Fitness and Feminism: Can They Co-Exist?

Feminism and fitness are two of my favorite topics. They also happen to be favorite topics of my wonderful, smart, strong AF friend Kelly. One day, while discussing some things related to fitness and feminism, we got the idea to write a joint article about said topic. Then we realized that, we could do better. We could film a little something on the topic. Even better, we could film something on the topic while drinking wine and eating gluten-free pizza. 

 

This podcast-style video was born out of some ideas, our collective experiences, and some (okay, maybe more than some) wine. In this episode, we talk about feminism and fitness, body shaming, body image, and a whole of other topics relating to our experiences with these things. We plan on filming a few more of these on this topic so if you have questions or suggestions, let us know!

Consistency Series Part 3: Routines

photo by Turning Point Photography

If you’ve missed parts 1 and 2 of the series on consistency, check them out here:

Part 1: time and effort

Part 2: mental fatigue, willpower, and motivation

So speaking of routines….I sort of, kind of got out of the routine of writing. Oops. Honestly, I’ve been traveling nearly every weekend and just haven’t had the capacity to put something together so there’s that. Onwards and upwards.

 

Let’s talk about routines, shall we?  I LOVE ROUTINE. I am 100% a creature of habit who loves structure, color coding, and specific instruction. If I could plan out nearly every second of every day, I probably would. That’s not the healthiest habit ever, by the way.  I realize that I’m likely in the minority here - especially when it comes to nutrition and exercise. Most of my clients and others I’ve talked to have busy lives filled with work, family, relationships, social obligations, etc. that make it difficult to stick to a strict nutrition or exercise regimen. Consequently, when life inevitably happens, people will feel “bad” about falling out of their routine and fall into the shame spiral of feel bad, wallow in the bad feeling, say fuck it, do something else that makes them feel bad, and so on and so on. Not only is this not productive, it’s not a particularly kind thing to do to yourself. If you’re thinking, “well, if I can’t plan out a routine to stick to 100% of the time, why even bother?”, I hear you and I totally get that. As we’ve discussed before, do not let perfection be the enemy of good. With that said, let’s explore why routines are helpful:

 

  1. Routines help us save mental energy: How many times have you found yourself driving and then suddenly arriving at a destination and saying “uh, how did I even get here?!” That’s your brain on autopilot. You’ve driven those streets so many times that it has become automatic. Routines can help us do the same thing. They help us save mental energy for important, pressing tasks by allowing us to somewhat automate our food and exercise.

  2. Routines provide us with a safety net: Creating a routine can help you have a “blueprint” for what to do when things get a little disrupted. Routines can bolster you and help give you a little nudge when you need it.

  3. There is no “right” way to build a routine: Routines work because they work FOR YOU. What works for one person will not work for another person so think of creating a routine as an endeavour in personal exploration and a bit of a trial and error process.

 

You’re probably like, “I get it. Routines are good and stuff. Now, how do I actually DO this?” and I hear you. Investing in creating a routine and recognizing what you need your routine to do for you is a huge part of building something that works. So let’s get straight to the point with some tips on how to build that useful thing:

 

  1. Start small: Add in ONE or two things every two weeks until you are satisfied. For example, if you’re looking to start prepping your meals, start by prepping one or two items.Maybe start by prepping two or three items that you know you’ll throughout the week 0 like rice, chopping veggies, etc.

  2. Be flexible to find structure: Rather than locking yourself into only option, have a few options on deck. For example, my schedule isn’t always predictable so I block off two different blocks of time where I can get to the gym. Do I always use both? Nope. But just having a back up plan helps me tremendously. I know that if I can’t make my first option, I’ve got another option or I can split up my training into two sessions if needed. If you have the ability to have options, use them!

  3. Keep yourself accountable: Use a system to keep yourself accountable to the routines and behaviors you want to create. Schedule gym time like an appointment if you’ve only got one block of time that works. Use tracking system for food. Use stickers or some other marker in your planner. Have a buddy keep you on track. Hire a coach! Do any and all of those things to give yourself some tangible item to attach with your behaviors and goals.


Most importantly, remember that there is no “on” and “off” switch. If you fall “off” your routine, it’s okay. Pick a small thing that you can do to help get you back to what works for you and do that thing. Think of it like a dimmer switch - you can turn it up or turn it down based on what is going on in your life and what you have the mental and physical capacity for. Building up routines and habits gradually is much easier and creates more sustainability (for most people, not all) than trying to create and execute a “perfect” strict plan.

Passion & the Dark Places

Ammonia.

Trap Slaps.

Yelling.

All of these things are pretty commonplace at powerlifting meets and are things that I personally like when I’m about to hit the platform. I’m definitely what would be considered an “aggressive” lifter. I like getting my back slapped (hard), sniffing some ammonia, and occasionally yelling to get myself psyched up on the platform. However, these antics aren’t to draw upon a well of anger to help me deadlift. These antics are about passion. Anger is not a sustainable source of motivation and focus. Anger is short and fleeting; passion slowly simmers. For me, it’s about going to a dark place where there is nothing but passion and focus. There are certainly days that require more passion than others and for me, my last meet was absolutely one of those days.

I’ve recapped my powerlifting meet a few weeks ago in several places on the internets (IG, FB, etc.) so I’m not really going to go into the results of my meet here. To sum it up: I went 5/9, had a really brutally tough squat session, an okay bench session, and an okay deadlift session. I matched my all time squat PR (got 2 red lights though), matched my meet bench PR, and matched my deadlift meet PR (hitched my 3rd all time PR deadlift of 308#).  It wasn’t the meet I wanted but overall, I couldn’t be disappointed with how the day went considering how training went.

After spending a few months rehabbing my knee (and not squatting or deadlifting for several months), I was beyond eager to jump into meet prep. Long story short, nothing really went as planned. As someone who is a super planner (I mean, I’ve got a color coded planner with stickers), this was a huge source of anxiety. It’s an extremely frustrating feeling to be faced with a problem that you don’t know how to solve because the solutions that are available have already been done. My body felt very much like it was not my own and training felt a lot like trying to stand still in the middle of a hurricane. I can count on one hand the number of training sessions that didn’t end in tears.

 

I came very close, very close to not even doing this meet. I had an email drafted up saying I wouldn’t be competing. I went back and forth between dropping out and going forward at least three times a day. It was exhausting.  Around three weeks out, I made the decision to pull out of a strongman competition and put off competing for the rest of the year. But this meet was still looming. I wanted to quit so badly. I was looking for every single excuse to just not show up. At the end of the day though, I wanted to be there for my friend (who did AMAZING), I wanted to how my clients that powerlifting is an accessible and fun sport, and frankly, I’m too stubborn to quit, so I showed up.

Was it the meet I wanted? Not really. Was it the experience that I needed? Definitely. I get wrapped up in my own head sometimes (okay, all the time) and I fail to see what is right in front of me.  On paper, there is no real reason why I should have even had a semi-decent meet. But sometimes, it takes visiting some dark places to show you what you’re made of.  For me, it took a really terrible training cycle to remember the passion I have for being able to compete and lift and be there for others doing the same. Because sometimes, you just have to recognize your feelings and fears and insecurities that live in the darker places and say “fuck it” and keep going.

 

Gabrielle BrostComment