This page is dedicated to the lovely (and strong) ladies of our community. Here we’ll post articles, videos, and personal stories to help you on your fitness journey. (all posts by LizO, unless otherwise noted)
Being a woman, the hormone struggle is real. I say this having just experienced my first real cycle in about 4 years. FOUR. YEARS. Yes, thanks to pregnancy and extended breastfeeding, I haven’t had a cycle in a delightfully long time. But that stay of, well, the inevitable, is over, and I can say that last week, during all my attempts at working out, I endured symptoms very similar to being pregnant: I felt weak, tired, slow, out of breath, uncoordinated, achy, bloated, and irritable. Yuck. My performance in lifts and wods followed suit, and I realized how much our cycles affect everything we do. I even overextended my shoulders, as women are warned about during pregnancy when the hormone relaxin greases our joints to help our bodies stretch and bear the burden of a growing child. Not cool. I admit to experimenting with my birth control pills in my youth, taking them for longer than I should have to eliminate a period during a vacation or special event, but now I can see why female athletes might also play with their hormone levels during competitions.
While I do some searches for data and articles that back up this postulation and offer some words of advice (or at least an empathetic chorus of “it isn’t you, it’s your jealous, self-sabotaging hormones”), I thought I would share this piece about making a post-partum comeback in the gym. I feel like I could benefit from these exercises even now, 17 months out from delivering my youngest. Pregnancy changes your body forEVer. There is no way around it. Whether it’s a messed up equilibrium or stretched skin or wider hips or a weaker core or nagging back issues or any other remnant of harnessing and sustaining life, your body becomes unfamiliar and seems to betray you, responding differently to the same stimuli you’ve exposed it to, sometimes for years. I always thought being fit would make an easy post-partum comeback. I was humbled after my first. And I was, quite frankly, dismayed after my second. I might’ve even tried to “go hard” in an attempt to get my mojo back. And that may have been the wrong answer. So you may see me incorporating the above mentioned exercises into my daily wods at the box. Feel free to join me. 🙂
I’ll just leave this here… Bulky is a Lie: Why Women Need to Lift Weights.
I’ve had anxiety issues most of my life. The tiniest things can be my undoing. Flying in a big, metal man-made object that could stall and fall out of the sky at any instant? No problem! But deciding what to pack to bring to the destination should the plane land safely can send me into a tailspin. See, I know I don’t have control over the plane, but I do have control over what I pack and how I prepare.
In our lives, we try to have control over so much. I realized this when I became a parent, and it became apparent that I would have to let go of a lot of things that I used to have control over (like, say, how my day goes, for example…) but would now be at the whim of tiny tyrants who could poop their pants at any second (“Let It Go” seems a fitting mantra for both parent and child).
When things go awry these days, which they inevitably do, I try to get ahold of myself by thinking about the core criteria that needs to be met, and discard the variables. So my daughter is fighting to dress herself and she decides to put on a ridiculous outfit involving blinding colors and one too many tutus — is she clothed? Is she safe? Is she happy? Is she loved? If the answers are all yes (wearing a sparkly bathing suit in winter or shoes that are too big don’t meet the “safe” criteria), then I let it go, I don’t fight that battle. It’s not worth the cost of my blood pressure and her meltdown.
I once heard someone say, “Others’ opinions of you are none of your business.” I take this to mean that it is something you have no control over. No matter what you do, you can’t please everyone, can’t be all things to all people. Having an opinion and sticking up for yourself can be lonely at times. But not staying true to yourself is not worth spreading yourself so thin and giving pieces of you away to make others happy.
I feel that many women go above and beyond to appeal to everyone, under the guise of appealing to themselves. We try to mold our looks, our bodies, our opinions into that which pleases everyone else in search of acceptance, of not feeling ostracized or different or unloved. And if everyone says a size 2 is good, then a size 2 we wish to be. If everyone says muscles are unsexy, then we fear getting bulky. If everyone says blondes have more fun, we experiment with highlights.
But I say a simple shift in focus can be the key to happiness, and happiness is generally accepted everywhere.
CrossFit made me happy with my body, because it shifted my focus from what it looked like, to what it could do — and guess what? Once I let go of preconceived notions of what it “should” look like, I uncovered what my body was meant to look like, and I loved it. I find healthy, fit, muscular bodies on women (and men) attractive, and I’ve heard everything from “I want your arms” to “You really think those (meaning mine) big quads look good?” But I have no control over what other people find attractive.
So if having muscles means fitting into a size bigger than the norm, I’m just gonna let that go. And if it also means that there’s negative feedback from unsolicited opinions, I’m just gonna have to let that go too. Why let the opinions of others keep me up at night when I know I am clothed, I am safe, I am happy, and I am loved? It is not a battle I wish to fight.
I stumbled across this article in my facebook newsfeed this morning. It’s an interview with professional athlete and crossfitter Lindsay Valenzuela in which she echoes this sentiment. Give it read, then repeat after me: Let it go!
(Note: I am not saying that dyeing one’s hair or NOT wanting muscles is wrong. What I am saying is do things for YOU, don’t do what you think others want you to do.)
