Be the Best YOU that You Can BE

I had two goals in mind when writing this blog. First, I wanted to dispel the myth/idealized concept that women should or need to look a certain way to feel attractive and confident. I also wanted to shed some light on how the right workout truly can help women look and feel better.

I had a conversation with a member this morning and she told me she has no desire to look like the celebrities she sees on TV. “I just want to be the best me that I can be,” she told me—which is coincidental because last night, when I was taking notes on how to write this blog, I wrote that the greatest goal is to be the best YOU that you can be.

We need to stop trying to look like celebrities we idolize or others in our lives that we envy. Be the best YOU that you can be. Stop trying to look like Kate Moss, or your skinny frienemy, or the tiniest woman on this season’s “The Bachelor,” or anyone else who will likely be the first to die in a time of famine.

This means it’s time to focus on moving better and without pain. Move well and treat exercises like the fundamental skills they are. Everyone should be able to squat without pain. Once proper form and movement patterns are established, you can focus on dropping body fat and building muscle.

I want to make an important distinction here that while you can drop fat and build muscle, your genetic potential doesn’t allow you to change the shape of your muscles. Much the same way it’s impossible to change how tall you are. When people say “I want arms like Cameron Diaz” or “I want abs like Brad Pitt,” that’s all well and good on some level. You can work on getting leaner and building muscle so you look similar to these people, but the reality is your muscles have a specific shape. While you can increase the size and density of your muscles, you can’t change their shape. The only way to look like your celebrity crush is to go back in time and switch parents before you are born!

Popular magazines love to throw out terms like tone, sculpt, lean and lengthen. These are all just overcomplicated ways of saying burn fat/build muscle. Toning is building muscle and sculpting pairs building muscle with burning fat. However, anyone who promises you long, lean muscles is full of it. I understand how women are attracted to the idea of long, lean muscles. I feel the same way and my eyes perk up whenever I hear promises of “huge guns!” But these are merely words someone is using to differentiate and sell whatever program he or she has designed. Does the program work? Maybe…maybe not. I can tell you that lifting 5-pound weights does not help anyone burn fat/build muscle or tone/sculpt/lean anything.

This brings me to my next point…ladies, lift like a man!

By this I mean lift like an athlete who is training for a sport, NOT like a meathead or an Olympic bodybuilder. It’s no wonder that many women are afraid to lift heavy weights, especially after seeing the way most dudes at big box-gyms lift: doing barbell curls in the squat rack at 6p.m. on a Monday, wearing a back brace and wrist wraps while he utters some guttural cry to show his dominance over the rest of the gym patrons, those who can’t maintain his lifestyle of eating 5 pounds of lean chicken breasts a day, all while drinking 3 gallons of water during a workout at the gym he’s living above (This way he can do his lifts at 6 a.m. and still fit in his cardio at 6 p.m.).

Yeah, no woman should want to lift like that—no man really should either. Instead, lift like someone who is training for a sporting event or athletic endeavor. To remain successful in your efforts to be the best YOU that you can be here are 4 training guidelines to keep in mind:

1. Focus on building fundamental patterns first. Progressively overload. Lift heavy weights with good form. Women shouldn’t be scared to go heavy. Try doing sets of 5-10 reps where you are struggling to get that last rep, but don’t go over 15 reps per set.

2. Stay away from cardio, and try interval training instead. It is much more efficient at burning body fat than steady state cardio. I won’t speak too much on this point as you can do a quick search and find countless literature to support this point.

3. Eat more veggies and avoid processed foods. Plus, make sure to eat protein with every meal. Aim for about 20 grams with each meal.

4. Recover. The key to getting leaner and stronger is to work at 100% and then recover 100% percent. This allows you to challenge your body in new ways and force it to adapt to the stimulus. If you are not fully recovered, you can’t workout at 100%. Here are my principals of recovery:
● Sleep/rest—Make sure you are getting quality sleep and letting your nervous system recover with leisure activity.
● Food—Use nutrition to help you recover. If you are working hard, you will need energy to fully recover and rebuild your body after breaking it down.
● Recovery workouts—Low or medium intensity workouts can help your body recover at a faster rate. The worst thing you can do after a tough workout is to sit at a desk for 8 hours. Try to incorporate a few light workouts to supplement/compliment the hard workouts you do each week.
● Self Care—Self myofascial release (SMR) or foam rolling can help break up adhesions in muscle fibers. It can also help shut off overactive muscles.
● Professional Care—Massage, acupuncture, chiropractic care, and physical therapy. I swear by the effectiveness of all these methods and more. Don’t be afraid to try a new alternative. Most insurance programs cover all or a portion of these care methods. My general rule is that if it hurts for longer than 2 weeks, get it checked out. Seek professional guidance if it is needed.

Follow these guidelines and they will help you burn fat, build muscle, and feel more confident in your own skin. Most of the people I train are here because they want to feel better and they know that a proper training program can positively spill over into all aspects of life. Forget about those unattainable goals and impossible waistlines. It’s time to be the best YOU that you can be. Work hard and enjoy your recovery time. Personal fitness shouldn’t be about trying to look a certain way; it’s about feeling a certain way and letting that feeling enhance all aspects of your life and everything around you.

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