All my ladies from the 80s

(Not just them, this is for you, too. Yes, YOU)

Did you grow up at a time where casual fitness options were basically jogging, rollerskating, dancing, or yoga? Were you actively discouraged from getting muscular or strong? Was your weight the most important thing in your life? Did you ever go on a diet where breakfast was half of a grapefruit and a small cup of black coffee? Did you pride yourself on barely having curves at all, in your Calvin Klein jeans? If you answered yes to any of these, congratulations on being here right now, because the odds were against you.

The latter part of the 20th century continued a pitiful trend of treating women’s bodies as little more than moldable plastic, meant to stretch into tall, elegant shapes (but not TOO tall!), and look nice in clothing. We were discouraged from consuming protein, getting stronger via exercise, getting “bulky”, and doing things that might cause society to question whether we were “real women”. It was a silly time, but the damage done to women’s psyches is real and damaging, and multi-generational. It’s time to let it go.

Biggest point – and the point that doctors are generally responsible for perpetuating is that what you weigh is not the most important health marker. It’s not- it’s just the easiest. Thin individuals should be assessed for strength and cardiovascular fitness before they are tossed in the “healthy” pile – your BMI is not enough to determine your health, no matter what it is.

Muscle is necessary. Until you develop some muscle, you will probably find this hard to believe. Imagine reading by candlelight, and then someone switches an overhead light on – the difference between “getting by” and “getting strong” is significant, and it will change your life. Yes, I meant that – not “may” change your life, it WILL. You’ve been reading by candelight for years, maybe for decades – time to switch the light on!

Calories are not just calories, if you have a weird relationship with food. There are simplistic methods to gain/maintain/lose weight, but the more important thing is for you to feel comfortable with eating and with your self-image, before you can really own your progress. Otherwise, as soon as you achieve your goal, it will start sliding away from you. The journey is everything – the destination is not. Our whole lives are a journey – we never will know that we’ve reached our pinnacle of performance, health, happiness, etc. until it’s long behind us. And even then, we won’t know, so focus on making small changes that make you happier to live in your skin.