One of the biggest challenges, (and many others) we as PTs have faced is the mindset of women with regards to training and nutrition. All too often I hear ‘I don’t want to get bulky,’ ‘I want a bigger bum’, or ‘I don’t want to lift weights’ so I’m here to debunk some of these statements.
Firstly, I’d like to speak about body dysmorphia. This is something we all experience almost every day. This has become more prominent with social media and its influencer culture portraying a perfect body or way to live. Renowned body builder Rich Piana states that less than 5% of the population can attain and sustain the desired body; and in my experience, I believe this to be accurate.
It’s normal for an influencer to have a holiday or modelling shoot once, and these photos to then be recycled repeatedly and used over a series of months, to give the illusion of being in shape all year round.
Ask any bodybuilder or fitness influencer how to maintain the lean look and they will tell you this: it takes a lot of work.
This can and will normally include staying in a calorie deficit, hours of cardio a week and giving up simple pleasures like nights out or junk food.
Ultimately, we need to ask ourselves, how bad do we want it and does it fit into our lifestyle. Don’t forget we have no idea who or what these people do on a day-to-day basis, are they a mum of 5? Or do they not work and can commit to training 7 days a week? What’s the genetic background? All these factors, plus more contribute to how we look as individuals and is why we should never compare ourselves to others as we just simply don’t know!
What we should do is speak to professionals, outline your goals and ask if this is realistic and can fit into your lifestyle. Once you embark on the journey, you know deep down you are doing everything you can do with the lifestyle you have.
Now onto calories and weight loss / muscle gain
Ultimately when it comes to body weight fluctuation it is calories in vs calories out.
Yes, it’s that simple. To lose fat we need to be in a calorie deficit, to gain muscle we need to be in a calorie surplus. Now depending on how much we are over or under depends on the rate at which we gain or lose. Ideally work out your maintenance level and start with 250 to 300 calories in either direction and keep going until you hit a plateau or until you reach your desired goal. Again, I would advise speaking to a professional and not social media for help. Besides speaking to a professional, calorie tracking apps such as my fitness pal can help when wanting to achieve fitness goals.
To gain muscles (grow glutes etc) we need to be in a surplus and with a surplus comes some fat gain, we can do things to limit this but ultimately its inevitable, but if this truly is your goal, you need to trust the process and remember why you started. Try not to worry about how you look as we are training for a specific goal, eating a certain way to get desired results in the future.
On the flip side: to lose fat, we will be eating less, doing more cardio and having cravings at weird and wonderful times. Again, we need to remember why we started and how we felt not being comfortable with our body in order to push and see us through to the end.
Ultimately being ’fit’ or ‘in shape’ doesn’t come easy and that’s why we see such a small amount of people look like this (unless they are genetic gods) daily and more on social media as they tend to have the most followers.
Factors which do impact weight is both the woman’s menstrual cycle and certain contraceptive medications, this is due to the hormonal fluctuations in your body. So, choosing the right one for your body is important, speak to your GP or a health professional about your options.
We need to change the narrative with women’s fitness and body shaming, we can all look how we want and should be supported and praised.
I hope this sheds some light onto a couple of issues and gives you a bit more confidence moving into your new year goals.
I’m Luke Duckron and I’m out.