fitness · gender policing · stereotypes · weight lifting

Give Me Strength (Guest Post)

Some of my favourite images from sports photography can be found in Howard Schatz’s 2002 book, Athletes. In his provocative work, Schatz photographs Olympic athletes from various sports in black, form-fitting clothing. Arranging them side-by-side, Schatz reveals the various shapes of the athletic female body. There are many ways of reading these images—I am not here to claim they are unproblematic—but the aspect I choose to focus on is how all of these women, in their varying shapes and sizes, represent strength.

I think society has a terrible time accepting physically strong women—women whose musculature is visible and takes up space. (The recent events surrounding Venus Williams come to mind.) We have adjectives for these types of bodies: “broad,” “big-boned,” “stocky,” and “handsome,” for example. But none of these words is meant to be flattering. (Brianne of Tarth, anyone?) As a 6’0’’ woman myself, I struggled well into my thirties with the question of how to be present physically in a room. I knew I wasn’t petite, small, or particularly fragile. I took up space—a lot of it.

For me, everything came to a head when I turned 36 and gave birth to my third child via c-section no. 3. The doctors who prepped me for surgery marvelled at my enormous baby bump, as if it were something glorious and Amazonian. I’ll never forget their astonishment when my beloved Quinton arrived, weighing in at 11 pounds, 1 ounce. I had given birth to a toddler. As for me, postpartum I had never been so heavy nor so chronically in pain. So, I decided I should do what any 36-year-old classically-trained musician would logically do: I decided to take lessons. I hired myself a brief stint with a personal trainer.

I arrived at the gym assuming my trainer would put me on the treadmill—what I had previously been urged to do to “slim down”—and yell at me in an emotionally-uplifting and inspiring way. (Reality tv wouldn’t steer me wrong, right?) But after five minutes of warm up, my trainer turned off the dreaded machine and led me to the free weights. She walked me past the familiar, dainty weights I had compulsively selected in past group exercise classes, and instead handed me the heavy “barbells” from the middle of the rack. Incredulous, I lifted. After a few sessions, it felt great.

In the first weeks working with this trainer I gained fifteen pounds…of muscle. And I grew strong. She quickly learned that we shared an interest in facts and physics. Together, we talked about everything from nutrition, to metabolism, to body mechanics. Herself being 5’4’’ and a competitive body builder, she looked at me and saw a remarkable template. It turned out, the construction of my previously-loathed body meant that I could actually accomplish some pretty remarkable things. She helped me to understand that my metabolism prioritised muscle and would grow it and protect it prior to burning off fat. This celebration of my construction was surprisingly new. And the strength training was far more effective in slimming me down than anything else I had ever done.

My trainer changed my life. She taught me what strength looks like—male or female. So many bodies that I would have previously thought were “bulky” actually belonged to incredibly strong, powerful women. I was astonished—considering myself a fairly educated individual—at how little I understood about the female body. And as I eliminated my fear of weights and of growing bulky, I also began to enjoy being myself a lot more than I had before. Exercising gave me a hobby that helped me moderate anxiety, eliminate chronic pain, play with my children without fear of “putting my back out,” and embrace failure as something amazing. In fact, failure in the gym is key. It is the best way to make you stronger.

Three years later, I still lift, although this summer I began running again as a chance to tackle new challenges. I cannot imagine life without regular exercise, and I talk with my children about strength and being strong. I fear, as a society, that there are far too many instances to undermine women’s ideas of strength, which, as Schatz’s image reveals, can come in many forms. And make no mistake, one doesn’t need to lift the heavy stuff to be a power house; strength manifests itself in remarkably different ways. Improving how I celebrate strength has been essential to improving my outlook on life, making me all the more excited to drive toward that next failure.

Kimberly Francis is Acting Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies at the University of Guelph, where she is also an Associate Professor of Music and a passionate feminist musicologist. She’s not ashamed to say that Taylor Swift, Guster, and many, many tracks from Big Shiny Tunes can all be found on her workout playlist.


“Failure” in lifting, and life (Guest post)

I wanna talk about failure in lifting for a sec. Not muscle failure like being unable to complete a rep–well, that might be part of it too. But when things don’t go as planned.

I’ve been inspired these days by the super strong women over at Women’s Strength Coalition (check our their Facebook) doing some killer lifts and thought, “What the hell, maybe I should film myself lifting.”

