate bars a our place?
I picked up 12 different chocolate bars and candies. Sadly, my favourite (Mr. Big, Bounty, and Coffee Crisp) were the first to go. Oh well, at least I don’t find the Snickers and Mars that are left over to be very enticing.
I wanted to write something today about Sexy Hallowe’en costumes, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I don’t have much of an opinion about them. Maybe I should find them unnerving, but my reaction to the idea of sexy costumes is usually boredom (and ample eye-rolling) since they’ve become more cliché than even white-sheet-as-ghost costumes.
Sure, I think it’s sad that yet another aspect of our culture has become sexualized. It’s sad that on a day that women can choose to dress up as absolutely anything they want—an astronaut, a witch, a giant lego piece, a character from a Dickens novel, whatever—they will actively choose a costume that provides yet another way for them to be seen as sexual objects.
But then the body-love trumpeter in me wants to see sexy costumes for their awesome ability to bring out a woman’s body confidence and disguise her insecurities. It’s as if playing the “sexy” role comes automatically when the costume is put on. And when it comes to body confidence, there’s nothing like faking it ‘til you make it.
So I truly don’t feel strongly one way or another about it. I can see the benefits and I can see the down sides, but the farthest I’ll go in terms of judging someone who wears sexy Hallowe’en costumes is to be unimpressed by their lack of creativity
. . .unless they can somehow manage to sexify an extremely un-sexy thing.
Like a marshmallow. . . or Sasquatch.
Yeah, I’d like to see how someone could possibly manage sexy Sasquatch.12 Comments
In the last two weeks, no less than 3 different people interrupted me in the middle of my weightlifting workout to ask if I was training for something.
“Are you a powerlifter? No? What are you training for?”
“You must be training for something.”
“You don’t see women lifting like that just for fun.”
No, really, I’m not training for anything.
I promise you that I’m doing this just because I like lifting heavy things. I know, it’s shocking, but just try to wrap your mind around that for a second and then let’s all get back to our workouts, mmmkay?
When I told these people (and others who have asked me in the past) that I was just training for fun they seemed a bit surprised and maybe a bit confused, but ultimately impressed, or at least mildly impressed.
It kind of makes me feel like maybe I’m just wasting my time. Maybe actually I should be using my skills and training for something specific.
But I wouldn’t even know where to start or what to train for.
And then, maybe, when up against other people I wouldn’t actually be any good.
Or maybe if I were competing then weightlifting would feel like a chore and wouldn’t be fun any more.
I guess I’m actually really happy just weightlifting for fun.
In any case, it’s flattering to be noticed at the gym, that’s for sure. I’m getting noticed for doing something different, which just goes to show how few women are lifting heavy weights. That should definitely change.
Weightlifting improves your confidence, your body composition, and (evidently) gets you noticed.
Here are some great inspirations for women and weightlifting.7 Comments
I like September a lot. Even though I’m not in school any more, the Tuesday following Labour Day still has that feeling of newness and freshness and to me it feels more like New Year’s than January 1st. Which makes it a great time for a resolution.
Lately I’ve been feeling that my prioritization of healthy habits has fallen aside a bit.
I’ll give myself credit for doing some good things– like keeping up with my weightlifting– and that’s great, because I’m really happy with my strength levels, but I can maintain this habit only because I really, really love to exercise.
I also really, really love eating dessert and I haven’t had a problem doing that either…unfortunately that’s not exactly the healthiest of habits. I’ve noticed more than a little fat has started creepy on belly and honestly, as much as I talk about body love and acceptance, I’m not happy with it.
I don’t feel like a hypocrite here though. My body image has improved so much by blogging about it these past few years. And this extra fat? I’m not obsessed about it. It hasn’t given me feelings of low self worth and it hasn’t impeded my confidence. It doesn’t make me insult myself when I look in the mirror. It doesn’t make me cry.
Things would have been much different 3 years ago.
The extra fat is just something that I want to lose because I know that it’s healthier for me not to be carrying it around, and I know that I can still live comfortably without it.
I don’t care about my weight, which has stayed the same over the last year, give or take a pound (okay, give). I would, however, like to lose some centimetres from my waistline so my clothes fit more comfortably.
In order to give myself some tips on cutting, I consulted some old posts from my Bikini Birthday tone up to see what I was eating and how I was working out.
Lose 6cm from my waist.
Taken Aug 31, 2012
Start the Day with Protein
Something like eggs, a green smoothie with protein, or plain yoghurt with fruit. This way I can reduce my overall starchy food intake and restrict most of my starches to dinner time (ie. post workout).
Cut out processed food and white carbs.
I don’t eat a lot of processed food to begin with so eliminating that shouldn’t be a problem. Cutting back on bread and dessert will be a bit more of a challenge but I think I can manage, as long as I have a. . .
I will allow myself one cheat meal and one dessert per week (ya know, instead of dessert with every meal).
