Athletics, Motherhood and Other SuperFantastic Subjects

“I’m not trying to be that diesel”

There’s this insidious thing that won’t seem to go away, and it is the incessant chatter about athletic women’s bodies- is it ok for women to have muscles? Is strong really better than skinny? I don’t know if men are the main perpetrators or if it’s mostly us doing this to each other (let’s blame the men, that’s more fun). Either way, it’s apparent that certain forces are less than enthusiastic about the fairer sex being yoked. Don’t be scared, everything is going to be ok, even if us gals get barbells in our hands. I usually chalk the negativity up to mostly internet trolls- a subsect of the population I find it best to ignore. Frankly, I just don’t like giving life to the subject by discussing it further. I don’t feel the need to defend my choices for my body, or encourage others to choose the same path I have. Some see fit to inundate the inter-webs with articles and memes trying to dispel the myth that weight training makes women bulky, that strong is in fact superior to other ways of being, and working to assuage women’s fears that if they pick up a barbell their feminine curves will combust into a manly, hard body. Fears. Fears? Somehow, with everything going on in the world, development of strength, muscle and physical competency has become something that has risen to the status of being fear-worthy. I mean, what are these crazy girls going to do next, try to grow beards!? (Not likely because beards are vile and germ infested. If you don’t know about this you must read The Twits.)photo-25

But I digress. A couple of recent events transpired that sparked my interest in this subject. My opinion on the matter, like anyone elses of course, is shaped by my experiences. I grew up as a gymnast- a sport that produces strong, muscular athletes. I grew up with a strong mother. She was not an athlete, but she was strong as a horse in my child’s eye view. She always worked two, usually three jobs (often physical ones) to support us. My mother consistently encouraged my sister and I in our athletic endeavors and frankly, I felt that I was expected to be an athlete. I don’t remember her ever being sick and I only saw her cry once, when I was ten years old and her grandmother died. The problems explored in The Feminine Mystique did not exist in our house. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, in many ways I feel I was freed from the confines of stereotypical notions of femininity. I’ve always included strength as a completely normal characteristic for a woman. When I think of the ultimate woman, being able to handle business physically is one of the foremost thoughts in my mind. Bearing and nursing children, physically carrying them, raising children, doing labor to care for and support herself or her family- these are all things that I find utterly feminine and the ability to do them is enhanced and facilitated by a fit, strong body. One of my favorite things is when my son tells me I’m strong and emulates my athletic movements.

Back to the two events that got me thinking about this subject. One was a woman who contacted me after some of her loved ones reacted negatively to changes in her body after 5 months of CrossFit. Basically, they felt that her new muscle definition looked “manly”. My comment to her was essentially, if you have conviction about what you are doing, you must hold onto that as your shield against the naysayers. You are responsible for your body. You are responsible for your own health and happiness. How your body transforms is secondary to the discipline you’re displaying and the sense of accomplishment you earn in your daily workouts and progress towards your goals. People who really care about you should be uplifted by your joy, hard work and accomplishments. In my case, I’m fortunate that overwhelmingly I am affirmed for what I do with regard to fitness and I’m realizing not everyone has that experience.

The other happening was a conversation with one of the top weightlifting coaches in the country. He told me that he’s had multiple adolescent female lifters quit the sport of weightlifting because they (or their mothers!) felt it was making their butt and thighs too big. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I found this fact shocking. We discussed the matter a bit more on “Weightlifting Talk”. Maybe I hang around too many people who appreciate a developed butt and quads, but WHAT?! First of all, when you’re an adolescent girl, your body is supposed to grow and develop, weightlifter or not. Second of all, what’s wrong with a butt and thighs?

I came away from these two occurrences shaking my head and more convinced than ever that the best way to deal with this obsession with critiquing women’s bodies is to identify your own beliefs and values about your body and what you choose to do with it, and say FTW. Whether it’s too “manly” because you’re lifting weights, or too curvaceous because you’re lifting weights, or too thin because you like to run, or too whatever. In Tina Fey’s book Bossypants, she documents the list of attributes that every girl is expected to have:

  • Caucasian blue eyes
  • Full Spanish lips
  • A classic button nose
  • Hairless Asian skin with a California tan
  • A Jamaican dance hall ass
  • Long Swedish legs
  • Small Japanese feet
  • The abs of a lesbian gym owner
  • The hips of a nine year old boy
  • The arms of Michelle Obama
  • And doll tits

Great list, funny and reflective of the ridiculousness of it all. It’s a shame there’s no tidy conclusion to this matter so we could stop having this conversation over and over. I suspect that won’t happen anytime soon. In the meantime, I leave you with a lyric from a song my mother used to play:

“But it’s all right now,
I learned my lesson well,
You see, ya can’t please everyone, 
So ya got to please yourself.”- Rick Nelson

186 responses

  1. Alex

    Great post. Two things in particular: the “too manly, too curvaceous and too thin” sentence and the ridiculous list making up a “perfect woman”… Although I’ve gotta disagree with bossypants’ assertion that women have to have the hips of a nine year old boy?!?! Not my thing but maybe I’m weird! I guess i’m attracted to impressiveness, in whatever form that takes on and in the woman I love.

    February 11, 2013 at 4:45 am

    • I’m going to quote your quote “I’m attracted to impressiveness” for the rest of my life. Thanks for that fantastic thought.

      February 25, 2013 at 11:03 pm

  2. Cee Cee

    Thank you for speaking so eloquently on this topic. I couldn’t agree with you more, and so I just wanted to add my little two cents.

    Fact is 99% of the women on the planet don’t fit into this “standard” of beauty anyway, which irritates the hell out of me!

    At the age of 37, I just don’t remember growing up and being bombarded with images of this skinny women/model type look. As a black woman when I look at my family, I see mostly women with butts and thighs or as we say “thick” women. To me this is “normal” and I’ve always viewed that as the “standard” so to speak. At the end of the day everybody is built differently and all shapes and sizes are beautiful.

    In my universe I set my own standard of beauty and no one has to live in it but me.

    “She’s the one, the only one built like an Amazon!” Yessir!! 
    This is a line from one of my favorite old school songs (which also has one of the SICKEST base lines.)
    Brick House by the Commodores

    Plan on coming to the Chi to see my 1st ever Crossfit competition, especially to see you compete!

    Peace Elisabeth

    February 11, 2013 at 5:34 am


      Jika anda sering kalah dalam bermain togel,sousinya disini.Silahkan hubungi AKI PANDAWA ARYA di nomor 085 216 977 745 untuk pengeluaran angka SGP/HKG 2D 3D atau 4D.Angka yang di berikan akurat tembus dan bisa mengubah nasib anda jd lebih baik.Silahkan buktikan sendiri.

      Jika anda sering kalah dalam bermain togel,sousinya disini.Silahkan hubungi AKI PANDAWA ARYA di nomor 085 216 977 745 untuk pengeluaran angka SGP/HKG 2D 3D atau 4D.Angka yang di berikan akurat tembus dan bisa mengubah nasib anda jd lebih baik.Silahkan buktikan sendiri.

      Jika anda sering kalah dalam bermain togel,sousinya disini.Silahkan hubungi AKI PANDAWA ARYA di nomor 085 216 977 745 untuk pengeluaran angka SGP/HKG 2D 3D atau 4D.Angka yang di berikan akurat tembus dan bisa mengubah nasib anda jd lebih baik.Silahkan buktikan sendiri.

