Lift Weights Faster. But How?

If you do a lot of reading about strength training, or are familiar with the female strength and conditioning world, you’ve probably heard Jen Sinkler‘s famous line. When asked how she works out, her reply was “I lift weights”. Well what about cardio? “I lift weights faster”.

Steph Deadlift

Weight room and cardio combined? Sign me up. 

“Lift weights faster” has become sort of a creed in the fitness world, and for good reason. It’s not always necessary to spend long, drawn out sessions on the treadmill or elliptical in order to get your cardio in. It’s just as easy to get cardio in by simply “lifting weights faster”, if that’s more your speed (pardon the pun). If you enjoy your time on the treadmill as a way to de-stress, that’s one thing. But if you’re hating every second of it, and doing it just because you think you need to, well, you’re in luck.

But when many people hear this, they don’t quite understand what this  means. Do you literally just lift your weights at lightning speed? Won’t that lead to bad form and maybe injuries? And won’t you look just a little bit ridiculous?

So today, we’re going to get into a few of the ways in which I typically “lift weights faster”. These are great ways to sneak workouts in when I don’t have a ton of time, but you can also stretch them out and get in a nice long, full workout as well.

When I’m doing one of these types of workouts, weights are not at or near my max. I keep the weights to a level where they are challenging for the sets that I will be doing, but remember that you’re generally doing more reps, and that these are not true strength building days.

Ladder Sets

I use ladder sets when I am really strapped for time and have a couple of exercises that I can string together for full body workout in just a few minutes. I’ll also use a ladder set as a finisher at the end of a strength day, doing just one round for speed. For a ladder set, you will start with a higher number of reps — let’s go with 10, for this example. Perform 10 reps of exercise A, 10 reps of exercise B, then 8 of each, then 6 of each, all the way down to 2. After you reach 2 reps of each exercise that you have chosen, start again with 2 and build your way back up to 10.

The beauty of ladder sets is that you have to so much freedom to get creative. For heavier exercises, I would stick with the 10-2 rep scheme. But for more cardio based exercises, such as body weight jump squats, or KB swings, you could go into a larger rep range, doing 20, then 15, 10, and 5 reps before building back up.

Some suggested pairings for ladder sets, although the possibilities are endless:

– Ring assisted pistol squats with ring inverted rows

– Jump squats with skater jumps

-Kettlebell swings

-Burpees

-Bulgarian split squats with elevated push ups.

Super Set Everything

To lift your weights faster, you can also just super set everything, cutting way down on the rest and recovery time in between sets. Remember, this is not done at max weight loads, since you’ll risk injury without the proper recovery between sets/exercises. To superset simply means to do two separate exercises back to back, generally with opposing muscle groups, without resting in between. Say you have 8 exercises that you plan on doing in your lift. You can superset these into 4 sets of exercises, alternating between each set of 2 with little to no rest, instead of resting between each set of each of your 8 exercises. Some common lifts that I superset are:

-Barbell Squat with overhead press

-RDL (romanian deadlift) with bent over dumbbell row

-Barbell reverse lunge with push up

Active Recovery Between Sets

This will vary slightly from supersets, although you’re still completing sets of two separate exercises back to back. However, the difference here is that the “in between” exercise is more of an active recovery than an actual lift. You’ll be keeping your body moving and heart rate up, but this secondary exercise will be more about recovery and mobility than building strength. This is done in the same manner as super sets, in which you complete the active recovery exercise between lift sets instead of resting. Some common active recovery exercises that I use between lifts are:

-Spiderman Lunges

-Medicine ball lunge/twist

-Downdog/Push-up/Up-dog repetitions

-Body weight deep side lunges

You can also check out this post for some additional hip mobility exercises that you could use here as well.

