Sunny San Diego was the backdrop for the first Women’s Strength Nation LIVE event April 10 – 12, 2015 and Diets In Review was there every step of the way. The kickoff was part of the launch of Westin Hotel and Resort’s new Westin Wellness Escapes, a series of weekend-long events devoted to helping you live your best life, even on vacation.
Hosted by celebrity personal trainer and fitness expert Holly Perkins, CSCS, the weekend was full of enlightening information to equip women with everything we need to walk into the weight room, confident and ready to work.
The mission of Women’s Strength Nation is to improve the ratio of women to men in the weight room. In order to do that, WSN provides you will all the tools you need to confidently walk into the gym and crush it every single time. Using strength training as a metaphor for building strength inside and out, we learned that in order to illicit change, you must have adversity. Like your muscles, you must be torn down before you can be built back up. When met with resistance and adversity, either in terms of weight vs. your muscles, or life vs. you, in the words of Holly Perkins herself “how you show up for this is how you show up for everything.”
Through individual and group exercises, group workouts, workshops and lectures, we learned the indisputable science that supports strength training’s affects not only on the body, but also the mind. We learned how a woman should train differently than a man, despite the fact that all the information out there is written for a man and a man’s body.
With so many takeaways from the weekend, it’s hard to choose which to highlight. Here are just a few nuggets of wisdom:
Change, positive or negative, is the biggest stressor: marriage is stressful the same way divorce is and a promotion is as stressful as a job loss. Our bodies crave homeostasis, to keep the status quo. Everything in our beings wants us to stay the same. The purpose of fear is to maintain that homeostasis. Whether in the gym or in your life, your body will naturally resist. To overcome, just breathe, acknowledge this, and do it anyway.
WOMEN CAN BULK
The women can’t bulk myth was busted. Rejoin, easy gainers! Women can bulk (if they want!) — it just takes a very specific physiology and/or a specific type of training. It has to do with testosterone and yes, some women have more than others which gives them a propensity to bulk, so no, you aren’t crazy if you fit the bill.
STRENGTH DOESN’T HAVE TO BULK
That being said, you can get stronger without getting bigger (they are not synonymous) you just need proper programming. To find the best program for your body type, pick up a copy of Holly’s new book Lift to Get Lean. It’s a female-focused strength training bible, and in it Holly shares four unique programs for each body type and goal type so you can bulk (or not!) how you want.
PULL vs. PUSH
Pulling mechanics are very important for a woman’s body, which is why you need to do three times as many pulling exercises as pushing ones. It has to do with our evolution from the days when we walked on all fours, and the muscles it takes to keep us standing upright.
FORGET THE EXCUSES
In the end, we learned to let go of the excuses that have been holding us back for so long and why it’s vital, as women, not to dim our lights to make others feel comfortable, but rather it’s our responsibility to let our lights shine to motivate and inspire other women to do the same. Together, thirty perfect strangers laughed, cried, shared, and bonded — and will forever be connected. We are strong. And so are you.
Here are three things we learned from Women’s Strength Nation LIVE! that you can work into your next workout:
The 3 rules of strength training
1. Technique trumps everything
2. Manipulate your speed of movement
3. The last 2 reps should threaten #1.
The 5 form cues to make every exercise a full body exercise
1. Pull up your arches
2. Push out your knees
3. Tuck your butt
4. Brace your core
5. Anchor your shoulders
5 essential exercises for every woman
1. Leg press
3. Reverse grip pulldown
4. Chest press
5. Overhead press
images by Lauren Milner Photography courtesy of Westin
Jennifer Espinosa-Goswami is a weight loss cheerleader who admits that vegetables still aren’t her favorite menu item. After losing 100 pounds in one year, Jennifer is motivating others on her website, Weightless Chronicles.
My goal is to coach other working moms like myself who are tired of yo-yo dieting. Weight loss is not a one-time event. It is a marathon that takes training and a certain strategy. ~Jennifer
More from Jennifer in her own words –
Tell me when your weight struggles began. I don’t remember ever being thin. I never felt like I struggled with my weight, but I was embarrassed by it.
