Let me know if any of this sounds familiar: “1100 calories should be your max,” – “You’ll lose more weight if you just do cardio,” – “Be careful not to bulk up,” – “You don’t want to be the only female in the free weights section, do you?”. If you have heard any of these things before, then chances are, you have been a bit duped. The world of women’s exercise is changing, and for the better! If you are looking to get fit, now is a better time than ever.
In the past, it seemed like the only “acceptable” ways women could get fit was to eat nearly nothing, and then spend an hour on a treadmill. While there are absolutely benefits to maintaining an appropriate calorie intake (remember that “appropriate” means eating enough to sustain your activity), and getting your heart pumping with some great cardio, they are not the only things you can do. Fit women can achieve their goals however they want. With the popularity of programs like Crossfit, Zumba, and even pole dancing for fitness, it has never been easier to get fit on your own terms. Nothing is off limits. Let’s take a look at some of the cool and fun ways modern women are taking charge of their health…
Not Eating Less, But Eating Right
There is no great mystery behind the lowly calorie. A calorie is defined as: “The amount of energy required to raise one gram of water by one degree Celsius.” Sound confusing? Think about it this way instead: calories are a measurement of the potential energy available in your food. If you take in more calories than you burn off doing your everyday activities, those calories lead to weight gain. Conversely, if you take in fewer calories than you burn off, you will lose weight.
It is that simple formula that has caused so much confusion and “diet hype” in recent years. As consumers, we are sometimes at the mercy of commercial products claiming to take all that pesky math and guesswork out of the equation for us. Really, all they are doing is selling you a supplement. You can get past the diet hype, and learn how to eat healthy without any pills, shakes or gimmicks.
Now, while there is a lot of advertising aimed at weight loss (and therefore a lot of women who feel the need to lose weight to fit some stereotype), it is very important to look at calories pragmatically. If you are taking in calories at a massive deficit, and if calories are energy, do you think you will have the motivation and strength you need to work out regularly? The answer is no. If you eat enough to sustain a healthy activity level, that will ensure that you have an activity level. A fitness coach, like Udemy’s own Dave Chan can walk you through the process of determining how many calories you need to support your workouts. He has a community of over 1700 students that have found success with this common sense approach to eating and exercise. It works!
Exercise is for Everyone. There are No “For Men”, or “For Women” Activities.
Many women complain about hitting a workout “plateau” pretty early on. They get into a decent routine, but don’t really progress beyond a certain ability level. This leads to boredom, a lack of results, and eventually abandoning the workouts altogether. If you stop to think about the layout of your typical gym, you might begin to understand why this happens. Parts of the room just appear to be “for women”. There are colorful balance balls, elliptical machines in front of TVs playing talk shows, and all the weights below 8 pounds are hot pink.
That’s not fair to women, and it’s not fair to men. There is absolutely a good use for balance balls, elliptical machines, and low weights – but imagine if you were looking at these things as a man. Do they look inviting to you? Now let’s turn around and look at the other parts of the gym. The big, clanky weights, the complete lack of instructions, and the sounds of people struggling. Do you think women feel comfortable there?
I’m here to tell you that it can change. Do you want to try lifting weights? Do it! Learning something as basic as the deadlift will have a massively positive effect on your fitness level. Have you always wanted to do pull ups? Get over there, and give it a try. When you build raw muscle strength, you burn more fat, even while you are at rest. Why should that be reserved only for one gender?
Don’t have a gym membership? No problem. Check out “Finally Lose Weight Without a Gym Membership“. You have enough around you right now to begin an amazing, strength building workout. Don’t let gender expectations get in the way of you trying new things. Change up your workout, push your goals further, and find out what you like. You can start busting through those plateaus as you vary and expand your workouts.
Make Your Workouts Fun
Who says workouts have to be miserable? After a stressful, 8-hour shift on your feet, the last thing you want to do is spend more time standing. Step aerobics? Yikes! But what about yoga? This relaxing and invigorating workout might be just the thing after a hectic day of teaching sixth graders, waiting tables, or just “being mom”. Doesn’t laying on a mat with some quiet music playing as you luxuriate into long, soothing stretches sound like heaven? Then that’s the workout for you!
Or maybe you are cramped into a cubicle all day with little mental stimulation, and even less opportunity to get moving. You hear a great song in the car on your commute home, and it’s all you can do to keep from opening the door, and dancing right in the middle of the highway. Sounds like you might have a blast trying out something like salsa, or even break dancing. As an added bonus, dance classes are often social outlets too, so you will probably meet some great, like minded people this way.
We may have stopped playing tag, or hide and seek at a certain age, but that doesn’t mean we have to work out only in prescribed ways. Go for a hike of you’re the outdoorsy type. Jump on a trampoline, or ride a bike if you want to. Still have a hula hoop somewhere in the garage? Hula hooping is a great workout – not to mention fun! When you approach your workouts the same way you used to approach playing games as a child, then you are more likely to do them, because they’re fun.
Get Friendly with Your Food
Okay, so you have a pretty good idea of how you want to proceed with your workouts now, but you are still hung up on the food thing. Many of us struggle with eating habits simply because we are unfamiliar with cooking. Beginner cooking courses are excellent places to start. It takes the mystery out of food prep, allows you to eat a wider variety of foods you made at home, and can give you more confidence to take total control of your health. Eating healthy does not have to be all carrot sticks and skim milk. Once you learn how to prepare healthy foods in fun ways, it will become a more natural part of your day. Just like you make your workouts fun, you should make your meals fun too!