Barbell Complexes

Barbell complexes are probably one of the most common ways to “lift weights faster” in the strength training world. All it takes is a barbell loaded up with relatively light weight, and a string of movements that you’ll do with little to no rest. I usually try to string together about 5 different movements, and will go for 4-5 rounds of a complex. These can be extremely taxing, so go lighter on the weights than you think you might need to — maybe even just the barbell for the first time you try one of these. Especially if you’re stringing together both upper and lower body  movements, you’ll need that weight to be fairly light to get through all of the reps with little to no rest.

A barbell complex will get your heart pumping and breath elevated like no other, so get ready to work!! Below is an example that I’ve posted previously, but as with the other ideas here, there are endless combinations you can do for an effective workout. Just remember to rest thoroughly between each complex, and work with a weight that allows you to maintain proper form for every exercise. If you feel yourself fatiguing to the point where form is compromised, stop and rest in the middle of a complex, and/or lessen your weight/reps. 

barbell_complex1

Readers: In what form do you prefer your cardio? Weight room or traditional? 

Forget goals– Try This Instead.  

Last year at work, we had a staff retreat to start the year. You know those “retreats”; the name is misleading as it’s really just a day long meeting? Well needless to say, I wasn’t exactly stoked about the whole experience. But before the retreat, we were told that we were going to be taking part in the One Word program, and we would need to prepare one word on a sheet of paper for that day. The word was supposed to be ours — one word that we would want to embody throughout the year at work. My word for the year was Empathy, and I made a cute little arts and crafts poster to show it.

Now though, I’m not at work anymore. I practice empathy on a daily basis because it’s at the core of who I am as a person — I empathize even when I don’t really want to. But for some reason, I was recently thinking about this exercise and started thinking about what my word would be now. Life is different now, my priorities are different, I’m almost a completely different person than I was just a year and a half ago.

I also realized that at this point in my life, although I have things I want to work on, I don’t always have time to sit down and write down lengthy, specific goals for myself. Some days I’m lucky to just brush my hair, so a list of goals seems to be a little bit out of my wheelhouse right now. But one word? I can do that.

So I got to thinking. What is my one word? One word that encapsulates who I am, who I want to be and what I want to show Izzy as an example. And who knows — maybe my word will change next week, next month, or a few months from now, but at least it gives me something to focus on for the time being.

Presence. 

These are the months when Isabelle is growing and changing at a pace that I never thought imaginable. She changes seemingly overnight, and if I’m not present and aware, I’ll miss these subtle changes happening right before my eyes.

Likewise, little things I love that she does tend to disappear in the blink of an eye, and if I’m not present to notice them, they may disappear and be gone forever. Take, for example, when she was about 4 months old she had a span of about two weeks where she would do these loud, long, dramatic yawns that made me laugh every time. If I wasn’t paying attention and present during that time, I wouldn’t have those as a memory, because they’re gone from her ever changing vocal repertoire now.

But this word is not only important for my relationship with Isabelle right now; it’s important for my relationship with myself. I need to be present in the limited time I get for myself if I want to maintain some sanity and sense of self.

I need to be present during my workouts, because the time I have for them is so limited. If I’m off in La La Land, I’m not going to get done what I need to get done, and in turn, I won’t feel like my best self.

I need to be present during my limited time with Will, because my marriage is equally as important to sustain and flourish right now as my “me” time and my “Izzy” time.

I need to be present when on the phone with my family and friends — a feat that has proven to be very difficult nowadays, but those relationships deserve my time too, when I’m able to give it!

This one word involves so many pieces of my life, and it is equally important in all of them. Rather than make specific goals right now, which I realistically wouldn’t follow, I can easily think about this one word during my day and during my interactions with my loved ones, and my time by myself. I can try to incorporate it into different parts of my day, working on it a little bit more every day until full mental presence becomes my norm, and not something that I have to work on (hopefully, right?).

I’m feeling good about this, this one word. I’m feeling weight off my shoulders, not having specific goals to live up to right now, just letting things come as they will and working on each moment in that very moment.