The rise of social media has allowed individuals with similar interests and ideas to find one another, as well as create communities around these shared hobbies, backgrounds, and world views. I myself turned to social media in the dark hours of night as a new mom, joining parenting groups and following accounts that both celebrated the struggle of motherhood, as well as offered tips and tricks for getting through the daily grind of raising tiny humans. As someone who runs her own varied accounts on facebook and instagram for both personal and business purposes, I see the powerful effect of hashtags and the virtual “hell yeah!” that certain types of posts can offer. Being heard and feeling understood, especially by someone you don’t know personally, can offer validation necessary to keep on keepin’ on in the face of naysayers and evildoers trying to tear other people down.
There is a HUGE community around crossfit — I mean, that’s one of the things this sport is known for. But a spin-off of that is #likeagirl and #ladieswholift, which showcase all the fabulous things women can do with their bodies without being a “consumable good” (which we are NOT). These hashtags, and others, support strong women, proudly show off hard work and the struggle we face, and foster confidence in those who may need the extra push to believe they, too, can do it.
There are many accounts of female weightlifters and heavy hitters out there to follow. Check out Refinery 29’s interview with 8 of them (mostly crossfitters!).
I’ve been seeing a lot of memes and articles about girls getting bulky from lifting (see post below). We see top female competitors — in crossfit, tennis, gymnastics, etc. — and we see how their bodies are clearly defined by their sport, and we wonder if we can handle those effects. The truth is, we probably can’t even garner those effects with simply daily training. Those ladies work HARD, day in day out, 24/7 to look (and perform!) like that. BUT, that being said, there are bound to be changes to your body whenever you dedicate time to a discipline.
When I was an avid runner, I was thin, but my body fat ratio was higher. When I did hot yoga 3-4 times a week on the regular, I felt leaner, and I noticed more muscle tone, but I was definitely not “jacked” and I could still fit into my pants the same way. Then crossfit came along, and after a slow 6-month start, I began to see fat fall off and major muscles take its place. But I still wasn’t “jacked”; it was more like my body “shrink-wrapped” itself. I became a tighter package on the whole, but my thighs couldn’t squeeze through pants that fit my waist, and if they fit my thighs, then the waist was swimming. And my lats began to fight (and beat) my bras. When I started to train competitively, I became more chiseled. But that took training 5 days a week, every week, for months — and STILL I wasn’t nearly as “jacked” as the top competitors. It takes dedication, competitive programming, and proper nutrition to support that kind of physique.
However, I do find that even though I’m not a top competitor, the generalized “sport” of crossfit demands a lot more mental, physical, and nutritional discipline than a typical gym routine. And I LOVE the way fit chicks look. I love the way I feel in my skin from doing squats. It’s not for everyone, but neither are size 2 bikinis.
If you are on the same fitness path as I am — or if you are, or are considering becoming seriously competitive — check out these 6 important things female athletes need to remember.
Welcome, March! Spring is coming… possibility is about to bloom. Are you on the right path to achieving your goals? There are may ways to get to one destination. Your path can go forward, sideways, diagonal, sometimes even backward — or stumbling to fall — before reaching the place you want to be. A straight line almost never happens. Our innermost desires are usually tested along the way, to see how bad we really want something and what we are willing to do to get there.
Levo League is a great resource for inspiration on this matter. Check out their advice on how to embrace failure to find your passion. Don’t give up! Your goals are worth it.
No picture in this quote. Because they say a picture is worth 1,000 words, and when I searched for “fitness motivation for women,” I was really dismayed by the amount of “nothing tastes as good as being thin feels” memes with impossibly thin “fit” women baring pretty much all their skin in ridiculous poses designed to make them look even thinner than they actually are. These words are what the focus should be on, not the 1,000 insults those pictures scream at the women who can’t/shouldn’t/wouldn’t change themselves to fit someone else’s ideal image.
It is a constant struggle to be who you are, unabashedly and unapologetically. Keep on keepin’ on. I’m right there with you.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
It makes me sad that stories of struggle, when it comes to body image and eating disorders, are so prevalent among the women I know, and insidious among women in general. Truly, we are so much more than our bodies, be they athletic, slender, strong, supple, tan, pale, tall, short, ample, stretched out, enhanced, scarred, airbrushed, tattooed, filtered, on display, or hidden away.
But we fall prey to pervasive contrived images of ideal beauty, and we begin to think there’s something wrong with us, rather than the messed up message of “this is the only way to be,” when that is literally physically impossible.
I know from personal experience that eating disorders are really about control. To try to punish, reward, and shape ourselves to ideals we have either made up or been taught equal our worth. And women are SO so hard on themselves. I see it all the time in the gym. When the more technical Oly lifts come up, and female athletes are having trouble executing the movement, they tend to look defeated — like they take it personally. When I see men failing lifts, they never even seem to notice. They tend to “fake it” in an attempt to make it, and don’t really care what everyone else is doing.
First off, ladies, I don’t know about you, but I certainly wasn’t taught how to lift weights in my youth. I was pushed toward gymnastics, and after being kicked out for lack of, well, everything you need to be good at gymnastics, I was pushed toward softball, and prior to all that I was pushed toward being a ballerina or possibly trying out for cheerleading, except I seemed to suck at being graceful in the former and wasn’t popular enough for the latter. Sigh. Aside from all this being fodder for low self-esteem and punishing myself with disordered eating and exercising years later, I bring it up to illustrate my point that we are already at a disadvantage in weightlifting from our first step to the bar, so MAJOR kudos for psyching yourself up enough to even get to that point, let along pick it up, let alone persevere and learn Oly lifts. Give yourselves a collective pat on the back, as well as a break.