I’m not focusing on strength right now, but reps/endurance (higher repetitions with lighter weight for a max of 12 reps). But I have been killing this routine. Got my deadlifts at 205lbs for 12 reps solid. Today was the last hoorah before changing routines, so I figured it was a good time to see what I could capture on film.

But from the moment I picked up the very first weight, everything felt heavy. Even the warm up. Ugh.

I went in for my first set of deadlifts and it was brutal. Each rep felt like a ton. And I failed. Totally failed. Barely initiated the 10th rep and had to let it go. Put the bar down. The second set–I don’t even want to think about the second set!–was way worse. 5 reps. 5 reps of my 12-rep weight! And I was filming all this. Beautiful. *sarcasm*

I finished off with a set of Romanian deadlifts and managed my usual 10 at my 10-rep weight. But, boy, were they ugly. I just muscled through it.

After all that, I watched the videos of my disappointing lifts. And it got me thinking about failure. Online we usually only see images of awesome feats, but rarely do we see any posts about the lifts that “failed.” (Unless they are nastily mocking people, but that’s a whole other topic).

In my academic life, I’ve been engaged in discussions about how it’s important to be more transparent about failure (e.g., grants not awarded, papers rejected, etc.) to create a more supportive (and healthy) academic culture. (Jennifer Diascro has a fabulous blog about tenure denial and failure in the academy if you’re interested.) This made me wonder about lifting as well. Maybe we should share some of our “failed” lifts too? Not just the most impressive ones? Is that part of how we build an inclusive and supportive community of strength (training) that welcomes all?

Every day in the gym can’t be our best and that’s part of training. Figuring out why things didn’t go as planned, and learning to accept that, is what helps us move forward. In lifting, and in life.

So here are my “failed” lifts today.

Stephanie Coen is a postdoctoral associate in geography at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada. Her research focuses on the role of place and environment in the gendering of physical activity. She recently published a study about gender and gyms. Her passion for equity in physical activity and health opportunities drives her research. She can be found tweeting at @steph_coen. 

athletes · Guest Post · health

On Squats and Snowflakes: How weight lifting was better preparation for childbirth than any Lamaze class (Guest Post)

Left: Black and white photo of pregnant torso with monitoring equipment Right: Black and photo photo of the author in the gym standing in front of the bar

by Nanette Ryan

On July 20 of this year I gave birth to my beautiful, healthy baby boys, James and Alec.  My pregnancy was not easy.  The first three months saw lots of queasiness, naps, and trial and error with foods that I could stomach.  In the second trimester I was hit by a cyclist while walking and rushed to hospital, and in the third contractions started too early and so I was back in hospital for monitoring, bed rest, and treatment.  For 20 days I was almost constantly on an IV of anti-contraction medication, I had 5 blood tests a day, injections, CTGs sometimes three times a day, and frequent invasive exams.

After 20 days in hospital I was briefly taken off my current anti-contraction medication to make time to prepare for the next round.  My boys wasted no time, and in half an hour I was in full labour.  As I was wheeled into the delivery room, exhausted and in horrible pain, I said to the midwives ‘I need something! Any thing!’  ‘What do you mean ‘you need something’?’ they said.  (I want a freakin’ stroll in the park, what do you think I mean!?).  ‘Something for the pain!’ I said.  ‘Drugs! I want the drugs!’  But there was no time, the babies were coming and I had to push.  And so I did.

As it was my first pregnancy I did a lot of reading and research leading up to the birth.  I practised breathing, did my kegels, and (naively) talked to other mums about what kind of birth I should ‘go for’.  The thing that prepared me most for giving birth, however, was something that none of the birthing books, conversations, or women’s health resources talked about.  It was weight training, and in particular, barbell squats and deadlifts.  Before I became pregnant weight training dominated my workouts, and I continued to weight train for as long as it was safe and comfortable when pregnant.

These exercises helped me in a number of ways.  Despite my extended stay in hospital, it gave me the physical strength to do what I needed to do.  It allowed me to trust my body, and it gave me the confidence to do it.  I had pushed my body, and so I was confident that I could push these kids out, like when you walk up to a squat rack with a higher weight than you’ve lifted before and think, ‘I’m going to fucking do this!’

Like so many things for women, the focus on women’s health and birth preparation is on the gentler side of things; focused breathing, gentle stretching, and light cardio.  Don’t get me wrong, these things have their virtues, including distracting women from what can be the horrors to come.  But birth, however you do it, is not gentle.  Women are not snowflakes, and the sooner we start emphasizing this the better.

