Should you compare yourself to other women?

You walk into the gym ready to crush your workout. You’ve got your favorite leggings on, a fun t-shirt, and you’re on top of your game. After a brief warm up, you walk over towards the weight rack (because you’ve already mastered the weight room), pick up the 10lb dumbbells, and start your workout. But that’s when the social comparison starts. You look to your left and see some super fit chick with cut arms doing more push ups from her toes than you thought possible. And to your right? That runner chick on the treadmill is sprinting at a speed of 12mph. You didn’t even know treadmills went that fast!

She can do so many more push ups than me. 

She’s so much stronger/faster/fitter than me. 

 

Or maybe you’re out at happy hour with some friends, you look around and see so many beautiful women in their cocktail dresses. You can’t help but notice how well they are rocking their outfits. They look so happy, pretty, and confident. So, the questions start.

Why can’t I have her arms?

Why am I not that confident?

Sound familiar? We’ve all been there. I know I’m not alone. It’s almost impossible to stop comparing ourselves to others, whether it’s your best friend, a stranger, or someone in a magazine. But the truth is, after doing some serious research, I’ve found that social comparison is much more than the thief of joy, and it NEEDS TO STOP.

Why social comparison doesn’t serve you

This is the #1 reason you need to stop comparing yourself to others. RIGHT NOW.

Comparing yourself to others seems to have absolutely no positive effects. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It seems that if you you engage in social comparison, you are very unlikely to successfully eat intuitively. When researchers studied a group of teenage girls over a one year period, they found that social comparison was the strongest NEGATIVE predictor of subsequent intuitive eating [source]. Read: if you’re comparing yourself to others, you’re going to have a damn difficult time getting to that intuitive eating happy place. You know, that place where you eat based off of internal hunger and satiety cues instead of skipping meals to keep yourself skinny or eating because a plan tells you it’s time.

Social comparison is also shown to be a key contributor to feelings of shame [source]. When all you’re doing is looking at others and judging yourself, sometimes you can’t help but feel inferior. It’s that inferiority that leads to shame, “the most powerful, master emotion” (at least according to Brené Brown).

Why you should care

…because this affects us all.

When I was in middle school, I developed a bit faster than all my friends (I was the same height at thirteen as I am now at twenty five). I looked around and thought something was wrong with me.

Why was I so much fatter than my friends? 

Why were they so much more confident than me? 

And it wasn’t just me that noticed how different I looked.

I remember one afternoon, swimming at my friend Katie’s house in January. We thought it would be fun to jump into the cold water but I didn’t have a bathing suit. She looked through her drawers and pulled out two swimsuits: a bikini and a one piece.  I’ll never forget what happened next.

She turned to me and said, “You should wear the bikini, you know, because you have more fat and you’ll stay warmer than me.”

Even twelve years later, I remember the pain in the pit of my stomach. It was like she had punched me.

I frankly hated myself.  The shame, anxiety, and fear that came with comparing myself to my friends and the images I saw in magazines definitely contributed to my  10+ year battle with anorexia. Because I felt so inferior, I didn’t see any other way out, besides trying to change my body. I thought, if I could just look like them, I will feel better. The weight fell off so fast but the shame didn’t go away so easy.

Social comparison is a dangerous fallacy. It’s a romantic idea right? If we can just be as pretty/smart/strong/capable as she is, we’ll be happy/better/satisfied. My friend, believing this will fail every time. There’s only one way to true joy, and that’s living as your authentic self.

Today, my friend, I challenge you to help me end this social comparison. Stop comparing yourself to the woman standing next to you. Own what makes you different from her instead! Stand tall, strong, and in your power. This will bring you the joy, love, and happiness you’re really looking for!

Tell me something unique and amazing about YOU!

Resilience: your #1 fitness skill

You have the best exercise equipment, a fabulous workout program, and nutrition guidelines at your fingertips. You feel ready to go, ready to attack your fitness goals with determination.  But the bad news is that’s not necessarily going to determine your success in implementing a nutrition or exercise habit. Whether you’re an olympic athlete, recreational exerciser, figure competitor, or busy student trying to fit in your workouts, you will not succeed if you do not have one thing: resilience.