Second, you are welcome here. Yes, you. You who have low self-esteem. You who have spent years wearing your swimming t-shirt over your actual swim suit. You who may not have the body awareness of a gymnast. You who didn’t make the cut for cheerleading. You who played catcher in softball because your arm was the only thing athletic about you. You who filled out your tights a little more than the other ballerinas. You who punished herself for years for not having a reflection worth loving. (P.S. I just wholly described myself. Here’s hoping I’m not the only one out there… Bueller…?)
Because you are not alone. We all have strengths and weaknesses, progress and setbacks, and maybe that girl can swing on the rings and fly through kipping anything, but YOU can cycle a barbell like no one else. That girl might have a 300# deadlift, but you just PR’d a body weight clean, and that is freaking amazing. That girl might bang out strict pullups and legless rope climbs, but your double unders are a thing of beauty and you just strung together T2B for the first time. That girl is not you. There is nothing wrong with you. It’s all relative, and it’s ALL to be celebrated at the box. No one cares about what you look like or how long you’ve been trying to master a movement, as long as you are giving your all on the path to being better than yesterday. What you look like doesn’t matter; it’s what you can DO that is amazing and inspiring. And everyone in the box WANTS you to succeed and watch you do amazing things — whether that’s one strict pullup or 10 unbroken muscleups. No, seriously. It’s rather empowering, what we have going on here. Especially at our box, where I am so proud of the women who lift each other up and encourage greatness in each other. Thank you!
And in honor of upcoming National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I thought you should see some examples of other strong ladies in our greater CrossFit community who have overcome and now shine for all to see how happy they are in the skin they’re in because of what we do. And if that isn’t enough to push anyone who might be doubtful that yes, they, too, can, in fact, do this thing called CrossFit, here are 7 reasons why CrossFit isn’t as scary as you think.
YOU can do it. We can help. You’re welcome here. <3
You’ve heard it all before: You can’t out-train a bad diet. Lifting weights will make you bulky. Cutting carbs and calories will make you lose weight. Fat-free all the things. Cardio, cardio, cardio.
Too bad only one of those is right: You can’t out-train a bad diet. I mean, you can over-train a bad diet, but the effects of a bad diet will eventually catch up to you, and the consequences — like hormonal imbalance, fatigue, and chronic digestive problems — will definitely effect how hard you can train and the composition of your body long-term.
While not all rules can be applied to all bodies, this article offers some general truths to counter the myths that keep most women from picking up the bar and changing their health for the better.
I will tell you from my experience, the day I stopped counting calories, started eating more fat, got off the treadmill, picked up the barbell, and chose better carbs to eat, the fitter I got, the freer I felt, the healthier my doctor said I was, the more engaged my brain became, the better my body looked. I weigh more now than I ever have in my life (aside from being pregnant), and I look better than I did in my 20s (I’m woefully close to 40 — but actually, I’ve pretty much stopped dreading age as well…). I feel good, in my skin, in my head, in my daily choices.
Discovering the truth behind the lies has been priceless.
Happy New Year! Don’t be afraid of failing. Be afraid of being in the exact same place next year as you are today.
So… I went to the doctor earlier this week because I figured my lack of appetite and will to work out HAD to be from illness, considering my penchant for both eating and moving. Behold, I was right. With a rising temp and a raging sinus infection, I was sent home with meds and am now on the mend. However, I’m not writing this post to garner sympathy for my sickness, alas no — I’m writing it to share my experience at said doctor’s office. I shall explain:
I went to an urgent care facility, and there were two people ahead of me: a boy accompanied by his father, and a lone man who looked about my age. Both times, I watched the nurse call them back and tell them to get on the scale. Very matter-of-factly, no fanfare, just “please get on the scale.” Then it was my turn. She called me back and immediately apologized, “I’m sorry, do you mind if I weigh you?” She even put her hand up to her mouth when she said it, the universal sign for “I’m embarrassed to ask you this.” I was kind of shocked, didn’t know what to say, except to blurt out “Of course not! I’m not afraid!” (which maybe implied that I was supposed to be). She then asked if I wanted to take anything off (like vest, shoes, sunglasses). While this sounds like a good way to get a more accurate number, I’m assuming this was really to get the lowest number possible, because when the number came up, she verbally subtracted for my jeans, which is pure guesstimate and not a very scientific way to get a precise weight, and was presumably for my benefit. Apparently, I was trying to make weight that day for the fight of my life. I guess it was a good thing my illness forbade me from foraging for breakfast that day. I mean, WTF? I ignored all this, but the experience stayed with me long after I left.