Nanette Ryan is a PhD candidate in Philosophy at Georgetown University. She is primarily interested ethics, moral psychology, and feminist philosophy.

Image description: black and white photo of baby twin feet in rompers
Image description: black and white photo of baby twin feet in rompers
body image · fitness · men · menstruation · motivation · training · weight lifting

Strength Training “Tips” for Women Perpetuate Stereotypes that Contribute to the Gym as Boys’ Club

weight-lifting-for-women-2The 120 tips on strength training for women first came across my FB newsfeed yesterday morning. It looked like it might be useful post for me, a women interested in strength training. In fact, his intended audience is other trainers who are training women. That, I must say, is a scary thought, considering how consistently the list fails to take seriously the idea of women and strength training.

I started to read the post, written by “The Glute Guy,” Bret Contreras (whose blog and post I am of two minds about bringing further attention to, but it has to be seen to be believed).  My hackles went up immediately, before I even got to the list, because it started with a disclaimer.  Many of the things in the lists aren’t actually “tips,” he said, more like “observations.” And then comes the old “please understand that I intend no disrespect or offense, I’m not trying to be controversial” disclaimer.

I’m sorry but when I read that kind of thing, I just hunker down and prepare to be offended.

The first 1-13 are “exercise considerations,” like that “proper push-up form is more difficult to attain for women than it is for men” (okay, I think we all know this, but where’s my “tip”?) and “some women have ‘coregasms’ when training, and the hanging leg raise is the primary culprit (these orgasms usually aren’t welcomed as they’re inconvenient).” Wowza! That’s the closest thing to a tip in the first section — do some hanging leg raises if you can catch some private time at the gym.

I really started to shift in my seat when I got to the part that generalized about women’s “fortitude and dedication.”  He says, “many women lack the fortitude and dedication to ever see incredible results from lifting due to ‘being a lifter’ rather than ‘being a student of weight lifting'”.  As the fabulous Jezebel post (author: Laura Beck) today commented on this point, “what?”

There are lots of “tips” about what women need to be taught, what they will insist on doing “if you let them,” and what sorts of second rate measures they will “resort to” if they are not adequately coached by their trainer.  I can just imagine the mansplaining that must go on in this dude’s sessions with his female clients.

In the comments, one commentator (Samantha — not sure if it’s the Sam B), notes that many women are newbies to weight training. She points out that men are often exposed to weight training earlier, by friends or family or in school.  A newbie is a newbie —  man or woman, you will need some instruction to be able to strength train safely and effectively.

After a while, it just gets ridiculous, as in this sequence from number 26-40:

  • Women differ psychologically compared to men (for example they’re motivated to train uniquely, and what revs up a man to max out doesn’t necessarily rev up a woman to max out)
  • It is common for women to miss periods (menstrual cycles) upon embarking on an intensive training regimen (not to be confused with amenorrhea which happens when body fat drops too low)
  • Menstrual cycles usually have a huge influence on factors such as training motivation, irritability/mood, water retention, and self-esteem during exercise
  • The size of women’s breasts and also butts can fluctuate markedly throughout the month, which can lead to frustration
  • Some women experience urinary incontinence when exercising, and the likelihood increases after giving birth
  • Woman are better than men at fostering camaraderie but not quite as good as men at holding training partners accountable for showing up
  • Many women don’t activate their pelvic floor muscles properly
  • Women tend to prefer different training music than men
  • More women than men like to offer up the phrase “they say” as proof of evidence (who exactly is “they”?)
  • Most women don’t like getting weighed on scales, and many prefer to see how clothes fit as measures of progress (I don’t agree with this practice as I like to utilize all measures of progress)
  • Women like wearing pink workout apparel and take their training attire much more seriously than men (for example they tend to match their shoes with their shorts or shirts, etc.)
  • Women love putting chalk on their hands and then clapping hard – thereby getting chalk everywhere rather than keeping it solely on the hands (they probably do this because they saw gymnasts do it)
  • Women are not as natural as men at adjusting machines and apparatuses
  • Women love compliments – it fuels their fire to train even harder

We have a couple of things in feminist analysis that we tend to come down fairly hard on:  gender stereotyping and gender essentialism.