      February 13, 2013 at 12:19 am

    • dmax197822

      I read the blog and I read your post. I have to say that I did see the “norm” as skinny on TV before about 5-10 years ago. This is probably what was meant by this. I like any shape woman. My wife is “thick” as you put it. At the same time I would love her if she was skinny. However I do appreciate your post..

      February 13, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    • I absolutely think culture comes into play a lot with this issue. Thanks so much for commenting, I hope to see you at a CF competition!

      February 21, 2013 at 5:06 pm

  3. Traci

    I love this. I know a girl who’s boyfriend told her many years ago that she was getting fat and it basically embarrassed him. While disgusted with his commentary, she searched high and low for ridiculous shit to lose weight and finally stumbled upon crossfit.. After committing to crossfit and paleo, after 4 years he has the fucking balls to tell her she’s getting “too ripped” and not soft enough. She then told him he’s soft enough for two and he should consider hitting the gym lol. We have to stand up for our right to be strong independent sexy as hell women! And fuck the men and women alike that don’t like or appreciate our dedication and hard work.. Awesome post! And excuse my French haha

    February 11, 2013 at 6:45 am

    • Jeanna

      Tell your friends to dump that chump! What a loser and a bully.

      February 11, 2013 at 10:46 am

    • I agree! Awesome post.

      February 15, 2013 at 2:47 pm

  4. Jen

    TY for posting this. I’m in the midst of struggling with striving to get stronger, but then struggling to accept my body as it changes in response to getting stronger. I have also fielded comments from others that say I’m moving in the wrong direction, getting “manly shoulders”, etc. I’m trying to focus in on MY voice and what I truly believe so that I can leave the other comments behind and finally be happy in my own skin. I admire your strength & focus.

    February 11, 2013 at 8:05 am

    • Good luck to you Jen, as you continue to find and listen to your own voice.

      February 21, 2013 at 5:08 pm

      • Tosan T.

        Great post overall, I have coached women for about 12 years (at the college level and beyond in rugby). I am married to a rugby athlete and have always admired all manners of strength (Physical, Spiritual, Mental etc). She shared her experiences growing up (we are both Nigerian, but mostly raised here), and it is terrible what the previous generation has done to us in that sense. We genetically breed some of the best athletes on earth, only to throw hindrance in front of half of them and it starts with families. She is naturally quite muscular and very athletic, but had relative telling her she needed to fatten up and give her pints of ice-cream when she was younger. She is still an incredible athlete, but her experience really hurts my heart what she went through with accepting her body. I wonder how many women fail to reach the true potential (of things they would want to do) simply because of that stigma……Could you have imagined if someone have told Mozart to be less musically inclined? Maxwell to be a little less interested in Electromagnetism? Aretha not to sing so hard?

        All that out of fear that women who train hard will look like men lol. (I hate the pro fitness industry for this)..When the result they fear comes from upwards..4 hours a day of training, extreme dieting and oft dangerous supplementation.. only for them to look a certain way for 72 hours….. When I had players tell me, “I don’t want to end up looking like a man”, I’d tell them not to flatter themselves,.. that look doesn’t happen “by chance”.. you’d really have to want it… it helps change a few tunes, but the battle continues I guess…

        I’m hopeful her and I can contribute to breaking this cycle with our future sons and daughters…

        Ms Akinwale, its been a pleasure, good luck in 2013!…sorry about the long rant lol.

        February 23, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      • Great comment, thank you for adding your perspective!

        February 24, 2013 at 9:11 pm

  5. Diva

    I read your recent blog post , in reference to women’s bodies. It sad but some women still look for approval from others. And feminine displays of strength have alwAys been a little threatening to the opposite sex. For many reasons. But very similar to you I grew with a mother who was a collegiate track & field athlete and body builder at one point! She raised 6 kids by herself , I saw her brake down but continue to fight. Her physical strength supported her mental strength . God knows no woman is ever happy with their body but its because of how they are told they should look. I recently posted pics of me in workout clothes and in a dress & heels . To prove a point . Working out hard is not going to make you look like a man . Truthfully I can’t believe we still have to have this conversation . Love the blog , keep writing ,

    February 11, 2013 at 8:27 am

    • Interesting stuff! Actually feminine displays of strength have never been threatening to the opposite sex at all! Point blank never,

      February 13, 2013 at 5:38 pm

  6. dudehouse

    ‘How your body transforms is secondary to the discipline you’re displaying and the sense of accomplishment you earn in your daily workouts and progress towards your goals.’

    The whole point right there. ‘How big are you trying to get?’, I get asked. Couldn’t possibly be misunderstanding my goals any more.

    Oddly enough I hear the most resistance from girls in my circle, not guys. Girls who are already unhealthy but have already nixed CF as an option because they’ll ‘bulk up’. My face is a semi permanent beet red from facepalming so much.

    February 11, 2013 at 8:27 am

    • Sharon

      Bulky? Not bulky I say bigger. I fell in love with CF over a year ago. Went everyday. From the first day to now I have made significant advancements. I now Rx more Wods than I don’t . I love the people and the encouragement. However I’m 5’10” and since CF I have gained 5lbs, 3″ inches in each leg and over 4″ in my back. I was no slump when I started either. I joined CF a week after I ran NYC marathon and I trained a couple times of week with a trainer. I’m upset. I don’t like how I look in clothes anymore but I love going to cf. I don’t know what to do. I want to be long and lean. What’s up with my traps…..yuck! Please don’t face palm:)

      February 14, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      • That’s so interesting Sharon- actually, when I read the number of inches you put on your legs my first reaction was envy! I think I can relate to what you’re saying. In my case, there are things that I may like to look different about my body but I’ve chosen to train for performance, not aesthetics. That is a choice. If you want to train for a certain look that’s an option too. It’s sounds like you’ve already found that you enjoy what you’re doing, you may have to re-program yourself. Step away from the mainstream fitness magazine! We get what we get genetically, I’m sure there are people who would kill to be able to put muscle on the way you have.

        February 21, 2013 at 5:19 pm

  7. Paul Nobles

    Reblogged this on Nutrition Coaching and commented:
    Very good perspective from Elizabeth Akinwale related to women’s health and views related to that topic.

    February 11, 2013 at 8:32 am

  8. Thank you so much for re-visiting this issue. From my own personal experience and journey, my athletic journey has always been that has brought many negative comments from family and friends. I’ve been told I’m too skinny or too muscular, to this or that. Luckily, I am a firm believer that what other people think of me is none of my business. People will always find something wrong with what you’re doing whether it’s good or bad. As ruler of my own body, I am more concerned with my health and quality of living as opposed to the opinion of others. We live in a time when it’s more convenient to sit in front of the television and over eat plates of food to find comfort. I don’t want that type of lifestyle for children or myself, so I prefer to work out to be strong and improve the quality of my health as opposed to be on medication in order to extend my existence. In conclusion, I will NEVER apologize for loving myself!!

    February 11, 2013 at 8:46 am

  9. ‘How your body transforms is secondary to the discipline you’re displaying and the sense of accomplishment you earn in your daily workouts and progress towards your goals.’

    Best line ever.

