I try not to rant on my blog but I think the time has come to break my own rule. Lately I have been hearing a lot of our clients at Brownstone Fitness complain about their loved ones calling them skinny or warning them that they are “getting too skinny.” I usually just respond “whoever said that is hating on you”, which the client finds surprising. For starters we work really freaking hard at Brownstone to build muscle and strength. We perform traditional male-centric exercises such as the deadlift, overhead press and pull-up. We challenge ourselves with heavier weights, we keep ourselves engaged with a variety of modalities ranging from kettlebells, to calisthenics, to isometrics. If that wasn’t enough we often have informal nutrition coaching conversations during and after training (a service other wellness centers charge for!). We discuss ways to feel, perform and look better; inside and out. WE support and encourage each other's goals. And I’m not referring only to looking and feeling sexier in a dress (though that’s part of the benefit), I am talking about acquiring better form when performing advanced exercises such as rack walks, pull-ups, goblet squats and one-leg burpees with the TRX.
So yes, it does annoy me when I hear about well-intentioned people who are not involved in a regular exercise routine use discouraging language because I cant help but think that they are jealous of our clients’ commitment to exercise, health and body composition changes. Although all of our clients are awesome and committed there’s always a hint of disappointment and concern in their voice. They don’t want to receive that kind of feedback I am sure but they also care about the person delivering the feedback and do not want to be rude. So, I’ll do it for them. Friends, lovers, family, frenemies:
Stop the hating, and either join us. You’ll be glad. OR if you are not interested, keep your comments to yourself. If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all. If you can’t think of your own positive reinforcement here is a list of good ones:
“Your arms look muscular”
“Your legs look toned”
“Your butt looks great”
“You are glowing”
“You are stronger than I thought”
and my personal favorite,
“You look better than you did in your 20s”
In regards to the "getting too skinny" thing I do believe there is value in pushing yourself to your limits as long as you are using healthy methods (i.e. eliminate processed carbs for a month). Health is an experiment of ONE. Some people think that’s inaccurate because ONE is not a big enough sample. However, let’s consider the little known fact that the only health and fitness program that will work for you is the one you can stick to. I encourage anyone who is undergoing major body composition transformation especially after struggling with too much body fat or too little muscle or even emotional eating, to experiment with a variety of health and fitness modalities, ideally with the support of ethical and kind professionals like us, and see how far you can take your health. Think of it as grown-up health limbo: how healthy can you get. This challenge is not about trying to reach a size zero or finally learning to do a full split; it’s about building the confidence muscle and learning that like everything else in life, regardless of how far off the health wagon you may get because of work stress, birthing, depression, or any other life experience, you can always come back to fitness again or for the first time. The biggest gain of a regular and challenging exercise routine is not the weight you lose but the mental capacity you gain with progressing to heavier weights, showing up on a regular basis and accepting temporary defeat when you have reached your limit because you trust you’ll try again next time. (And speaking of trying again, did I mention we have officially launched the best exercise DVD ever, the Sulaxmi Method Exercise DVD? It's ready for you here.) It is also extremely instructional to learn that anything you want that’s worth getting requires patience, commitment and unwavering determination. So for all you lovable haters reading this, it does not have to be this way. Like Gil-Scott Heron would say: “no matter how far wrong you’ve gone, you can always turn around…Turn around and you may come full circle and be new here again.”
You may come full circle into an isometric lunge, 12KG kettlebell goblet squat and 32KG kettlebell deadlift and be functional again.
p.s. Did you enjoy my first ebook, The Holy Grail of Life Coaching? Don't tell me you haven't read it!
Yaromil Fong-Olivares is a certified life coach, fitness trainer and personal power blogger residing in New York City. Contact her for coaching, training, writing, and speaking gigs at email@example.com. To purchase my ebook THE HOLY GRAIL OF LIFE COACHING, click here.