My answer to that question is another question: Who gets to decide?
I was originally going to make this a post about those “healthy, whole grains” that too many of our clients and their families eat – to their tremendous detriment. I had a couple of catchy titles on tap like “Don’t Hate The Player, Hate The Grains,” or “Speaking Truth To Flour.” A recent New York Times article changed my plans.
The War On Women?
The article was titled “The Bridal Hunger Games.” It focused on the extremes that some brides-to-be will go to for that special day. One of the women profiled paid $1,500 for a nasal feeding process. She has taken a lot of hits for her chosen weight loss method. The reality is that we live in times where it has become common practice for women to run after anything that incorporates, tubes, pills, scalpels, or the word “Brazilian” in pursuit of the movie star look.
There has been a lot of attention paid to “The War on Women” – reproductive rights, lower pay, etc. The New York Times article got me thinking about our little piece of the world and the women we work with. My perspective results from my work as a trainer and co-owner of a studio (that has women as 97% of its clientele), as a husband, a father to daughters from 6 years of age to 22 years old, the co-founder of a school for girls in India, and as a middle school and high school educator. I cannot imagine the constant assault these girls and women have been under from society’s messages about beauty and health.
I’m also frustrated. My frustration comes from the fact that I know what to do to get anyone – man or woman – to look, feel, and perform better. It turns out that that’s not good enough! Starvation diets, breakfast cereals, tofu, chronic cardio, fad workouts, are too often the go-to tools for women who have been brainwashed to get that special look. We, the trainers at Brownstone, walk a thin line as we provide clients with what they need, while we are required to acknowledge what many of them have been convinced that they want.
We explain that strength training will not make them “bulky” with muscle; we tell them that long distance running will likely injure them and make them “skinny fat” at best; we explain that pharmaceutical companies, large fitness chains, and the agricultural behemoths that dictate food policy, want them to be sick, fat, and weak as part of a business strategy. We explain that diets are detrimental and that they could eat more and not stay hungry if they ate the right things -including healthy fats! We let them know that 95% of people who go on diets regain the weight they lost after two years (and most put on even more pounds).
Bernadette, Yaromil, and I care about the people who cross our paths. Our years of nonprofit work might indicate that we care too much. In the work we do now, we see people at their best and at their worst. I spend my free time reading “The Journal of Applied Physiology” and “The Journal of Obesity” with the same zeal that I used to read “Assessment Update” or “Educational Leadership.”
It makes us crazy to know that with two workouts a week lasting no more than 45 minutes, and adherence to a few nutrition principles, 80% of the women who cross our paths could make tremendous changes in body composition, strength, and performance. The media tells them that this prescription is too simple and that they need to exercise more and eat less. People who struggle with weight do so because of underlying health conditions, stress, lack of information about exercise and nutrition, poor sleep, and toxic relationships. Sometimes the excess weight is a protection against the world. Laziness and gluttony account for a tiny fraction of the people who are overweight or obese. We get that and that’s why…
La Luta Continua – Are You With Us?
Our mission at Brownstone Fitness is not limited to the Harlem community. We have a goal of improving the health, safety, and fitness of 100,000 women around the world in the next two years. We will do this through things like workshops, speeches, webinars, writing, memberships sites, and conferences.
On Tuesday May 1 at 7:00 pm EST, Yaromil and I will hold a FREE internet seminar (otherwise known as a “teleseminar”) to expose some of the myths around nutrition, fitness, and wellness. We will also discuss strategies to fight back. If you believe that the “war” is taking place, this teleseminar will give you a few tools to fight back. Go here to get on the list. We look forward to speaking with you.
Which woman has the perfect body? I love women who like to sweat, who work to improve their physical strength, who want to move the way humans were meant to move, who are confident about being Strong, Sexy, and Serene, but…
WHO CARES WHAT I LIKE!?
Take back the right to define this for yourself – you decide the perfect body for you. By the way, until things change, let’s start complaining about all those sloppy guys in tuxedos.
P.S. The teleseminar is May 1st at 7 pm. Click here to get on the list. We are limited to 100 lines. So sign up and send the link to your friends.