The mantra “strong is the new skinny” has been gaining currency online for some time now. It signals a move away from “thinness” in favor of a more achievable “real” body.
Having a body you are happy with shouldn’t be about getting skinny or getting down to a certain number on the scale. In fact, it’s probably best if you toss your scale in the trash. Don’t focus on a number. Focus on becoming the strongest, best version of yourself you can possibly be. And no, becoming strong doesn’t mean becoming a crazy ripped body-builder. It just means you’ll be able to open that jar of pickles without having to ask someone for help. Being strong doesn’t necessarily equate to being skinny either. In most cases, being strong means weighing more, but feeling better. Overwhelmed by the idea and wondering where to start?
First, take the time to find a strength program that works for you. Try a few things out until you find something that interests you enough to keep you motivated. Most gyms and studios offer low cost new client deals or free classes. This is a great way to test out a new workout for very little investment. If a DIY program at a gym sounds intimidating or doesn’t inspire you, try a boutique fitness studio. If you find a place where you like the workout and feel like you are part of a community and belong, it may just inspire you to go back.
Second, prepare yourself for the fact that gaining muscle means you will get bigger and weigh more than you did when you started. Muscle weighs more than fat, there is no way around that. If your clothes are getting tighter or you weigh more, it will feel as though working out is doing the exact opposite of everything you are working for. Don’t give up! This is what you’ve been working for. Muscle burns fat much more effectively than cardio or diet alone because it speeds up your metabolism, resulting in more effective fat loss. Therefore the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn watching TV, reading a book or sitting at work all day. You just have to put in the work and be patient.
Still not convinced? Many studies have shown that muscles can increase bone density and help prevent injuries. Those of us in our 20s and 30s don’t think about this often, but someday you will. Also, strong makes everything easier and its important to your independence. You want to be strong for life’s daily activities such as lifting your toddler, hauling groceries, or climbing stairs.
Remember, as you build strength, the more you’ll be able to do. The more you do, the more you can enjoy what life has to offer. Being strong is a gift you give to yourself. So don’t strive for skinny; strive to be strong.
Christine Longe is the founder and owner of The Aviary. She has practiced aerial arts (i.e. silks, trapeze, rope and lyra) for nine years as a way to stay fit and have fun but quickly realized that the benefit was a tremendous gain in confidence, courage and strength. The Aviary was born from a desire to share the physical and mental benefits from practicing aerial arts with everyone. In 2015, Christine developed a proprietary aerial fitness program that would use aerial hammocks hovering only a couple feet off the ground. The Fly Fit program incorporates conditioning exercises with basic aerial moves and inversions that could be taught to, and learned by, anyone. The studio also offers Aerial Yoga and Aerial Stretch classes as a complement to the fitness classes since the mental focus, balance and flexibility gained in yoga and stretching helps students improve their aerial skills and their overall level of fitness. Recently the studio developed and began offering a proprietary workout called Fly Bungee, an incredible cardio workout that uses the resistance of the bungees to give you moments of weightlessness and flight.
Christine has a J.D. from the University of Minnesota and practiced corporate law for 16 years. She left her corporate career to open The Aviary and has found happiness in the challenge and connectivity that comes with being a small business owner. Christine and her husband live in Bryn Mawr, Minneapolis, are obsessed with international travel and enjoy the chaos of living with a French Bulldog and an African Grey Parrot.