Don’t Be That Girl…

Don’t be that girl at the gym.

Trust me, I used to be one of these people, and sometimes I still am. I’m not trying to put these ladies down. I just think we need to be more enlightened about gym etiquette and some of the gym stereotypes we may be reinforcing.

Don’t be this girl at the gym:

  • The Cardio Bunny: I’m looking at you girl who walks in, jumps on the elliptical or treadmill, pounds out 45-60 minutes, changes and then goes home. Cardiovascular exercise is absolutely wonderful for you. It strengthens your heart and lungs, increases brain productivity, and helps lower risks for heart disease and stroke. But if that is all that you are doing, then you are doing yourself a disservice. You’re lacking a very crucial aspect of exercise: resistance-training. And you are simultaneously reinforcing the stereotype that woman are afraid to lift heavy weights. Please stop doing cardio everyday and never going near the weight rack. Burning 400 calories everyday with cardio, and never putting on muscle (which burns calories by the way), will only go so far.
  • The Pink Dumbbells Girl: It’s a running joke that woman walk over to lift a few weights, to ya know, get toned like the celebrity on the cover of that magazine, and what do they reach for? The 8 lb. dumbbells. Maybe 10 lbs. Anything more intense will make you bulky and manly. I’m not saying this stereotype applies to all girls, but this theology is so wrong on so many levels. Ladies, please listen to me! Lifting weights will not make you bulky! You do not have enough testosterone in your body and you do not drink enough supplements to put on that type of mass. But you want to have nice muscle definition? Lifting light weights with no phase training or plan will get you nowhere and you are just wasting your time. You need to lift heavy at least twice a week, and you’ll watch the strength and beautiful muscles emerge.
  • The Beauty Queen: You see her as she walks in. Beautifully curled or straightened hair with blinding shine, enough mascara to weigh the eyelids down, gloss on the lips, and maybe some light pink blush to give that “just worked out” look. Just when you think she might start bursting into a sweat, she sets the treadmill to 3 mph and proceeds to walk for the next 30 minutes. She looks beautiful, so graceful up there, but it’s too perfect… Ladies, no one cares what you look like at the gym. Let me repeat that: no one cares. Sorry if that’s harsh, but this is not the time to be your best looking or trying to impress that hottie you spotted. Exercising should be about your health, fitness, and overall well-being, not about what others think about you. People at the gym will be far more impressed with a sweaty mess busting out some sprints on the treadmill or going for a one rep max on the bench press than they ever will with what you look like at that moment. And when you work hard and consistently in the gym, you’ll look good all the time.

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  • The Chatty Kathy: Woman love to talk. It’s in our DNA. And when we get around some of our closest friends the good times roll and we can laugh and talk about anything and everything. Catching up on life is fun and having a workout partner is great, but remember what you are at the gym for: to exercise. This is not social hour. If you go to the gym and end up talking on or near a machine the whole time, you are wasting yours and everyone’s time. Do not ever sit or stand on equipment and just talk. It’s rude. You had better be doing something with that equipment or please get off and let someone else use it. There are people at the gym who there to workout and do nothing else, so please respect the facility and the other members. (This also applies to the ladies who sit around on equipment and text or call people- talk to them when you are off the machine).
  • The Justifier: How many times have you heard a girl at the gym mention what she is going to eat after she finishes exercising because she “earned” it? How many of you are that girl? No, a 40 minute workout does not justify a Diary Queen blizzard that is 740 calories. I’m sorry, it just doesn’t. Yeah, you may feel better about eating it because you burned some calories, but don’t sabotage all of your hard efforts in the gym with a poor diet. Abs are made in the kitchen and you will see your best results outside the gym with a consistent diet.  Never use exercise to justify your eating. It’s a bad habit. But if you do decide you want to eat a special meal or decadent dessert, just do it. Don’t feel like you need to reason with yourself or others.

