Fellas, you know I love ya. But this one right here is just for the ladies. I’ll get back to talking to everyone next time, but just for today, I want to spend some time chatting it up with my gals.
Ladies – we get a LOT of messages from the media about how we should look, what we should or should not be eating or doing to exercise, how much or how little we should weigh, and all sorts of other ridiculousness about how we should be living our lives.
In short, we deal with all sorts of shoulds. And between you and me, it’s all a bunch of BS.
I live and work as a fitness professional in Los Angeles, so as you can imagine, I’m faced with an industry that lives and breathes off of all of these shoulds. I’m constantly seeing messaging that encourages women to focus on their external appearance as their number one priority. We are told how to get thinner, how to look prettier, how to be more attractive to a potential partner. Ultimately, the message we are receiving is that our looks are everything and, ultimately, we are not enough.
I, for one, am over it. I think it’s time to change the narrative. Ladies, you with me so far?
One way I have personally found to buck against the supposed rules of femininity is through obstacle course racing. In the last year that I have been doing Spartan Races, I have discovered and explored how empowering and gratifying those events can be…especially for women. Perhaps the best way for me to explain this is comparing it against the standard messaging we women are bombarded with on a day to day basis.
MESSAGE: IN ORDER TO BE HAPPY, YOU MUST BE THIN, TONED AND HAVE A ROCKIN’ SIX PACK
In obstacle racing, happiness comes from accomplishing what you never though you could do. And here’s a tip: women of all shapes and sizes can climb walls, carry heavy buckets up and down a hill and jump over fire. Everyone comes into these races not fully knowing what to expect, and everyone has different strengths and weaknesses going in. It’s incredibly rare for someone to run a perfect race and not fail at least one obstacle. So no matter who you are, no matter how big or small or tall or short or young or old…in many ways, we are all on level playing ground. So get out there and see what your body is capable of achieving. I bet it’s more than you expect. And that, my gal pals, can bring a deeper happiness than anything a magazine says you need to do.
MESSAGE: YOU NEED TO CUT CALORIES, EAT LESS AND LOSE WEIGHT
When you start hiking up steep mountains and completing twenty-something challenging obstacles along the way, food takes on a completely different role in your life. It’s all about fueling your body to do amazing things. I don’t know about you, but I’m not particularly motivated to eat well when it’s all about restriction and constantly looking in the mirror and checking my weight. If find it far more motivating to eat healthy when it’s about helping me feel strong so I can travel great distances, lift heavy stuff, earn a badass medal and recover quickly in the following days. Plus, fueling your body for a race could actually mean you need to eat more food. So my lady friends, I challenge you to change your perspective on nutrition and shift your focus on fueling your body to do awesome stuff rather than look a certain way.
MESSAGE: YOU SHOULD NEVER DO _____X______ EXERCISE/WORKOUT AGAIN! YOU SHOULD ONLY DO _____Y_____ WORKOUT!
Oh boy, this one really gets my goat. I constantly hear that women should never do *fill in the blank*. Sometimes they say we shouldn’t lift kettlebells. Other times, we are told that pilates or yoga are the only answers for a lean, toned body. I have actually read that women of a certain age should never run or squat.
What the what?
Ladies – you do what makes you happy. The human body is capable of amazing things if we work hard and practice what we want to achieve.
How does all this relate to obstacle racing? Well, what I really think is cool about obstacle racing is that it challenges us to be all-around athletes. There is no one exercise discipline that will perfectly train you for this sport. To truly excel at an obstacle race, you need to run, lift, swing on monkey bars, practice your balance and agility, and train your endurance while also working on quick bursts of power. And who says we women can’t have it all?
So ignore the messaging and do all the things. As a result, you’ll move better, feel stronger, slow the effects of aging and, in general, pretty much kick ass.
MESSAGING: WHEN YOU GET OLDER, YOU NEED TO SLOW DOWN AND DO LESS
I want to go ahead and throw a couple middle fingers up at this one.
I’ll go ahead and get personal here. If anyone asks my age, I will happily disclose. (I suppose that’s another message I’m here to dispel: a woman should never reveal her age.) I’m 41 years old. I didn’t start doing anything remotely athletic until I was on the verge of my 29th birthday. And that athletic thing was roller derby. I played that full contact sport through my 40th birthday, and now I’m 41 and training to be a master’s elite Spartan Race athlete. And I’m only just getting started.
The point I’m trying to make here is that I’m not slowing down now that I’m in my forties. At my age and as I get older, I do understand the ever-increasing importance of training smart, eating well and listening to my body. But my plan is to keep being active and athletic as long as my body will let me.
And my fellow seasoned women, if that’s what you want, I say go for it!
READY TO CREATE YOUR OWN MESSAGE?
If you read this and feel inspired to get out to your nearest mountain, climb over the tallest wall, or grab a sand bag and run it up a hill? If the answer is yes, then I want to invite you to a super awesome Obstacle Race Workshop that’s just for YOU, my lovely lady friends! It takes place on Saturday, October 22nd from 1:15pm-3:15pm at Pink Iron Women’s Gym in West Hollywood, CA. We’ll be going over obstacle technique, pre and post-race nutrition and mindset training before embarking on a fun and challenging workout. All of this is designed to help you feel strong, confident and ready to run your first or perhaps your best obstacle race!
Just go HERE for all the details and to sign up. Space is limited, so be sure to grab your spot now. It’s going to be an amazing day spent with strong, powerful badass women ready to buck the system and create their own story. If that sounds like you, I hope to see you there!