Body image is an issue in today’s society; there are many women who feel pressure from an ever judgemental society to conform to an image of beauty, which feminist-minded individuals rightly declare is created by negative sexual objectification by corporations who profit from insecurity. However, it would be equally cruel to ostracise those who take great pride in their health and appearance, like the new mum shamed for her stunning post pregnancy transformation.
With that in mind, this article aims to help those women who wish to lose weight to feel more confident, get a bit more shapely and generally embrace a healthier and fitter lifestyle without trawling the internet and buying, quite frankly, rubbish health supplements designed to take advantage of your insecurities. While a gym membership is absolutely a great investment, even that can be substituted for now by an inexpensive set of weights.
- Don’t be afraid of weights.
If there’s one gym cliché which needs to be left in the rubbish bin of history, it’s the fear that women will become muscle-bound Spartans if they happen to brush past a dumbbell. You simply, due to your biology, will not explode into a female Schwarzenegger if you do a few sets of bench press. You may however, explode into a new you. Squats, Deadlift, Clean and Press and Bench Press should be staple exercises of anybody’s workout. These four exercises will work nearly every muscle in your body and see you tone up. The intensity of a full body workout is also considerably cardiovascular, if you push yourself hard enough. Also, don’t be afraid to lift heavy. If 20kg bench press is your maximum weight, then you can rest assured that you’re feeling the exact same stress as someone whose maximum bench is 120kg.
- Get off the treadmill!
The thing with clichés is they have some base truth to them. The sight of women holding the cardio corner hostage is a regular scene. Cardio has its place, absolutely, but it is by no means the answer to your weight loss woes or your fitness aspiration. Too much cardio can often lead to muscle catabolism. The best way to look at it is to look at a marathon runner and a sprinter and see the difference in their build. Find a healthy balance between cardio and weight lifting. Perhaps try adding 20 minutes of HIIT to the end of a session or 3 one hour cardio sessions a week.
How do you lose fat? Stop eating? Well then how come fitness models are swaggering around with 8% body fat yet eat thousands upon thousands of calories? It’s not about how much you eat – it’s about what you eat. Contrary to popular belief, not eating regularly slows your metabolism, thus slowing fat loss. We all know those fitness enthusiasts who are constantly eating, that’s because smaller meals, spread throughout the day, increase ones metabolism. Look for foods that take longer to digest, slow releasing carbohydrates like sweet potato and slow releasing proteins like cottage cheese leave one feeling fuller for longer while eating healthy. Food doesn’t have to be boring, there’s a million and one things you can do with chicken breast and the sheer volume of vegetables out there will leave you swamped for choice.
It doesn’t have to be expensive either. Vegetables cost little per kilo and bargains on meat are plentiful. Stores like Farmfoods in Portswood, MuscleFood, and even Bookers in Eastleigh if you have a card and transport, offer cheap meat. The deals are out there, you just have to look. Also, while I myself eat meat, there are plenty of non-animal proteins out there for vegetarians and vegans. Nuts, lentils and peanut butter are just a few great non-animal proteins.
- Enjoy yourself
If you don’t enjoy exercise and eating certain foods and not others, then don’t feel you have to. This is where body shaming does it’s harm, making you feel that you need to be a certain size and shape lest you be labelled as ‘ugly’ or ‘fat’. This self-depreciating attitude will only be heightened by a half-hearted effort to swing some weights back and forth and cheat on your diet leading to little if any progress. Like everything in life your heart needs to be in it – just turning up won’t hack it. It takes dedication and hard work and should be something that’s enjoyed.
- Don’t rush yourself
Finally, don’t set too ambitious a target. Losing a couple of stone in four weeks for summer is both unrealistic and could be unhealthy. Set realistic targets, give yourself ample time and don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the results you want to in the time you expected. It’s a learning process, so read fitness articles and watch videos. You’ll quickly pick up new exercises and recipes to add to your routine and also learn to ignore the ‘broscience’ which will be found in plenty.