Body Positivity And How To Get Past Your Own Insecurities

I was looking at a video of myself deadlifting recently and as I was watching, I realized something important. People often ask me how I’m so confident and how I accept my body. I think my body looks DOPE, first of all, so that makes it easy - but, I was looking at the video of me deadlifting and you can see my FUPA (Fat Upper Pubic/Pussy Area) in my leggings really easily and I suddenly realized I just DON’T CARE. You can see my FUPA and I don’t care.

I don’t care that it’s there and I don’t care what other people might think of it.

Some people see that and see me embrace it or not even acknowledge it and think it doesn’t bother me. While that is true, I did not always feel that way. I used to be really insecure about how I looked and something highlighted like a FUPA, which you could say is a moment when I look a little “chunky,” would bother me a LOT. What I’ve come to realize, however, is that there is a way to move past your insecurities so you can start to learn to love your body.

To get past your own insecurities, I think there are TWO THINGS you need to do:

1. You have to know what is important to you and how to prioritize things.

For me - I’m never worried about how I look and I am ALWAYS focused on how much I’m lifting. I’m never worried about how someone thinks I look. Instead, I’m always thinking about how nice I can be to people, how I can be valuable to them, how I can listen to them, or how I can be a good friend.

2. Choose the people whose opinions matter/are valuable to you, and focus on getting feedback from them. Ignore the people/opinions that are not important to you.

Some people may think I don’t care what other people think and that’s not true - I do. There are just very few people whose opinions matter to me. These people are Ryan and my mom.

Ryan is my coach and my boyfriend; he is the person I spend the most time with so I really value what he thinks about me - not only with regard to training, but also in life. I value his feelings and our relationship, therefore, I care about how I can make him happy and proud both as his girlfriend and his athlete.

My mom is also someone whose opinion I value, and whose relationship is important to me. She cares about me and has my best interests in mind, so I value her feedback as well.

Strangers on the internet - I don’t care what they think. They don’t mean anything to me, they’re not important to me. My boyfriend, my coach, my mom - I care what they think, I want to make them proud, and it’s important that I have them think critically of what I’m doing and who I am so that I’m not being an idiot. And I know for a fact that these people do not give a SHIT if I have a big FUPA while I’m deadlifting. They even think it’s cool.

My Top 5 High Protein Foods

Great news, I caved and bought a blender. Not just any blender, a Ninja. I am now your friend who makes smoothies. 

Green ones. Green ones that taste like vegetables, and I drink it, not for the taste, but so that I can finally be the type of person who gets all the micronutrients in before noon.

My new, awesome blender reminds me of my poverty macro days, and the time when I'd come up with the most desperate concoctions just to hit my protein goal without going insane.

Luckily, I now thrive off of a lot more carbs. More macro money to spend over here! These once pathetic recipes are now full fledged desserts, just with a lot more protein. Here are my new and improved recipes for you to try:

Smoothie Bowl (Cal: 369 | 51g Protein | 39g Carbs | 1g Fat)

  • 1.5 Scoops of Vanilla Whey Protein
  • 140g of Frozen Mango
  • 3/4 cup of 0% Fat Greek Yogurt
  • Handful of Spinach
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 50g of cucumber
  • Splash of cashew milk (until reached desired thickness)
  1. Add all smoothie ingredients to a blender and blend until creamy and smooth. Add more cashew milk (or water) to thin.
  2. Taste and adjust flavor as needed. Add ripe banana to add sweetness.
  3. Top with desired ingredients: fresh berries, coconut, sliced banana, granola, etc.

Nighttime Casein Pudding (Cal: 217 | 43g Protein | 10g Carbs |0g Fat) 

  1. Combine ingredients and slowly stir until you reached your desired texture. 
  2. If needed, slowly add water, a tablespoon at a time to reach the perfect, pudding-like consistency.
  3. Pop in the fridge for about 20 minutes to allow the pudding to set
  4. Top with granola, chocolate chips, or coconut

Protein Waffles (Cal: 394 | 30g Protein | 45g Carbs | 11g Fat) 

  1. Combine the protein powder and baking soda in a bowl and whisk together.
  2. Add the egg and mix into the dry ingredients.
  3. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time until it has batter-like consistency
  4. (optional) Blend in banana for added thickness or flavor
  5. Grease waffle iron and cook for about 5 minutes
  6. Top with MySyrup

What are some of your favorite high protein snacks to satisfy your sweet tooth? Let me know in the comments below!