I am, depending on time of day and whether or not it seemed like a good idea to eat donuts, between 140-145#. There. I said it. Thing is, I’m not ashamed. What I am ashamed of is that for years (YEARS) I forced my body into 112-120#, crying if I neared 130#. I cannot possibly find the words to explain not only how terribly I felt about myself during that time, but how amazing I feel about myself and how my capable, strong, healthy, lean, life-giving and -sustaining body looks right now (yes, negative thoughts, and too may donuts, creep in, but on the whole…). I dare say I look better now, 20 years, 2 kids, and 20+ pounds later — and you can ask my husband, who has known me through all of it, and encourages me to eat and drink protein shakes. But the words and attitude of that nurse brought me right back to that crazy mindset of wanting to turn sideways and disappear.
So thank you, CrossFit, for helping me to be strong: not only in body, but in mind. Because of my relationship with CrossFit, my relationships with myself, with food, and with life have all flourished. I hope to be setting a positive example for my own daughter so that she doesn’t fall into the trap of glossy, photo-shopped magazines and filtered IG accounts. I will NOT measure myself against a number that stands for nothing other than the gravitational pull on my painstakingly developed muscles. Speaking of which, MUSCLE WEIGHS MORE THAN FAT. So on YOUR journey through CrossFit, remember that the scale is not your friend. How you feel, the energy you have, how you fit in your clothes — whatever the size — is the barometer of health and success. For more on that, check out this article on The Fit Women’s Guide to Body Fat. Because we ladies who lift are a beautiful beast whose nature cannot be compared to those of sheep.
And the next time you’re at the doctor about to step on that glorified metal doorstop, remember to tell anyone who’ll listen that you’re “not afraid.” While you’re at it, flex like you aren’t sorry for “getting bulky.” Together, we can show the world women aren’t living in fear of who we are, no matter where we are on our path to fitness.
All good reasons. What would YOU add?
Random rant: In an effort to find some inspiring and informational articles to share with you here, I used the Google to search for “women’s fitness articles.” I also entered “strong women” into the search bar on the faceplace. I was really disheartened by what both searches presented me with. The facebook search offered up accounts of useless memes plastered on pics of women’s bodies, mostly selfies of the neck to knee area, typically with the shirt pulled up. We all know that abs are not a measure of fitness, given the differences in body structure and the fact that one can starve themselves and get abs. So there’s that. The Google search served me some bullshit from popular women’s heath magazines about low weight, high rep exercises, how to eat less, and “how to get the lean look.” Really? It’s just about the “look”? (I’m not even going to touch the “eating less” argument, as I eat over 2,000 calories a day and continue to see my lulus getting looser. So there.)
Finding truly useful info for the broad spectrum of broads out there is really, really hard. I know what works for ME, but I don’t proclaim to be every woman out there. But I do know this: Lifting heavy shit is good for you, no matter who you are. It’s good for your heart, it’s good for your spirit, and it’s good for your pants.
Luckily, there are a few sites I turn to that spread this message — and not just female bodybuilding sites that are more concerned with symmetrical appearance and “show muscles” than true fitness. Breaking Muscle is one of them. Check out 3 Indisputable Reasons for Women to Lift Heavy + 30 Day Challenge. Note the similarities in her recommendations for the 30-day challenge and in the Aero programming? Yeah. I did too. 😉
I love CrossFit because it celebrates what the body can do, rather than what it looks like. But a byproduct of that is a culture filled with women who unabashedly show off their hard work in booty shorts and sports bras — and I applaud having the self-confidence to do so. I, myself, after years of hating every flaw on my very normal body, found it liberating to strip off a sweaty shirt, mid-wod, and be like, “Here I am, world! I am proud of what this body can do, and the muscles I’m using, and I won’t let a silly T-shirt or your judgment hold me back!” Hell yeah, right??!! Except I found that even in CrossFit, women’s bodies were being used, even if to sell the very image that strong is beautiful and to not be afraid to be real. But their camera angles and body part close-ups still smack of “sex sells” to me, and I’m not sure I’m down with that.
Here’s another take on sex and the marketability of the female crossfitter, as well as the harsh truth that professional sports industry harbors the gender inequality that makes turns athletic women into unwitting exhibitionists.
Happy Monday! Carpe the sh!t out of this diem!! #youcandoit #startnow
Happy Friday! Celebrate the upcoming weekend with these invaluable training tips for women from respected athletes and trainers, gathered by Juggernaut Training — a powerhouse of knowledge, programming, and motivation in the powerlifting arena.
Marisa Inda is #momstrong! If you aren’t familiar with this awesome powerlifting athlete, check out this vid where she offers some great advice to female powerlifters trying to balance family and life on the platform.
Habits. We all have them. Some are beneficial, like brushing our teeth or going to the gym, and some, not so much (pick your poison, gross affliction, or rut of inertia). But what if our daily habits, even the ones we don’t really think about, were the deciding factor in how successful we become? What if we could reprogram how we habitually do things, change our perspective, and position ourselves for greatness?
Are you familiar with Christmas Abbott? While she is known for being a model and CrossFit personality, she is way more than just a pretty face: she’s a business owner, coach, athlete, writer, sports commentator, and NASCAR pit crew member — she seems to do it all, and there isn’t much that she wouldn’t at least try her hand at. Recently, one of my favorite resource sites, Barbell Shrugged, did an interview with her about habits, and for once, the answers to these questions that are typically asked of those who exude success actually resonated with me. Enough to share with you: Check out My 5 Key Habits.