High Intensity Exercise
I have already started to incorporate sprints into my weekly exercise. I want to make my lifting a bit higher intensity as well, so I’m planning on doing more “Crossfit Style” workouts to incorporate circuits, lots of intensity, and minimal rest time between sets.
Plan Night Time Snacks
Often times I’m still hungry in the evening and I grab something sweet and unhealthy to eat. I’m going to try to consider my evening snack a little more thoughtfully before I eat it. Maybe some casein protein and cottage cheese or a fruit and a few almonds or a single square of chocolate. In other words, something satisfying but not sabotaging.
So hopefully this all works out. I’ll post progress every so often along the way to my goal.
Waist goal recaps:13 Comments
I hate fitspo. Fitness + Inspiration somehow equals the term “fitspo”. Really, it came from a backlash against “thinspo” which encompasses all those dangerous images and quotes that trigger eating disorders in impressionable individuals (and feelings of guilt and shame in pretty much every Western woman, and some men too).
But fitspo is exactly the same thing. Except now the ideal that we’re being guilted into emulating is being shrouded in a veil of health.
You’ve all seen it. Motivational quotes in graphic fonts super imposed over images of flawless women with 6-pack abs, perfectly toned shoulders, and glutes that J-Lo would envy.
“fit is the new skinny”,
“you’re beating everyone on the couch”,
“you can feel sore tomorrow or you can feel sorry tomorrow”,
“skinny girls look good in clothes but fit girls look good naked”
They all sound like positive statements to get people off their asses and into the gym (Except that last one. That last one is just body shaming thin people.) but when you couple them with images of fit women photoshopped so that every muscle is visible, all of the sudden that motivation to be healthy and fit becomes just another unattainable beauty standard to make us feel bad about our bodies.
I’m fit. Actually, I’ll go so far as to say I’m very fit. I lift heavy weights. I do power yoga. I ran a marathon. I’m in the gym at least 5 days a week and not just half-assin’ it either; I work out pretty hard.
I also look nothing like these fitspo images. Sometimes if the lighting is juuuust right my husband will comment on my “abs” but, no, I don’t look like a medical model for muscle identification.
(I look a lot like this actually)
But regardless of how I look, I do feel good about my level of fitness. That is, until I see stupid images like this that make me feel guilty for sitting on my ass killing time in front of pinterest instead of being outside “lapping everyone on the couch”.
Fitspo images aren’t any better for our self esteem than glossy magazine images of dangerously thin models. They’re photoshopped. They’re not attainable. And, quite frankly, they’re not all that healthy either. It is extremely difficult for a woman to attain such a low percentage of body fat and having too little body fat can cause irregular or absent periods, infertility, feeling tired, low libido, feeling cold, and brittle bones. (1)
So why are we swapping one impossible standard for another and calling it inspirational?
I think we need a paradigm shift. We need to re-write fitspo in a way that needs can inspire us without guilting us. How about this instead: raw, unphotoshapped images of real women athletes doing really hardcore fitness things. That would be my ‘fitspiration’.
Actually, this is my fitspo15 Comments
I really like the show Girls on HBO. Does anyone watch it? It started out hilarious and slowly got less and less funny throughout the season. I find most of the characters annoying and frustrating. I was hoping for something like Sex and the City, but it’s nothing like that at all.
And yet I keep watching it.
One reason: seeing Hannah (played by Lena Dunham) naked or half naked. A lot.
That’s probably really weird to say. But seriously.
Lena Dunham isn’t terribly fat. Her body is imperfect, so basically she looks completely normal, like most of the women I know, and not at all like the stereotypical ‘perfect’ Hollywood body that we’re exposed to.
So, yay! We’re making progress here. It’s a chance for the people to see a naked woman who doesn’t fit the media standard of bodily perfection, isn’t photoshopped or airbrushed, and who looks completely natural.We hardly see women naked any more in general and now someone who doens’t fit the hits our small screen. That’s impressive.
But the best thing is that the show isn’t about her body. The plot line doesn’t revolve around her appearance or size as some sort of obstacle she has to overcome in finding love, finding a career, or having a social life (she has plenty of other problems that interfere with those life goals). Her appearance is also not a novelty either. She’s not playing the typical ‘token fat girl’ binge eating her self image sorrows, or the ugly duckling who was never actually ugly to begin with but just needed a new outfit to snag the hottest guy in school. The show is a normal girl with normal girl problems.
I think it’s pretty refreshing to be able to see on television not just a show starring a woman with a body that’s outside the Hollywood ideal (we’ve seen that with Mike & Molly), but also not revolving the whole story around her appearance.
So even though I don’t always love the storyline, and I think the main characters make terrible life decisions, and the male lead character (Adam) drives me bananas, I still watch the show because I think it is doing great things for women’s body image.
The point being: your life doesn’t have to revolve around your flaws.10 Comments
When I was thinking up some things to do for my get together with girlfriends in Toronto two weekends ago I immediately thought: spa.
