Bod Pod Body Fat Measurement and Experience as a 53kg Female Weightlifter @weightliftingwoman

I’ve always wanted to really know what my body fat percentage was – I have tried those handheld devices that sends faint electric signals through your body to measure the amount of “water” a few years ago back in my triathlon running days. Back then I weighed around 113lbs and it usually clocked me in at 18% B.F.

Photo Comparison Method:

I also used to compare myself to these photos that shows approximately what you might be – but everyone’s body composition and genetics are different, of course! Some women naturally have visible abs at < 19% body fat, while mine barely seem to seep through on some days.

17% body fat female comparison weightlifting woman

Body fat comparison photos found on builtlean.com

 

Just over a month ago (early May), my husband and I decided to track down a Bod Pod up in Portland, OR for a quick test.

Communication on getting the test was easy – the guy who facilitates the Bod Pod testing transports it around to different gyms and areas, so we had to shoot a couple short emails back and forth to coordinate a time to meet up. All you need is about a 20-30 chunk of time MAX depending on how much you like to chat. Be sure not to eat or drink substantial amounts of things, or workout too much within an hour or two before testing.

The Bod Pod Process:

What the Process Was Like: 

You strip down to some light skin-tight workout clothes (I had compression shorts and a sports bra), and put a swim cap over your hair to reduce the “air pockets” that might distort the measurement. You step on a scale to weigh yourself, and also tell the facilitator person what your height (inches) is so they can input those numbers.

You then sit inside the pod super still, and just breathe naturally. There’s a robotic voice that tells you “It’s taking measurements now” much like those space ship rides at Disney. There’s also a few pops and clicks, and the sound of a faint vacuum-like feel, almost like a plane just landed.

The pod takes three measurements: between each measurement, the facilitator has to open the door to neutralize the air pressure. After sitting still for all three, you just get out of the door and you’re done!

How it Works:

The Bod Pod uses air displacement (like how much physical space does your body take up in the pod) to measure your body fat. Apparently, this method is one of the more accurate methods (compared to a DEXA, or the dunk method) and has an error rate of less than 2% or so usually.

Time:

It went by really quick! The entire process of measuring took about 3 minutes total, and my husband and I were in and out in under 20 minutes after some chatting, quick dressing/undressing (and even a re-test for me since the printer wasn’t on the first time around).

Souvenirs:

After the test, I got a paper printout of my results within a minute. It looks a bit like this:

bod pod weightlifting woman testing results - body fat % bod pod weightlifting woman testing results

The Results

I actually ended up testing TWICE because the first time, the printer wasn’t turned on, so my numbers didn’t print correctly on the page (ended up at 17.0%). I did it a second time and got basically very similar results (so there wasn’t any goofs or what not).

Body Weight: 117.8 lbs

My Body Fat %: 16.8%

Resting Metabolic Rate: 1,184 (basically, if I were to sit around and do NOTHING all day, my caloric needs to survive)

Total Energy Expenditure (Daily): 1468 (If I don’t “workout” or have a gym day…surprisingly my apple watch calculates me pretty similar to this number)

 

The Analysis: What Does This All Mean to Me?

First of all, I’m way leaner than I actually thought I was! And actually at the moment, I’m probably a little higher than 17% since I gained back a few lbs and little water weight post-nationals now that I’m in off season.

BUT, my results are actually a pretty strong indicator that I’m sitting at around my ideal weight class for weightlifting. Having almost 100lbs of lean body mass would make it incredibly difficult for me to drop a weight class (48kg / 106lbs) without losing some substantial muscle mass, since anything below 10% or even 14% body fat for females starts to get pretty dangerous. Moving up a weight class would probably cause me to be overly thick and heavy for my height (4’11”) and just overweight in general – and body fat doesn’t do much to move barbell weight around. If anything, extra fat might make you slower and a little more sluggish.

These results are quite interesting and funny to me though because I actually used to weigh somewhere between 125-140lbs throughout high school and college. I don’t know what my body fat could have been then…I’m guessing 24-27%.

However, it’s been a long several years for my body to reach the current composition that it is now and it’s just a great reminder that permanent and effective change to your composition takes time and long term sustainable life-altering efforts. My lifestyle right now is completely different and my body’s composition reflects that. If I were to suddenly gain weight and be 125lbs again, I definitely would look different and feel different now than when I was 125lbs prior to weightlifting or even starting any of my athletic endeavors.

My Current Body Issues: What’s the Downside of My Results?

Let me go ahead and admit upfront: My hormones are already pretty out of whack with the weight and body fat that I DO have. After having done some tests, currently my estrogen and progesterone levels are very low – at the bottom of what would be considered the acceptable range for a healthy female.

Staying below 18% and having “visible abs 24/7” is NOT EASY! There’s been a lot of compromises along the way to get this far. This infographic article by Precision Nutrition does a fabulous job at outlining the cost of being lean. Here’s also a great podcast episode by Empowered by Iron that discusses the “dark side of being lean” in female strength athletes.

For the past few years, I’ve made choices to eliminate certain foods from my diet because I know they’ve made me feel slightly bloated (gluten, soy & most dairy being the culprits). I’ve also avoided a lot of social events and gatherings, staying out late, made it a priority in my life to train or  at least “move” almost every day. Being able to maintain a body like this is literally a full time job alongside my career and relationships. No wait, it’s not just a full time job…it’s my LIFE.