Why resilience matters

You have the best exercise equipment, a fabulous workout program, and nutrition guidelines at your fingertips. You feel ready to go, ready to attack your fitness goals with determination. But the bad news is that's not necessarily going to determine your success in implementing a nutrition or exercise habit. Whether you're an olympic athlete, recreational exerciser, figure competitor, or busy student trying to fit in your workouts, you will not succeed if you do not have one thing: resilience.

I hate to break it to you, but things aren’t going to be perfect. It’s likely that you’ll stay up too late watching your favorite show, leading you to oversleep, miss your workout, and jack your hunger cues.

It (shit) happens, and your success hinges on your ability to come back to the good habits you’re building.

Before I started focusing on my resilience, I let little things derail me. I became frustrated when I didn’t have the ideal equipment for my workouts or when I only had twenty minutes to train. Resilience has helped me stay more positive and consistent. And remember, consistency leads to results.

Three ways to strengthen your resilience

Focus on the good

Resilience is focusing on the positive whenever possible, instead of getting bogged down in the details.

Did you train for 20 minutes instead of skipping a workout? Count that as a win!

Subbed out a couple exercises because you didn’t have the equipment? Awesome. 

My favorite example?

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Your expectations for a single training session can actually increase the benefits you get from working out.  In other words, thinking positively about what you were able to do can help maximize your results.

Plan!

Help yourself to be more resilient to life’s challenges by creating a plan that supports your willpower. We don’t just skip work meetings because we’re tired. We don’t no-show dinner with friends because we’re stressed about school (well most of the time). But we do this with our workouts? All the time.

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My Three S Formula for Consistency and Motivation will bring awareness to your workout habits and make sure you stay on track, even without motivation.

Utilize both your short and long term memory

When it comes to resilience, you’ve got to maximize both your short and long term memories.

If you’ve slipped up, it’s time to use your short term memory and let that mistake roll off your back. When you wake up the next day, forget you were not acting in line with your goals. Just move on and focus on the next action you can take that supports your goal.

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On the other hand, if you’ve had a little win, HOLD ONTO IT. Focus on that feeling of empowerment and success for as long as you can. This will motivate you to continue!

If you’re looking for help becoming more resilient so you can make positive changes in your life, I’d LOVE to help you create your fit lifestyle.  accountable, check out my upcoming programs. I’d love to work with you!

What’s one fitness or nutrition habit you’re trying to implement?

Although I love athletics, working out, and lifting weights, but I am NOT all for youth athletics. Here's why.

A personal trainer’s case against youth athletics

I’ll never forget ninth grade P.E. as my introduction to youth athletics. For an entire semester, we cycled through team sports, covering one per week. Basketball, badminton, base(soft)ball, soccer, track & field, and volleyball. This was, and is, my hell.

One afternoon during our volleyball unit, I cowered near the back corner of the court, desperately hoping that the ball would not smack me in the head. Another freshman on the other side of the net served the ball. I watched it sail towards me and positioned my arms to hit the ball but a wave of fear washed over me. I stepped out of the ball’s path.

Before I knew what happened, the P.E. teacher/coach was in my face, yelling “EDGECUMBE, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? ARE YOU SCARED OF THE BALL?”

I looked back at him. “Well, YES. I am.”

And there ended my experience with team sports.

Read More »

Heal your body image: three steps

You’re thumbing through your favorite magazine, cup of coffee in hand. The glossy pages sticking to your finger, you’re enthralled by the colorful, bright images of beautiful people. Every article tells you a story of how to become more like them. One catches your eye. It promises you weight loss of a pound a week if you follow their meal plan, laid out simply in black & white. YOU could look like the beautiful people on the surrounding pages. You’re hooked. Who wouldn’t be?