TFW the woman struggle is real: Period problems. Some symptoms are worse than others, but most all women are affected by some monthly discomfort, be it physical, mental, or both. I myself suffered from endometriosis before having kids. When you’re 16 and doubled over in pain in a pool of your own sweat after taking 8 advil, your mom has to make the hard decision to start you on “the pill” in order to stop you from missing so much school. But I never liked the idea of taking hormones, and I often wondered if I could control my symptoms in a different manner than oral meds, be it the pill or many (many) pain pills. And the pill didn’t stop my symptoms entirely, it just quieted them a bit. Flash forward more than a decade, and I found that starting crossfit (I had previously been a runner and hot yoga devotee) and lifting weights in combination with a mostly paleo diet (80/20) greatly helped to regulate my hormones and erase all symptoms of PMS, and lightened my actual period as well. But why…?
If you are tired of suffering through your symptoms but, like, me, aren’t thrilled with systemic hormone therapy (aka, the pill), check out How to Fix Your Period Without Birth Control and learn about the important role diet and exercise can play in making your menses — and common conditions associated with it, like PCOS — more bearable.
So you say you want to build strength and kick ass in the gym? Or maybe you just want to start moving and take the first step on the path to being fit, to being better than yesterday? Or is it that you wish you had the confidence to go forth and conquer whatever your dreams may be?
I have personally noticed that as my strength increased in the gym, other parts of my life outside the box followed. CrossFit specifically has shown me that my worth is in what I can do, not what I look like. It has taught me that believing in myself is necessary to accomplish just about anything. And my society-taught ways of doubting myself in everything from what I say to what I wear to what I want to do with my life were holding me back from greatness.
That’s why I think these three Lessons from a Strongwoman are necessary for any woman — mother, career-chaser, young girl, confused college-goer, adventurist, grandmother, divorcee, etc. — to hear.
Ok, so this isn’t a CrossFit or nutrition or exercise-related post, but it is about our mental health and well-being as women. I never really thought about the proliferation of the “hot mess” trend until this article made me take a closer look at how young women are being portrayed in recent TV series. While images of PhotoShopped, unattainably perfect models can damage how we see ourselves and make us try to conform to a conjured norm, so can these TV shows, which arguably are trying to swing the pendulum the other way by showing “real” women, but are presenting messages just as contrived and with overall theme of still looking “cute” or being “attractive” despite being a hot mess. Not cool. I am totally all about presenting the more real side of life and all of its snafus, but just as we should accept being human, we should also fully accept, and own, our successes, which we achieve despite being human. Empowering young women with role models who say, yeah, I’m not perfect — I say awkward things and leave the bathroom with my skirt tucked into my undies every once and a while — BUT I own a business, run a household, climb the career ladder, lift weights, am a human rights activist, sell properties, etc., etc., and I am PROUD of being WHO I am. What we look like, or how we portray ourselves, should be a reflection of our confidence, our belief in what we’re worth, not how we endear ourselves to the world. Amiright?
Finally a motivation video without fitness models, but with ordinary girls! All sizes. All shapes. All fitness levels. One common goal: to be better than yesterday. And that’s all that matters. You CAN do it. Start where you are. You’ll get where you want to go. #believeinyourself
Hormones. Everyone has them, but women have cycles of them; different times during the month when they ebb and flow and cause our best efforts in the gym (and in life) to be sabotaged by changes in both metabolism and stored energy, as well as recovery time. Read more on why we shouldn’t write off PMS symptoms during training, and what we can do differently to fuel up #likeagirl and curb their effects.
If hearing the words “double unders” conjures images of whip marks and instantly fills you frustration, you aren’t alone. Even seasoned crossfitters have good and bad double under days — it’s a seemingly fickle skill that decides to disappear the moment you need them most, namely competition or in the heat of a wod you are trying to PR. Double unders are an exercise in timing and form. When we practice, we might get 10 or more in a row, but once 3, 2, 1, Go hits, we tense up, which alters our form, shortening the rope or making us jump wildly. Ever feel like you can’t breathe, and someone says “relax,” and you’re like WHAT?? I CAN’T BREATHE HOW CAN I RELAX?!?!; but then you focus, calm yourself down, and suddenly, you can breathe? That’s kind of like double unders. If you allow frustration to get the best of you, they just aren’t going to happen. But if you calm down, focus on a point in front of you, and find a relaxed jumping rhythm, you are sure to succeed.
We give cues like “keep your wrists at your sides,” “hollow position,” “don’t donkey kick,” but sometimes the words don’t jive with what we think we are or are not supposed to do. I find that videoing myself (for any movement I’m trying to improve) is the most helpful in resolving conflicts in form. I see what I’m doing wrong, understand how the cues illustrate that, then maybe think of cues that make sense to only me to get me to do what I need to do. “Jump straight” is what has helped me stop doing the donkey kick that I didn’t even realize I was doing till I videoed myself. And let me tell you, double unders feel WAY easier when I’m not expending all that extra energy to jump high and kick like that.
