Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Is there a benefit to lifting only three pound weights?

I was absolutely horrified and mortified when I saw this video, courtesy of Oprah's website.  I encourage everyone to watch it, but in a nutshell, it's Gwyneth Paltrow of promoting her "pint-sized miracle,"personal trainer Tracy Anderson, for helping her "stay thin." Paltrow exercises six days a week for two hours a day, focusing mainly on cardio.  Oh, and Anderson only allows Paltrow to lift three pound weights, because, according to Anderson, "no woman should lift more than three pounds," as lifting more will make a woman "bulky."  (Perhaps I should send Anderson some before and after photos so I can show her how much better I look.  And Anderson, having muscles and muscle definition does not mean I'm "bulky" -- in fact, it means I'm healthy, physically fit, and strong).

Paltrow, you look seriously emaciated.  

Honestly, I think I'm mostly disappointed in Oprah for posting this crap on her website and airing it on her show.  Oprah, women all over the world look up to you.  How could you feed them even more bad, baseless information?  I really would love to see Oprah cut out processed foods and try CrossFit!
Well, the joke's on Gwyneth, who has developed osteopenia, a pre-cursor for osteoporosis.  The irony of the situation -- current research has shown that weight training prevents bone loss, and may even help build new bone.  For Tracy Anderson, I'd like to ask -- how is it realistic for a woman to never lift more than three pounds?  Even Gwyneth makes a flippant comment about lifting her 30 pound son all day, so I don't understand how she can claim that there's a benefit of lifting such a puny weight.  Wouldn't being able to lift more weight be much more practical for her lifestyle?  From my own personal experience, strength training has made daily tasks much easier, from carrying in groceries or kitty litter, organizing the desk and chairs in my classroom,  and gives me more energy to get through my day.  I think I find Anderson's workouts to be so disturbing because they are anti-feminist and reinforce an idea that women are supposed to be frail and weak.  
I highly recommend Graeme Thomas's article on why being "skinny fat" is unhealthy and unattractive.  He does a great job of describing how trainers like Anderson perpetuate the myths and misconceptions about female weight lifting.  My favorite part of his article is where he analyzes what Paltrow eats in a day, which averages out to less than 1000 calories.  Clearly, Paltrow's diet is less than ideal.
Ultimately, I hope that women realize that trainers like Anderson are bogus and unhealthy, and I want women to know that being strong is beautiful.  So, how to we debunk the myths that Anderson, et al. spread?  How can we convince women to stop being scared of weights?

P.S. Gwyneth: if you did CrossFit, you wouldn't have to work out for two hours, six days a week.  Just sayin'!


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