If you’re feeling stressed or pressed for time, or unsure of what your goals should be right now, give this a try. Do some brainstorming, and figure out what words and themes are important to your life. You may find one common thread between them, and this may become your word! It’s much easier to focus on one word than several small steps, and it may give you something to focus on, which could in turn spur some inspiration or motivation for larger goals. (Along these same lines, my girl Monique recently wrote a great post about just doing something in order to get your inspiration flowing– check it out here!)

So if the thought of specific goals weighs you down more than it motivates you, take a few moments to think about one word. You may just feel lighter and more focused, without the stress of resolutions or deadlines.

What’s your word?

 

The “I Don’t Have Time” Workout Solution

My oh my. Where has the time gone?

I’ll tell you exactly where the time went. The 4 month sleep regression. But now we’re at six months so I don’t think I can even use that as my excuse anymore. I think we are finally on a good path to some quality baby sleep (until the next regression anyway), so maybe my sanity and sense of time will return one of these days. I could have sworn I had posted my last post just a week or two ago. It’s been two months. What the heck?

I guess all this is to say, I’m still figuring all of this mom stuff out. I suppose I’ll always be figuring it out since Isabelle will be forever evolving, but eventually I’ll get the baby/life/blog/work balance that I’m aiming for!

These past several weeks have been full of wonderful things though. Isabelle grows in so many ways each and every day, and it is so incredible to witness this little human who is learning so much at such a fast pace. She develops new skills seemingly overnight, which I always knew would happen with a baby, but it’s different to watch it happen before your very eyes.

Because of this ever expanding brain of hers, she has become increasingly curious about the world around her. This makes my life both harder and easier in certain ways, and I don’t always have the time that I would like to take care of myself with fitness and mindfulness. I squeeze fitness in wherever I can though, even if it’s just 10 minutes at a time while Izzy smiles at me from her bouncy chair. The key has been finding ways to get the most bang for my buck, i.e. getting exercises done fast, but remembering to do them well.

The truth is, we all want more time for something. Many of us wish we had more time to work out, while some of us wish we had more time to do other things. Sleep, play with your kids, read, write, even binge watch your favorite Netflix shows. There are so many ways that we could spend extra time, but the fact is that those extra minutes are never just going to show up. You have to make a concerted effort to carve them out of your day, or find a way to make do with what you already have.

A lot of times with little kids or babies, there is no way to carve out extra minutes, so you have to learn to make do. I think that is probably why many new parents give up on fitness all together, because there is often only time for a short burst, and what good can that even do? Well, actually, it can make a world of difference.

10 minutes of exercise, of you time each day can not only maintain a certain level of fitness, but can greatly help with mental clarity and well being. Even if it’s just running through a few rounds of sun salutations or doing a few push ups, getting your blood flowing and body moving can change your outlook on your whole day.

Sometimes, after an especially rough night of sleep, the last thing I want to do is get my heart rate up and move. But if I just take a few minutes to fit in what I can, I find that I truly do feel better about myself and about my day. I am going to be totally honest that I’ve been guilty of the old “I don’t really have time” excuse lately. And that’s totally true. I don’t have time. But thankfully I have Will to remind me that 10 or 20 minutes is better than nothing, and that I’ll thank myself when I’m done.

For instance, the other day I literally only had 15 minutes before I would have to get in the shower and then feed Isabelle. Will could be with her for those 15 minutes, so I got right to it. I did a few warm up exercises, some glute work, push ups, 100 KB swings, and a few Turkish Get Ups. It wasn’t much, and it certainly wasn’t a “full workout”. But it made me feel 100% better going into the rest of the day, and I was thankful I took those few minutes for myself.

And it doesn’t always have to be hard exercise. Sometimes using those 10 or 15 spare minutes to just stretch and focus your mind can work wonders on your mood and energy level. If you are looking for some quick exercise though, check out the following for some super quick ideas. You could do just one of these or put a few of them together for a little bit longer workout if it turns out you have more time. The most important thing here is to forgive yourself for “only” having so much time, and make the most of it. The only thing that complaining about your lack of time will do is eat up even more of your precious minutes that you already don’t have enough of.