Although it might seem many of my facebook and instagram post shows all smiles, and that I’m completely smashing PRs and weights in the gym all the time…I have a confession.

Dealing with a low body fat percentage (which isn’t even THAT low compared to a lot of fitness model competitors and world-class athletes!) is a HUGE mental struggle for me in addition to being a physical struggle, considering I’m dealing with secondary amenorrhea at the moment, and it seems like my genetics don’t allow me to have as defined abs as many others despite how well I usually eat, and how active I usually am.

So why am I choosing to maintain and/or keep a low body fat if consequently, it’s probably not the healthiest in the long term?

Because at this stage in my life, I currently choose to compete as a national-caliber weightlifter and I know it’s to my advantage to be hovering close to this for the time being. Here’s a bit more about that in the last article I wrote about dealing with the scale weight.

 

So some concluding thoughts: I enjoyed actually getting a bod pod test done and thought that just seeing the composition of my body was worth it – it was not only informative to me for feminine health reasons, but also affirming that this is the body that I have worked for and this is the body that I currently live in.

 

Throwing Out The Scale vs Being Defined By Weight Class - Weightlifting Woman

Boy, do I wish I could just throw out the scale one day and not care about what it says. Wouldn’t that be great?

More and more women are now starting to realize and adopt the idea that they should “throw out the scale” – Who cares about the number on the scale anymore? Look in the mirror: how do you look? How do you feel? What can you lift? Can you squat or deadlift over 200 lbs? Can you snatch over your body weight? Can you do a pull-up? Do you have the grip strength to hang off the side of a cliff for 20 minutes while someone comes to rescue you because you wanted to taste the wild strawberries?

Imagine a life where the amount of mass you were made of only mattered if you were on some cruise ship that was unevenly weighted, and you happened to be the perfect size to properly balance the boat so it wouldn’t sink if you moved to the other side. How stress relieving would that be…to not have to be judged or defined by some number anymore by anyone, including yourself? A true measurement of health and fitness is not about what you weigh after all, but rather about how you feel, how your body systems function, and what you are capable of.

WELL, what’s stopping me from living this dream? I can certainly toss away the scale if I WANTED to…it’s my choice after all whether I decide I want the number on the scale to define me or not. Well, as a competitive weightlifter, the choice has kind of already been made.

Weighing 115.4 lbs around year 2014 when I was constantly staying under 53kg as an amateur weightlifter

Amidst this motivational outlook on body composition and beauty…how do you fit in when you’re in a sport where you are defined by a weight class and need to stay in that weight class?  You can’t throw out the scale – but you need to live by it day-to-day (unless you’re 90+ at heart!)


weightlifting woman 53kg transformation

Various stages of me going from college body – to “triathlete” (2nd photo) – to crossfit/obstacle course racer, to weightlifter across the last 6 years. These are literally the only few “ab” photos I have of me sadly to show. Note that from the 2nd photo through the last photo, I’ve been literally the same pant/dress size! 

I’ve always  wanted to weigh 115 lbs.

Back in middle/high school, that’s the number I thought I needed to be attractive…or to look lean like those magazine models. I weighed about 135 then and struggled so hard to drop the weight but never made it until after college, when I started all sorts of running, triathlon, crossfit, and exercise as my side hobbies and to defeat the boredom from moving out to a new place on my own.

115 lbs. is still above the average recommended “Healthy” BMI for my height of 4’11” 3/4 (I like to round up to 5). Most women my height can be as low as 95 lbs. and as high as 123 and still be in the “healthy” BMI range.

Now I can happily say I’ve reached that weight, have even dropped below that weight, and now…choose to be a little heavier now (just around 120).

Funny thing is, in the last 5 years (since 2011) I have worn the same exact clothing size with up to a 12 lb difference. When I was 110 I wore 0’s and XS, and now as I am about 122 I still wear 0’s and XS. Wait, it gets better – my body fat % actually decreased!

Basically, I just packed on a ginormous amount of muscle!


Am I as attractive as I hoped I would be finally achieving my “goal weight”?

Of course, I feel that way! BUT I’ve also come to realize that this number I was trying to reach was also an ideal weight for me in weightlifting.

How did I decided that being a 53kg lifter was ideal for me?

1. Here’s a cool article from Bob Takano, complete with a chart, that lays out pretty much the ideal weight class you should be in based on your height. I found this chart a few years ago and since then have nestled myself in 53kg class since I was already in that range when I started weightlifting and thought I would fill it out nicely in a few years.

2. I also visually compare my body visually to that of other world-class record-breaking weightlifters in my class: Do I look chunkier? leaner? shorter? taller? If I Photoshopped my head on top of Li Ping or Zulfiya Chinshanlo (both world record holders in the 53kg class), would my body be indistinguishable from their’s?

3. I tried cutting to be a 48kg once and miserably never made it. I should also consider the last time I weighed 105 I was probably a pre-puberty tyke in 4rd grade.

 

So…does my body like staying at my “ideal weight-class?”

Oh the million dollar question…yes AND no.

Staying below 53kg was easy at first back when I was still in my “endurance” phase of my life: I was running countless miles per week, working out 1-2 times per day, 7-8 days in a row, and also experimenting with all sorts of Whole30, Paleo, Zone, Low Carb, and what-not diets that were refreshingly new and a fun challenge. I was in my mid-20’s, fresh out of college and full of figuring-out-adulting energy. I also felt that I was doing a great service to my body by shifting a focus to eating wholesome, nutrient-dense foods compared to the loads of pizza, pasta, bagels and buffets of pre-graduate life – and my body certainly responded positively and kept the weight off!

