Name: Nia Shanks
Occupation: Personal trainer, health writer, and leader of the "lift like a girl" revolution.
Conventional wisdom about how women should eat, work out, and look is often negative, self-defeating, and downright degrading. Magazines and over-hyped media encourage women to eat less, warn us not to lift too heavy, and offer numerous "secrets" about how lose weight. Because, you know, a woman's happiness is inexorably tied to the number on the scale. Duh.
Women are often given quick fixes, crash diets, cleanses, and other absurd fitness advice to help us make all of our high-school-jeans dreams come true. When in doubt, we're told, just do more time on the step mill and eat more kale salads...oh, and stop being such a fatty.
It's no wonder so many women are miserable, overly exhausted from marathon workouts, and starving from constantly trying to eat fewer and fewer calories. Many of us are frustrated, confused, and tired of constantly looking for a simpler solution.
This is where it all changes.
It's time to pull your (S)hero costume out the back of the closet it, dust it off, and wear it proudly. It's time you fully embrace the ass-kicking heroine role you know you can play. You're about to start leading the way for a more positive approach to women's fitness.
From Damsel in Distress to Super(S)hero
Most of the common fitness "advice" for ladies revolves around a strict diet and rigid gym schedule. Unfortunately, most of us can't practice such an inflexible regimen for the long term without some negative consequences.
I know this because I have ventured over to the dark side and tried several "diets" with the hope of building a better-looking body. Once I finally came to my senses and got back to sane and simple nutrition principles, I had to correct obsessive-eating habits. After a bit of time, patience, and consistency, I found my way back.
Once I replaced my worry and doubt with a Super (S)hero cape, I began to follow positive, motivating, empowering fitness principles. I want to share them with you. Here is the Super (S)hero Creed:
I Will Shatter Self-Imposed Strength
Unfortunately, many women still believe a bodyweight pull-up (let alone several) is something they'll never do. They think deadlifting a loaded barbell that weighs twice their body weight is not a realistic goal. The limitations you set upon yourself aren't real. It's time to tell yourself, "Yes, I can," instead of "No, I can't."
When you harness this mindset, you'll not only increase your physical strength, but your mental strength as well. The simplest way to start breaking free from the limitations and freeing your inner (S)hero is to let go of your fear and take action. Forget what you know about what women are capable of doing. Ask yourself, "What else can I do?"
Lift heavy barbells and dumbbells. Make progress toward challenging bodyweight exercises. Don't be afraid to squat away from the Smith machine. Unleash your strength.
I Will Eat Real Food
Eat filling, delicious meals that make you feel great. Don't apologize for eating, and don't force yourself to eat foods you don't like just because they're supposedly good for you. There are tons of delicious, all-natural, healthy foods available, so eat the ones you like.
Despite what some "diet" principles would have you believe, eating whole food is really quite simple. All you need to do is apply some common sense and resist the temptation to dwell over the minutiae. Build your diet around red meat, poultry, fish and seafood, dairy, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, and herbs and spices.
If you keep your nutrition guidelines simple and stress-free, you'll be much better off and much more likely to stick to them throughout your life. Delicious and filling real food meals are not complicated, especially if you follow some great recipes.
I Will Focus On Performance
Instead of working out with the sole purpose of changing how your body looks, focus exclusively on what your body can do and work toward constantly improving your performance. We all want to look as great as we feel, and that's one of the huge perks of training for performance: building a great-looking body is a tremendous side-effect.
Most women want a sexy pair of arms that look great in a tank, but instead of doing military presses, biceps curls, and triceps extensions to get them, I encourage women to set performance-based goals. Try working toward performing a few bodyweight chin-ups and 10 or more push-ups with perfect form.
By the time you achieve those goals, your arms will look absolutely incredible and you'll have developed some real upper-body strength in the process. This is truly win-win!
One of the other awesome things about training for performance is that you have tons of variability in your workouts. For instance, you can train primarily with bodyweight workouts, you can use a combination of barbells and dumbbells, you can use kettlebells, and you can use strongman lifts. Ultimately, the possibilities are endless!
Remember, train to be a Super (S)hero! Try to build the strongest, most awesome version of yourself. When you focus on that goal, the bonuses will be a leaner, shapelier, better-looking body. You also should have a lower resting heart rate, stronger bones, and more athletic skill!
I Will Embrace The Truth That I Am Awesome Right Now
Even if you're overweight, have just started working out, or still have a long road ahead of you, you can still choose to be happy right this moment. Forget about proclaiming to be happy once you reach your main goal in the distant future. Being a (S)hero means living every day to the fullest and making healthy decisions because you love yourself as you are this very moment.
I Will Follow Simple, Sustainable, Lifestyle Habits That Enhance My
Like any Super (S)hero, you will have to fight your fair share of villains. Skeptics will say women shouldn't lift heavy. "Experts" will tell you you'll have to diet the rest of your life. Even that little voice inside you will say your happiness and self worth are determined by numbers on the scale.
Every battle you win will make you that much stronger, that much smarter, and that much more awesome. In the end, you will be victorious.
The Younger Generation Needs Super (S)heroes
As you go through your (S)hero transformation, it's important to keep in mind that you will be watched.
All young girls have their role models. Growing up, and even to this day, the most prominent ass-kicking woman in my life is my mom. She taught me from a young age that physical and mental strength are traits to be desired, and that my self-worth does not come from a number on the scale. It's because of my mom that I'm the woman I am today.
The young women in your life are watching you. Be the (S)hero they can look up to. Show them how to be strong and confident. Show them that being a woman is an awesome thing to be.
Recommended For You