Last summer I went on vacation to Tobermory and Collingwood. My sister, friend, and I decided to go to Le Scandinave one afternoon. I had read about it and heard good things and even though sitting around and doing nothing all afternoon is the bane of my existence (I always want to be doing something) I was willing to try it out.
The premise is 15 minutes in a heat source (steam room, dry sauna, or jacuzzi) followed by a plunge into a 60*F cold pool, followed by 15 minutes of lounging in a hammock or muskoka chair by a crackling fire. Then repeat as many times as desired.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that this water treatment was responsible for making me feel the best I have ever felt in my life. Honestly, I still dream about it sometimes and I always crave going back and feeling that good again.
Of course when I googled “water spa Toronto” and came up with Body Blitz Spa I was more than excited to offer the idea to my girlfriends, so I e-mailed them my suggestion.
Are you fucking crazy? I’m not going to no naked spa! (or something to that effect) was the response from one of my friends.
I didn’t even notice that the spa is “bathing suit optional”, but I hardly cared since it’s a women’s only facility. People walk around the change room at the gym naked all the time, it’s not really a big deal. And besides, it’s not as if the place is “nudity required”.
Today I read an editorial in the Globe and Mail about this very spa, and more specifically about the nudity (or lack thereof). The writer and the naked spa-goers that she interviewed labelled the swimsuit clad twenty-somethings who frequent the place as prudes whose self-esteem is too vulnerable to allow their imperfect bodies to be seen by others.
“For their mothers, nude bathing was empowering; for them, it’s objectifying.”
Is it true? Are we really prudes?
I’ll admit that had I gone with my friends to Body Blitz I would not have bathed naked. Maybe because I know they wouldn’t done it have either, but mostly because I think it would be awkward to be naked around people I know and try to ignore the obvious. “Hello! Here are all those parts of me you’ve never seen before.”
Had I gone to the spa alone, it would have been a different story. I like to get the full experience of anything that I try. And plus I get undressed in the gym changing room all the time in front of women I don’t know, and I don’t think twice about it. The veil of anonymity is a powerful tool.
This whole thing got me thinking about females and nudity, in spas, in change rooms, and in locker room showers. The more effort we put into covering up our imperfections by hiding our bodies from other women then the less real, unaltered images of female bodies we are exposed to. Where else can we see real boobs and thighs and bellies on women who don’t pose for magazines or red carpet photo-ops? Do we even know what real women look like anymore?
If we were a bit more open to the idea of nudity then maybe it would be better for all of our self confidence, and our comfort with our bodies.7 Comments
I read an article in The Gloss last week claiming “Athletic” is a stupid way to describe female body types. It really is.
You’ve seen it before, in magazines or on television, with tips on how to dress or ways to exercise, there’s almost always an “athletic” descriptor given to women with wide shoulders, small bust, and narrow hips.
Who comes up with these monikers anyhow?
If we’re talking about body shapes, then maybe we should keep our descriptors confined to just that, shapes. “Rectangular” may be a more appropriate term for the so-called “athletic” body type, because athletic is certainly the wrong word. It implies either that women athletes all have this shape or that all women with this shape are sporty. Neither of which is true.
Maybe it’s just semantics and I’m making something out of nothing, but calling only this rectangular shape “athletic” is a slap in the face to the athletes who don’t fit that descriptor. Not only that, but it also advances the notion that a healthy body is one size and one shape, something which is not only untrue but also damaging to a woman’s body image if she doesn’t fit the ideal.
Across all sports, body shapes differ. A speed skater has a different body shape than a rower who has a different body shape than a golfer. Even in different variations of the same sport the body types aren’t even comparable; put a marathoner next to a sprinter and try finding similarities in their figures, yet they’re both runners.
Matt told me once that I my body was similar to a certain female hockey player. One time a person at the gym insisted that I was a basketball player. I have also been told that I “must be an athlete”.
I have shoulders that are wide enough to make me feel uncomfortable wearing anything strapless, but my bust and hips are too large for me to be considered ‘athletic’ by the standard definition. I boast a belly that might put me in the ‘apple-shaped’ category if you see me from the front, but I’ve built up my butt through weight-training so from the back I have more of a pear shape. My body shape seems impossible to define but yet I’ve been told I look like an athlete and, since athletes come in all shapes, it must be true.5 Comments
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- Lose 6cm from my waistline
Start (Aug 15): 83cm/ 91cm/ 166.8lb
Aug 31: 82cm /89cm/ 166.8lb
Sep 10: 83cm/ 89cm/ 166.2lb
Sep 20: 83cm/ 89cm/ 166.2lb
Oct 1: 83cm/ 88cm/ 165.6lb
Oct 10: 82cm/ 89cm/ 166.6lb
Oct 31: 81cm/ 88cm/ 166.6lb
Nov 15: 81cm/ 87cm/ 169.4lb
Dec 1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.2lb
Jan1: 82cm/ 88cm/ 169.4lb
Feb 1: 84cm/89cm/171.8lb
Mar 15: 83cm/ 88cm/ 170.0lb
Apr 15: 82cm/ 88cm/ 170.0lb