Sick and tired of hearing what’s wrong with you and your body? You’re not alone. It’s time for a new conversation—and a new plan for treating, feeding, and moving your body in ways that build on your strengths inside and out. Strong is sexy. Strong is powerful. Strong is achievable.
With Strong Is the New Skinny you can say goodbye to body-bashing and physical faultfinding, and instead learn to embrace, not just how it looks, but what your body can do—from pushups to pull ups and box jumps to rope climbs, nothing is out of your reach.
How well do you really know yourself? Do you really know and understand what makes you tick, what delights you, what empowers you? Be honest. Because if you want to get stronger and fitter, you need to know what you’re really like and have a pulse on your strengths and weaknesses. We’ve created a lifestyle checkup that will help you gauge these elements. This is a tool for self-discovery, to help you figure out what your patterns have been, where there’s room for improvement, and how you can set priorities for making changes that will enhance your ability to get stronger and fitter efficiently.
Your Lifestyle Assessment
Read each question or statement carefully, then choose the answer that best de- scribes your attitude or approach to that habit or issue (if two answers apply to you, mark them both and incorporate them in your total tally at the end). Be completely honest! No one else will see your responses, so you’re just lying to yourself if you fudge the truth.
1. Which of the following best describes your overall eating habits?
a) I eat when I’m hungry and skip meals when I’m not.
b) I eat regular meals and snacks on a set schedule throughout the day.
c) My eating habits are erratic at best.
2. How many servings of fruits and veggies do you eat on the average day?
a) 2 to 3
b) 5 to 7
c) 1 if I’m lucky
3. When you’re facing a difficult challenge—whether it’s training for a race, losing weight, or vying for a promotion at work—what kinds of thoughts typically run through your head?
a) I experience some self-doubt and try to tolerate it as best I can.
b) I try to pump up my confidence by reminding myself of my past successes and that I have what it takes to handle this hurdle.
c) I often become critical of myself and get discouraged.
4. How many hours of sleep do you get on a typical night?
a) Generally 5 to 6.
b) Usually 7 to 9 hours a night.
c) It varies widely depending on how busy I am.
5. When choosing what to eat, how do you frame your decisions?
a) I have whatever appeals to me at the moment.
b) I choose nutritious foods that will fuel my activities.
c) I grab whatever is convenient.
6. When your internal voice speaks up in your head—c’mon, we all have one!—who is she most likely to sound like?
a) Your mother—sometimes critical, sometimes loving and nurturing
b) Your best friend—kind, compassionate, and positive
c) Your (fren)enemy—someone who’s out to cut you down to size whenever she can
7. How many different colors of foods do you consume from Mother Nature’s rainbow (as in, fruits and vegetables) each day?
a) 2 or 3.
b) 4 or more.
c) 1; I like consistency.
8. When you’re totally stressed out, what are you most likely to do?
a) Call a friend and vent my frustrations.
b) Go for a walk or a jog, or meditate.
c) Turn to sweet comfort by raiding a coworker’s candy dish, the vending machine, or heading to a convenience store for a treat.
9. Which of the following is your primary source of protein?
a) Meat or poultry
b) A variety of meat, poultry, fish, and/or legumes, nuts, and seeds
c) Whatever is quick and accessible
10. How would you describe your snacking style?
a) I munch on whatever soothes my jangled nerves—and often eat too much.
b) I choose foods that will rejuvenate my energy or satiate my appetite until the next meal.
c) I grab whatever is handy.
11. How would you describe your attitude toward exercise?
a) I fit it in as often as possible, but blow it off when life gets really hectic.
b) Exercise is an essential part of my life; I couldn’t survive mentally or physically without it.
c) Halfhearted; I work out when I feel like it, not when I don’t.
12. Where do most of your dietary fats come from?
a) Animal products (meat, dairy, cheese)
b) Plant-based foods (including oils—olive, canola, and the like)
c) Fried foods (chips, french fries, burgers, etc.)
13. When you experience a setback while pursuing a goal, what are you most likely to do?
a) Take a break to soothe yourself before deciding whether to try again.
b) Think about how or where you went wrong and what you can do differently next time.
c) Give up, thinking you are clearly not cut out for this pursuit.
14. How do you generally feel about your body?
a) I’m fairly comfortable with it. But I’m definitely aware that there are areas that could be improved upon.
b) I feel very secure in my own skin and take pride in what my body can do.
c) I’m unhappy with it. It really doesn’t compare well to other women’s.
15. Which of the following best describes the way you conduct your life?
a) I believe that sometimes good enough really is good enough.
b) I generally go hard or go home; I tend to push myself to or past my limits.
c) I’m a creature of habit and tend to stay within my comfort zone.
Tally up the number of times you chose a, b, or c as your answer, then read the section that applies most frequently to you. If it’s a tie, read both sections; if it’s a three-way tie, read all three.
Mostly a’s: You’ve got self-awareness on your side and some good lifestyle habits to go with it. But sometimes you aren’t consistent with your eating, sleeping, or exercise patterns, or you don’t do what you (probably) know you should be doing when life throws resistance in your path. Try to become more conscious of the daily dietary, exercise, and other health-related choices you make. Also, make a concerted effort to start treating yourself with the TLC and compassion you’d show a close friend; this will make it easier to make and stick with positive changes.
Mostly b’s: You are inherently motivated and self-disciplined, and you enjoy pushing yourself physically while also taking good care of yourself mentally and emotionally. Keep up the good work! Just make sure you continue to take time to do things that will restore, recharge, and refresh your body and mind—as well as challenging them in all the right ways. After all, you’re aware of your limits, but you don’t always honor them. The program that follows will help you with all of this.
Mostly c’s: It seems you stick with the familiar (even when it’s not working for you) or you feel too overwhelmed to change your habits. Granted, you get points for admitting the truth—and by picking up this book you’ve already taken the first step toward improving your health and your strength, inside and out. Heed the dietary and fitness advice and the game-changing attitude adjustments that appear on the following pages and you’ll be on your way to becoming the stronger, fitter, healthier you you’ve always wanted to be.