If our common cues haven’t been working for you, check out A Guide to Improving Your Double Unders by Molly Metz, champion jump roper and owner of CrossFit Mad Hops and JumpNRope. Click through to the JumpNRope site and check out some of the videos — the world record double unders and Molly doing 100 TRIPLE UNDERS UNBROKEN will inspire you to master this skill!
Women play has hard as men do in the gym, but should we rest harder? What are the physiological differences that dictate what kinds of stresses our muscles and bodies best respond to? How about eating to perform and what to eat to recover? Check out the recent post on PurePharma’s blog, Muscle Myths: Does Muscle Recovery Differ For Women for answers and tips for how to recover #likeagirl.
While many magazines and ad campaigns still resort to photoshopping and airbrushing to portray perfected reality, consumers know those standards are no longer beauty truths to follow, though it is hard not to compare ourselves to those images. Luckily, thanks to social media and a few women brazen enough to use their celebrity for the greater good of women’s morale, real photos of real women in real bodies are being tweeted, instagrammed, and posted on blogs for all to see, in hopes of changing to standard of beauty to be one kinder to the soul and more in line with a life well lived than perfectly retouched.
Check out the #YourBodyRules campaign and these 7 Inspirational Celebrity Instagrams to follow for daily affirmations that yes, YOUR body — the one that takes care of your kids, works hard in the gym, works overtime to get that promotion, carries you from place to place, and houses your perfect soul — rules. Happy Monday!
Say it with me: “Fat is your friend.” The pervasive idea that fat, particularly saturated fat, is bad for you contributed to the low fat, calorie counting diet trend in the ’90s. However, this diet didn’t exactly cure heart disease or obesity, and in many ways contributed to these growing epidemics. It has since come to light that fat, particularly saturated fat, is not the villain it was once made out to be, but it has been hard to convince the public of this — especially women. We are trained to believe that whatever fat passes our lips will stick directly to our hips, so all the low fat things are good for us and our waistline. But that just isn’t true.
Eating fat will help fuel your day while maintaining satiety way better than any carb. Low energy? Can’t lose that last 10 pounds? Feeling foggy? These are all signs of low dietary fat. Get this: Eating fat will actually help you burn fat. It’s the overconsumption of carbs that causes stored body fat. (Fun fact: Fat and cholesterol are both also extremely important for brain development in infants and toddlers.)
I personally eat most of my daily calories from fat — in the form of full-fat yogurt, butter (from grass-fed cows), grass-fed beef/pasture-raised pork, coconut oil, and nut butters — followed by carbs and protein. But because the fat keeps me feeling fuller for longer, I don’t need to eat a large volume of food. This is what works for me, but it’s really about finding the fat-carb-protein ratio that works for you. For instance, bodybuilders and professional athletes eat way more protein than carbs or fat.
Wondering if adding more fat will help you reach your goals? You can start by adding in more fish oil (healthy Omega 3 fatty acids — in fatty fish like salmon, or in PurePharma, sold at the box!), which can aid in recovery from workouts, or a teaspoon of coconut oil/butter in your coffee (or all by itself — Nikki’s Coconut Butter is a great quick, healthy, very low sugar, filling snack) to your diet. If you are dairy sensitive, ghee is a great source of healthy fats (you can cook with it or eat it by the spoonful as well), and check out 7 Signs You’re Not Eating Enough Fats.
AMIRIGHT? 19 Things Only Women Who Lift Will Understand. What would YOU add to this list?
Although the image of super skinny women is pervasive, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all ideal. And it shouldn’t be. While there are those that are naturally skinny and TRY to gain weight, there are also those that no matter what they do, what they eat, what specialist or get-thin-quick product they turn to, they cannot lose enough weight to ever be considered skinny.
No matter what your weight, the focus should really be on HEALTH. And if we want to call ourselves “athletes,” then we need to understand that our bodies are not going to look like those plastered in fashion magazines. That our diet needs to fuel our activity level. That we all come in different shapes and sizes and that each one has a strength for performing in the gym. That we should be less concerned about what size we buy, since it’s dictated by cookie cutter fashion plates we know we aren’t trying to emulate, and more concerned about dressing the body we have to celebrate its silhouette, no matter what that might look like.
We are strong. We are proud. We are healthy. And it’s time we allow THAT to be our defining characteristic. Just like Olympian Amanda Bingson does. Check out her interview with ESPN for their Body Issue in this article: Athletes Come In All Shapes and Sizes.
“Women in the gym are no longer confined to fluffy aerobics and dance classes – instead they’re taking over the weights room.”
If you’re reading this, you are likely part of this takeover, this shift in thinking that weightlifting is only for dudes, or chicks reminiscent of Jim Carrey’s satirical bodybuilder character Vera De Milo on In Living Color. We all know it takes way more than the normal gym routine to grow muscle like that on the female frame. We also know weightlifting helps to burn fat, keep your heart healthy, increase strength to meet the demands of everyday life (groceries, kids, boxes, gardening, work, etc.), and boost confidence in and out of the gym (“Hey, I CAN do that!”).
Yes, lifting weights will forge your body — and your mind — in the best way possible. While the skinny jeans struggle may be real (and really, that’s a problem with the jeans, not your natural, shapely muscles), those defined thighs will carry you strong and proud through, over, and around whatever is in your path. Keep your head up, take comfort in your strength, and read more about why weightlifting is the women’s fitness trend that’s here to stay.