    I will be 50 years old in 18 days. Thank God I started CrossFit 2.5 years ago and will go in to my 50’s knowing that I will continue to lift, get stronger and devolop more muscle.

    Keep doing what you are doing kiddo, blaze the trails into the future!

    February 11, 2013 at 9:03 am

  10. Reblogged this on garagegym107 and commented:
    For all of my friends who lift! This is such a great blog.

    February 11, 2013 at 9:03 am

  11. coachfms

    Awesome shit Akinwale. I love every word. I wrote, “The Fear Of Bulkiness & CrossFit” that you linked in this blog. I wasn’t trying to, “…dispel the myth that weight training makes women bulky, that strong is in fact superior to other ways of being…”

    At the core of both of our blog posts, i think we were trying to make a similar point.

    -You said, “…if you have conviction about what you are doing, you must hold onto that as your shield against the naysayers. You are responsible for your body. You are responsible for your own health and happiness. How your body transforms is secondary to the discipline you’re displaying and the sense of accomplishment you earn in your daily workouts and progress towards your goals.”

    -I said, “The further down the road you go in CrossFit you will realize that the physical appearance doesn’t really matter at all…The chase of some worldly physical ideal will slowly slide down the list of why you will show up to CrossFit everyday and basically torture yourself. You will get totally addicted to the feeling you get when you do things that were simply impossible for you a few months ago. The body you get is nothing more than a by-product.”

    In summation, “Same team bro! Same team!” lol

    February 11, 2013 at 9:21 am

    • Oh yeah, I know we’re on the same team! Actually the first version of this post was a little different and included more about your post. The funny thing was, when your blog was ALL OVER “the facebooks” a picture of me looking super jacked was popping up with it, and given the title it was kind of an interesting experience for me. I wondered if I was the poster child for what women fear looking like. I really liked your post, didn’t mean to pick on it here. Thanks for commenting!

      February 21, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      • coachfms

        Awesome. Btw, congrats on making the MD USA team. Keep taking names and kicking ass.

        February 25, 2013 at 9:55 am

  12. cheri

    I agree it would be more fun to blame the guys! 🙂 But unfortunately it seems like women are forcing these fears onto each other. I find that other women are amazed (literally) that I truly embrace my body’s “athletics” shape because my ultimate goal is to be strong, healthy and happy. Who cares if finding jeans becomes a bit more challenging when you feel so fulfilled by following your heart?

    It is heartbreaking to hear about young women giving up on the sport of weightlifting due to these kinds of pressures. Makes me even more fired up to go out and change the world! We need to spread our “lady diesel” far and wide so every girl can see that there is truly a spectrum of feminine bodies.

    And thanks for bringing up the constant (ridiculous) stream of articles, blog and Facebook posts declaring “strength training will not make you bulky”. To me that is the most insidious message of all, because the underlying message is, “don’t you dare do anything that might endanger your ability to fit into our mold of femininity”.

    Thanks for being such a great role model! I will be cheering for you this Games season!

    February 11, 2013 at 9:31 am

    • Jim

      As a strength and conditioning coach, I will tell you straight up that 90% of women do not have the amount of testoserone to truly get bulky, they can put on muscle mass and become defined, but they will not become bulky. I have female athletes lift more than some guys, and they have not become bulky, actually most of them cut overall weight because they become leaner.

      February 11, 2013 at 5:27 pm

      • Can the church say. AMEN!

        February 23, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    • Great comment, thanks Cheri!

      February 21, 2013 at 5:31 pm

  13. The good news is that things have really changed for the better in this area. I remember there was a time (back in the early 80s) that someone like Rachel McLish was considered to muscular and feminine.

    February 11, 2013 at 9:35 am

  14. Great post! I remember my mother trying to get me to quit Crossift, but I refused to quit because I love being strong and I love how my body is changing. Elisabeth, you inspire me to be a better Crossfitter! I’ll definitely will be cheering you on at the Crossfit Games 2013!!!

    February 11, 2013 at 9:37 am

  15. Funny thing is that I kind of have the same reaction as you when people say women shouldn’t be strong – “What the heck are you talking about? Who came up with that ludicrous idea?!” I never really encountered negativity toward strong women when I was young either. I always thought it was amazing to have a beautiful sculpted body. I took pride in my big, round butt (and still do!). It never occurred to me that people thought women with muscles looked bad. It really didn’t!! It wasn’t until I started to get more serious about lifting and I started to buy books on the topic, usually geared toward women. I was always annoyed that I had to get through the “don’t use Barbie weights” section of the book because I thought that was common sense.

    Obviously, now I realize that there is a lot of anti-strong-woman stuff out there and I feel bad for those people who perpetuate it and for those who are influenced by it. But I don’t let it get to me. I do what makes me happy, what makes me closer to my goals. My biggest example is that right now, I’m doing Beach Body’s Body Beast program – a workout series that is geared solely toward men getting huge. People are either excited or shocked that I am trying it – “Isn’t that for like huge bodybuilders?” they ask. It is what you make of it. I want to be strong so I do the program. I just surround myself with positive people who will support me in my efforts!

    Great article!

    February 11, 2013 at 10:41 am

    • It IS what you make of it. I’ve spent 100s of hours as the only woman in the weight room because that’s what I loved doing. More power to you!

      February 21, 2013 at 5:33 pm

  16. Excellent post…I see this mind-state in some clients I train. I’ll be sharing your blog. Keep doing what you are doing and setting the example.

    February 11, 2013 at 1:12 pm

  17. Bret M

    well written and nicely done.

    February 11, 2013 at 1:14 pm

  18. shondelle

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this!!! Could not have said it better myself… Thanks for

    February 11, 2013 at 1:23 pm

  19. RE

    This is so well-said, Elisabeth. I feel exactly the same way, in that I am 1) surprised by the incredible amount of attention suddenly being paid to debating what is the “right” body type for women and 2) generally one to just ignore it and keep doing what I want to to with MY body (shocking, I know!). Anyway, this post is the first I’ve seen that I believe handles this issue properly, by not exhaustively arguing over it but rather saying “do what YOU want and F what people think. Duh.” (Of course, you said it much better than that.) Thank you and best of luck in the Games!

    February 11, 2013 at 1:25 pm

  20. Julie W

    When I was in fifth grade, I discovered that I loved swimming hard. My dad cautioned me against doing too much swimming because it “would give me big shoulders”. I stopped doing it! What a shame. I’m glad I have discovered Crossfit now, even in my 40’s, so I can regain some of that strength and drive. And I love my shoulder muscles 🙂

    February 11, 2013 at 1:33 pm

  21. Pingback: I want my daughter to be strong « failgym

  22. Dominic Albino

    Great stuff. As a man, it really upsets me that this is an issue for women in our society, for so many reasons. To list just a few:

    a) how other people’s bodies look is almost never your business and you shouldn’t be judging
    b) what other people think of your body should be of no consequence compared to what you think of your body and what you can do with your body
    c) helplessness and inability are not desirable goals, or sexy. strength, coordination, ability, and competence are.
    d) if your body is making others uncomfortable and insecure, it probably has more to do with implicit comparison they are making to their own body and lack of fitness and ability

    Sadly, I think this is not just an issue of physical capacity. There is also a parallel to intellectual capacity, and the same problems arise and the same arguments I listed above hold in that domain as well. Replace “physical” with “intellectual” and “body” with “mind” throughout the article and comments above and see if it rings true. I think unfortunately it does. As a society we might be a little further down the path to enlightenment in the sphere of intellect, but only a little.