But after completing an Ironman Triathlon and checked that off the bucket list, I ditched the long-distance training. I switched to primarily strength-focused sports like Weightlifting and CrossFit (which has some endurance components, but let’s be honest it’s a lot of hypertrophy training). I started noticing my weight would gradually want to creep upwards, and my appetite start to increase more and more. Pretty soon, maintaining under 115lbs was a chore and I found myself hovering just below 120 on most given days. I had to be eating super strict to stay below 53 (like if I even looked at a chocolate bar I would gain a pound).

Super strict meant: no gluten/bread/pasta, no cheese, no extra chocolate in the evenings, limited nut intake, no drinks, and hardly ever eating out. Sounds fun, right? (sarcastically).

If you read between the lines, super strict actually meant: no social life, no fun experimenting with food, no “taco tuesdays”, constantly obsessing about food, feeling guilty at parties & social events, feeling limited on menus when eating out, constantly making lists of “all the foods I want to eat after weigh-ins” while browsing food photos on Pinterest.


Now, making weight for every lifting meet is like a game.

How heavy can I be, and how much food can I manage to eat whilst still being able to cut to weigh 52.99 without loss of performance or being hangry for 3-4 weeks in a row?

I have this theory though, but I’m too afraid to try it until after Nationals.

…Are you ready for my “theory”?

I’m pretty sure that the stress of having to maintain a certain weight is actually what’s making it hard to maintain that weight. 

STRESSING ABOUT WEIGHT = POUNDS STAY ON!!! (or KG for you weightlifters)

If I just followed my intuition, didn’t give a crap about what I weighed in at any lifting meet on any day, and ate whatever I wanted when I felt like it, and never looked at the scale…You  know what, I might just weigh under 53 most of the time.

But, because I constantly stress out about what I have to eat, when I have to eat, and what I CAN eat, the stress makes me hold onto weight, because my body never really knows when to relax or when it’s gonna get what it really wants and craves. If I just intuitively ate without sticking to a schedule, counting out all the macros, calories, meal timing, and what not, my body would just intuitively know what it craves, when it’s hungry, when to stop eating. There would be NO FUSS about food at all.

Unfortunately, I’m too afraid to try “intuitive eating” – Cause I’m too number-driven & sciency – I can’t trust doing things “by feel” and by intuition when I’ve relied on numbers for sooooo long! Nationals (in under 2 months) is too close to try new things. They say “never try new things” when you’re so close to a competition.


So, how do you deal with wanting to eat ALL the things, but knowing that you have a substantially competitive advantage being in a certain weight class?

Well, you have two choices:

  1. You DON’T CARE. You make peace with the fact that your health and body’s needs for nourishment at that time is more important than your competition, and you thus choose to just toss out the scale and lift at whatever class you happen to fall in. If you’re 1kg away within a few days of a competition, maybe you make the little effort to cut back on fluids and get down to the lower class, but otherwise, YOU DON’T CARE. You accept that as you get older, your body doesn’t recover as fast, likes to receive more calories (especially if you’re gonna be a mom someday), and may not even keep up strength relative to your early-20s counterparts getting into the weightlifting game. You lift, and you compete, and whether your total will get you 20th place in a higher class, or 5th place in a lighter class, it DON’T matter to you because you care more about the numbers you lifted rather than the prize you got.
  2. You COMMIT. You compromise and sacrifice because competing to you is more important than your health at this moment in your life. BUT, there’s a trade-off that’s gotta happen some point in time when you realize that it’s going to be tough and difficult to maintain this lifestyle for the long term, and in a continuous manner. If you choose to commit, you have decided that it brings you more joy to finish with a higher place compared to your competition, or that the sacrifice is potentially worth breaking a record or getting a spot on the podium someday.

In the end, your decision to choose what weight-class you’re in should be based on what will make you the most satisfied and happiest in the end.

Are you doing this because you get the MOST joy and happiness from the numbers you can lift at a certain body weight? Or because you feel that there’s a chance…even the slightest chance…that you’ll break a record or get a spot on the podium at a pretty big competition coming up? [Hmm…sounds like the stage of my life where I’m at right now?]

Does happiness really come with having floods of admiration and thousands of instagram/facebook likes because of your ripped 6-pack abs photo, or because your lift at a national competition made it to a HookGrip posting because you were able to cut to that weight class?

OR, might you find the most joy and happiness just because you love weightlifting for what it is – you lift what you want, you don’t care about your “weight class,” you get to eat all the things you want, AND everyone is still envious of your thighs to die for. I don’t know about you, but I find the most happiness through sharing the joy of weightlifting with friends who also love weightlifting, and having friends I can joke around with about missed lifts, breaking through PR plateaus, and eating tacos with post-workout.

 

Stay tuned for another upcoming article about more woman issues – next week (or three weeks at this rate of my rather busy life!) I’ll tackle the issue of Hypothalamic Amenorrhea in female weightlifters…

Body Weight Scale Woman Issues and Weightlifting

I remember one point when I was some middle school age where my mom told me “never to lift heavy weights” because I’ll look so…”manly”.

HA. I certainly don’t look MANLY now. Doesn’t it feel great to just totally disprove that theory?

