Posts tagged women

Tween Girls: Why Do They Have to Lose Confidence?

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Do you ever think about the things you liked to do as a kid? Do you remember how often you had art class?  How you were given time to be creative and innovative?

10374198_10152142761973741_2036474420_nI used to write plays when I was in grade school. They weren’t long or elaborate, but I loved making up stories. I also loved to act. I took acting classes for years – and then – the tweens. I lost confidence, had trouble fitting in, gained a ton of weight, and all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and watch TV. I lost touch with all those of the creative things I loved to do and it’s been a struggle to find them again.  Growing up, my Mom was a single divorced mom – before so many other parents divorced, and she worked a lot.  My sister and I didn’t have a lot of parental oversight to push us to get our butts outside and play and she wasn’t able to take us to after school activities. It’s not a matter of blaming, it’s just the way it was.  Once I hit my teens,  I was picked on incessantly and was very lonely. I am sure today – I would be considered medically ‘depressed’, but back then – it was considered a stage I was going through.

As a mom now, I see a shift in my own tween-age daughter – her interest in her looks and fitting in started a year or so and it seems to be intensifying. I am thankful that she’s not the target of bullies or mean girls, but she has mentioned that she’s doesn’t think she’s popular and doesn’t have a lot of friends. Wearing my Mom hat,  I talk to her about quality vs quantity of friends and offer her words of encouragement because heck, I like her! The reality is though, there are so many outside influences on our daughters that I feel sometimes it’s hard to overcome.  Does it have to be this way for young girls today?

Do young girls have to lose their confidence and sense of empowerment just because they mature?

I’d like to think that the world has changed, but look around – some things have changed, but much has remained the same. There are so many articles and research out there detailing how young girls ultimately grow up to be women with low confidence and find they have less opportunities than male counterparts in their personal lives and careers.

Here’s a few recent articles for example:

Talking about the issue is definitely a start when it comes to addressing the problem, but more focus needs to be on teaching our daughters AND sons about valuing people – male AND female. Parents need to walk the walk/talk the talk as well. However, since men are in many positions of leadership around the world, maybe the wives and daughters out there need to put much needed pressure on the men in their lives to encourage them to lead the change.

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Does She Look Bulky To You?

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I think these pictures are the way most women fear looking like if they lift weights. I am not saying that these women look good or bad — it’s just not the ideal picture of what most women out there think they want to look like and for so many, they attribute lifting heavy weights/strength training with looking like this or bulking up.

Female Body Builders: Martin Schoeller Captures A Different Face Of Beauty (PHOTOS)

Toned, tanned and rippling with muscles, these body builders present a whole new face of female beauty.

The eye-catching gallery is a collection of some of the world’s top female body builders, captured by photographer Martin Schoeller.

He said: “‘I am trying to show the vulnerability that I see and feel in the subjects when I am with them, to get to the complex emotions behind a mask of extreme physical expression.

But let me share this picture with you From the CrossFit Games site of Camille LeBlanc. Does she look bulky to you?

Think 12.2 favored the bigger athlete?  Camille Leblanc-Bazinet hit 99 reps

When the Queen is happy, there is peace in the kingdom.

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I write an extra blog post for my local patch website: Live Fit and Sore!. It’s really another avenue for me to support others in my local community to get fit for themselves and their families. This past week, I wrote on a common theme – Finding your “CrossFit”:  finding your passion, something that shocks your core into realizing that neglecting yourself is doing no one any favors.

I decided to revisit this theme because I have met so many women lately that have really forgotten who they were. They are wrapped up in everyone else’s life that they forget they need some time to cultivate their own or bring back the part of themselves that has been neglected.  I always ask these women to consider the sort of example they are setting for their kids. I believe very strongly that kids need to see that their parent’s are people too – in their own right. Have their own interests, make time for fun, take care of themselves and value their own identity.   If mom is so busy shutting kids back and forth, cleaning, making dinner, etc –when does she have time to do that? I know what you are thinking, well if I don’t do it –how does it get done?

Well there is no magic trick to it -creativity, commitment, determination, value and most importantly, learning that it’s OK to ask for help. Heck, it’s even way more than OK — you should absolutely ask for help.  I learned how to ask for help when my husband was sick — there was no way in the world that I was going to be able to do what I had to do all alone and add in his care. You realize that it’s not only helpful for you, it’s a good thing. Your family learns that the world does not center around them. They are a part of a TEAM.