Stereotypes of women paint a particular kind of generalized picture of them that often makes them seem less serious than men. The suggestion that women wear lots of pink (not sure how this “tip” will help me or my trainer) or that they have bad chalk etiquette (from emulating those darn gymnasts!) or that they are “not as natural as men at adjusting machines and apparatuses” (you know how women are with anything technical and mechanical) perpetuate stereotypes about women that insinuate that they have no place in the gym.

And if women would stay out of the gym, then there would be no conflicts about what training music to play over the speakers.

Gender essentialism with respect to women suggests that there are some essential biological features of women that identify them as women. The comments about menstruation and the fluctuation of breasts size and butt (?? really ??) size, suggests, among other things, that women are inevitable victims of their essential biology.

Apparently, according to Bret’s observations, women aren’t into science and research. No, women are satisfied with anecdotes (like Bret’s 120 anecdotal observations about strength training for women), maybe anecdotes based on what “they say” (see tip #34 in the grouping, “Anatomical, Physiological, Psychological, and Random Considerations.”

He gets a few things right. For example, “Women usually don’t want to be bothered in the gym – unsolicited advice from meatheads and cheesy pick-up lines get old quickly, yet men will nevertheless remain persistent.” Hallelujah!  It’s sad that this is buried among  crazy generalizations about the way women dress sexy and then get upset when men show an interest, undervalue their training partners, and make sexual sounding grunts (whereas, says Bret, men’s grunting isn’t sexual-sounding.  Um, okay. Maybe that’s what they say, but I have heard differently, if you know what I mean).

This list is disturbing on many levels. Gender stereotyping and essentialism are both pernicious social forces that help keep patriarchal power structures in place.  The list is full of them, thus reinforcing the notion that women don’t really belong in the testosterone-heavy space that is the weight room.  What’s more disturbing is that the list has been compiled by a trainer who trains women yet fails to take them very seriously in their aspirations.

He is more busy observing how much pink they wear (might be useful to do some analysis on how many non-pink options are even available to women) or how fickle women can be: “Some women seem impossible with their complaints; for example one day they’re worried about getting too bulky and the next day they’re upset that they lost muscle size somewhere.”  Silly women, can’t make up their minds what they want. Maybe they’re on their period and still reeling from the fluctuation in the size of their butt that month.

It’s more disturbing still that his intended audience is other trainers. Some have even confirmed his “findings” in the comments.  But this all goes to the stereotypes.  With this list of stereotypes out there, this could become the default frame through which women in the gym are viewed by unreflective trainers (who just listen to what “they” say). Women are portrayed as giggling, incontinent, know-nothings who “during casual conversation, when most women imitate weight lifting form to friends, family members, or peers, all of a sudden they get the form all wrong (for example they’ll imitate a deadlift like an upright row).”

It’s astonishing how a dude can do something that looks at first to be woman-friendly, namely, post a list of tips for strength training women, and have it go so horribly sideways by perpetuating stereotypes that actually secure his view that the gym is and ought to be a male domain.  He had an opportunity to empower women and celebrate the fact that more and more women are owning their strength and working out with heavy weights. But he didn’t take it.

Lots of women are informed and educated about what they do in the weight room.  They have a right to be taken seriously by their trainers and by others working out along side them. This tipsheet does more damage than good to the women who have claimed and are yet to claim their place at the gym.

End of rant.

More feminist reactions to Bret’s list:

Caitlin at Fit and Feminist’s If You’re Going to ‘Explain’ Women It Helps to Talk to Us First

Breaking the Mold’s Rant of An Angry Pink Lady

fashion · weight lifting

Why deadlift? I mean, besides for the cool socks

I had a deadlifting breakthrough this past week. When I started CrossFit eight months ago I could deadlift about 40 kg.

Deadlifting made me nervous because as a result of a rather dramatic run in with a wave on a beach in Australia (which ended in the emergency room after being picked up by a huge wave while body surfing and then being carried into shore and going boom, crash into the sand) followed by a cross country ski collision the following year, I have a pretty twitchy lower back. (Where “twitchy” is just absolutely amazing compared to the outrageous amount of pain I was in following these accidents. I had no idea that you could even be in that much pain as a result of sudden impact without having broken anything.)

But last week (on Thurs, Jan 10 to be precise) I hit a new 1 rep max in deadlifting: 95 kgs. I benefited from advice from Crossfit coach Dave Henry (I worked on my breathing, my stance, and my grip) and it helped being cheered on by my training partners. Tracy has blogged about the joys of working out alone but this style of lifting really requires training partners.

