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One of the very first posts I wrote at smplfit was about confidence and body image. My post was inspired by an article written by Gillian Mounsey over at Starting Strength (I highly recommend it for all women, and any man married to one.  Even if you’ve read it…read it again).  It was through that article that I first learned about Gillian and the great work she does, both training herself and others.  I have been following her blog ever since.  I thought of writing her and even started a few emails over the past months but never felt like I really had anything to say other than “I think you’re awesome and your squats are the best ever!”

In early January, another article she wrote was published on Starting Strength, titled Strength Training Seniors.  After reading the article, I quickly wrote her an email and asked if she would consider mentoring me.  Within 12 hours she had written me back and said “Yes! Can you come over tomorrow to meet?”  I was floored and instantly super nervous.  She mentioned in the article on training seniors that she was moving soon and looking for someone to take over the program.  After meeting with her we decided that I’d start coming the following Monday and Wednesday to get a feel for the class and see how it goes.

That was 2 weeks ago and I’ve inhaled so much information that I don’t even know where to start.  Gillian has been so kind, inviting, and willing to teach that it has been a tremendous experience.  The only (but huge) bummer is that she is moving in the middle of February instead of in the summer like she thought when she wrote the article.  I’ve had the opportunity to observe her teaching the Forever Young class of seniors, Fitcamp  (a group training class with younger women), and a few clients that she trains in her home garage gym.

Spending this time with Gillian has helped me develop a better idea of the way I want to train myself, Ben, and my own clients.  An invaluable and very educational experience to say the least.  There is so much to learn and I’ve been looking for someone to help show me the way, and I couldn’t have found a better mentor than Gillian.

Next up I’ll tell you about how Ben and I went down the Gillian’s garage gym and were trained by her and her husband Mac…it was a blast.

Woman A: So what are your goals?  Is it a weight loss thing? Would you like to lose a certain number of inches?

Woman B: Oh well…I just have these stubborn 10 pounds that wont budge.  I’d like to get those off for once.

A: What kind of exercise program are you doing?

B: The usual.  I do Body Combat one day, then maybe spin or just the treadmill a couple other days.

A: How long have you been doing (roughly) that same routine?

B: A few years.  I like the classes.

A: But you still have 10 pounds to lose?

B: Yeah….but I could be eating better.  I’m sure that’s what I need to change.  Not my exercise.

A: Oh yeah…I totally know what you mean.

WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, Ladies, you absolutely COULD (and should) straighten up your diet.  You should cut out all the cookies (I LOVE cookies), and stop eating the rest of your kids lunch, after you already finished your own, BUT you could also change your workout, and probably see at least 5, if not all 10, of those pounds come off.  Here’s how:

1. Give yourself credit!  I’m sad when I hear a conversation like the one above.  And I’ve heard it far too often the last few months.  It frustrates me because I don’t feel like Woman B is giving herself credit for what she is doing.  It’s not easy to always make it to the gym and hours of cardio classes are not a picnic.  But here she is, still frustrated, and still blaming the lack of results on herself.  She is doing a great job with the exercise, but because her diet isn’t great, it’s all a wash.  So why not change it up?  If you were told you could go from working out 5 days a week, to 3 days a week and see MORE results, why wouldn’t you?  Cut yourself some slack.  If what you’re doing isn’t working, don’t you owe your cookie loving self the opportunity to succeed through a different plan?  I think you do.  And I think you can… both give it a try, and see results.

2. Cardio is good. I hate to run, but I will admit that a lot of physical benefits come from such a torturous way to exercise.  I do some cardio, although not much, in the form of sprints and burpees.  Soon I hope to add pushing a prowler and pulling a sled to my repertoire to further work on my conditioning.

3. Cardio is good….TO A POINT!  Hours upon hours of cardio and aerobic classes are far too often expected to be the answer to all of our physical appearance and weight loss problems.  The fact is, you need muscle, you need a healthy, clean diet, and if you add a little cardio, (try cutting whatever it is you usually do by at least 1/2) you will see the results you’ve been expecting to see for years.  My favorite example of too much cardio is Jen Comas Keck.  She talks all about it in this interview.

4. Lift heavy!  I can (and will) cite you article upon article proving that lifting heavy does not make a woman “bulky”.  (A whole different post needs to be written on THE definition of bulky!)  We simply don’t have the testosterone to make us big and manly.  The bulk that women see when they start a strength training program is the fat that is on top of the muscle.  I met with my mentor last week (more on that later) and she told me she often tells her female clients “Do I believe you can put on tons of muscle, no!  Do I believe you can put on tons of fat, ABSOLUTELY!”  It takes a lot of work to pack on extra muscle, it doesn’t just appear because you squatted 3 times this week, that’s just the way it is.  People much more educated and well spoken than me explain HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Clearly I’m passionate and in love with what I do.  There’s nothing better than adding more weight to that bar and being able to pick it up and push it around.  I get a sense of accomplishment that I’ve never gotten from anything else before.  I’m strong and I can do hard things…it’s awesome!

Last thursday Ben sent me an article to read.  To be perefectly honest, I’m not sure what article it even was.  At this point it has led me to reading probably 30 more such articles by people in the fitness blogging industry.  People we had no idea existed.  One of the reasons that we started smplfit was partly because we felt like we had looked for what we wanted on the internet and not been able to find it. We were definitely just looking in the wrong places because, WOW…its overwhelming the amount of content (and GOOD, at that) that we have found in just a few days.

The most impactful people or sites, for me has been a group of women who have gotten together and call themselves “Girls Gone Strong”.  They are 7 strong women who lift heavy and work hard!  Their experince and background is vast and I’ve had the best time reading their websites, watching their videos, and learning from them.  It was like a flip was switched when I found their sites and realized that there really are women with a passion for being strong. It was a passion that I didn’t know I had until 6 months ago, but I’m running with it.  I hope that in the future I can do some of that learning (and sweating) with these ladies, in person.  It would be amazing motivation for me.

Please follow all the links below.  They’re all on twitter as well…enjoy!

Girls Gone StrongAlli McKeeNia ShanksJen Comas KeckJulia LadewskiNeghar FonooniMarianne KaneMolly Galbraith

Finally…this video says everything else that might need to be said about how awesome and strong they are.  So awesome!

(photo by: deb roby)

The #1 rule (and only as far as I’m concerned) of gym etiquette is to PUT YOUR WEIGHTS AWAY!  How many times do I come to the rack, or any machine where you load your own weights (i.e. leg press) and its loaded up? Answer is…EVERYDAY!  There’s this awkward stand there, look around, see if it looks like anyone might be using it, asking the person next to it (if there is one), “hey, is anyone using this?”.  So frustrating.  Today the leg press behind me was loaded with 600 lbs.!!!!!! (not the one pictured above…but close) That is ten 45 lb. plates, and six 25’s…REALLY?!?!  The guy that came to use it was not pleased that he had to take all that off.  Come on people, lets have some common courtesy and clean up after ourselves!

we’d like to be.  Like most of you, we’re learning as we go. Living our smpl steps all day, everyday, is great and we want to show everyone how it can be done one smpl change at a time.  What questions do you have?  Need more recipes? Need workout ideas and tips?  Want to hear how we manage to maintain a smpl life?
We would really love any and all questions.  Can’t wait to answer them!