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“Screw fat loss,” she declared, “I’m going to get strong.”
Those words poured from a client’s lips almost six years ago, and she hasn’t turned back since. She isn’t the only one choosing fitness goals that don’t have a damn thing to do with fat loss, and reaping the myriad rewards a new path provides.
According to most magazines, commercials, products, and articles targeting women, it’s easy to assume losing fat, fixing flaws, and looking better are the only reasons a woman can have to eat well and move her body.
If a woman eats a healthy meal, it’s because she’s “watching her weight.” If she’s on a cardio machine or even squatting and deadlifting heavy weights, it’s because she’s trying to “tone up” and fix her flawed features.
Many of my clients, and women in general, have a history of constantly striving for fat loss — for years that’s all they focus on. Burning fat and shrinking down is the sole reason they go on a diet or exercise or even strength train. They diet- and program-hop searching for the “holy grail” fat loss program that will finally help them shed their stubborn fat stores and deliver happiness.
I’ve done it all too, and thankfully I’ve discovered numerous other (better) health and fitness goals women can have instead of losing fat and fixing flaws:
To feel good in their body.
To increase their stamina and energy levels.
To increase their physical strength.
To increase their physical strength even more.
To learn new skills.
To move pain free and alleviate old aches and pains.
To improve their quality of life.
To build muscle. (Yes, women can actually want to build muscle.)
To increase bone mineral density to ward off osteopenia and osteoporosis.
To challenge themselves physically as a means to increase mental fortitude.
To maintain independence with age.
To regain independence after an injury or surgery.
To increase balance, stability, and coordination.
To relieve stress.
To complement their performance in other activities like running, tennis, dance, lumberjack competitions, or whatever the hell else they want to do better.
To do something they enjoy.
To shatter self-imposed limitations.
To improve sleep quality.
To train for an event they’d never do otherwise, like run a 5K race, compete in a powerlifting meet, or participate in a group Spartan Race.
To be able to declare, “I did that. What else can I do?”
To contribute to self-care.
To be more instead of feeling obligated to chase all things “less.”
To do something, simply for the hell of it, because they can.
To invest in their immediate and long-term health.
To reveal to themselves how strong they truly are.
To achieve awesome goals like busting out their first unassisted chin-up, deadlifting twice their bodyweight, running a 10K, or anything else they deem important.
To lead as an example for their children, and family and friends.
To maintain their sanity. (I refer to my strength training sessions as “barbell therapy” for a reason.)
To do something because it’s important to them and makes them happy, and what anyone else thinks is irrelevant.
To discover their unique strengths and abilities, and to magnify them.
To make health and fitness something they get to do instead of something they have to do.
To take a natural “good” ability, and become great at it.
To build a body that serves them, and allows them to do the things that bring them joy, happiness, and a fulfilling life.
To lift weights, or move their body in other ways, because each workout is its own reward.
If you’re burned out and exhausted from constantly chasing fat loss or focusing on aesthetics and using the scale as the sole indicator of your success, tackle some of the goals shared above. Harness the power that gets unleashed when you say, “Screw fat loss, I’m going to get strong.” You’ll be amazed, as so many have been, at what happens to your mind, and body, when you change your approach to nutrition, health, and fitness.
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