For me, my husband plays a HUGE part in this all working out. I get up early, get dressed for my workout and head out the door. While I am getting all fit and stuff, he is getting ready for his day, getting the kids up, fed and ready to head off to camp/school. When I get home, I make their lunches , finish corralling them, getting their school/camp gear all set and they head off with Scott. Without his role, it would be extremely difficult to be able to workout out in the morning. He knows this is very important to me. In our house, the saying is – When the Queen is happy, there is peace in the Kingdom. And it’s more than true —

Gluten is tied to early menopause

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Gluten allergy linked to earlier menopause

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Women with untreated celiac disease may hit menopause earlier, and have a higher risk of some pregnancy complications, than women without the disease, suggests a small study.

However, if women with celiac disease are diagnosed early, and follow a strict diet as treatment, the findings suggest they won’t go through menopause any earlier than disease-free women.

Celiac disease affects “the whole spectrum of the reproductive career of women,” said Dr. Shawky Badawy, the head of obstetrics and gynecology at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York.

 

Let’s talk about being Skinny Fat

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Skinny Fat

This post from CrossFit Soutbay was so right on — I struggle with this sort of issue myself and I know I am not alone. A few years ago, my general doctor held up a pencil and said to me — some people are born like this, showing me the pencil, and some people like you will never be pencil like. It’s not how you are built. Something about him saying that to me – stuck with me. He’s was right. I am not a skinny, pencil like woman. Never have been, never will be. And because of that — I have to take care of myself and make the best of what I have. And most importantly – define for my self what fit and healthy means.  I will never look like those models in magazines — and heck, those models don’t like like those models in the magazines!  I am strong, getting stronger every day.

When I first saw this picture of me taken at CFI — my knee jerk reaction was oh man – i look like a dude!  But the more I thought about it, I realized look how strong I look in that pic. I hated wearing sleeveless anything a few years ago and now – I wear sleeveless to workout every day with no cares.  And ya know what? I am a strong chick who works hard — and it’s something to be proud of! And I clean up real nice outside of the gym too!  I would rather be strong fit than skinny fat any day!

Disclaimer: I have been getting a ton of questions about this topic from both inside and outside the gym, from lots of different people, so this isn’t directed at anyone in particular.  Although, if this topic resonates with you, take the time to read it.  This post is more a psychological and analytical approach to body image, Sean has the scientific approach in the comments.


One of the most difficult things to fight as a coach is the thought that “Lifting weights is going to make me ‘bulk up’” from women.  My first response is to shake my head and contemplate shoving my hand in a toaster to cure the frustration… Yet, when I stop and think about it, I honestly like the way CrossFit makes my body look.  And I know there are many of us in the gym that wouldn’t be as enamored with CrossFit if we didn’t see aesthetic results in combination with fitness results, so I do think it is a valuable question that needs to be answered.

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The first thing you need to do is look around the gym at girls that have been CrossFitting for a long time. If we created “bulky bodies”, you would see them at CFSB.  All the above are CrossFitters that have been with us a long time… Strong, not bulky, don’t you agree?? (Sorry for not including all our awesome girls, but I only went back three pages on flickr).

 

Women’s Set Points

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Women’s Set Points | Hunt.Gather.Love..

So interesting — I am conscience of body fat percentages and often wonder how women feel when they have sub 20% body fat. All I have read is about the danger of visceral fat, around your mid-section is the area you should worry about. Since I am not a super curvy person (read: I have no hips), that is exactly where i gain it if I am not watching what I eat —

I said I’d go to bed, but then I read something interesting. Lately there has been some discussion in the comments here about what level of body fat is healthy for women. Is it healthy for women to be as lean as men should be (below 18% body fat)? Some authors say yes. After all, don’t women in third world refugee camps have babies all the time?

Turns out it’s more complex than that. Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives is my go-to reference on this sort of thing and lo and behold it had some answers on this matter.

Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders

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Women face harder choices —

What are you?

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I read this post this morning: Experimenting with Scale Purgatory about taking a break from the scale. Isn’t it funny the relationship some of us have with the scale? It’s crazy if you think about it — it’s not rational. It’s a number that has so much power over us.

And what I find so interesting about this topic is how we all approach it differently and it’s all based on personal history. Did you grow up with a healthy relationship with food and weight? Did you learn balance and moderation?

I do not own a scale, never have.  My trainer forces me to weigh in every week — I purposely do not look at the number. In fact, to ensure that I don’t even accidentally see it — I put my hand over it. Its very frustrating for me knowing that a number has so much power over me that it can affect how I feel about myself for the week.