Blog graphic 10 Min workouts

Give some of these a try next time you’re strapped for time. Each will get your heart pumping, but you can be done and on with your life in just a few minutes.

Just a few notes:

*Inchworm push ups – Start standing. Bend down and place your hands on the floor. Walk your hands out until you are in push up position, do one push up, and walk hands back. That is one rep.

*To make the jump squats, reverse lunges, and side to side squats more challenging, hold a dumbbell, kettlebell, or other form of weight.

* For the mini band workout, wear the mini band around your ankles and keep it on for the entirety of the workout.

*Side to side squats: wearing mini band, step out to left, squat. Step to right, squat. This is one rep.

*Plank up downs: Starting in high plank position (on hands and toes), move to your left forearm, followed by right. Immediately return to high plank one hand at a time. This is one rep.

*Touch backs: Wearing mini band, stand in quarter squat position (knees slightly bent). Staying in quarter squat, bring left leg back behind you and touch your toe to the ground. Bring that foot back to starting position and bring right foot behind you. This is one rep. Continue alternating legs, finishing set before standing straight up.

Is It Time To Change Your Perspective?  

Before I got pregnant, I was deadlifting 240 lb. I was muscular, strong, and took pride in my abilities in the weight room. I had glutes that I was proud of, glutes that were strong enough for heavy squats, deadlifts, and kettlebell swings. 

Before I got pregnant, I could once do 8 unassisted chin ups. I did chin ups and pull ups nearly every day, just for fun. 

Before I got pregnant, I could run the full stadium at Harvard without breaks, and would do so at 6:30 am. 

Before I got pregnant, I could overhead press 85 lb. 

Now? I haven’t set foot in the weight room since I was about 8 months pregnant. I haven’t touched a barbell in months. I’ve been on exactly one run, and I can no longer do even one unassisted chin up. 

You might think I’m upset about this. 

And I could be, if it weren’t for one simple thing: perspective. 


Sure, I may be lifting right now with a 15 lb, a 16 kg (35 lb), and a 24 kg (53 lb) kettlebell, but here’s where perspective comes in: 

That 15 lb kettlebell felt heavy to me after my C-section and 6 week post op recovery time. I remember picking it up and being shocked and saddened at how heavy it felt. 

Now? It’s light again, and I now use it for warm up movements, like I used to. Progress. 

That 35 lb KB? That one felt like a monster after my postpartum recovery. I remember the first time I tried to do goblet squats with it, I felt like my core would never support me again. Now? They’re easy. It’s a moderate weight, and I’m using it for many movements, both single leg and double leg. I’ve moved on from using it for my KB swings, because I finally need something heavier. Progress. 

That 53 lb KB? Forget about that one after recovery– that felt like a dream and a lifetime away. Now? I’m using it for single leg RDLs, goblet squats, and KB swings. Progress. 

My push-ups have gotten stronger, my endurance better. 

My chin ups? Yes, those are coming back too, slowly but surely. 

None of these weights would have made me proud before. They would have been warm ups, helping me to prep and groove patterns for heavier weights. 

Now though? I am so proud of where I’m at and how far I’ve come so far. Considering I still haven’t stepped foot in a gym, and my workouts mostly consist of a few 20-30 min bursts throughout the week, I think I’ve done quite well. I may not be maxing out my big lifts anytime soon, but I’m seeing consistent progress, and that’s really all that matters. 

It doesn’t matter how much you could lift before X event, or how fast or long you could run, or how many muscle ups you could do. Life happens, we have ups and downs, and that’s just something we need to accept. If we’re always thinking back to our best and comparing ourselves now, that’s not fair. Your mind and your body change as you move throughout life. My body is not the same body that dead lifted 240 lb– it’s been through a whole lot since then, so how can I keep comparing my self now to myself then? In order to be fair to myself, I have to shift my perspective. I have to focus on where I’m at now, instead of where I was. 