I mean, look at the thousands upon thousands of women who do crossfit, weightlift, and still look ultra feminine – in fact, adding on a bit of muscle has actually give some women even MORE curves and definition. Flat bottomed girls become FAT-bottom girls with a new squat booty and wonder thighs. Stronger cores lead to better overall posture and upright sexy confidence.

Just celebrating International Womens’ Day  a couple days ago, it’s awesome to think that women are empowering themselves and becoming stronger in such sports that in the past seemed to have such resonance mostly with males.

So…this all sounds awesome, BUT…what’s the catch?


Well, I’m approaching my 30’s here shortly in the next couple years…and also approaching the time when I finally want to start having children.

You’d think that with all the fitness I’ve been doing,

…my low athletic heart rate,

…all the core strength and endurance capacity I’ve developed,

…being at a great BMI (not underweight and certainly not overweight),

…and especially all the focus on wholesome, real foods and great nutrition,

that you’d think I’d be MORE than prepared for womanhood and motherhood, right?

 

Actually, quite the opposite at the moment. 

These next few weeks I’ll be writing on topics that deal with women issues when it comes to the sport of weightlifting – mostly in a competition sense, but just looking at how weightlifting has it’s place in all of the notions and ideas about being a female, body image, preparing for motherhood, dealing with eating habits, and the like. Even if you are already a mother, I’ll definitely touch on things that definitely pertain to you. I certainly can’t write about ALL of them in one post since that’d be a freakin novel (and I might as well publish it as a book on Amazon, ha!)

Here’s a list of topics that I hope to cover and/or touch on in separate blog posts in the next several weeks, as I train through the soon upcoming American Open Series 1 and until Nationals in May:

  • Hypothalamic Amenorrhea – can it be a weightlifter’s problem too?
  • Food as Fuel – Struggles and insights in eating “by the numbers” versus intuitively.
  • The strive for to get away from 6-pack abs and low body fat
  • Periodizing training around periods
  • Dealing with the “throw away the scale” stigma when weightlifting is weight-class based

Never Too Old TO Start Weightlifting - Weightliftingwoman

What is age, really? 

My husband posted a video yesterday to facebook of a 63kg, 40-yr old woman who just bench pressed 325 lbs…more than most well-trained men can even do!

At the age of FORTY, this woman is accomplishing great things. I’m not even 30 yet, and I’m bewildered.

Let me ask you, how does knowing that this 40 yr. old woman has accomplished something so awesome make you feel deep down inside?

Do you feel astounded?

Do you feel regret, or perhaps jealousy that you yourself haven’t been able to accomplish such a feat?

Do you feel a sense of doubt? – “I’ll never be able to do something like that!”

Do you feel offended…that I’m here rambling on about age and what people can do and what not, and I’m still in my 20’s?

OR,

Do you feel a sense of…hope? A sense of…”wow, this woman set a goal and accomplished something, so why can I at least give it a shot and see how far I can go?”

 


Are You Really Too Old to Start Weightlifting?

For this short mini post of today, I just want to mention what age really means to me, and why I’m glad I got into weightlifting when I did…even though I’m one of the older in my weight class competing at these national competitions every year and I know if I started when I was much younger that I would be much more developed. This is NOT a sciency article about the physical adaptations of your body with strength training and age, or about length of recovery…etc. There’s plenty of posts out there for masters weightlifters. Here’s a book by Catalyst Athletics.

Let’s talk about the motivational and inspirational stuff.

There’s a lot of talk about there about age being “just a number.”

Yes, and no. It IS a number…but it’s not a number that defines X, Y, and Z about who you are and WHAT you do specifically.

Age IS a measurement…of how long your body has spent doing the exact same stuff for the last X amount of years.

AGE is an accumulation of ALL of the time that you have done the same repetitive activities, whatever ways of eating, number of minutes you’ve spent sitting, standing, running, lifting (or not lifting), talking with people, sleeping, working, reading, walking, cooking, sitting on the floor, sitting in a chair, sitting in a car…

So, in all of that time, think of what your body has become used to because of the amount of seconds, minutes, hours, and days accumulated doing those same exact same things?

And we wonder why, as we get older, why our bodies will “not do things as they used to”?

Because we spend so much time doing activities or being in the positions that are NOT what we want to be able to do.

For these athletes who seem to accomplish such amazing feats of strength, or racing long distances, or what have you…think of the amount of time, training, and effort they have put in to bring their bodies to where they are now. AND…consider how much better they might even be if they started even sooner or where they might not be if they decided to start later?

The problem is, we think that because of our age — our “number” that we have defined ourselves as — that we are not capable of reversing all of these seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years spent of doing non-strengthening, non-active things.

But you can’t change what has already happened.

You can only change what you do this second. And the next second. And an hour from now. And tomorrow.

And you know what?

Today is day #1.

This is moment #1. From this initial moment, you have two directions really…you can choose to continue along the same exact ways and path you always have been going along and nothing will change.

Or, you can choose to take a different path. Try something different. Pick up some weights, learn to lift, teach your bones how to be strong again and how to adapt to extra loads.

 

I may not make any world records at the age I’m at. But then again, 6 years ago I didn’t even know what a squat was, and the idea of lifting 220# over my head was never even a destination on the journey I was on at the moment.

 

Today…is day 1.

Don’t think about how long it will take you, or all of the weeks and months and years of “grinding through” to reverse everything and to change yourself for the better.

You can be better today than what you were yesterday

And as long as you keep making TODAY better than YESTERDAY, that’s just one more day spent and accumulated working towards the person you want to become.