    February 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm

  23. Suzanne

    You are gorgeous. The end.

    February 11, 2013 at 2:48 pm

  24. MovementDr.

    Way to go Elisabeth! And to all the women who strive to be “their individual best”. Don’t get caught up in the ignorance of some as well as the social norm of women’s training. You want to push yourself to the limits… awesome! You deserve the same respects as “competing like the guys” and I’m furthermore impressed that ladies are doing this without male testerone levels. Point blank impressed! Keep up the awesome training, and ignore the people are just truly jealous that can’t commit!

    February 11, 2013 at 3:04 pm

  25. kyle

    simply put, muscle is hot…elisabeth has it going on

    February 11, 2013 at 3:19 pm

  26. CF

    Thank you for this post. When I first started CrossFit I was amazed because it seemed like a safe place for strong women. Then I noticed that even the women I admired seemed to have conflict with their own bodies. They were beautiful and muscular but would talk about feeling like drag queens or not fitting into their clothes anymore.

    I saw women drop out because they didn’t want veins in their arms or didn’t like the calluses on their hands.

    I still felt like the men were supportive until this past year when I had to stop reading public comments on CrossFit social media posts. How dare these people invade our safe space and say our bodies weren’t about what they can DO; they are about what they look like and what they look like isn’t acceptable.

    I get negative comments about my lack of breasts and being too muscular. When I was extremely obese I had very large breasts. But I have a feeling I wouldn’t have met their standards then either.

    This is what makes me happy. I’m done pretending I’m weak for the people in my life. I’m proud of the body I’m building and I’m hoping if enough women like you keep providing strong role models then girls will grow up believing whatever form their bodies take is beautiful because what they do has more value than what they look like.

    February 11, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    • Right on! I can relate to a great deal of what you’re saying- your initial perception of the CF community and how that has changed somewhat, your experiences with social media and your conclusion. We are all role models, like it or not, and I say let us model strength. Physical strength is great, but more importantly the strength to shamelessly love ourselves. Thanks for your comment!

      February 18, 2013 at 12:02 pm

  27. Alas the conversation will probably never end, but I think we’re gaining some momentum. They key has always been to live your truth regardless of our screwed up society. It’s women like you who help us beat back the throngs of judgers. No matter what women do there will always be controversy. If we can all just work together and support each other to be our best selves then maybe we’ll get somewhere.

    February 11, 2013 at 3:37 pm

  28. Great post EA. Strong is the new skinny. No female needs to be ashamed of having a finely tuned body!

    February 11, 2013 at 4:05 pm

  29. Sarah

    Great to read your post. A reminder to please myself and be proud of my ass and thighs 😉

    February 11, 2013 at 4:24 pm

  30. As a male who has spent the better part of 30 years in the gym, I have always encouraged women to pick up a weight. I have to say that in this day and age, I am still totally dumbfounded by the idea that a segment of reasonably intelligent men and women still buy into this myth on the subject of women lifting weights. I’ve had this discussion more time than I care to count and it’s always the same. Trying to talk to people that lack the awareness is like trying to ice skate uphill. The number of comments you see on blogs and FB female fitness pages from people criticizing these women’s athletic and fitness pursuits is staggering. And when you see who is making the remarks, you see they are in no position to be commenting on one’s desire to be in the best condition they can achieve. Whether they be an elite athlete, a 9-to-5er or stay-at-home mom. And yet they will be routing for world class sprinters, gymnasts and decathletes who all posses very powerful bodies. Go figure. They haven’t gotten the concept that when you see a lot of these women competing, their bodies react to the load under which they are put. So of course muscles are going to be more visible. That’s just how we’re made. It’s no different in men. But I guess that’s ok. The word natural gets used a lot. Like it’s more ‘natural’ for men to look like this. I’m quick to point to these detractors that they can stand on any street corner and pull 100 guys and I challenge them to find 10 that have that ‘natural’ look.

    At UCLA, we have a strength & conditioning program that consists of people of all ages, backgrounds and experiences. Much of the programming is based on CrossFit Football. One of the first things the head instructor, a female, tells the women is that they WILL be lifting dumbbells and barbells and doing things like push-ups and pull-ups. So it they aren’t interested in doing that, they may want to reconsider. She tells the newbies at the orientation, that it will be hard because their intent is to make us harder to kill. She wastes no time in telling the women that if they are concerned with getting big and bulky from lifting, they need to put that out of their heads because it is physiologically impossible. They WILL NOT start looking like men. What they will achieve is improved strength and improved conditioning. They will find themselves doing things they never did before and as long as they keep an opened mind and try, they may come to enjoy it.

    From time to time I would ask some of the girls how they felt about the program and they all enjoy it. Some have bonded and go on group hikes. One has noticed that her softball game has improved. She has more power in her swing. We have some pretty strong women in our class and that is never a bad thing. A couple were spectators and the SoCal Regionals and some have checked out the Games on ESPN. They are amazed by the competitors.

    So ladies, follow your own path. Surround yourself with like minded people that support and encourage you. To those that are closest to you like family and close friends that don’t understand, just impress upon them that negative comments need to stay outside your presence. We don’t get to pick our families so we just can’t toss them away. Your dedication and goal setting will rub off on those around you even if you don’t see it. Those of you with kids will show them the importance of sticking to the things you want and achieve.

    Yeah all common sense things I know.

    February 11, 2013 at 4:43 pm

  31. Christine Budell

    GREAT POST!!! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that person who is looking in the mirror. We as women shouldn’t HAVE to look anyway, but what we preceive as beautiful. Muscles serve a purpose and should be celebrated not shamed. I agree with your attritbutes that every woman must have. How about society stops telling us what’s beautiful and let us women decide for ourselves what makes us feel beautiful, and confidient.

    February 11, 2013 at 5:16 pm

  32. Andre

    With great meaning, two letters: B U

    February 11, 2013 at 5:22 pm

  33. Jim

    Would love to see more women get into olympic weightlifting and power lifting.

    February 11, 2013 at 5:28 pm

  34. Pingback: Tuesday 130212 | CrossFit NYC

  35. Kacy Green

    Great article!

    February 11, 2013 at 6:18 pm

  36. Pingback: Class One CrossFit | Tuesday 02.12.13

  37. Jen

    great post, my favourite words: ‘How your body transforms is secondary to the discipline you’re displaying and the sense of accomplishment you earn in your daily workouts and progress towards your goals.’ Since I started doing crossfit people constantly say to me not to get muscly or do I *want* to be muscly? I try to explain that it’s not about wanting to look like that, beyond my muscles being a visible reminder of what I’ve how far I’ve come. It’s not about appearing visually attractive to them or anyone else. It’s about what I want to achieve.

    February 12, 2013 at 5:16 am

  38. Reblogged this on sazandauti and commented:
    Something here

    February 12, 2013 at 12:41 pm

  39. Corrie

    Your post could not have come at a better time for me. I just started Crossfit back in October and to say I’m addicted now is an understatement. I write a vegan lifestyle and fashion blog (yes, I know Crossfit + vegan is usually subject to ridicule by both parties). I coincidentally touched on my experience yesterday on my site and it was one of my most popular posts in months, most questions being from vegan women curious about the sport, and several who contacted me worried about bulking up.