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I think we’ve all been there, falling prey to coveting someone else’s body. It definitely has happened to me. This exact situation is what started me in a downward spiral of hating my body, extreme restriction, and over-exercise about ten years ago. It’s been a loooong eleven years (and I’m telling more of my story & sharing two exclusive tips that changed how I think about my body with my email buddies. Be sure you’re in!), but I’ve figured out a frightening, but important truth.

Read More »

This is Why I Canceled My Hydrostatic Weigh-In

I have to be honest. I am pretty scared to press publish on this one. As most of you know, I spent the last two weeks in California with my family, biological and chosen.

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It was an incredible opportunity to hang with my people, snuggle lots of puppies, and enjoy all of my favorite foods and drinks of the Bay Area.

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As a result, I was overcome with anxiety about my upcoming hydrostatic weighing (aka, getting an accurate read of my body fat percentage). I’d been eating quite a bit differently (more wine, sweet potato fries, falafel, cocktails, and manchego) and only loosely tracking my servings. There also may have been an unfortunate encounter with a gym scale, leaving me focused too much on the numbers. Needless to say, I wasn’t 100% sure that my dunk would show the progress I HAD been working towards back in Austin.

Either way, I was thinking about my opportunity to do a hydrostatic weigh in with a bit of dread. I went back and forth, constantly pestering my friends about their thoughts. Did I look different? Did they think I should get dunked?

Then it hit me, there was no reason to go through with the procedure this time. If my body fat % went up, I would leave feeling miserable and tempted to restrict, removing the pleasure from my limited time with family. Right now, I am living in a little bit more of the indulgent side of the moderation spectrum, and THAT IS OKAY.

Is it okay to let yourself fall off track? This is why I purposely canceled my hydrostatic weigh-in.

Life ebbs and flows. At this point, I am more focused on other things, namely enjoying every moment with the people I love. Often, that involves sipping on some bubbly or sangria. This may not necessarily be in line with my fitness and physique goals, but this is all a process. Living at 16% body fat, as I was late in 2015, is not easy to maintain, and I am okay with changes that support my health and performance, even if that means a few extra bf% points.

Yes. When I get back to Austin, I’ll be back to more of my regular routine of standard meals, (much) less bubbly, and more sleep, but for two weeks, those things haven’t been my priority. I’m still lifting, running, and moving but let’s be real.  My nutrition is a bit more relaxed given my priority of living every moment fully with those around me.

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Today, I would like to encourage all of us to trust the process because I struggle with this soo much. Still though. This was the reminder I needed that sometimes we tread water, other times we move forward but what’s most important is that we keep swimming.

If you like these kinds of mindset focused posts, I send out an email weekly with my best stuff exclusively to my email buddies. Be sure to sign up so you don’t miss out on the fun!

Have you gotten a hydrostatic weigh-in?

The Truth About Body Fat %

Hey friends! Happy Thursday! I hope you are having a great week. Today I’d like to chat with ya’ll about body fat. Not about how to lower it. Not about healthy ranges. Not about how to set appropriate goals. There are so many good resources on these topics from super qualified and respected individuals (but if you’d like my .02, let me know, happy to share). Instead, I’m going to talk about what so many of us know intimately well, the struggle with measuring progress.

Over the last fourteen months, I’ve been working to improve my relative strength and decrease my body fat % a little. Progress is, and should be, slow, so I only measure every few months. I tossed my scale and relied on hydrostatic weighing in California so that I could focus on changing my body composition, not necessarily my weight. LOVED it. It was a great option that removed the ups and downs of your weight day-to-day. I could focus on strength and (drum roll) how I felt.

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When I moved to Texas, a few things changed.

  1. I changed up my workouts to be more strength/lifting focused
  2. My eating reflected a goal of maintenance
  3. I could NOT find a way to hydrostatically weigh myself

In attempts to measure progress, I bought myself calipers. I could not get an accurate measurement (although it would be pretty funny to have seen me try to measure my tricep by myself!!!!)  and all I got was incredibly sore, hurt skin.

