This article is a guest post from the one and only Leigh Peele. I could provide a lengthy introduction, but this article is amazing. Just start reading.
Oh, but I will state that Leigh just released her newest book, Starve Mode. I had the privilege of reading it before the release and I will state that it’s an incredible resource for those who enjoy no nonsense nutrition information. She covers important topics such as not demonizing food and issues like metabolic damage and starvation mode. Click here to check it out. (I’m a proud affiliate for Starve Mode).
Now on to the article!
Browse any Facebook feeds or Pinterest boards of a female lifter and you will likely come across a phrase like “Strong is the New Beautiful!” or “I Lift Weights, Not Shirts!” I’m assuming that last one is a snarky nod to women’s Girls Gone Wild phases during their college youth? Jen Sinkler, a popular fitness writer and badass fanny pack toter has recently released a line of t-shirts that say, “Unapologetically Strong.” The statement is not one of irony given that she just busted out a 305lb Sumo Deadlift to Roxanne’s 1988 Billboard topping “Listen To Your Heart.”
We are moving slowly but steadily in the right direction. Women should have the option to be sexy in high heels or sneakers. They also have the option to not be sexy at all or thought of in that manner. Women should have the option to pick up a yoga mat or a 300lb barbell. Women should understand that while there is still a social norm that may feel otherwise, there is a large subset of the population who likes seeing a lady strong physically. I believe in the old adage that there is “someone for everyone.” I have to because I’m pretty untraditional as these things go.
Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back
Ah, we were doing so well here, ladies! We were trail blazing in the sun and kicking the dust up behind us. We were rejecting society norms and rising up to be who we decided we want to be. But every action, has a reaction.
The American Psychiatric Association is considering for the first time classifying Orthorexia as a mental illness. There is a rise in “adult picky eating” as well as anorexia and bulimia. All day long in my inbox and facebook feeds I see fear. Fear of bread, fear of fats, fear of carbohydrates, gluten, GMO’s, refined sugars, potatoes, tomatoes, meat – nothing is safe from claims or suspicion. The end result is you being scared and making choices based on fear rather than need or solid scientific data. (Nia – I believe things like “The Skinny Rules” are only making this worse).
Being Informed and Caring About Your Body Isn’t The Same as Being Paranoid
I don’t want to imply that we can’t make good selections in the foods we eat. I’m also not saying that if you know something hurts you physically you should say, “Screw it!” and eat it anyway. I can’t eat dairy because my allergy is so bad I get instant pustules on my face. So no, I’m not eating dairy. It’s a damn good reason. But, you need to ask yourself, “Am I making this decision based on logical evidence and solid research or am I appealing to authority and the fear in my mind?”
Every day I make a conscience decision to eat part for enjoyment and part nutrient requirements. While I enjoy foods that are very dense in nutrient value, I also have this crazy notion that we only live once in this life. I don’t try and fool myself into thinking that chocolate or French Fries hold a remarkable amount of nutrient weight. I simply account for the nutrients I need and the nutrients I can spare. And some days, I just have fun just because I want to. Can you imagine that? A fitness professional that enjoys food!
Strength Isn’t Only On The Bar
Strong should exist in every facet of your being. Your mental strength and strength of character are just as important as what you can lift or do with your body. (Nia – I completely agree and this is what I call Being the Strongest, Most Awesome Version of Yourself). Otherwise, there will be a disconnect and your physical strength will be overshadowed by mental weakness. Don’t fall into that trap.
What I Think Makes You Strong:
- Strong — Being able to stand up for yourself in the face of those who want to put you down.
- Strong — Feeding your body to its full ability and not being afraid of the scale. If this is a problem for you, I talk about this extensively in Starve Mode.
- Strong — Trusting yourself and continually setting a good example by doing what you say you will do.
- Strong — Choosing a diet, training program, and lifestyle based upon what you want, not what you think people expect of you or fads.
- Strong — Have a critical mind to information. “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” – Mark Twain
- Strong — Optimizing your nutrition for both recovery and pleasure.
So, as some organization with swoosh symbols might say — live strong and leave disorders.
About Leigh Peele
Leigh Peele is a nationally published author having been featured in publications such as Men’s Health and The Washington Post. She is a self-described layman researcher and is certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She was a co-host for a while on one of the most popular fitness podcasts — The Fitcast.
Her new book “Starve Mode” – Explaining & Resetting Metabolic Problems That Can Come From Dieting is a 200-page book that focuses on the science and anecdotes behind topics like “metabolic damage” and/or “starvation mode.” It also looks at metabolic behavior in general and tackles subjects like metabolic advantage, water retention, activity measurement, refeeds, diet breaks and more. Click Here for more information on Starve Mode.