Some days you’re physically stronger than what you were yesterday. But other days, you’re mentally stronger, or emotionally stronger. Whatever stronger it is and whatever form it takes, choose to be stronger than what you were yesterday.

 

“Stronger” may not always mean being able to lift 1lb or 1kg more today than you did yesterday. Sometimes, stronger just means that you made a better decision on how to better your future self.

 

My life definitely could have taken a lot of directions years ago. I could have continued being a triathlete. I could have even just continued on the path of desk-job graphic designer who runs on a treadmill at the gym for 30 minutes 3 times a week and huffs and puffs with every stair I climb and bag of groceries I have to carry around the store. Or I could have been a professional violinist with all the time I spent practicing that in high school.

But I made a decision to try out lifting, and now it’s redefined who I am right now. In less than 1/6 of my life, I have redefined me as a person…as a stronger, and more able person than what I was before.


So, are you really too old to start weightlifting?

Never.

It’s not about “setting records” or doing the unbelievable.

It’s not about feeling that you have to be able to pick up the same amount of weight as your best friend or as that other woman (or man) older than you in the gym right this moment.

It’s not about being better than your 20-yr old self, or than some other 30-yr old person.

It IS about being a better and stronger YOURSELF than what you were yesterday. If that means starting with a training bar (like I did) then that’s what it means.

And — It’s about being able to share this newfound strength with your peers, with those older than you, and with those younger than you so they can follow in your steps and believe they can be something better than what they were yesterday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Inspired be the Inspiration - Finding Motivation - Weightlifting Woman

This post is for those of you who feel that there’s no way you can achieve the same things I have done, or there’s no way you can be as disciplined, as driven, as accomplished…you feel so overwhelmed with change (yet you’ve always dreamed of having a much better lifestyle than what you have now).

Sorry if this is a very ego-driven piece. But of course, I know despite all that I myself have accomplished…I also look up to people who have even grander accomplishments than I – those who compete internationally, or who have won Nationals, or who made it to the Olympics.

There’s NO WAY I’ll be able to get there either (or can I?)!

So we see these “polished” people who seem to have everything—they seem to have it all put together. We compare ourselves to them and believe we can’t ever make it there.

So why bother?


This post is less about weightlifting technique, per se, and more about finding drive and motivation to accomplish the goals you want to achieve.

When I first started my journey towards getting in shape, towards running marathons, getting involved in crossfit, and competing in weightlifting…I did it because I was inspired by others and their accomplishments – I was inspired by what my friends, colleagues & peers were doing and what they could do, and the goals they achieved.

I started simply by being inspired by a co-worker who was training for his first half-marathon, and decided heck, I’ll try that myself…what do I have to lose other than feeling better about myself each day for trying to work towards a more positive goal. Even if I wasn’t the best “runner” ever, or ended up finishing in the bottom half of all racers, I was working towards a positive change each day.

And well…one thing leads to another

and that brings me to where I am today.

But, I see a lot of you also wanting to make change in your lives…wishing upon being healthier, being stronger – and it seems too steep of a mountain to climb.


How can you possibly be inspired by someone who is already well polished and accomplished?

I mean…it’s overwhelming, right?

Wouldn’t you rather be motivated and inspired by someone who literally started at your level, with a similar background, experiences, lifestyle, physical ability…yet went on to achieve these major, inspirational goals?

At times, I see people envy the lifestyle of others who seem to have it all…these people seem to stay on top of their health and nutrition; they’re strong, fit, dedicated, and always seem to be working towards bettering themselves. They seem to have it all put together.

Yet we feel we can’t possibly ever do that. No way we’re that disciplined to get to that level.

But what we don’t realize is that these people DO have the stories and the struggles behind them that motivated them to get to where they are now, and they’ve been working at it for weeks, months, and years building up these better, healthier habits…slowly polishing themselves shinier each day.

And as each day passes by where we tell ourselves, “nah, I can’t ever do that,” they spend each day continuously picking at working towards a more positive change, climbing higher. It comes through just small tasks each day – just making it to the gym; making the right nutritional choices one day at a time; just getting out on that 30 minute walk; just taking the time to do it. And in the end, all those days spent turn into weeks, then months, and then years of constant progression – and then they’re suddenly at the top of the mountain when we’ve still stayed at the same starting elevation because we didn’t believe that one small change a day could get us there.

The thing is for some of youyou can’t be inspired by these people who seem to have it all put together.

Literally you can’t. It’s too overwhelming.

So my advice to you: Don’t wait for people to inspire you.

Instead…do it because you want to inspire others.

If you’re having trouble finding inspiration to make change because you’re looking for people who share the same struggles and lifestyle as you…

…then BE THE PERSON AT YOUR LEVEL WHO MAKES THAT CHANGE AND INSPIRES OTHERS.

Because honestly, there are other people out there just like you, on your level, who are looking…waiting to see change happen from people who are just like them. So why wait for them to do it? Do it yourself. Be the change you wish others to see.

But remember, change doesn’t happen instantly.

It happens over just doing one thing each day, no matter how “easy” or trivial that may seem (because some days you find you won’t want to do it but you need to), and consistently doing that one thing each day until you don’t even have to think about doing it anymore.

You just do it.

Stop waiting for things to suddenly be drastically better. While you’re sitting there, sitting in the same place, pondering what you need to do to be better, I’m over here doing one more small positive thing each day to move myself further up the mountain. Somedays, I only move one or two steps, but I’m at least further up than where I was yesterday.