    Crossfit along with a modified Paleo diet (to accommodate my veganism) totally transformed my body in the 4 short months I’ve been doing it. None of my clothes fit anymore. I now have a killer ass. It’s lifted so much and my quads have gotten ever so slightly larger and shapelier and I now can’t fit into my older pants and skirts. Also, my blouses are all tight in the shoulders now from my back getting more developed.

    Kicker though is my waist is several INCHES smaller than when I started. Even with these changes, I wouldn’t say I look bulky at all. I’m tight and toned. I actually find the heavier I go with the weights I lift, the smaller I get. So it drives me nuts to hear women all worried to try Crossfit or heavy lifting for fear of getting bigger. Truth is you may get bigger, but you’ll look fantastic.

    My husband loves the changes so much he can’t keep his hands off me. I guess I’m pretty lucky in that aspect. As an added bonus for me, he’s been so impressed with my results he coincidentally just signed up today to start doing Crossfit himself!

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. For what it’s worth, since I started Crossfitting you as well as the other elite ladies have been an inspiration for me. Thanks for being as badass as you are as well as for this great post.

    February 12, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    • i have been working out heavy for almost a year and i dont see any body chnages except fro the fact that im tone but would like to gain muscle, any suggestions of what i should be doing or any advice?????

      February 12, 2013 at 1:40 pm

      • Corrie

        @ddania Not sure if you were asking me this or Elisabeth. She’d know way more than me but here’s my two cents.

        I’ve always naturally gained more muscle, so I’m probably not the best person to comment on this but can tell you what’s been working for me. A combination of giving 110% at the gym along with a very clean diet is what I attribute to my changes as of recent. Also from what I’ve read to really build muscle you need to up your protein and eat a lot more to gain mass. I follow a 40/30/30 carb/protein/fat ratio and that seems to be working well for me. Try a few different things and see what work best for you and your body. I don’t believe there is a cookie cutter answer for everyone.

        February 12, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    • Fantastic Corrie, thanks! I had a similar experience when I first started CrossFit. My weight didn’t change at all but my body composition transformed to the point that my clothes didn’t fit. Best wishes and have fun CFing with the hubby!

      February 21, 2013 at 5:40 pm

  40. I understand what you’re saying about worrying about body shape in relation to what is going on in the world…but it IS relative. Personally, I can’t focus entirely on huge world problems because I’d go insane. Plus, how a person feels about their body and themselves is going to translate into how we approach things. When I feel strong and confident, I walk taller, etc. I’ve been doing Jillian Michaels’ Shred and I love how My arms are toning up and how I am able to more easily do push-ups now. But I do want to keep my feminine curves. I was a gymnast for a while too, and then a horseback rider. I’ve always had a muscular butt and big thighs. The muscle I can deal with, but i hate when my thighs rub together. It’s even physically uncomfortable. The fact that our magazine stand are inundated with what basically boils down to Tina Fey’s description of “the perfect woman according to men,” means it’s not a surprise so many women have a skewed view of their body’s and femininity. But like you said, we’re all raised with different ideas of femininity, etc. It all boils down to what you said; you have to do what feels comfortable to you. Feeling strong physically is a wonderful thing!

    February 12, 2013 at 1:22 pm

  41. Such a great post! I try to get this message across to all the girls I know who are looking to get in shape. Maybe I’ll just have to refer them here! 🙂

    February 12, 2013 at 1:36 pm

  42. Gwen

    I just love all of your wisdom and how you get it across. Keep it up for all of us!

    February 12, 2013 at 1:46 pm

  43. Loved the post but there is a difference between sculptured and muscular. I don’t mind women choosing which way to live unlike my father who ruled the house with a rod of iron and demanded everything be his way. I may not be in the weight lifting, body building sub culture, I don’t understand the mindset, but also I don’t understand why a feminine woman with curves, soft facial features, would want to make herself bulk up with muscles way beyond what turns a woman from female feature to sudo-male even to the point of loosing their breasts. We know in many sports where women who have to get to such a level Amenorrhea is a common occurrence, but surely when you have lost enough body fat that changes the way a natural occurring bodily function fails doesn’t that tell you that you are going to far. Amenorrhea also occurs in females with anorexia and that is a killer in some cases.
    Don’t get me wrong I know the dedication that is needed to take yourself to such a level, I fenced for my school, the Royal Air Force and tried out for the GB team, but I pushed myself to much and injury put paid to my dream of fencing for my country.
    I still wish you well in all your competitions, but please let me recognise a female body builder rather then trying to guess .

    February 12, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    • If you don’t like what you see, look at something else.

      February 12, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    • Like all people, I have my own personal aesthetic for what I think is the ideal, sexiest range on the spectrum. Plenty of people (or should we just say women?) Have habits or lifestyles that cause them to go outside of my personal ideal sexy range.. she might be sedentary and be softer than I find ideal, or eat too little and be skinnier than I find ideal or tan to a shade of orange that I don’t find ideal… but that person isn’t invested in being sexy for me. I speculate that you, like me, will probably not have a serious problem with all of the muscley women you don’t find ideal trying to become romantically involved with you.

      February 14, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    • The bottom line remains, to each their own. Is a woman who is naturally small breasted somehow less of a woman? Is she then more feminine if she gets implants? If you don’t like muscles don’t develop yours.

      February 21, 2013 at 5:47 pm

  44. jimmydevious

    All I can say is I don’t have a problem with it. (In fact, in some cases I actually find a toned fit, muscular woman’s body attractive. A fetish?? Who knows? ;p )

    Though, even if I DID have a problem with it, who cares what I or anybody else thinks in the end.

    It’s your body, and you’re the one who has to live in it. If you enjoy what you’re doing and can handle it, then keep doing what you enjoy…it’s your life and your body.

    February 12, 2013 at 3:02 pm

  45. Makes me love and appreciate my adopted country of Dominican Republic, where a woman can wear clothes 3 sizes to small for her and she still thinks she’s all that and a bag o chips. Fitness, beauty and sensuality here come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. I love that impossible list 🙂

    February 12, 2013 at 3:04 pm

  46. VERY thought provoking.

    Here’s an interesting thing…

    Have you seen Sam Gordon?
    Check it out:

    A 9-year-old football prodigy!
    Guess what?
    She’s a GIRL!

    But it’s funny because when this video became viral, everyone thought she was awesome. How cool is it that this little girl kicks ASS on the football field over all the boys??

    We all agree. Awesome. Badass.

    But when Sam becomes 19 rather than 9 and she’s in college, will it be awesome then? What will happen when she wants to play in college? Or high school even? Will her peers find her to be motivational or….just some butch lesbian? (Regardless of her actual sexuality).

    Will she be threatened/bullied/hated? Will the guys look at her as competition and the girls as outcasts?

    Loved this post. Got me thinking about Sam!

    February 12, 2013 at 3:16 pm

  47. I struggled with this forever – I was a competitive sprinter and have very muscular legs – small waist but literally enormous hamstrings … OK, not literally … it’s hard to weigh more due to the muscle than my friends … even though I wear smaller sizes – anyway, this was a great post to read – I can relate …

    February 12, 2013 at 3:16 pm

  48. fayaz muhammad545

    it.s for the mast for all women.thank,s

    February 12, 2013 at 4:32 pm

  49. I’ve always been thin and fairly weak. I dislike it, and would love to be able to bulk up. Men see thin and think they can push you around. That’s why they like thin.