As life changes, some obstacles get bigger, some get smaller, and some new ones crop up all together. With all of these things that change us, our bodies, our minds, it’s unfair to expect things to always go back to some ideal moment that you once had. I am far, far from that deadlift max right now. But to expect that from this body, my now body? Well that would be unfair. 

So if you’re feeling like you’re failing because you can’t do something you once could, or because you don’t look like you once did, think again. Think of what your body and mind have been through since that time, and focus on the progress you’re making now. Shift your perspective to the present, and you’ll probably find that you’re doing a lot better than you thought! 

Progress isn’t always perfect, and it’s not always linear. It’s not always even obvious. But take a moment to shift your perspective, and you might be pleasantly surprised at the amount of progress that you’ve made in this “now” version of you. 

Life changes and why I’m leaving athletic training 

Most people who are close to me know that I’ve recently undergone a huge life change (besides that whole growing and giving birth to a human). And the truth is, I’m still coming to terms with it myself, which is why it has taken me until now to write about it. 

After 11 years as an athletic trainer, I have decided to step away from not only a job that I loved very much, but from my career. This is the first time I’ve written that down, so I’m going to let that sink in for a minute. 

So why, if I loved this job, am I walking away? 

Some would say that it’s understandable since I’m now a mom. And yet others, I’m sure, will criticize my decision for that very same reason. To be honest, the raging feminist in me understands those criticisms, as ridiculous as they are. But the reason I am leaving has less to do with my daughter and more to do with a profession that does not lend itself to family life in any way. 

Many people will recall this blog post I wrote 5 years ago. In it, I praised my field and the many amazing opportunities that it has given me. To this day, all of those reasons still ring true. I’ve met some of the most important people in my life through this job. Case in point, I never would have met Will were it not for athletic training, and thus Isabelle would not exist either. So I cannot say that I regret the career path I chose, even though it is now coming to an end. 

Athletic training is a selfless profession– it’s one that demands long hours, late nights, early mornings, and holidays. It is one with little to no leniency, where you are at the beck and call of the coaches, administrators and athletes, no matter what. It’s a career that is demanding,often grueling, although rewarding. For someone like me, an empath, each day is an emotional investment, helping athletes through sometimes life altering injuries and recovery. And to be honest, this is why I loved it so much. I loved to connect with people and help them come out the other side in one piece. But this is also why I can’t do it anymore. 

To me, being a good athletic trainer meant giving all of myself to the job, for better or for worse. Athletes had access to me all the time through phone and text, events in my personal life would be missed (this was not by choice though). I became invested in each athlete and each injury on a level where it was hard for me to just walk away at the end of the day. I worried, I missed sleep, I spent hours researching possible outcomes, and I did so at the expense of my own personal time. 

I’m not saying that this is right or wrong, im just saying that this is how I knew how to be an athletic trainer. I couldn’t do it halfway. I couldn’t turn it off at 7 pm. 

But I also know that I wouldn’t be able to continue that and still have enough of myself for myself and my family long term. Yes, the schedule, constant changes due to weather or whim of a coach, late nights and–let’s face it– not nearly enough pay all factored into this decision as well. But beyond all of that, which seems an insurmountable collection of reasons alone, I knew that I couldn’t be the mother I wanted to be and the only AT I knew how to be. 

And for all of the shares I get on that old blog post, I hope people read this as well. Because I’m not trying to discourage any young people from becoming athletic trainers, I just want them to be aware of the whole picture when they make that decision. It’s an amazing, gut wrenching, exciting, mentally stimulating, challenging, yet deeply flawed profession. It hurts me to walk away, yet it also feels quite freeing, and I don’t think I’m alone in having these feelings. 

Some out there will criticize the way I practiced. They’ll say I dug myself into a hole and created my own path to burn out. Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not. But I do know that I gave everything to my career for the past 11 years, and now it’s time to refocus. 