What is the deadlift?  You perform a deadlift by lifting a loaded barbell off the ground from a stabilized, bent over position. The deadlift is one of the three canonical powerlifting exercises, along with the squat and the bench press. (I plan to blog later about the distinction between powerlifting and Olympic lifting and about how both of these styles differ from muscle specific body building.)

To get an idea of what’s involved you can read the wiki-how instructions or watch the You Tube video here, Aneta Florczyk, three-time World’s Strongest Woman, deadlifts 250 kg.

Clearly I have room to get stronger. She’s amazing.

But you might be wondering, since this doesn’t look easy or particularly fun, why deadlift? Here’s some answers:

  • “The Deadlift is one of the most ancient, fundamental and just flat out alpha lifts out there. In no other lift do you raise hundreds of pounds of weight off the ground with your bare hands. There’s really something magical about the Deadlift. You just don’t feel the same amount of confidence and joy doing Squats or Bench Pressing as you do while Deadlifting. There’s a reason so many people look forward to Deadlift day.” The Deadlift
  • It’s a whole body exercise working almost all of the major muscle groups (Spinal Erectors, Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, Lower Back, Middle and Upper Trapezius, Abdominals and Obliques, Lats, Calves) and whole body exercises are great for developing full body strength, especially in the core. Your back will thank you for it.
  • Deadlifting has real functional applications. Picking stuff up off the ground is something we actually do, a lot. “When you perform physical labor, you frequently pick up items off the floor and lift them. Performing deadlifts develops the muscles and the movements that are involved in many forms of physical labor. Also, because deadlifts normally involve lifting heavy weights, they help you develop a strong grip, which is also associated with many physical tasks.” Read more at Livestrong, What Are the Benefits of Deadlifting?
  • “All lifters MUST wear extended knee socks when Deadlifting.”
    That’s what lifting competition rules say. And there is a practical reason, to prevent your shins from getting scraped. But they also come in lots of funky colours and patterns. See pic above and for more, lots more, see here. I know one reader of the blog wrote in to say she didn’t look forward to having to wear them to compete, but I have a soft spot for knee socks. Practical and cute.

aging · weight lifting

Get up off of that floor!

The Yahoo Health headline reads, “Simple Test Predicts Longevity.”

“Brazilian researchers discovered an interesting link between a person’s ability to sit and rise from the floor and the risk of being 6.5 times more likely to die in the next six years. The study, published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention, included a simple test in which more than 2,000 people ages 51 to 80 attempted to sit down on the floor and then stand back up using as little support as possible.”

“The ease with which a person stands and sits clues doctors in to a person’s ratio of muscle power to body weight. But the researchers say there are other relevant issues. “It is well known that aerobic fitness is strongly related to survival, but our study also shows that maintaining high levels of body flexibility, muscle strength, power-to-body weight ratio, and coordination are not only good for performing daily activities but have a favorable influence on life expectancy,” said Araújo.”

I think I’m in pretty good shape by that measure. Two of the the activities I do regularly involve a fair bit of getting up from the floor.

In Aikido we spend a lot of time falling to the ground and getting back up again, ideally with no support.

Aikido break fall

But my favourite ‘getting up from the ground’ exercise is the Turkish Get Up, which I did first in the gym a few years ago and then relearned when I joined Crossfit. It’s a Crossfit staple.

The image above comes from a kettlebell work out site, The site also features a common theme in men’s weight lifting sites, men lifting women. Funny there aren’t any I’ve seen of big women lifting small men. If you find one, let me know! Lots of people think the Get Up is the best kettlebell workout though personally I like the plain old swing.

Turkish get up

I figure if keep these up I’ll get excellent scores on the “get up off of that floor” test.

fat · fitness · weight lifting · weight loss

Science, exercise, and weight loss: when our bodies scheme against us

I love it (okay, not really, need sarcasm font) when people suggest to me that to lose weight, I should get a bit of exercise, you know, walk more, or take the stairs instead of the elevator. When I tried Weight Watchers for the very last time they gave handy hints like getting off the bus one stop early and walking to your destination. (Um, I ride my bike to work most days. I ride hundreds of kilometers a week, in addition, for fun when the weather is good. How does that fit in?)