    And as off-topic as this is, I’ve always even as a little kid thought that women muscley types looked way better than the men. The women look defined, strong, and still shaped like people. The men look like Clydesdales. So there’s a bit of judgment from the other direction. As with most things in this world that’s supposed to be bad for women, weightlifting actually looks way better on US.

    February 12, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    • BTW, when I say as I said above “if you don’t like what you see, look somewhere else,” I’m well aware that that goes for me as well. 🙂

      February 12, 2013 at 5:45 pm

  50. I think fitness is important. Just keep a balance.

    February 12, 2013 at 5:45 pm

  51. Strong IS the new skinny. The new skinny is whatever we want it to be.

    February 12, 2013 at 6:09 pm

  52. lusher11

    its important to be fit but dang that has got to be un healthy.

    February 12, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    • It’s so fascinating to me that people can look at one picture and make a comprehensive health assessment.

      February 21, 2013 at 5:51 pm

  53. I like strong women, but I’m weird, I guess. Good post, glad to see the positive comments, makes me feel less weird!

    February 12, 2013 at 8:28 pm

  54. Reblogged this on Closing the Loop… Treatment through Lifestyle Therapy and commented:
    Well said… =)

    February 12, 2013 at 9:06 pm

  55. Muscles on anyone are hot. Period.

    February 12, 2013 at 9:11 pm

  56. “One of my favorite things is when my son tells me I’m strong and emulates my athletic movements.” <— Love it! Thanks for continuing to challenge gender, beauty, and other societal constructs!

    February 12, 2013 at 9:27 pm

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  58. I’m a figure skater that cycles every week and just believes in being fit. I’m trying crossfit next week for the first time by request! Looking forward to it 🙂

    February 12, 2013 at 10:33 pm

  59. Great post. One of my daughters said she’s afraid of doing sports too much because she doesn’t want to get too many muscles, she hates when women have too many muscles. She did not learn this from me. I was mortified that she said this. It has to be the media and peers and it’s very sad. Very sad.

    February 12, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    • I’ve had friends have a similar experience with their daughters. It’s very tough to hear that kids will put limitations on the activities they want to try based on fears about appearance.

      February 21, 2013 at 5:53 pm

      • Yes, but I’m happy to report that she is still a four sport athlete plus dance. I just wish she didn’t have these lingering concerns. Maybe she was testing my response — or trying to make my head explode.

        February 22, 2013 at 9:20 am

  60. Being fit, is beautiful, no matter if you are a woman or a man, old or young. Your body is your temple, Amen!

    February 13, 2013 at 12:31 am

  61. I interviewed a female body sculpting athlete last year: Alli Moyer …anyhow, I come from a family of boys and grew up very much a tom boy and into MMA into adulthood. People find cage fights with women as distasteful LOL. Great article!

    February 13, 2013 at 1:43 am

  62. I’m pretty skinny but I totally agree with you. The expectations about female body is too ridiculous, too fat, too skinny, too ripped… does it really matter? We should stop being so insecure about everything and cherish who we are.
    And let the girl look like what she wants to be, in my country being skinny isn’t considered healthy. People tell me to eat more, they tell me to fix my teeth and etc. But whatever, I eat plenty and maybe I like my body and my fangs. (Yes, I am a vampire. Rawr)

    February 13, 2013 at 3:30 am

  63. B

    One of the problems I have with crossfit is that often we swap skinny is sexy for muscles are sexy. I don’t want to know what others find sexy, I don’t need their approval of how my body looks.

    I’ve read so many crossfit blogs/websites about “don’t worry if you develop muscles, you can still be sexy”, and usually the comments are full of men saying “yeah, I think you look super sexy with muscles”. It doesn’t help, because it still hammers in the message that being sexy or not is the most important measurement of us.

    For example, I was appalled by a video released by Crossfit HQ after the games, called “Crossfitters are sexier” or something like that, where they zoomed in on women’s body parts and filmed asses, boobs, legs and so on in slow motion. Extremely objectifying and has nothing to do with what we can do as athletes. My first experience with crossfit was that it was not about how you look, but what you can do. So I found it so disappointing that HQ would actively encourage judgement of women’s bodies like that.

    Not complaining about this blog post at all, I think it’s great. But it just triggered my thoughts that the common comments in crossfit like “muscles on women are sexy”-attitude isn’t always helpful either. I’d like to decide myself if I think I’m sexy or not, not be told by anyone else.

    February 13, 2013 at 4:35 am

  64. Reblogged this on Elliot Claire London.

    February 13, 2013 at 4:54 am

  65. It’s our fault ladies. If he says: lose some weight, we stop eating. if he says: get some muscles, we hit the gym. If we tell him: honey your belly is big, he sleeps with the skinny best friend. SO Yea, whatever, screw you stupid and shallow men. I love my body, it is my temple. if You don’t like it, you don’t enter. :))) Cheers…

    February 13, 2013 at 6:18 am

  66. I thought the best one was arms like Michelle Obama..I admit that was really a wonderful compliment to the First Lady. We know she works out to get arms like that!

    But yea, that list is full of stereotypes.

    I bike since I don’t have a car. I do put on sunblock to protect skin..after last 22 years of cycling, but still the sun is causing freckles and other age spots. Oh well, I can’t overthink, over worry this.

    February 13, 2013 at 6:28 am

  67. bilalmussa

    Nice… Would be interesting to see your workout routine. Have you posted that previously ?

    February 13, 2013 at 7:46 am

  68. Great, inspiring post!

    February 13, 2013 at 8:27 am

  69. Nice blog on women and crossfit. So inspiring! I can’t wait to go do my crossfit now! Thanks for sharing!

    February 13, 2013 at 10:14 am

  70. zbigniewsieraj

    Reblogged this on zbigniewsieraj.

    February 13, 2013 at 11:33 am

  71. Reblogged this on The EnLightened Journey and commented:

    February 13, 2013 at 11:34 am

  72. This is awesome! Women in crossfit are so inspiring! I’m 16 and I just started about a month and a half ago and I love it! In crossfit terms, I drank the Kool Aid 😛

    February 13, 2013 at 11:49 am

  73. Love this. I work out with weights and my favourite is boxing. My daughter berrated me for it saying it’s too manly and called me a manbeast! (really, I am hardly muscley at all but I am strong fit and athletic)
    The funny thing is now she is in her 20’s she and her friends are all into boxing and working out! What happenned to ‘Manly’ I ask and she laughs. Job done!

    I am very pleased to see a very gradual shift these days away from young girls all wanting to be super skinny to wanting to be more fit and athletic.

    February 13, 2013 at 12:18 pm

  74. runnersview

    I can’t remember which brand has this tagline “find you strong” but I like it.
    After being sidelined with injures the only thing I want is to be strong and be healthy.

    February 13, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    • An injury or illness can definitely make you appreciate just being healthy and moving your body!

      February 21, 2013 at 5:57 pm

  75. Love the “Twits” reference, and I totally agree about beards. Your physique is a physical witness to your mental strength and determination. Your’s represents you well. Kudos.

