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Rethinking Women's Fitness: The Strong Woman

Growing up I was taught that one of the most important things I could be, was skinny.

The females in my household worshipped at the shrine of calorie burning and restriction. Where fitting a pair of decade-old “skinny” jeans was the ultimate redemption, and feeling hungry was morality. I watched the beautiful women in my family yo-yo diet for decades, always in pursuit of this elusive goal of shrinking.

But I wanted more. I wanted a life with second helpings, riveting physical endeavours, and professional conquerings. I loved playing sports, I was damn hungry, and I wanted to be a female version of Michael Jordan.

I vowed that dieting and fixating on weight would NOT be part of my psyche. I wanted more than to just watch myself shrink.

I wanted to be a Strong Woman and I still do.

Four decades later the message to women - painted with the lipstick of female empowerment, hasn’t changed much. Trendy tank tops read “Strong is the new sexy” but only if you don’t get TOO bulky. And “Liver detox” is the pretty wrapping on a 30 day restriction diet - masking the true goal, weight loss.

Here’s the problem, when we put weightloss or attainment of a certain body size as the goal before anything else, it becomes unhealthy. Period. We stop considering natural body type, aptitude, energy levels and true health.

When we inevitably “fail” in the diet and restrict cycle (which we always will) it erodes our self-esteem and ability to trust ourselves with food and exercise. Our zombie-like mantra becomes “Eat less, workout more”.

There is nothing strong about this.

Over the years in my own health and fitness journey through team sports, marathon and triathlon, dance and ultimately teaching fitness, Spin and CrossFit. My attitude and message for myself and other women has become clear.

Be a Strong Woman: Discover and develop your strengths, adore your body, challenge yourself and find out what you are truly capable of.

If women channeled all the energy we put into worrying about dimpled thighs, how our tummy looks in that dress or the number of calories we consume in a meal… we would take over the world! After all, confidence is our most magnetic feature, and we’ll never achieve that if we’re constantly criticizing and forcing ourselves into a (really small) box.

Have you had enough?

What if we stopped asking “How much do I weigh” but instead asked “What is my body capable of?”

Imagine if we no longer focused on “How much have I eaten?” but rather “how do I feel in my body?”

How amazing it would be to change thoughts from “My thighs are too big” to “Damn I’ve got powerful legs - wonder how much they can lift?”

It tastes like freedom.

Strong Women love themselves -- just as they are, right now.

Our bodies will carry us through a lifetime of physical pursuits and changes, from hiking, lifting weights, skiing and skydiving to carrying babies and breastfeeding. This body is hopefully going to take us into our silver haired years with grace and style, that’s worth our attention and adoration.

It’s an amazing feeling when you achieve something you never dreamed you could do. Lifting a heavy weight well, climbing a rope, mastering a pull-up, running a new distance, or doing a push-up. You work to achieve it and you build the strength over time to execute. It translates into your life.

Something amazing starts to happen as we develop a Strong Woman’s perspective:

  • We choose activities we find challenging and thrilling. We stop fixating on how many calories we will burn.
  • We start to eat what our body truly craves - ditching the restrict and overeat cycle. We trust ourselves to know when and what to eat to feel our best. We get off the food guilt rollercoaster.
  • Our body weight levels out to a healthy, sexy way of being.
  • We become supportive of ourselves and the other women in our lives, self-criticism and jealousy start to melt away.
  • Our peace of mind, confidence and self acceptance soar.
  • We show up confident and capable in our lives.

 

The strong woman in me, sees the strong woman in you. Let's do this!

 

Jessica Doody is an athlete, entrepreneur, Fitness coach, Life Coach and proud mom of two daughters. She is the Co-Owner of Forged By Fire CrossFit, Founder of WomanStrong Training Club and GirlStrong Training Club.

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