What habits specifically led you to gain weight? I ate so much, and almost always to please my taste buds. I loved everything about food, from shopping for groceries with my mom, to cooking, to enjoying it with my family. I also hated vegetables with a passion. Once I turned 18, I vowed never to eat anything green (except ice cream). Two years later, I reached my highest weight.
What caused you to realize you needed to change? My grandmother passed away. She was the last of my grandparents, all of whom played a big role in my early childhood. Grandma Espinosa was an active and passionate woman who was there for every major event in our family. I realized that I might never see my own grandchildren.
Katie Lowe may seem like your typical 25-year-old girl living in the London and loving life, but one look at her journey and you’ll quickly realize she has quite a unique story. Katie had always been heavy, struggling with her weight even as a child. But after an accident at the age of 19 left her unable to walk for two years, the weight piled on.
At her heaviest Katie weighed 290 pounds and she grew quite desperate. But after making health a priority and changing the way she approached diet and fitness, the pounds began to fall off.
After getting off track in late 2011, Katie turned around and created her blog, Fat Girl, PhD, in 2012 as a resolution of sorts – to hold herself accountable to the healthy lifestyle changes she sought to make.
Today Katie is a trim 160 pounds, just 15 pounds shy of her goal weight and a completely changed person. We had the pleasure of speaking with Katie recently about her incredible journey. Here’s what she had to say.
What specific changes did you make to your diet to lose weight?
I tried to cut out processed foods wherever I could, switching sugary snacks and drinks for healthy, nutritious meals. I also had to learn to eat the right amount – because when you’re eating the right things, you have to eat more of them than you think! Losing weight doesn’t mean starving yourself – it means eating well and enjoying real food. (more…)
Cindy Santa Ana of Northern Virginia grew up like a lot of kids in the 70s, eating canned Campbell’s soups and Pop Tarts and school lunches that resembled fast food more than they did home-cooked meals. She also had an affinity for popsicles and candy, which all snowballed into a pattern of unhealthy eating. The only commitments that kept her slim through high school were going without soda, dancing and staying active with social engagements.
Despite any unhealthy habits she developed early on in life, Cindy always had an interest in health and fitness and even majored in physical education and health in college. As a result she followed the nutrition advice she learned in the process, following the USDA recommendation of 6-11 servings of carbohydrates per day.
Items like breads, pasta and cereal filled her daily diet, but all along she thought that was a healthy choice.
“At one point in college I had 11 boxes of cereal in my dorm room,” Cindy recalled. “I was also eating everything fat free because the fat-free mantra was on.”
Believing the basic assumption that fat was bad, everything she ate was either low fat or fat free, which meant it usually had ample amounts of added sugar and high fructose corn syrup. This pattern of eating led to a slow and steady weight gain throughout college – at least 10 pounds every year. And Cindy’s health only continued to decline.
At the age of 25 she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and the migraines she frequently experienced as a kid only grew worse. Then in 2005 and again in 2007 kids came along, which left Cindy heavier and more unhappy with her body than ever. (more…)
After looking at this picture, would you believe this man graduated high school only weighing 135 pounds? Or that he was a stud athlete with 11 varsity letters earned in soccer, baseball, and swimming, was given the title of an all-regional athlete, but couldn’t get recruited to a division 1 college all because of his small size and frame?
This is IFPA professional natural bodybuilder Doug Miller, and yes, the above statements are very true. Doug was very active throughout his entire childhood and obviously a fantastic athlete as well. After he wasn’t able to earn scholarships for any division 1 school, Doug decided to focus all of his attention on his education rather than sports.
He earned a B.S. in biochemistry & molecular biology as well as a B.S. in economics from Penn State University’s Scheyer Honors Program, where he graduated as valedictorian. He was extremely tuned in, giving everything he could to his academics, but he knew something was missing in his life. He missed his old active lifestyle where he spent his spare time playing sports.