    February 13, 2013 at 2:18 pm

  76. Reblogged this on Sykose and commented:
    @SykOse. Live. Extreme.

    February 13, 2013 at 2:41 pm

  77. Love your post. Love your video. Love your relationship with your son. You are an incredible role model and I’m so thrilled you shared this.

    February 13, 2013 at 2:56 pm

  78. mo

    I’ve heard men say they don’t want a woman to be stronger than them, smarter than them. To me it seems like they don’t like women but they still want to sleep with them. Straight guys are weird.

    February 13, 2013 at 4:28 pm

  79. Reblogged this on Bfort2010's Blog and commented:
    Read up open minded friends.

    February 13, 2013 at 4:44 pm

  80. A friend of mine, a woman, ran with me twice a week for several months. One day a mutual friend said to her that her legs were getting big and manly.

    She quit running.

    February 13, 2013 at 6:34 pm

  81. amy

    I love this post! I’m 44 and have been Crossfitting for 2 years. I’m doing stuff I never thought I would but most importantly thought I COULD. I’ve secretly fretted over not being able to fit in my shirts from last year (sleeves too tight) or not fitting into the jeans from last year (legs too tight). BUT, I’m the most fit I’ve EVER been and I promise you I could deadlift any of the nerds I work with. (love them all but it’s a true statement!!)

    I think that we (women) have let the media influence how we think we must look to be beautiful (read Tina Fey’s book). Thankfully, I’ve finally gotten to the point that I’m proud of my bigger (muscular) body, my ass that is getting rock hard and the fact that I am probably stronger than any of my non-Crossfit friends.

    The biggest testimony is that I’m a great influence / role model for my pre-teen daughters who are big soccer athletes. It’s great to be a strong woman. Live sore!!!

    February 13, 2013 at 8:18 pm

  82. Do I Have My Keys?

    I decided to get fit this year. I’ve been exercising regularly since the end of December 2012. As I progress in my fitness goals, all I hear are comments about how “skinny” I look now. People wonder whether I’m eating properly. My mother thinks I’m starved. My girlfriend says I’m getting too skinny and it’s unattractive.

    However, I’ve never been this toned or muscular. I look in the mirror and I see the hard work paying off. I’m in better physical shape than I can ever remember. I know I still have a long way to go to see the results I really want, but I’m in it for the long haul, the lifestyle, the health benefits. I remain strong in my endeavor as do you. And so you should.

    Let me tell you right now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with butt and hips!

    Big fan right here!

    Keep it up!

    February 13, 2013 at 9:45 pm

  83. You’re an inspiration!

    February 13, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    • Tom

      You right ! At now I stay and i going to training.

      February 14, 2013 at 4:32 am

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  85. My response is probably very flat and boring, but I believe that each woman must be entitled to her own life. If that includes muscles and power, so be it. If not, so be it. Being forced to do either of these two is detrimental.

    February 14, 2013 at 12:36 am

  86. Shelly Sourdis

    Bad ass blog EA.. So true. You just gotta be happy with yourself.

    February 14, 2013 at 7:54 am

  87. OyiaBrown

    Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

    February 14, 2013 at 9:13 am

  88. Pingback: Any other women who put on muscle ridiculously easily? - Page 7 | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 7

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  90. emmafox

    I have heard this many times from my family, but I am an athlete! And you know what? The man I met, and married – LOVES strong, defined muscles on a woman. He is extremely fit himself, and we do Crossfit together now. He is the classically gorgeous – 6’4, dark hair, very muscular, green eyes.. and a big sweet heart. I couldnt be happier 🙂

    But my point is this, be who you are ladies. If you like to workout hard, you are going to have a great, toned body and men who are attracted to that will be attracted to you. Men who like stick skinny probably will not be attracted to you. But thats not your problem 😉

    February 14, 2013 at 10:40 am

  91. I just discovered REAL weight lifting and it has completely changed my body after the birth of my 4th child, looking forward to following you!!

    February 14, 2013 at 10:49 am

  92. Christine

    You truly are an inspiration EA!

    February 14, 2013 at 4:03 pm

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  95. Reblogged this on Brooklyn Paleo and commented:
    ::sigh:: what a fantastic article. The hips of a 9 year old boy…. pshhaaaaaaaaa.

    February 14, 2013 at 11:23 pm

  96. Reblogged this on Brooklyn Paleo and commented:
    ::sigh:: what a fantastic article. The hips of a 9 year old boy…. pshhaaaaaaaaa.

    February 14, 2013 at 11:25 pm

  97. Reblogged this on Lifterly and commented:
    ::sigh:: what a fantastic article. The hips of a 9 year old boy…. pshhaaaaaaaaa.

    February 14, 2013 at 11:26 pm

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  101. Most work-out regimens are meant to flatten stomachs and make look women look thin and toned rather than to bulk up. It’s still harder for us women to build muscle compared to men. Truth is, why are you exercising? For health? To attract the attention of others? To show off your strength and stamina? Haters going to hate. Yes, seeing women with a six-pack like most guys turns me off, but it shows her commitment to her health and regimen. So what if it turns others off and make them bitches? Let them be.

    February 15, 2013 at 12:40 pm

  102. I’ve got to be honest – I don’t have many girl friends that work out and have strong and masculine bodies, but after reading your outlook on athleticism and life I totally agree! This writing has been both personal, truthful, and encouraging to me because it has dispelled many fallacies about stereotypes that most hold on to without much real thought into the matter! Thank you for opening this conversation and opening my eyes to it 🙂

    February 15, 2013 at 1:33 pm

  103. love your tats btw!

    February 15, 2013 at 1:34 pm

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  105. marycheshier

    Reblogged this on How 2 Be Green and commented:
    Wow, quite impressive

    February 16, 2013 at 2:59 pm

  106. amen sister!

    February 16, 2013 at 6:09 pm

  107. You are f’en awesome!

    February 16, 2013 at 11:18 pm

  108. Pingback: Great blog post: “I’m not trying to be that diesel” by Elisabeth Akinwale « FIT AS FU*K

  109. Thank you. This is a great article and I am excited to share it with others.

    February 17, 2013 at 7:44 am

  110. Brian

    Ohh my miss E.A. you really hit a touchy subject. I will speak from a black mans view and as a fitness instructor. FIrst I have found that many black women are scared to death by weight training. On my blog I constantly post athletic, lean, muscular women and I have to hear how much they look like men, or how the white women have received injections in their butts to make them look like ‘sistas’ butts. The truth is that black women have never had to work for their curvey shapes – have you seen how 13-18 year old black girls are built? They look like grown women. The funny part is that they have probably never worked out in their lives, but, as they get older, and their metabolism gets slower, and they have a few kids, 120lbs turns to 195lbs quick. And they seem to be ok with it. Why? Because black men love thickness, AND because black men are not working out (as a whole) and eating healthy, they don’t mind their women to have a muffin top, or a wide tail. In our community it’s a war attempting to incorporate weight training in to my classes, because the women swear they will look like men not matter how many articles I post of how lean muscles burn the most amount of fat. Instead they constantly say that all they want to do is get lean when they should be building muscle and doing more exercises to change their body composition. Just the other day, I incorporated a class with stations which each participant moved from station to station. One girl flat out quit and then told me that, it was too much. She wanted to keep her hips and butt. This is a 175lbs woman who just had her second child and is only 30 years old – hmmmmmmm. Maybe I should send her to you E.A. How do I get your point accross to them?