Be the Change You Wish Others to See - Motivational Quote - Weightlifting Woman

So I ask many of you, who are trying to find the motivation to stay on top of your health and fitness no matter what stage in life you are – maybe you’re hoping to compete in a meet soon, or just looking to make it to the gym 3 times a week at minimum…or hoping to just feel healthier about yourself:

Who do you want to inspire?

Who is one person whom you know looks up to you for what you do? Who do you want to be an idol for?

Is there someone out there who doubts you…who thinks that you’re unable to take on and accomplish the challenges you’ve always wanted to face…but you want to prove them wrong?

Is there someone out there who you know WILL be looking to you for motivation because they care and trust you? A friend…a child…a loved one?

Perhaps that someone is…yourself?

I know…I know…some of you are thinking, “I shouldn’t be changing because other people want me to…I need to do this FOR MYSELF!

But sometimes, “for myself” is not what motivates us all. Some of us need to feel that others are watching us, waiting for us, learning from us in order to feel motivated to change themselves. Some of us are naturally obligers and need that outer accountability and outer expectations of us in order for us to be motivated for change.

I do have a list of names…of people whom I know – friends, family, colleagues, who I wish would start to make more positive change in their lives – who I know complain constantly about their lifestyle, or complain about not being able to be “as awesome as so-and-so” and wish it was better all the time. And well, I have to accept that if they want to change, they have to find the turning point and the motivation on their own. There’s only so much that I can do on my end to help these people out…and that is just be human, be positively encouraging, and be an inspiration.

I’d rather be someone who demonstrates constant positivity and effort rather than the person who “just kinda goes with the flow because life controls her.”

No. I control my life and how I react to my life, and I want you to know that you have control too.

If you’re still looking for that turning point in your life…a reason to commit to change for the better and to start making new habits for yourself – then start doing it for the people in your life whom you want to be a positive role model for.

Actually, don’t focus on doing this for a lot of people…that’s too overwhelming. Too much pressure.

Just for now, focus on doing this for just one person.

Whom are you really doing this for?

Be inspired…but be the inspiration. 

 

Get Motivated - Exercise as a Chore or a Passion - Weightlifting Woman - @powersofthesnow

I wrote this for many of you who find that some days, the motivation just isn’t there to get into the gym – seeing that New Years is coming up and many of you are considering making some changes or resolutions.


 

I used to think exercise was a chore.

I remember the days where I dreaded “working out” – the days when I wasn’t in shape, strong, or good at anything at all. This wasn’t too long ago…probably about 5 years ago when I was in college (and all throughout middle school and high school). Running down the block made me feel winded and ready to hurl. I somehow managed to walk for 4.5 hours on a golf course once a week when on the time but was definitely drained at the end (and still chubby and overweight).

I felt burdened by the idea of “moving for the sake of moving” to stay healthy.

But for a minute, lets talk about CHORES!

Chores…UGH! Once we feel like we *have* to do something we sort of don’t want to do it.

I hate the feeling of being obligated, or tied down to something when I don’t see the immediate benefits of doing that thing RIGHT NOW (having people over, for example).

…like, can it wait?

Laundry, dishes, cleaning the bathroom, taking out the boxes to the recycling bin, reorganizing the tupperware so it doesn’t spill out when you open the cupboard door, etc. etc. Chores seem like such a hassle because they take away from all the other cool stuff we could be doing and we hate the feeling of dealing with the mess.

BUT when you do get those things done though, you feel like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders –  it’s like there’s this invisible blanket of stress and anxiety that just flies away, and suddenly everything seems a bit lighter, clearer, and you can breathe.

It’s never until after we’re done with the chore that we feel the happiness and satisfaction of getting it done in the first place.

I feel exercise is the same way to a lot of people…it seems like such a “chore” to get done.

“Ugh, I feel tired, I’m sore, I could be doing other things that give me short term satisfaction, I have to work to make money.”

Exercise might seem like a chore…unless you have a different mindset about it. What if you could turn exercise into a passion, and into a part of who you are?

Back in high school when I was obsessed with sitting at a computer at home all day and loathed running, I remember one of my friends who was on the cross country team tell me “running is fun once you do it a lot and once you’re good at it.”

I never believed her until I actually followed through with it and stuck to trying to run further and further, and trained for my first race. The first couple weeks obviously sucked really bad as I felt constantly tired, incapable, and felt that my breath was hard and out of control. But when I finished that darn run (even if it was only 20 minutes), I felt so accomplished for the rest of the day.

So….how do you find motivation? How do you stop thinking about exercise as a chore then?

1. If you’re finding yourself unmotivated at the moment, stop thinking about the way you feel during the exercise, and instead, start thinking about the way you feel after the exercise is completed.

I think that’s why most of us get turned off by the idea or get unmotivated from wanting to workout in the first place…because that’s probably the first thing that comes to mind when we think about “exercise.” We feel incapable, tired, fast, full of heavy breathing, sticky and sweaty, discomforted from muscles feeling the burn, impatient waiting for a clock to slowly tick down until you’re done with the sprint. BUT of course after you’re done with any workout (whether it’s that small 10 minutes you were able to sneak in, or a long grueling 2-hour long training day) you feel SO accomplished and SO satisfied with yourself…and yay you can go to bed knowing you did your chores today!!

You’re only one workout away from a better mood.

Sometimes, I just feel bogged down and tired and “don’t want to do it” but it’s not until I just say, “you know what, let’s just go” and I get to the gym that I’m extremely glad I got off my butt and went in.