It’s no wonder that women can be full of doubt when it comes to showing their athleticism. Society hasn’t always made it easy to be a powerful woman. But we’ve come a long way.
Check out this TIME article about 18 athletes who changed the game for women.
Ah, the (loaded) question heard round the female crossfit community: Is it safe to crossfit while pregnant? Well, I have two healthy kids and a team of midwives, doulas, and doctors who would all say YES — but how you go about your fitness journey while pregnant greatly depends on your current fitness level and what your body is used to. I had been an avid crossfitter for 2+ years before getting pregnant with my first. So I continued by 5-days-a-week habit, listening to my body (that term can be so vague, but in pregnancy is so right on point) along the way and scaling/modifying movements as needed.
Although I could write my own looooooong essay about my stance and experience as a two-time pregnant crossfitter, this article does a good job of nicely summing it up in a quick read. I can definitely vouch for the part about speedy pushing time due to squats (and honestly, I think core muscles helped there too — I continued situps till 5-6 months, then did knees to close-to-elbows and lateral leg raises till the end). And the hormone Relaxin is a real issue, but instead of focusing on box jumps (a movement I did till jumping became unsafe because I couldn’t see over my belly — after that it was step-ups through the third tri), I might suggest saying no to chest-to-bar pullups and muscle-ups or any dynamic movement that puts great torque on shoulder and other joints. I personally did small sets of regular kipping pull-ups, but even that might be uncomfy to some. You just don’t want to overextend without knowing it due to greased up joints.
Overall, it was about letting go of the clock and focusing instead of form and moving however my body would let me that day: a growing belly throws off center of gravity, and shortness of breath can happen within the first weeks of a positive pregnancy test. I ran and rowed till the bitter end while pregnant with my first (rowing a 5k the day before she was born), and I suffered a lot of back/hip pain postpartum. With my second, I ran short distances and then stopped running after 7-8 months, and stopped rowing once I had to open my knees on the return to make room for the belly. I had nearly zero back/hip pain recovering from my son’s birth, six months ago. That was the only thing I changed the second time around; otherwise, I kept doing most metcons (avoiding really long workouts because endurance falls off while you’re making a human) and lifted heavy (I PR’d lifts during BOTH pregnancies), adjusting grip and stance to avoid the belly, stopping super heavy lifts at 7-8 months. Yes, I had to re-learn keeping the bar close to me, as opposed to going around the belly, but that was a minor adjustment that simply being conscious of while drilling with light weight fixed within a few weeks postpartum.
Bottom line is my experience may not mirror yours. Every woman is different, every pregnancy is different. But if you are currently crossfitting — and you are enjoying a healthy pregnancy without limitation — there is no reason to stop completely. Just as a seasoned marathon runner probably wouldn’t stop running in pregnancy (though I sure as hell could not run a marathon while pregnant — or ever!). Crossfit is inclusive because it can be modified to suit all abilities and around any injury, so why would that not pertain to pregnancy?
Oh, and postpartum fitness? That’s a whole other animal to tame…
A few of you have asked for articles about nutrition, and I agree: considering many of us are victims of the diet du jour, disordered eating, and scale fixation, it would be really wonderful to find some information that strikes a chord and sets us on the straight path to better food choices and healthier bodies that make us feel proud. Unfortunately, I just don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all nutrition plan for the fairer sex. Much like the quest for the perfect pair of jeans, finding what fuels our body best can be a lot of trial and error with tears, frustration, and a sugar-high like elation when we finally find what fits.
For instance, my body does really (really) well when I eat a lot of fat. Yep, fat. Avocados, coconut butter, and real pasture-raised butter all keep my metabolism running consistently, help keep me satiated so I don’t overeat, stave off the sugar crash, and give me fuel to burn in my 4-5 days a week workout habit. And even though I think women in general don’t eat enough food (we can thank the ’80s calorie counting epidemic for that), and I certainly think everyone could up their fat intake, this approach may not work for everyone. Activity level, body type, and other factors need to be taken into consideration.
There are so (SO) many diets out there: the blood type diet, paleo, vegan, juice cleanses (just no), Renaissance, counting macros, just to name a few. The key, I think, is to not pigeon-hole yourself into one diet alone, but to pick and choose from each based on what your body needs and how it reacts to food.
I did find this article, which I think expresses this sentiment very well. In addition, her site has some great fitness and nutrition advice, as well as recipes that cover all dietary bases, from gluten-free to vegan to dairy-free.
Finding the foods your body responds to best can be a longer process than you think. Some do omission diets to suss out allergies or other adverse reactions (like mine to too much dairy — milk specifically; yogurt seems to be ok), some do sugar detoxes to realize that their moods stabilize when they aren’t eating as much sugar (and they didn’t realize they were even eating that much till they removed ALL of it). The first thing I can suggest to anyone who wants to overhaul their diet is to keep a food journal for a week. You’ll be surprised how much you eat and how often when you have to write down each and every bite. Simply being accountable for what you consume can often be the catalyst for great change. Knowing is half the battle!
