Monday, April 8, 2013

Why woman shouldn’t fear muscles. On themselves.

579654_10152702303800224_958442901_n I don’t know exactly when my focus shifted from wanting to be skinny to wanting to be toned and strong. But I suspect it happened around the same time I decided to change to a Primal diet and lifestyle. No longer did I find photos of skin-and-bone-thin models enviable.

Muscles on woman, or anybody, really, is an awesome thing. It makes you strong, and feeling strong is great as it also makes you feel more confident within yourself. I’m not just talking looks. Sure, your jeans will fit better and you might even rock that bikini, but when you feel strong you also trust yourself and your own capabilities a lot more. That’s my experience. Muscles makes the bathroom-scales useless and pointless. For that reason alone, I applaud and recommend heavy lifting. Right now I weigh nearly 5 kilos more than I did at my very lowest since initially losing all the weight (I lost 23 kilos over 12 months by going Paleo), but I fit into the same clothes- some of the clothes are even loser than before. And since gaining a bit of lean muscle, I find myself being far more insulin-sensitive. I seem to cope better with carbs than I did 18 months ago, but I also attribute this to improved liver-function. My lower back is less prone to getting sore, I can swing my 20 kilos of pure boy x 2 (I have twins) around without exhausting myself, and I can carry all of my weekly grocery-shopping from the car in one hit. The best part is that I can open jars without asking my husband for help. Such a small thing, but a giant triumph for me: I remember having days where I really felt like salsa for lunch, but had to wait till Matt came home from work so he could open it for me. It was annoying and downright a bit pathetic: I love that popping sound every time I manage to open a tricky jar by myself!

The great thing about eating a Paleo or Primal type of diet is that it encourages fat loss while keeping your lean muscle mass. Having said that, if you go day after day eating less calories, protein in particular- than your body needs, you will eventually experience loss of muscle. So eat up. How deliberating to hear after years of dieting! It’s true what they say; your training efforts and results are 80% diet and 20% exercise. I have always worked out; whether it was aerobics (I got my first gym-membership back in 98, don’t judge- it was all the rave back then!), spinning, swimming, walking, running, jogging, Pilates or doing hundreds of reps with light weights. Through all this I always ate the same old high-carb, wholegrain, low-fat diet. I always looked the same. Always with a body fat percentage varying between the higher side of normal right up to 48% (!!!), where I ended up after the birth of my 3rd child. I look back at photos from my early 20s, and I know I might weigh more now but I’m actually much leaner. The jeans and top that I wore the night I first met Matt back in a pub back in 2005 not only fit, but they are a bit too big. However, I weigh more today. So let’s conclude, muscles rock.

I know I’m not the only woman who has embraced a healthier ideal, replacing the old Kate Moss-types with someone like Jessica Biel (she does CrossFit). I don’t work out that much anymore: 2 days a week I lift weights, 1 day yoga, and the rest of the week I like to walk and make sure I get good food and quality sleep. For me, it’s definitely been a “less is more”-journey towards health and LGN (Looking Good Naked, a clever Mark Sisson-term). While I’m closer to my goal than I was last year, I still have a way to go, but the biggest difference is that I’m actually enjoying my work-outs and progress. I used to feel like I was chasing the impossible during all those long hours on the treadmill, while these days I genuinely look forward to my lifting-sessions. No, I don’t look like Jessica Biel, and I probably never will, but that’s fine with me. Because, guess what, I can finally open my own jars and do unassisted chin-ups. If that’s not the epitome of awesome, then I don’t know what is.

Have you started lifting weights and felt your confidence and body image soar? How did diet fit in with the bigger picture?

No comments:

Post a Comment