I received this from a friend of mine and wanted to share it with the other female members of the board and the male members with female friends who train. It's nice to get some perspective from "our side" every once in awhile.

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Women: Breaking The Size Barrier

by Cheryl Zovich


There seems to be an alarming problem on the horizon:
women and their perception of body size. The more I
work with women and assist them with their lifting
issues the more I recognize the need for my gender to
understand how we have evolved into a society with a
growing confusion regarding size, strength, and
weight.

Women today want to be small. Not short mind you, but
smaller in total body mass. They want concave bellies,
long, lithe legs, slender hips and stick-like arms.
Pick up any woman's magazine or clothing catalogue
marketed today and you will see advertising at it's
manipulative best. If you don't possess the perfect
body to fit the clothes, the clothing itself will
conform your figure to fit them by means of pads,
under wires, Lycra, inflatable air bladders and
elastic panels.

A seemingly simple trip the local mall bombards most
women with a variety of clothing that varies in size
from store to store and even rack to rack within a
given store! Imagine then, the confusion for those
women who once sought security and comfort by wearing
a specific size? Women may as well throw their
physical dimensions out the window. What one clothing
manufacturer construes as size 2 another might
categorize as size 6. Rarely is there mention of true
measurements nor are there reliable standards for
sizing women's clothing. Jeans, for instance are
frequently classified by "cut" and/or size! We are
left guessing to whether we are "classic," "relaxed,"
"baggy," misses, petite, or woman's size! It's enough
to drive a sane woman to the brink of despair!

In contrast, when men buy clothing they seldom deviate
from pants, shirts and suits and their clothing is
often sized according to true measurement. A 32-inch
waist, a 17-inch neck, a 34-inch inseam, and a 42-inch
chest are all precise guidelines not vague guesses.
Men know what size they are and they expect the
clothing they select to correspond with their current,
accurate measurements. Alas, it seems the simplicity
of this concept escapes woman's designers!

Today's fashion with the highest visibility and
marketing priorities are often the most trendy and
physically challenging for women to wear. Revealingly
tight Lycra tops, mini skirts, cropped and cut out
shirts and dresses, and skin tight jeans all call for
the owners of such fashions to have the utmost perfect
body with which to display the clothing at it's
intended best. In response, women in quest of cutting
edge fashion have justifiably become increasingly over
attentive to body size and weight related issues.

So how does this affect the average female weight
lifter? Women often arrive at the decision to train
under the guise that it will bring about positive
changes to their body despite years of neglect. They
appear at the gym eager to convert themselves into a
5'10", 110-pound model of perfection. This goal rarely
has much to do with reality or truthful expectations,
yet women continue to operate under the conviction
that they can increase the mass (and therefore,
visibility) of their muscles without changing their
size or shape.

Seldom do women consider the most basic facts
surrounding lifting, rather they persist in the belief
that weight training will be a means to an end: to
transform them into someone smaller! However,
progressive weight training (if applied as intended)
will do nothing of the sort! Realistically speaking,
weightlifting typically delivers results at the
opposite end of the spectrum. If women wish to diffuse
the training myths that continue to delude them they
must re-examine and acknowledge the fundamental facts
regarding the end results of weight training:

1.) Muscles are an outcome of progressive weight
lifting. 2.) Muscles weigh more than fat and
therefore, should eventually make your overall
bodyweight somewhat higher than it was prior to weight
training. 3.) Muscles will ultimately increase your
body mass. This means you will most likely become
larger and your muscles will take up more space in
clothing as your physical girth changes in response to
weight training.

What does this all mean for women who want to strength
train to any degree of success? In order for women to
persevere in lifting they must learn to focus less on
body size changes and more on strength progress. Women
must be willing to concede that progressive,
goal-oriented weight lifting will almost certainly
generate a physical response or alteration of their
shape, some of which may not initially seem welcome.
At onset, these changes can be easily confused with a
body fat increase given this is the type of weight
gains most women have generally experienced up to this
point and are familiar with.

I enthusiastically urge all women who are sincere in
their desire to make permanent, positive, physical
changes in their body to forge ahead, despite this
initial trepidation. Body composition is a far better
method of gauging overall physical health than body
weight. Learn to measure your lean body mass and
educate yourself so you fully comprehend the
implication of the results. By all means, weigh
yourself, but use the bathroom scale judiciously and
bear in mind muscle weighs more than fat! Be prepared
to replace certain articles of clothing as your
dimensions change and be encouraged (rather than
despair) that this indicates you're making upward
progress in the gym! Refrain from comparing your body
with that of women who don't engage in the sort of
physical pursuit you have chosen. Realize you are in
control of your mass gains and have confidence in your
ability to manipulate your size by small degrees when
necessary.

Women generally find weight gain contradictory and
against their nature to embrace. As a rule, women have
been taught from a very young age to be at war with
their bodies and to treat anything that constitutes an
increase in dimension as just cause for alarm. As our
bodies change in response to lifting it can become
most difficult for some to resist the urge to curtail
any activity or practice that encourages an increase
in appearance. Some women retaliate by decreasing
their caloric intake while increasing their cardio
training in hopes to eliminate or control their weight
fluctuations. This is contradictory to the most basic
principles of weight lifting!

Women must be prepared to confront their skepticism
when their weight rises in response to weight
training. Instead, expect this increase as a
by-product of lifting and resist the instinct to
oppose your body thereby limiting your progress.
Concentrate on directing your focus toward strength
related lifting goals while shifting the significance
of bodyweight to the back burner. Keep the emphasis of
your training on health and progression and remember:
your motivation for weight training should not be
aimed exclusively at achieving visual perfection.

At some point, women who weight lift for reasons
beyond simple light exercise must make a choice: they
can spend the rest of their lives chasing ambiguous
standards set by those who stand to profit from their
observance or they can learn to place trust in their
power to create their own physical destiny.