These are just some of the top 5 offenses I have seen women commit at the gym and they are all just silly. For help on defeating these stereotypes visit ACSM for advice and guidelines on how to set-up an appropriate cardiovascular and resistance-training program. Also, talk to a Registered Dietician or a corporate or university provided nutritionist for advice on healthy eating habits and choices. Be mindful of your intentions and actions at the gym, and keep working towards the best health and fitness you can achieve.

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One Diet Does Not Fit All

Veganism. Vegetarianism. Paleo. WAPF. Raw foods. Juicing. Every day magazines, commercials, and celebrities are trying to convince us of the best diet out there, and how our lives will drastically change by adopting their diet. It’s overwhelming! Each concept seems to have so much science and research to back it up, but then again so does the next diet. There are pros and cons to each choice. So, how do we know which one to follow? Obviously multiple people follow each ideology and it works for them, so how do we know which one is best? What you need to remember is one diet does not fit all. There is no one magical way of eating that will work for everyone’s lifestyle, energy needs, performance needs, or mental health. And that’s okay. We weren’t all created to embrace a vegan lifestyle or forego cooking our food. What’s important is that we listen to our bodies and respect what they want.

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The best way to know what diet our body prefers it to try one on. No, really. Pick an ideology that you find really fascinating and that seems to have some beneficial research behind it.  Different diets will never all agree on each other’s research, so make sure you investigate first to make an informed decision. Then, jump in headfirst. Don’t look back and just go for it. Love it. Embrace it. Give it enough time, but if you hate it, quit. Diet changes are not do or die.

I understand this from personal experience.

Three years ago, I decided to start eating “healthier”. Yeah, what exactly does that mean? Well, for me, that meant avoiding all white flour and sugar, limiting my meat intake, and eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, and of course no fat. I felt great. But I suppose one would after eating the Standard American Diet all their life. I still ate packaged and processed foods, but that was okay because they were “healthier”. About 6 months later, my mom introduced me to the book Eat to Live, and I was instantly hooked on the benefits of a plant-based diet. I 100% committed to veganism the next day, and I felt so clean and pure. I lost weight, ate tons of food all the time, and felt like I was actively avoiding any and every disease. Unfortunately, a few months into veganism my energy levels began to dwindle. Then, I started having digestive and circulation issues. I was a runner and eventually veganism was not supportive for my lifestyle. After all, I still thought fat was bad! I’m not saying that being a vegan is a poor choice, even for athletes, but my body was no longer positively responding to the diet, so that was my cue for a change. This is when I discovered the Paleo diet. Once again, my mom introduced me to the diet, and it completely scared me (eek, fat!), but the benefits for a whole food, grain-free diet were so inviting that I had to read more about it. The more I researched the science behind it, the more I realized how great it was to avoid inflammatory foods like grains, refined sugars, and legumes. Immediately after starting the diet, I gained healthy weight back, my acne went away, my hair and nails grew thicker and stronger, and more. I loved it.

The journey did not end there. A few months into Paleo I began to develop crippling health problems, which several months later were accredited to Candida overgrowth in my small intestine and stomach. What in the world? I was eating Paleo, so I shouldn’t be having these issues! Right? This is when I started to truly learn that one diet does not fit all. Just because Paleo works for one person, doesn’t mean their Paleo is good for me. I learned that although acceptable, my body does not like nuts and hates high sugar fruits and carbohydrates, but loves meat and some dairy products. And you know what? That’s okay. That’s my Paleo.

That’s what I want every person to understand. There is no miracle diet or food. There are so many choices to make in life and what you eat should not be burdensome to you. It should be enjoyable and suit you and your lifestyle. I believe that health is more about making well-rounded choices that positively impact your body, mind, soul, and environment, more so than a strict diet protocol. Dr. John Berhardi even talks about in this post why there is no one perfect diet, but how each one seems to somehow benefit the person who tries it. He mentions 5 key principles of each diet: they bring nutrition awareness and attention, they focus on food quality, they help eliminate nutrient deficiencies, they help control appetite, and lastly, they promote exercise.

Read the studies. Listen to the testimonies. Then, try it for yourself. Remember that each individual’s body is unique and as much as we would like them to: one diet does not fit all.