By: Kyla Scherer
As a coach, the number one request from female clients is to lose weight and look better. The female population comes to me “hating” things about their bodies. A body that has potentially gotten them out of bed each day, climbed endless stairs, given birth, stood them in front of seminars and conferences and courtrooms, walked them down the aisle of their wedding, helped them to impact their local or national or international community, saved lives, taught, and inspired others.
How do you hate that?
They see the extra fat, or the flabby arms, or a number on the scale they think is too large. Why shouldn’t they see this? If you walk down the magazine aisle in stores and take a gander at the front cover of women’s magazines versus men’s magazines you see two very different pictures. In a totally unscientific study I did just that, and here’s what I saw.
Magazines geared towards women: fight fat, slim and happy, drop 2 sizes, sexy abs, lose more fat, flat abs, slim sexy body, toned.
Magazines geared towards men: Instant muscle, big arms fast, get big, ripped right now, build muscle, stronger quicker, the big muscle issue.
These are just magazine covers; we are bombarded each day by various types of media that pretty much send the same message. Be small, quiet, and look a very specific way. We aren’t taught to be grateful about what our bodies can do, but to be ashamed of what they aren’t. We are taught to focus on aesthetics, and not what our bodies can do. I, personally, chose not to subscribe to this thought process, but it can be difficult to get a female client to turn their backs on the overwhelming majority of messaging.
So how do we go about making women appreciate their bodies more?
As a coach, obviously, I want to know a client’s goals. Whether that goal is to lose 10lbs or have visible abs, or to drop 2 dress sizes. Once I know a client’s goals a program can easily be designed to help them reach their goals. The important part is finding out a client’s why. Why do they want to lose 10lbs, why not 5 or 15? Why 2 dress sizes? Usually in talking to clients the 10lbs and the change in clothing size turns into feeling better. Feeling better in their body and about their body and this is where I like to work.
Most of my clients will start feeling better and more empowered when they start performing better. If during a session I can get them to focus on doing one more rep then last time, trying to move more weight than they did a month ago, or moving faster through a workout suddenly it becomes about what they are capable of and not the 10lbs they were worried about. “I did that one push-up, now I want more.”, “I picked up 100lbs, now I want more.”. If they focus on what they can do in the gym, the aesthetics will come.
Most likely a woman who can bang out 3 pull-ups has a pretty good body composition already. A woman who can pick up over 300lbs probably has a fantastic looking posterior. If you are working hard in the gym for those quad muscles, then you want to show them off in that smaller sized dress. A woman who focuses on getting stronger quickly realizes that she isn’t “getting bulky” as a result, and she’s most likely eating more than she ever has before.
Ultimately, I would like women to stop trying to fix their bodies and start trying to make them stronger. Train because you love your body, not because you hate it. Because our bodies are amazing, and can do so much more then we think. Chances are you are going to see much more positive change if you start from a place of gratitude then one of despair.
“You can still love your body while wanting it to look or perform differently than it does right now. There’s no hypocrisy there.” – Molly Galbraith