I don’t know about you, but it’s definitely rare that prior to going to the gym I’ve felt so much overwhelming amounts of energy that I’m bouncing up and down the walls dying to “workout” to get rid of that seemingly infinite energy, unless I’ve just tapered for a huge competition.

Wish I could feel that way every day…but then…

 

2. Regardless of where your current fitness level is, start to consider yourself an “athlete”

I never considered myself to be in shape at all or in love with exercise until I considered myself an “athlete.”

I, of course, wasn’t a very GOOD athlete by all means when I decided to label myself in this way (probably lugging miles along training for my first official 5k race or half marathon). But I kept telling myself that I was an athlete of some type that was looking to be better, stronger, faster, more powerful and more energetic. And you know what eventually happened? I stuck with it, set some goals, made some goals, made MORE goals, and now I can’t imagine my life without doing any of this!

Because I thought of myself as an athlete, “exercise” didn’t exist anymore. What used to be “exercise” turned into “training sessions” and “workouts” and “benchmarks” that would eventually get me to a goal. An athlete doesn’t necessarily have a goal to just “look good” (which is why I felt exercise used to be a chore, because I used it as a means to lose weight and look good).

An athlete has goals to obtain physical feats – to lift a certain amount, or run a certain speed, or win a game on a team, or finish an obstacle course race, or to advance to higher levels of athleticism or achievements in their sport. Looks don’t necessarily matter as much – what you can DO matters. Set a GOAL! Now the workouts each day becomes all the steps it takes to get there.

(along those lines…I consider “having people over” a GOAL…and boy oh boy when I schedule a day to have people over and the house is a MESS then YOU BET FOR SURE those chores will get done. Same thing for athletic goals, except you really can’t procrastinate on those 🙂

Once you stop thinking of daily activity as “exercise” and start thinking of it as part of your life – as the pathway to certain physical feats and goals at the end of the road – and part of who you want to be…then it feels less like a chore and more of a passion and a hobby.

3. Start searching for the hobby-like aspects of exercise:

  • Are there people who share the same goals and passion as you that you can team up with? (I ended up joining a running team when I started my journey to becoming an “athlete”, and currently train once a week with a weightlifting team).
  • Can your workouts become gateways or exit doors that take you away from all the other stressors of your life momentarily?
  • What if working out became that time where you could focus on yourself, and do something for yourself?

Once exercise becomes a passion, and not a chore, and you feel like you might be somewhat of an athlete…you won’t feel “chained down by it” – you don’t feel like you HAVE to do it or else the chubby, energy draining muscle atrophy gods will curse you for the rest of your life, (which is probably a shorter amount of time because you choose to not be in shape.)

You’ve got to say “Yes, I want to be that person who is strong, and capable, and fast, and powerful, and full of energy…because that’s what I do and that’s an integral part of my life.”

“I push things aside so I can train. Not exercise…train.”

If you’re struggling to feel motivated – then take the “chore” out of exercise and focus on the benefits, the end goals, and the “afterwards” results…keep your mind away from the actual doing of it and just go do it!

 

Traveling Tips for Staying Mobile and Fit - Weightliftingwoman @powersofthesnow

Nothing seems to take you more out of your gym and eating routine than traveling away for a few days, right?

You find yourself sitting in planes and trains for hours on end, adjusting to time changes, and working around the food choices available to you either in airports (which are very pricey) or at restaurants local to where you’re visiting.

Keeping track on your fitness and nutrition regime can seem extremely tough when you’re suddenly taken…out of routine. Having traveled to several competitions across the US for a couple years now, I’ve finally figured out what strategies and tips to implement to make sure I’m staying mobile, getting in adequate nutrition, not catching colds from other travelers and lessening the “shock factor” of travel impacting my short-term health and performance.

Thus, I bring you my tips and tricks (both fitness/mobility related AND nutritional related) that you can bring with you and be mindful of to keep you in tip-top shape while on the road or on a plane.

Staying Mobile

  • Always book an aisle seat if possible. This way, you have much more liberty to stand up and stretch throughout flights rather than require people to get up out of their seats if you have a window spot.
  • Bring a lax ball or small roller with you to “roll out” while waiting for your plane at the next gate.
  • Wear clothes that are comfortable and allow you most range of motion if you can. That way, you can drop into a samson lunge stretch with ease during your layovers (see featured image above!). Bonus points if you wear a hoodie or sweatshirt that says “crossfit” or has some kettlebell icon on it, or wear some nanos or other workout shoes so people won’t think you’re crazy.
  • Does your hotel room have internet? Pull up a yoga video on youtube for some mobility! No mat needed – why need to be overly glamorous here? The key is just to get moving and stay mobile.
  • The three places I find that tend to get the most “tightened up” over long hours of travel are chest (front of shoulders), hip flexors and hamstrings. When we sit, we’re constantly shrugged and hunched forward, our hip flexors get shorted and our hamstrings don’t get as much length. Throughout the day I always do a few forward folds (sometimes clasping hands behind the back and reaching to the sky to open the chest if standing), samson & spiderman stretches, seated twists, neck stretches, and a standing triangle pose for 45-seconds to a minute. Make an effort to get these in – and don’t care what other people will think of you doing these at the airport. They don’t know who you are, and they’re not getting the mobility benefits – you are.
  • When waiting for your connection, spend more time standing than sitting. 1. It gives more spots to other people who like to sit down, and 2. you’re probably already spending a lot of time sitting during the traveling day anyways so the less time you can spend sitting, the better.