Of course, this advice is always from well-meaning people who don’t know me. Those who know me, know that I work out at a variety of sports and physical activities most days of the week, often twice a day. I run, ride my bike, play soccer, lift weights, practice Aikido, and most recently have taken up Crossfit. And yet, I’m very overweight. Fat, big, call it what you will.

How on earth can this be? Newcomers to cycling sometimes say “Oh keep riding the bike and you’ll lose weight,” thinking I’m new too. (I like passing those people, zoom!) Sometimes I’m aware I actually put other fat women off exercise because they are starting to exercise in order to lose weight and then they see me, and think it’s all pointless. But I don’t exercise to lose weight. My experience tells me that, on its own, it doesn’t do very much.

So why doesn’t exercise help with weight loss? (Or to put the question precisely, why doesn’t it help as much as it seems it ought to, when you consider the calories burned in our efforts at fitness?) Given my interests and personality type–geek, academic, fitness buff–I’ve read rather a  lot about this question.

There are a number of different answers.

The first answer is simple and it’s probably that first thing that came to your mind: when we exercise, we eat more. Indeed, if you care about performance and recovery, you need and ought to eat more. I was once told by a cycling coach that it’s foolish to try to lose weight during the racing season. Not eating enough–which is what you need to do to lose weight–cuts your speed and your recovery. Diet in the off season when you’re just riding for fun, he said. Don’t hurt your performance by dieting.

But there’s another answer that I find intriguing. Our bodies’ efforts at maintaining weight are ingenious. It turns out that when we exercise more, we also move less the rest of the day. This isn’t intentional. It isn’t anything we decide to do. The idea is that our bodies decide for us.

I’m interested, and fascinated by, the way our bodies undercut our best efforts. Heavy exercisers, it turns out, often move less the rest of the day and so burn not that many more calories than if they hadn’t exercised at all. When not exercising, they’re chronic sitters!

The study which sets out to prove this is cited in the Gretchen Reynolds’ book The First 20 Minutes  and she writes about it in her New York Times Phys Ed blog too. Following a group of young men assigned to a heavy exercise program, researchers were surprised at how little weight they lost. Yes, they ate more but more surprisingly, “They also were resolutely inactive in the hours outside of exercise, the motion sensors show. When they weren’t working out, they were, for the most part, sitting. “I think they were fatigued,” Mr. Rosenkilde says.”

Some people say we ought to “listen to our bodies.” But in my experience our bodies are sneaky experts at staying the same size. They need to be ready for feasts and famines and those women with extra body fat are more reproductively successful.

It’s another argument in favour of short, sharp, intense Crossfit style workouts since they don’t seem to have this effect. Once again, it’s High Intensity Interval Training (HIT) for the win. Thirty minutes, says Reynolds, is the sweet spot for exercise.

And it’s yet one more argument against sitting.

Some personal observations:

  • In the past I’ve been a big fan of the hard exercise followed by flopping! It’s when I write best, physically exhausted and mentally alert. Without exercise, I’m a big fidgeter and pacer in a career that rewards focus, concentration, and long bouts of sitting. Now I’m working at a standing desk (at home anyway) and I’m liking the change. I’m also trying to incorporate more movement throughout my day. 
  • This puts me in a mind of a discussion members of my bike club used to have about our long Saturday morning rides. Some of us thought we ought to have shorter routes, say 100 km rather than 150 km, not because we couldn’t ride 150 km but rather because we wanted to do things with our families afterwards. The extra kilometers tipped us past the point where much was possible after other than a nap, a bath, and lounging about the house. It seemed all wrong to come home and then tell the kids that I couldn’t go to the park, go for a bike ride (yikes!), or walk the dog because I was too tired from all the bike riding!
  • While exercising itself doesn’t make much difference, changing your body composition does. A body with more muscle burns more calories throughout the day and so there’s good reasons to lift heavy weights. I know lots of women do long, slow cardio to lose weight (you know, the “fat loss” button on the exercise machine at the gym) but science says they ought to be lifting weights instead to get lean.
  • In terms of appetite, I think HIT is right on. Long, slow runs and bike rides make me famished. I can control what I eat after but it takes tremendous effort. Endurance exercise makes me hungry, whereas intense efforts have just the opposite effect.
  • Of course, why listen to a big person talk about exercise and weight loss? The truth is I’m terrific at weight loss. I’ve lost 50-70 lbs quite a few times. I’m a failure at maintaining the new lower weight, but that’s a puzzle for another time.