Skinny Vs Strong
In 2011 my life changed. My life changed (for many reasons) in the winter of 2011 in an outdoor gym in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. It was in this freezing concrete gym where I would exercise to no end day in and day out. Hours of my life on the elliptical, the stairmaster, the row machine. Hours of my life dedicated to crunches of many different sorts. Hours of my life running and running and running. I will never forget the week my entire outlook on fitness shifted. Some of the guys in my shop challenged me to a power hour. This meant that every hour on the hour for our 12 hour shift we would stop what we were doing and run a mile (I am not sure who else has been to Afghanistan, but you can take my word for it…it’s HILLY!) By the 6th hour I was feeling pretty beat up, but I wasn’t going to let my exhaustion win. I was “fit” and I was “strong.”
I did complete the 12 hour power hour and I felt so proud of myself. I was talking to some people in another shop about our challenge (some buff dudes) and they didn’t think it was impressive. They invited me to join their 500 and 1000 pound club. This meant that my squat, deadlift and bench press combined would equal or surpass 500 or 1000 pounds. I laughed at them. That’s RIDICULOUS! At the time I was 125 pounds (for context I weigh around 140 pounds now) My goal was always to be as skinny as I could be. Over the next several months I worked with 2 fellow Marines who coached me on HOW to squat and HOW to deadlift and HOW to bench press. I had never done any of those things before because I was always a cardio queen. Always watching the number on the scale like a hawk and if I gained a pound I was LIVID. Over those next few months my scale weight DID increase, but my strength also increased tremendously. Because I was training to GET STRONG I had to fuel my body differently. By the spring time (and the end of my time in the Marines) I missed the 500 pound club with a 200 pound deadlift, 115 pound squat and 100 pound bench press. Even though I didn’t get name on a fancy plaque I still had a brand new outlook on my life and it changed my other perspective on what is means to be fit and strong.
Skinny is not sexy. Strong is sexy. Skinny is not always healthy. Lean is healthy. Strong bones and toned muscles come from strength training. Maintaining agility and the ability to get up and down off of the floor comes from strength training and practicing forever patterns (like squats and deadlifts) When your 90 no one in the nursing home will care that you used to run 1000 miles a year or you used to weigh 125 pounds. Lift heavy. Lift often. Don’t be afraid of muscles, because those are the secret weapons to graceful maturing! Eat supportively and believe in yourself.
Make it happen,