“But I don’t want to get bulky.” We’ve heard this from you countless times. We’ve tried to assuage your fears letting you know that strong is beautiful, and that the “bulk” you are trying to avoid doesn’t come on easily enough to warrant your fears, but there seems to be a pervasive idea among women that adding muscle will subtract their femininity. This is just false. Toned muscles accentuate our form and create strong lines to complement our curves. If you are worried about having to go up a size in pants because the ones you joined the gym with can no longer contain your thighs and butt, don’t. First of all, strong legs are SEXY, and will carry you through the demands of life with ease. And perhaps what we should all fear is the thought that the number sewn into the back of our pants dictates our self-worth.
Here’s a new way of looking at the “bulk.” Cause it’s all about perspective.
The elusive pull-up. A coveted milestone. But are you going about getting one all wrong? Think those bands are working for you? They might help you get through a wod, but they aren’t helping to develop strength you need. Here’s what you can do to conquer your first strict pull-up. (Spoiler alert: They’re all things you’ve heard from us before…)
Are you as productive as you could be? Could your daily habits be impeding your success? Check out this list of 20 Productive Habits of Successful People from Levo League (hint, getting up early to check email isn’t one of them)!
Because pee happens, even to those who may not have sustained childbirth: Dealing with exercise-induced urinary incontinence.
Sun’s out guns out? 6 reasons ladies need to show their upper bodies some lovin’.
Check it out: A website, community and digital mag just for you—the female CrossFitter! BoxLifeWomen.com
What is normal postpartum recovery?
Since we have a bunch of new moms and moms-to-be at the gym (kicking ass, I must add), I thought it would be good to address the idea of “bouncing back,” and what’s to be expected. The thing is, there is no “normal,” “bouncing back” happens to maybe 1% of the population, and the only expectation you can have is that it will be harder than you think. You will need to listen to YOUR body and move at a pace that YOUR recovery allows. Every person, and thus every woman, heals differently. Add in the variations of labor time, c-sections, age, and other variables, and we’re all unique snowflakes just trying to make it through every sleep-deprived day hour by hour.
For me personally, it took (and is taking) 6 months to feel normal in my own skin after giving birth. (Disclaimer: Again, there is no “normal.” What I mean is “like myself.” So although people have said that they see a difference in how I look, how I feel may not reflect what they see. It’s not about achieving pre-baby weight — I know that number is not the measure health or happiness — it’s about being able to anticipate my body’s reactions to stimulus without adjustments or compromise.) The major recovery (read: bleeding and soreness) happened in the first month with Phoenix — that was shortened to 1-2 weeks with Leo — but the aftershocks and lasting effects of creating, carrying, and birthing a human didn’t really fade for 6 whole months. And it might be longer this time around, since Leo will be 6 months on 5/17 and my hips/lower back still feel loose, and my core muscles aren’t offering full stability yet (and my weightlifting belt STILL doesn’t fit, sad face). That being said, aside from the stretch marks and residual joey pouch (kangaroo reference, because the struggle is real with the second babe), I have noticed my strength and endurance are returning nicely (re-learning form and not arcing around a phantom belly is a story for another post). I still don’t push myself to red line 100%, as I’m nursing and need to hydrate often (and not run myself into the ground), but I’ve been able to maintain 85-90% effort with good recovery. The programming at Aero helps greatly. Being able to choose a tier based on how I’m feeling, rest time included in metcons, wods that don’t call for all-out effort all the time, and knowing that there is a greater plan to what we’re doing have eased me back into my groove. I’m grateful (and proud) of what we have to offer in that respect.
The site Breaking Muscle also has some really good articles on postpartum fitness. Which leads me to the meat of today’s post: You Don’t Have to be Normal: The Reality of Postpartum Fitness. Enjoy!
When it comes to training, fitness advice, nutrition info, and just life in general, women are not just small men, and the guidance they receive should reflect that. Here’s some essential info for the female athlete, about bone health, fitness myths, birth control and hormones, and fasting.
Want to know a dirty little secret? I have cellulite. And you may, too. But you know what? That doesn’t mean that we aren’t fit and strong, happy and healthy. Don’t let the way you are genetically predisposed to carry whatever amount of fat you have make you doubt that. Wear your body PROUDLY. Real life is beautiful, and it isn’t filtered or airbrushed. Abs and cellulite do co-exist on the female athlete. And it’s perfectly ok. I swear. One of the reasons I love CrossFit is because it celebrates what the body can DO, not what it looks like. The ironic part of that is that as we get stronger, our confidence grows, and we begin to embrace the “uniform” of lulus, knee high socks, booty shorts, and sports bras, showing the world that ALL bodies are beautiful when they are in motion working hard. No two bodies are alike. Don’t compare your best self to anyone else’s. Keep on keepin’ on, cellulite and all. Because at the end of the day, they are talking about your strength and determination, not a few bumps on your rump.
Postpartum fitness: Celebrating the journey (five months out) with LizO.
“A motivated person sets New Year’s resolutions, but a purposeful person forms lasting habits.”
Is there ONE nutrition protocol that will unlock your body’s potential and change its composition?
Because eff cute skinny jeans, anyway. Strong is the new skinny.
Check out this awesome vid from Five X3 Training about how to save someone (who may be larger than you and incapacitated) from a burning building.
Women’s only class coming soon! Details TBA.