    February 17, 2013 at 8:01 am

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  114. Reblogged this on Garage Gym 702 and commented:
    I wish I would have written this. Ladies and Gentleman have confidence in yourselves and your goals and F*ck what other bullshit people try to put on you. This is your life, grab hold and make it what you want it to be. AND follow Elisabeth Akinwale as a blogger, as an athlete and as a damn fine example of living a life to the fullest.

    February 18, 2013 at 12:59 pm

  115. such an amazing post. Thanks so much for sharing this with everyone. I recently started training with weights a couple months ago and I personally am in love with the changes it is making, and the fact that my butt is getting a bit bigger.

    I agree full heartedly with your statement of if it is something you believe in stand behind your convictions like they are a shield. There will always be negative people out there but it doesn’t mean you have to listen to them if you are doing something positive for yourself.

    February 18, 2013 at 1:50 pm

  116. Pingback: Strong is the new Skinny | out of the box health & fitness

  117. Forgive me, but I “fell in love with you” when I watched you in the crossfit games last year I think it was. I love seeing strong, yet still feminine and graceful women and you embody all of that. You are an amazing inspiration, not just to women and young girls, but to men like me as well. Thank you for sharing.

    February 18, 2013 at 8:04 pm

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  120. At least in the gyms I go to, and the women I see on a daily basis, this thing has really taken a nose dive. Used to be you’d see very muscular women, now I see almost none. I know they are still out there somewhere. But perhaps it’s not as widespread as it was in the 80s and 90s. I have no idea what women think of other women, but every man I know (including me) do not like big or too-defined muscles on a woman’s upper body (legs & hips are different for some reason). It’s not threatening, or whatever. Just an immediate reaction when you see it, so quick, so surely a pure physical sort of reaction to the image of a woman’s face on a muscular torso. To be honest, it’s just weird looking, a bit of a turnoff really, in a sexual sort of way. But have at it! I never judge anybody for being themselves. Who knows, they might be looking at me and saying yuck too, no big deal. I do admire their dedication. And I am very much turned on by sprinters without the big upper bodies, like that one American who won gold in London, Allyson Felix. She is so incredibly cute! You’ll probably rake me over the coals for this.

    February 19, 2013 at 3:43 am

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  124. JazzDog

    Ladies. Sisters-in-CrossFit. I am over 40 years old, not quite 5 foot 3 inches tall with a short torso and a ski-jump-worth slope to my butt, which by the way still sports plenty of cellulite after 3 years of CrossFit. And I LOVE my body. I love what it can do. I love getting stronger. I love catching a glimpse of my traps in the mirror. Yeah and maybe I do flex for myself sometimes.

    So love your body, Love your life.

    Now, let’s talk about the men. While I thank mflaherty for the service of sharing the results of his scientific poll of “every man he knows” on their opinion of “big” or “too defined” muscles (whatever that means – a totally subjective assessment if I ever heard one), I have noted that not all men are the same. They don’t all have the same tastes. This despite our culture’s relentless presentation of one ideal (hilariously described by Tina Fey) as the only acceptable way to look. Some guys are drawn to tall women, some to short women like me (for real!) Some guys like a pronounced butt. Some don’t. Go figure.

    So: How many men-who-think-you’re-beautiful do you need anyway? At the moment I know ONE whose opinion of my looks I’m secure in. Why should I waste any effort worrying about what the other three billion think?

    February 21, 2013 at 4:51 pm

  125. mysoresoul

    For a start I developed my pre age 40 muscles through pure physical honest hard labouring, not through some vain attempt to make my body look more attractive. There is nothing wrong with women with small breasts, I do not approve of any surgery to enhance the female or male body. But removing all trace of the female curves is removing what a female has naturally. I see you didn’t mention the lack of fat which stop the menstrual cycle, or in increase in male hormones. There hasn’t been enough research into body building in women may cause. Please yourself with your body, its your body but don’t waste the time of the doctors when your body start to rebel. I will add that i don’t have the muscles I used to have a motorbike accident took care of that or I still would be lifting concrete blocks about for a living.

    February 21, 2013 at 6:33 pm

  126. Thanks for posting this! I have struggled with having a more muscular body my whole life. It is hard for me to remember that being “skinny” is not healthy for my body type! It is nice to see other strong women out there!

    February 21, 2013 at 9:33 pm

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  130. Diana

    I’m 60 years old and I began Crossfit about 1 1/2 years ago. Believe it or not I also had a male friend make a comment about looking “like that”. I was stunned and my only thought was, if that’s how you feel I am not interested in you. My response to any woman with the same comment would be, “Eat your heart out.” Fortunately, my female friends all want to be me.

    February 27, 2013 at 5:16 pm

  131. Jeremy

    There is a “tidy conclusion to this matter.” It’s called biology, and it shows that muscles are MASCULINE:

    Due to the fact that women do not, and cannot, naturally produce as much testosterone (one of the main hormones responsible for increasing muscle size) as males do, it is impossible for a woman to gain huge amounts of muscle mass by merely touching some weights. Unfortunately, the image that may come to your mind is that of professional female bodybuilders. Most of these women, unfortunately, use anabolic steroids (synthetic testosterone) along with other drugs in order to achieve that high degree of muscularity.

    March 5, 2013 at 3:47 am

  132. As a man i feel that a woman should be curvy and soft but i do not hate or discrimanate on females who want to be physically strong and muscly. I think men should encourage females in such endevours; i believe men are scared they will become irrelevant ahha. Keep doing what your doing; its very interesting.

    March 5, 2013 at 10:02 pm

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  135. Ralph

    You are by far one of the most beautiful eomen I’ve ever seen. In my perspective, form follows function; a body is only beautiful when a person can use it to gracefully do anything. This is something ESPN’s “The Body” issue celebrates. No two women are meant to look a certain way to be beautiful. Their beauty is entirely their own. It’s how they use it that makes them beautiful and unique. Elite crossfitters have definately earned a form that I’ve come to appreciate and envy for it’s perfection.

    March 29, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    • Ralph

      *women. (sorry for the typo in my opening statement)

      March 29, 2013 at 7:04 pm

  136. So true! We all have a right to pursue our own health and strength — in body and mind! My thing is Pilates, it has saved me from injury recurrence, and keeps me feeling great. I teach my Pilates clients for maximum resilience for their own bodies. Especially as women, we need to focus on our own inner light, and pursue what we know is right for our own bodies and our own health. Great post, well said!

    March 29, 2013 at 11:42 pm

  137. Hmm. That’s true, you can’t please everyone….so you do have have to please yourself. That’s funny, they don’t want butt and thighs and that is what my exercises are geared toward (and making my stomach completely flat). Guess we all have different standards, but people should really look around cuz the thing you’re judging yourself on, others love and are trying to get!

    Great post.

    April 15, 2013 at 12:24 am

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  139. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something which I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me.

    I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

    May 27, 2013 at 3:00 pm

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  142. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Goog blog !

    Visa team

    December 25, 2013 at 7:21 am

  143. Melissa

    Thank you (again) for another great post. I love what Crossfit has done to my body. And I am so proud of my gains. But I still struggle with body image sometimes. I just remind myself of how good I feel after a great lifting session or WOD. My body is amazing. You are a great role model to all. Thank you!

    January 6, 2014 at 10:00 am

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