So what’s next? Well, along with being a mom, I do have some exciting projects in the proverbial vault, and I’ll let you all in on those in another post very soon. Suffice it to say, I hope for this blog to be a building block for bigger things, and I can’t wait to get started moving forward. 

Let’s Talk About The C Word 

Nope, not that C word. 

Get your mind out of the gutter. 

I’m talking about the word that so many women don’t give to themselves enough, the word that is so important for taking care of yourself. 

Compassion. 


I can’t even count the amount of times that I hear women refer to themselves with strong, negative language such as hate, ugly, fat, wobbly, and the list goes on and on. And it tends to get even worse right around and after the holidays, as we’re faced with the prospect of a new year and old goals that may not have been met. 

For those who are struggling to lose weight or who are just unhappy with how they look or feel, the seemingly endless temptations between Thanksgiving and New Years can seem like torture, like constant reminders that they still have a long way to go. 

Then add in the pressure of resolutions, declarations of change, and pressures put on us by ourselves and society, and we’ve got a perfect storm of body insecurity. The key here is not to simply stop making goals or seclude ourselves from popular culture, but instead to treat our bodies and our minds with compassion. To realize all of the wonderful and difficult things we do each day, to acknowledge all of the hard work we’ve put in to get where we are, even if it’s not where we want to be.

 Compassion for our jiggly arms, soft stomach, and cellulite thighs. Compassion for our seemingly inability to work out as many days each week as we plan to. Compassion for our wandering, competitive minds who compare us to every other woman we see in the gym, in the store, on the train. 
These things are reality. Most of us will never be super model thin or fitness model lean. We will not have perfect arms or legs or butts or thighs. We will have arms that hold our babies, legs that carry us through life, and abs that have been formed through years of laughter. We accomplish beautiful things every single day, yet the hateful language continues despite these successes. 

Show your body some compassion and acceptance for what it does, not hatred  for what it doesn’t do or for what it doesn’t have. Are you hating your post baby body? Cut yourself a little bit of slack and think about what your body has done for you. You grew a human, and then put your body through trauma to get that human out, no matter how smoothly the birth went. Trauma needs time to heal, and more than time, it needs compassion and care. 

Beating your exhausted body up with workouts every day isn’t the answer; a traumatized body will not be beaten back into submission, trust me. You’ll just end up injured and even more frustrated than before. 

And this goes for returning from an injury or picking back up after life stresses. 

Acknowledge what your body has been through, get in some healthy, restorative movement as often as possible, and build gradually. Fitness after a life change or stressful time isn’t about getting back to “normal” as quickly as possible, it’s about nurturing yourself to allow for gradual, healthy change. 

On the other hand, some people just feel like they’ve been doing everything right for so long and are just not seeing the results they want. Why bother with the hard stuff if you still hate what you see in the mirror? Because results take time, the process is slow, and there is so much value in acknowledging the process as you go along. It can be hard to remember when you’re in the thick of it, but major change does not happen all at once. It is created through a series of tiny, minuscule steps and victories along the way. 

Showing yourself compassion and recognizing these baby steps is the key to not driving yourself absolutely insane when results seem so far away. I often recommend that people set a reflection time once per week to stop and think about these small steps and accomplishments. Write them down where you can reference them each week. And over time, you’ll start to see those building blocks add up to bigger successes. 

Ignoring these small steps in lieu of wanting bigger results is akin to wanting fresh baked cookies but getting angry when you realize that you have to follow a recipe first, step by step. You can’t get the end product without all of the small steps in between, and the small steps are what matter in the long run. Speed through that recipe and forget the baking Sosa or salt, and you’ll end up with some pretty unformed  and bland cookies just because you couldn’t take the time to complete the small, necessary steps to getting quality cookies. Now you’ve wasted your time and you have nothing to show for it. 