Getting in your Workouts

  • Walk around during your layovers. In airports, take the stairs and don’t use the “walking walk-way” to allow yourself a few extra steps of walking. Now’s your chance to get in as much “walking” as you can to combat the effect of just sitting for hours. Have a couple extra hours of layover? Go on a hike to Terminal A to get your Starbucks coffee (or just to use the bathroom)! Stay on your feet and browse some stores while you’re at it.
  • Do you usually bring a “rolling bag”? Consider a less lazier option that enables you to get in more nutritious movement : Pack your things in a backpack or bag that you can sling over a shoulder so you’re hauling around more weight while you walk and thus doing “weighted-walks” (and burning a few more calories too). If you’re bring a one-shoulder bag, make sure you switch shoulders throughout the day to work your loads evenly (so one shoulder doesn’t end up being tighter than the other the next day).
  • Have a list of 2-3 travel workouts to take along with you that involve body-weight movements. push-ups, sit-ups, burpees, jumping lunges, air squats, jump squats, plank holds, mountain climbers are all excellent moves you can do right in your room. In fact, I was just doing a few jump squats and plank holds late last night to keep my body awake and adjust to the time change and late lifting times.
  • Find a local crossfit box in the area (if you usually do crossfit) – they are usually very open to drop-ins (usually at $15-$20, or free if you buy a t-shirt from them) and is a great way to meet other like-minded fitness folks in a different area. Although it may not be perfectly in tune to the programming and cycle at the home gym, it’s certainly better than NOT doing anything.
  • Don’t forget to pack your your fitness shoes, socks, clothing and water bottle! I know a lot of people that forget these things, and thus their trip turns into an “oh well, I forgot them so I guess I can’t workout”.

 

Keeping your Nutrition in Check

Just yesterday on the plane we decided to get a box of snacks, and I couldn’t help but read the labels and notice all of the soybean oil, dextrose, maltodextrin-something or other, preservatives, and other ingredients I can’t remember because they were so long and lengthy. UGH! With proper planning before hand, you can stay on top of your meals and not have to rely on overpriced, processed, trans-fatty and unhealthy food options while on-the-go.

  • Always check to see if you can get a mini fridge and/or microwave in your hotel room. This way, if you need to store any leftovers or stop at a grocery store nearby to grab a salad to go, you can store it in your room.
  • TSA allows you to pack food in your carry-on luggage so long as you’re not bringing any excessive liquids or sauces (unless you can bring those liquids in a small closed container under 3oz and put them in a quart-sized ziplock along with your toiletries when you go through the security screening). Any fresh fruit or vegetables and solid foods (protein bars, pre-made sandwiches, canned fish, nuts, sauteed veggies & meat, etc) that are sealed up in a tupperware container are OK to bring on your flight. Make sure to pack utensils & napkins!
  • Suggested nutrient-dense snacks to bring along (so you aren’t reliant on some possible mysterious airplane food): jerky, mixed nuts or trail mix, fresh fruits, carrot sticks & cherry tomatoes, protein bars (I love Exo, Epic, Quest & Organic Food Bar), individual protein powder packets, hard boiled eggs, homemade sandwich wraps (I love Julian Bakery Paleo Wraps that are gluten-free and made from coconut).
  • Yelp & Urbanspoon are really great for looking up decent places to eat prior to arriving at your destination. I usually search for terms “organic”, “salad” and “gluten-free” when trying to find decent places nearby that serve quality foods that cater to my no-bread, paleo-ish eating habits, and I spend about 20 minutes while during layover at the airport to make a list of 4-5 places (looking up their menus on their websites as well) that would be adequate for eating at.
  • Always search for high-vegetable options as much as you can when eating out, and stay nutrient-dense! Avoid the starches as much as possible since portion sizes when eating out tend to be larger than usual and thus you’ll end up eating more carbs overall. To balance that out, keep away from the potatoes, rice and breads except for maybe one meal of the day (unless you’re needing carbs to fuel a heavy workout at a local crossfit box or are competing in a weightlifting competition.) Salads are almost my default option because it gets me some greens in my diet, but I also look for “side of fruit” options as opposed to toast or homefries, and always look for that one “meat & veggies” entree hidden in the menu somewhere. Don’t be afraid of asking for substitutions.
  • Stay hydrated! Traveling for some reason tends to sap all of the hydration out of you and/or makes you feel slumpy (at least it does for me) so I try to make sure I get a bottle of water once I’m past the gates and sipping about 8oz of water every 1-2 hours. It also helps to stave off a lot of hunger cravings and stops you from caving into those processed airplane snacks or making unhealthy food choices when you get to the terminals.
  • Bring your vitamins and supplements with you in a plastic bag or mini tupperware if you can. Generally when traveling we tend to get less nutrient-dense options when eating out, but also get exposed to totally different environments, air qualities, people, germs, and the like. Making sure you’re on top of your vitamins and supplements keeps you more routine and ensures your body is getting adequate nutrients to sustain its daily functioning.

I hope you’ll find a lot of these travel tips useful when staying mobile and in shape while on your journey to wherever you’re going to go! Traveling is not an excuse to just drop your routine for a few days – but if you make an effort to keep health, fitness and nutrition a priority then you’ll feel your best and adapt to jet lag (or road-trip lag) easier in the end.

Safe Travels!