Disclaimer: For those who do get riled up about women’s rights and such, please realize that this post is meant to showcase the enormous effect a woman’s health and fitness has on those around her and hence the need for the same. I by no means suggest that housework is a woman’s job. The point here is that women did mutli-joint movements with full range of motion at all times during human evolution (in the form of gathering or housework or exercise) and hence such movements need to be included as a part of a woman’s workout routine and daily life.
It probably isn’t too obvious but I truly believe fitness is more critical for women than men. Why? Mainly because women are created physically weaker than men, but have the most important and strenuous job of all – child birth. In addition to that, a woman’s choices, appearance and fitness affect not just her, but everyone around her from her partner to children to parents.
From a nutritional standpoint, it is absolutely essential that a mother understands nutrition and makes good food choices every single day ‘cos her little one is watching her like a hawk and will subconsciously try to emulate what mommy does. Most people eat what is cooked and hence cooking real food results in eating real food. Similarly, a woman’s fitness has a profound effect on other people. A child tends to want to play more if mommy can run around with him/her. A father tends to like walking if he gets to do it with his daughter. I can go on and on, but you get the idea. [Note: If it isn't obvious, a man's choices, actions and fitness have similar effects on his family].
So clearly fitness is super critical for women in order to ensure good health for themselves and for everyone else. But does this mean women today, you, should exercise? Should you join a gym? Or a BootCamp? Let’s find out.
The distant past:
There is enough evidence suggesting that when we were hunter-gatherers, men did the hunting and women did the gathering. Gathering, though sounds lame next to hunting, was critical to life and required a very respectable amount of fitness. Gathering involved covering large distances by foot, plenty of multi-joint movements like squatting, bending, lunging and reaching, considerable amount of weight bearing activities when the gathered food and firewood had to be transported back home and multiple repetitions of weighted multi-joint moves. Also unlike the men, who did the badass hunting, women gathered everyday and especially on days when the men didn’t hunt or were unsuccessful in their journey.
In short, women back in the paleolithic era, moved! They moved a lot, they moved in all three planes of movement and they did this very frequently and consistently without ever going to failure.
The not-so-distant past:
Consider our fairly recent ancestors from about 100-200 years ago. While hotheaded and proud men stuck to working for money, women did all the household work. This involved everything from sourcing water, to cleaning the house multiple times a day to cooking to taking care of kids. Women from those times, again, covered long distance by foot, did multi-joint moves like squats, lunges etc., carried around weight in the form of water cans and toddlers and firewood, did plenty of pulling when drawing water and used their core efficiently when washing clothes, cleaning the house etc. While men put food on the table, women actually made the damn table and the ground below it!
In other words, our female ancestors… moved! They moved a lot, they moved in multiple planes of motion, they moved all day everyday and never went to failure!
The recent past:
Ever notice how your mom looked in her 20s and 30s? I have seen mine and the words I would use to describe her are healthy, in shape, slender and fit! No flab. No joint aches. Allergies were unheard of. No acne. Glowing skin. I can go on but the point is – they were super healthy and that was evident in their appearance. But how do they look today? Possibly fat, diseased, plagues with aches, easily fatigued? What really happened there?
Well, ‘easy’ happened!
While our moms spent their early lives plentifully using their bodies, they’ve spent the last 10-15 years, well, chilling out. Yea yea. I know moms work hard and all that and I love and respect my mom more than you can imagine, but the fact remains that moms today don’t work as hard as they did during their younger years and as a result they’ve lost their health and strength and mobility!
Take a minute to let this sink in – Our moms are in miserable shape today inspite of…
- having spent the first 30-35 yrs of their lives working hard and eating right
- being fit for the majority of their younger days
- living sedentary lives and eating wrong foods only for the last 15-20 years
But women today, even during their younger years, are sedentary, eat bad foods, are struggling with their weight, have hormonal problems, are fatigued too easily, are weak, are flabby, are affected by chronic diseases and more! What do you think the state of these women will be when they turn 55??
If you are a woman under 30 and don’t feel like a million bucks every single day, there is a lot wrong with you! Realize that you are young woman in her prime. You are like a brand spanking new car! You should not have issues. You should not be struggling with fat loss. You should not find it a challenge to run a mile. You should not strain your back when you lift a suitcase. You should be nimble and strong and endurant!
But… are you? Majority of the women today are not. Not even close! So why is this the case?
Easy answer right? Sedentary lifestyle + crappy food choices = unfit unhealthy women who produce offspring that are destined to be diseased and die young!
Workout everyday? Get into a workout program? Join The Quad’s BootCamp? Find a personal trainer? Sure. These are all awesome starting points. But none of this is ‘the answer’! The answer is… to MOVE!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not asking you to not join a gym or a workout program. I’m saying use these as jump-boards and move on to find something that is sustainable by making a conscious effort to be more active and to use your body per it’s capabilities. Here are some suggestions.
- If you join a workout program like The Quad’s BootCamp, don’t just do the motions. Learn from it. Educate yourself about exercises that you can do with the facilities available to you. For eg. Understand that the kettlebell swing is an absolutely awesome full body workout that requires minimal cost and time investment. Understand that running is an awesome tool in your fitness toolbox but is not the be-all-end-all of fitness. Understand that working out hard 2-3 days a week and staying active during the other days is all that is required to stay fit.
- Screw exercise. Think move! As much as possible. Whenever possible. In whatever way possible. MOVE! Dont sit if you can stand. Dont stand if you can walk. Dont walk if you can run.
- Make life a little less easy for yourself! Dump comfort. Walk to the nearby store. Carry your own groceries and suitcases. Sit on the floor every once in a while. Stand at work during meetings. Squat down when you pet a pup. Take random walks. Take a club and the beat the crap out of any elliptical machine you see! And stay away from the lazy boy… the chair too.
Stay healthy and strong my dear ladies ‘cos healthy is the new hot and strong is the new skinny!