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Enter last Thursday. In desperation, I found myself a BodPod and scheduled an appointment for last Thursday. It was supposed to be just as accurate as hydrostatic weighing, so I thought what-the-hell. I put on the silly swim cap and stripped down. Totally exposed.

The result? 4% higher than my last reading. Heart sank. Palms got sweaty. Sick to my stomach. Tears in my eyes. I didn’t know what to think. Totally vulnerable. My logical brain stymied by an emotional outpour of grief and fear.

After much research and an additional hydrostatic weighing test to ease my mind, I found out a more accurate estimate of my body composition and will make a couple adjustments moving forward. However, that’s not really what’s important here.

Guys, I needed to wait a bit to process before I could share this tough experience with all of you. I needed a week to wade through all the crap keeping me from thinking straight.

But I came to an important realization: a strong woman was brought to her knees by a fucking number because no matter the number, it will not be good enough. Here it is again!

No body fat % reading will bring you self love

I’m not comfortable in my own skin and am looking for something outside of myself, something objective to tell me what’s “good enough.” I WISH it were that easy but we each have our own internal barometers telling us OUR truth.  Even if your barometer isn’t quite calibrated yet and you’re struggling to accept yourself, you gotta love yourself regardless of what the damn numbers say. The numbers can change but if your mindset doesn’t you won’t get anywhere.

If we are being real, I’m not quite there yet. I’m SO much closer than I used to be, which Is all I can ask. I’m enjoying the journey, and I hope reading this brings you one step forward in yours!

 

Ideas on Self Hate: Courtesy of the FitCast

Guys! We made it to Tuesday! How’d your Monday go? Mine was quiet!

Today, I would like to talk a little bit about mindset.

Over the weekend, I listened to (and was so inspired by) the most recent episode of one of my favorite podcasts, The Fitcast. Episode 371 was full of some incredible nuggets of wisdom, so I highly recommend you check it out.

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One of the reasons that this episode spoke to me so deeply was that it discussed one of my main motivations for pursuing personal training: self hate. I know, might not be what you expected but hear me out. Kevin and Josh have a conversation about a primer written for the fitness industry that:

Outlines all of the research that says the more we stigmatize weight, basically the more we self hate, [the less we…] see a doctor, study about fitness, see a trainer, work out, eat good food, cook [healthily. Basically, it] decreases every single activity that would make a difference for weight loss. […]

All of the evidence would indicate that stigmatizing weight and feeling bad about your body correlates with a decrease in every activity we would consider healthy and fit. 

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With all of that, so many of us approach fitness from a place of self hate, using exercise as a punishment or limiting ourselves based off of our physical appearance. Some examples?

  • “UGH. Look at my stomach. I need to do more ab work.”
  • “I can’t believe I just ate/drank that. I’ll need to workout extra hard tomorrow.”
  • “I’ll ask him out, buy that dress, or go for that promotion once I lose 10 lbs.”

This. Must. Stop. We need to change the dialogue, and I want to be a part of that change.

Some folks would say loving your body how it is today impedes you from progressing but I completely disagree. Self hate may motivate in the short term but it also creates the kind of hateful self talk that turns your body or food choices into good or bad.

Intrinsic motivation does not come from self hate; it comes from love and a desire to be the best version of you, whatever it looks like that day. Striving to be the best YOU, as opposed to trying to fix yourself.

Lovely, you don’t need fixing. I want to become a trainer so I can help reshape the fitness dialogue to support women in using fitness to live fuller lives rather than shrink themselves.

  • “I want to improve my core strength to protect my back and enable me to continue squatting, deadlifting, pulling myself up over the bar, and picking up my pup.”
  • “Maybe I didn’t make the best nutrition choices. I’ll get back on track tomorrow so I feel physically and mentally better.”
  • “I’ll ask him out, buy that dress, DO ALL THE THINGS, right now.”

Let me know your thoughts!