Last year there was one time where I did look at it after working very hard on modifying my diet and working out super hard all week — and sure enough the scale was UP! UP – how could that be? It was not logical, it was not possible — but there it was in black and gray digital blocks on the wall of my trainer’s facility. And how did I react? Like any normal woman I know — I was frustrated, upset, angry, felt like a failure, felt FAT and it affected not only my workout that morning – but my entire psyche.

The next day my friend Connie B said to me before boot camp — ‘if i see you even beginning to glance up at that scale again, I will take you down’. She recognized that all it took to set me back was to see that number — I have never tried to look at the scale again! Mostly in fear that Connie B will truly take me down. That would hurt more than I could imagine so I will leave it at that.

Do I sometimes want to know what it says? Yes – but I have learned it’s not a healthy way to approach being healthy and fit for me. My trainer will tell me if I am up or down lbs but the overall number – I don’t know. I know that it’s the best way for me to stay on track and positive about my whole journey.  Mikey my trainer doesn’t agree with me on it though. He asks how will I know if I am making progress — I have many other ways to tell.

  • I feel better overall – no more random back pain
  • I look better than I have ever looked and that’s not just my personal opinion
  • I am down 3 sizes — I had worn the same size for years and now I am 3 down from that. That is a sign of progress that you can’t ignore
  • Friends & Family notice – an ongoing joke that I hear is ‘you work out? I had no idea’ because everyone knows how much work I put into it.
  • People ask me fitness/health advice – they see the change and want to do the same

What’s a number anyway?  I am not saying it’s not a good indicator  of health and progress, but there are many factors that go into being healthy and fit. You can have a body type that is more solid so you will never be in the ideal range that you have in your head — it’s just not reality.  My doctor said to me one time while holding up a pencil — you will never be pencil thin – it’s not how you are built. I remind myself that I have to be the best I can be.  Also – another point is that while I wear a very small size pants — I have no hips. Many of my friends wear a bigger pant size although no one would ever think for a moment that they are overweight or out of shape, simply because they have a different body shape – they have hips.  We can only fight nature so much.

When I do get down on myself — Mel from The Clothes Make the Girl once said to remind yourself that — ‘you are not that number on the scale’ — or another thing that I remind myself about I am not that roll of fat that I see. I am sure we all have things to add to that statement —

I am not that <fill in the blank>….but what I AM is a healthy and fit woman looking to inspire and support others so they can live the best life they can live — which is really what we all are looking to do anyway – right?

Obesity Costs Women More Directly & Indirectly

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I’m including this article today because I think it speaks volumes of the hard costs of being overweight for women.  Some of it has to do with women earning more in general and includes a look at direct and indirect costs.  I also think that crap food is cheaper – relating back to economic status – you don’t have a lot of money, you buy cheap food, which is crap food, which then leads to being overweight.

Disparities: Obesity Costs Women More, Study Finds

While a man racks up $2,646 annually in extra expenses if he is obese, a woman’s obesity costs her $4,879, almost twice as much.

The report is one of the first to calculate the economic toll of obesity on the individual, including both direct costs, like medical expenses, and indirect expenses, like lost wages and reduced work productivity. (The study did not account for many other personal consumer costs, like clothing, because data are not available.)

Menopause weight gain: Is it inevitable?

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Menopause weight gain: Stop the middle age spread

As I mentioned in an earlier post about taking care of yourself and not letting yourself go — I am sure you have noticed there are many women out there that once they hit premenopause they start to gain weight around the middle area. These are women who never really had issues before — Does it have to happen? I think there are some realities of aging that are just fact, but things like weight gain for no specific reason is usually hormone related and should be looked in to. We women do not have to settle for regular doctors who do not believe in exploring what used to be called ‘alternative’ medicine. There are a whole host of doctors out there that are approaching medicine with the whole mind & body taken into account. They are running tests looking at things that your family doctor didn’t even know to look for — adrenal glands, hormonal levels etc.

So if you see signs of menopause creeping up like the middle age spread, you don’t have to just say  — oh well, it’s part of getting older because in most cases — it doesn’t have to be that way.  And while this article talks about staying active and paying attention to nutrition — all important things — I also think talking to your doctor or asking some other women in your life about it are worthwhile as well. You don’t have to take getting older lying down, ya know.

As you get older, you may notice that maintaining your usual weight becomes more difficult. In fact, the most profound weight gain in a woman’s life tends to happen during the years leading up to menopause (perimenopause). Weight gain after menopause isn’t inevitable, however. You can reverse course by paying attention to healthy-eating habits and leading an active lifestyle.

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