Ok ok, enough about cookies, but do you see my point? 

It doesn’t matter if you lose 20 lb if you beat yourself up constantly to get there. That end game will leave you tired, frustrated, and wondering why you don’t feel better even though you reached a goal. If you start out from a place of hate, how do you expect that to turn into happiness and acceptance just because the scale reads a certain number? Hating your body every time you look in the mirror does not just go away once the scale hits the number that you want. If that’s how you’ve conditioned your brain to think, it will continue, and the goals met will never be enough– it’s a vicious cycle. Practicing your compassion, acknowledging the small successes along the way, and recognizing positive things about yourself will help you to appreciate yourself, even if goals are not quite met or change over time. 

We are not numbers on a scale, we are not the size of our jeans or the presence (or not) of fat; we are so much more than that. But the beautiful things that we are are often overshadowed by the things that we’re not, especially when it comes to size and shape. Show yourself compassion. Recognize and celebrate the small steps, the challenges that you face every day, and the magnificent ways that you navigate through this crazy thing called life. Because it’s not easy, none of this is, and that’s why the little things deserve celebrating, and you deserve compassion from the person who is least likely to give it to you: yourself. 

Change the conversation 

For those of you who have daughters, they are listening. 

If you don’t have a daughter, but you spend any amount of time around young girls, they are listening. 

Whether she’s 10 hours old, 10 weeks old, or 10 years old, she’s listening. And it’s time to change the conversation. 


My daughter Isabelle is almost 3 months old. She doesn’t talk yet, of course, but she listens to me talk all day long. She’s picking up language and building connections in her brain, connections that will someday allow her to not only understand what I’m saying, but to speak words herself. And I want to make sure that the words that she’s understanding, and the connections she is making, have nothing to do with my self worth due to the way my body looks. 

The other day, we were in the kitchen, and I was chatting away like always. 

“Mama needs to get a workout in!” I smiled at her. 

“Mama needs to get a workout in so that I don’t get f…..” 

I looked at her looking at me, and stopped my sentence short. Of course the F word I was about to say, I’m embarrassed to admit, was “fat”. After all that I preach about working for health and energy for yourself– I was about to reduce that all to that one demeaning word. 

No, she can’t really understand yet what “fat” means. She can’t say the word, or tell me what it means. But she’s listening. 

In that moment I realized that my responsibility in that conversation is so much bigger than how I feel on any given day. It’s so much bigger than anything to do with me, because how I finish that sentence over time could determine how she feels about herself for the rest of her life. I make a point to tell her daily how strong she is. How smart she is. How brave and successful she’ll be some day. Yes, I also tell her she’s cute and pretty, but those are not the focus of my time with her. But how often do I speak about myself that way to her? It can’t be “mama needs to workout because she doesn’t want to get fat”. It needs to be “mama wants to workout because it makes her feel strong”. “Mama gets to exercise and it makes her feel powerful”. 

We have to change the conversation, and it starts with how we speak to ourselves. 

My body is not the same after having Isabelle, and it might not be for quite some time.  My weight is exactly where it used to be, but everything else isn’t. My body shape and composition has changed, and there are days that I struggle with how much work it will take to build my strength back up. 

But I can’t put that on her. She’s listening. 

She’s listening to every mention of the word fat, to every mumble about my glutes disappearing. She’s watching every time I look at my belly in the mirror or give my thighs a little squeeze. Those things might mean nothing to her now, but over time they will. And the last thing I want is to someday walk in on her giving her own thighs a disappointing squeeze, or offering up a sharp criticism of her abs. 

We are so much more than that. We are so much more than hips or bellies or cellulite. We are strong, independent, brave, powerful, intelligent, and kind. We are generous, thoughtful, inquisitive, and honest. All of these things are what I want Isabelle to strive for–  not how much fat she can pinch between her fingers. It’s up to me (us) to change this conversation and to take our bodies out of it completely. 

Because we are so much more than that. 

And they are listening.