Emmie Mears
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Strong vs. Skinny: Why I’m Ditching the Scale for the Iron

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Strong vs. Skinny: Why I’m Ditching the Scale for the Iron Image

Strong vs. Skinny: Why I’m Ditching the Scale for the Iron

Source: Wikipedia Commons. Image by George Stepanek. (CC license, attribution)

Ever since I joined Fitocracy, I’ve been seeing women lifting weights all over the place.

And I’m not talking about 5 pounders. Even 10 pounders. I’m talking hardcore, heavy-ass weights. I’m talking women who are benching 1.5 times their bodyweight and deadlifting over 300 pounds.

Then I read this article about Staci, a woman who was struggling with her weight, dieting all the wrong ways, and finally found the weights (and proper nutrition). If you don’t have time to read it, here’s the summary. She weighed 171 pounds, then dropped to 117 doing the “normal” weight loss stuff of running excessively and dieting. But she was exhausted all the time and hungry. So she educated herself on nutrition and discovered how much she loved the feeling of lifting heavy things. She never looked back. Now she weighs 140ish pounds and looks better, stronger, and more toned than she did at 117. Did I mention she can deadlift 315 pounds? Yeah. She can do that.

We all know that muscle weighs more than fat. It weighs a lot more than fat. But we sometimes forget what exactly muscle does that fat can’t. Not only does it allow you to pick up really heavy shit, but it burns more calories. It takes more to maintain. You can run all you want, but if you really want to start burning away those love handles, start moving weight around.

That’s only part of it, of course. It’s not as simple as pick-up-dumbells —> BIKINI! What you put in your body is a huge portion of what you get out of it. Nutrition is vital. Nutrient dense proteins, heaps of vegetables and fruits, natural fats, and whole grains (if you must have grains) are what make your body purr like a kitten.

So what does this have to do with me? Or you, for that matter?

I think a lot of women are afraid of lifting weights because they are afraid they’re going to bulk up. Read Staci’s story. You look at her pictures and tell me if she looks bulky. She looks STRONG.

Here’s the thing. 140 pound powerlifter Staci could smash 117 pound tired, starving Staci into bits. We look at models in fashion magazines and our favorite actors and actresses — yeah, some of them are just plain scrawny. The ones I’ve always admired are the ones who look like they can actually do something. You know, besides stand there in a frou-frou skirt and pout. I don’t care if my body never fits into the sizes supermodels wear. I care that I can run 3 miles in one go when a year ago, I could barely run one. I care that I can leg press my body weight. I care that I can do real pushups. I care that I did 75% of an unassisted pullup today — on a set of moving rings, no less.

I care that I can move heavy things around my house without assistance. That at work if the soda syrups need changing, I can lug that 50 pound box of corn syrup and caramel color up four flights of stairs without getting winded. And I care that these days, when I look in the mirror, I don’t worry about the remaining fluff and waste my time worrying about how I’m going to lose it. I look in the mirror, flex my biceps or abs or triceps or calves and see definition. I look in the mirror and see a strong body — one strong enough to work out today for four hours.

That’s why I’m ditching the bathroom scale for a whole other kind of weight. Not the kind that just hangs around on my frame. The kind my body can move. This year, I’ve done things I never expected to be able to do. It leaves me with one question: what else can I do?

Oh, and one other.

What can YOU do?

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Author | Emmie Comments | 1 Date | May 30, 2013


Bill Parker

Refreshing to see a young woman think this way. It’s so right.

Weight is…nobody’s going to get my dumb baseball analogy, but casual fans love batting average and RBI. Which, if a baseball player has good numbers in those things, it’s *probably* (but not always) safe to assume that he’s doing well. But it’s a really blunt instrument — it can’t tell you any more than that, not how good he is or what precisely he’s good at or anything else at all. There are a lot of statistics you could look at that do tell you more useful things and a lot more of it, but they’re harder to understand and take more work to get to, so a lot of people don’t bother.

Weight is like that. “At my goal weight” probably means “pretty healthy,” but what else can it tell you? But — assuming they’re not just obsessed with being “skinny,” which of course many are — people use it as though it’s the single determinant of health, when it’s anything but.

I’m trying to think of a non-baseball, geek-friendly example that explains what I mean. Maybe like gross box office receipts? A movie that kills at the box office probably has *something* going for it, but you have no idea what…yet the media quotes those numbers like they really mean something, because there’s not enough time in the day to dig any deeper.

No idea if I’m making any sense. But I feel strongly about this, and I get me, dammit.

May 30, 2013 | 9:27 pm

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