The Realities of Getting Fit
Working with clients on fitness programs and running my Vegan Ladies That Lift Facebook group has shown me a lot about the realities of setting goals and getting fit. Most women see a physique that they love and want to attain and believe they can do anything to get that goal body. The reality is we are all unique creatures with personal bone structure, special genetics, different past eating habits, and different abilities. Some people will never look like Erin Stern. No matter what they do.
A lot of fitness models and physique competitors are doing some sort of gear. That means steroids. Yes, even the sexy, not “manly”, women whose body you want are taking low doses of steroids like Anavar. So if you want a quick fix, you can turn to drugs. Otherwise, there is no MAGIC quick fix if you do it the natural way. You do things healthy and natural and it will take time to get results.
Reality #1 – The scale is your enemy
I’ve already talked about this before but if you are doing resistance training you are building muscle. Whether you want to lose a little weight or have a lot to lose, the scale may in fact not change the way you want it to and may even go up! GASP!
Take Anastasia for example. The photo on the left was taken when she was only doing cardio and eating a calorie restrictive diet. The photo on the right is about 1.5 years later after she was lifting about 6 times a week and doing no cardio with no dieting. She weighs around 10 pounds more in the photo on the right!
Muscle is more dense than fat so it shows up on the scale as heavier. Take progress photos, measurements, and if you can an accurate body fat measurement. Then don’t step on the scale! Don’t get attached to a “goal weight”. And even BMI charts can be inaccurate.
Reality #2 – Your body will change in ways you didn’t realize
Your clothes may fit tighter. I got bigger in some areas of my body (but easily maintain a flat, toned stomach) and I’m ok with that because I have shape now and my body is strong. I proudly wear sleeveless shirts with my new arm/shoulder muscles. My back is so large I had to go up a size in t-shirts. It took a lot of work, eating, and a structured fitness program for me to grow the size and shape of my muscles. If you don’t want your muscles to show as much as mine you can make that possible. If you want to look “toned” you make that possible with lifting weights (women you think are “toned” have muscles).
Can you believe the body on the left could have the back on the right? I never do back selfies so I was quite shocked myself! You are building muscle underneath the layers of skin. Once you build this base of muscle it burns calories for you even at rest. So as you progress through your program the body fat will start to fall away and what is left is the muscle. And that muscle is heavier and more shapely than the fat it “replaced”. And then you looked “toned”. Or maybe you don’t lose body fat but #3 happens to you. Totally worth it.
Reality #3 – Muscles will not make you “manly” or “bulky”, but will make you stronger
You want muscles ladies (and gentleman). Do I look manly in the photo above on the left? You can’t even really see how big my muscles are until I flex them. Muscles gives our bodies shape. They give us strength and empower us to do everything on our own. How many times have you not been able to open a jar of something you really wanted to eat? That doesn’t happen to me anymore! I can easily carry my groceries to the car and put my own bag in the overhead compartment on a flight. I don’t know about you but I LOVE that my muscles allow me to do all that.
Reality #4 – Results will vary
Results for one person will vary from the results of another person even doing the same program. The body you want will not always be the body you get. It may take you longer than you think is “should” or longer than so and so took. You never want to compare or compete with others. If you have extra weight to lose you will have extra skin sagging around your body and stretch marks. That is the natural reality of losing weight. But if you do it the right way, slowly over time, coupled with weight training and a meal plan, you will have a better chance of getting the shape you want. Don’t rush it! Losing 1 pound per week is a realistic goal to set.
My friend Tricia Kelly (coach at the best gym ever Beyond Fit) is a prime example of someone who did everything right. She took her time. Her diet is whole food based and she sticks to it every damn day (with occasion vegan treats!). Her journey started in July 2011 when she began attending a group exercise class 3 times per week. Then in November until the following July she added on another three bootcamp classes a week. One awesome thing that happened during this time is she went vegan in March 2012 and stayed very consistent in her nutrition and training.
It was in 2013 that Tricia dedicated herself to full on resistance training with very little cardio to build even more muscle (“bulking” instead of a “losing weight” mentality). She didn’t diet. She ate and lifted heavy shit. I’ve had the pleasure of watching her transformation and you can see from the photo above her body has responded amazingly! She has so much muscle definition and can easily manipulate her body with diet and exercise. She said her weight has been about the same through this transition. Now she is “cutting” and getting leaner without dieting, just eating cleaner, and adding in conditioning (cardio/HIIT) workouts.
Does she have stretch marks? Yep. Is she a badass? Completely. Allowing the body to build muscle and giving it the calories you need to sustain your activity level (and feed the muscles) is the best thing you can do for your health long term. Being in a constant state of dieting and doing cardio will never transform your physique. It also wears your body out and isn’t good for bone health like weight lifting. Lifting weights is your weapon against osteoporosis.
It is THE answer to all your questions, THE solution to all your problems. If you haven’t started already what are you waiting for!?! Have I convinced you yet to lift the weights? So while the realities of getting fit and strong may not be what you think, the end results will be better than you could ever imagine.
Do you have a similar story or realities to share with us about your fitness journey? I would love to hear about them in the comments!