Revisit Your Warm-Up: Optimizing for the Strength Athlete

Let's flash back to spring 2005, my junior year of softball, and I’m at Reservoir park in Goodyear Heights of Akron Ohio, prepping for softball practice. If you played high school softball or baseball, my warm-up training session might look familiar to you:

  • 5 minute jog around the outfield
  • Full body 15 second static stretches (counted as a group)
  • Specific throwing mechanic drills, with progressive distance overload for 15 minutes
  • Competition specific drills and into practice

To compare the structured warm-up of a dozen teenage girls to some of the pre-lift rituals I see in advanced or even elite athletes, 16 year old Meg was a more diligent and primed athlete.

The benefits of an effective warm-up in any athlete can transfer to faster muscle contraction, increase blood flow to muscles, improved psychological preparedness for performance, and improvements in rate of force and reaction time. 

Yet still, many of us walk into the gym, skip any general warm-up, and load plates straight on the barbell. 

Let’s Change That:
Structuring a warmup for competition or retesting training sessions for the strength athlete should aim to maximize performance. Pre-training warm-ups should set out to prime the athlete for performance, but also incorporate movements that contribute to short, medium, and long term athletic goals. 

A 10-20 minute daily warm-up can make up a significant portion of training time over multiple training cycles. Effective planning can set a lifter up to chip away at issues and weaknesses, without sacrificing energy or inducing fatigue.

RAMP Your Warm-Up:
R - RAISE the heart rate
A - ACTIVATE key muscle groups and movement patterns
M - MOBILIZE with dynamic exercises to enhance movement capacities and keep heart rate elevated
P - POTENTIATE increase specificity and then intensity of sport (opportunity to work on form, mental cues, psychological preparedness)

My Warm-Up for a Heavy Single:
Session Performance Goal: Squat @ 9.5RPE
Medium - Long Term Goal: Strengthen glute medius to fix knee valgus during heavy squat sessions
 


RAISE

  • 5 Sun Salutations
  • 5 mins on airdyne

ACTIVATE + MOBILIZE

  • Goddess pose/3rd world squat pose, to toe touch x 5
  • Dynamic hip circle walk (activating the glute medius)
  • Air squat with hip circle (external rotation exercises)
  • 10x Air Squat (no hip circle)

POTENTIATE

  • 10 Reps @ barbell
  • 5 reps @ 95lbs
  • 3 reps @ 185lbs
  • 1 rep @ 225lbs
  • 1 rep @ 250lbs
  • 1 rep @ 275lbs
  • 1 rep @ 290lbs +


While my softball warm-up may seem like common sense, it’s important to break down the components and structure of an effective warm-up for the strength athlete and think about what improvements we can make to our daily pre-lift rituals to increase preparedness, optimize performance, and chip away at short, medium, and long term goals. 

 

Interested in getting more programming and coaching questions answered? Check out some of our fully customized 12-Week Programs.

Read the study that furthermore explains the warm-up resisted, by Ian Jeffreys. 

Deadlifts: Touch and Go VS. Dead Stop

 

I got a few questions from my  Be More group on who and when touch and go deadlifts should be utilized. Here's my take:

  • Both styles have distinct benefits and support different goals.
  • Dead stop is better for REFINING your SKILL to increase your maximal DL strength.
  • TnG can be more beneficial for hypertrophy (muscle growth) and grip strength through greater time under tension, however this increases the possibility of losing tightness or breakdown of form.
  • Dead stop better prepares you for max singles, especially if performed with a full reset.

Watch my video going over the right time to use touch and go, and the right time to fully stop, or reset your deadlift.

DEPENDS ON:
Your needs as an athlete. Where you are in training block/macrocycle. Where you are in your lifting career.

WHO SHOULD DO FULL RESETS?

  • Newer lifters still perfecting form and building consistency.
  • Powerlifters in meet prep phases of their training (building specificity by pulling from a dead stop).

WHO SHOULD DO TOUCH N GO.

  • Lifters who fully have TECHNIQUE down with 100% consistency.
  • Experienced powerlifters in hypertrophy or volume/accumulation blocks of training, prioritizing muscle growth and work capacity through increased time under tension.

What do you think? Do you complete full-stop or touch and go deadlifts and why? Join the conversation and let me know what you think.

-Meg

 

100 Non-Weightloss or Physique Based Resolutions for 2017

Writing you in prep for my favorite holiday of all. New Years Day! You read right. New Years DAY. My days of chugging champagne without having a gnarly headache are long gone. I usually try to have a glass or two with friends for New Year’s Eve, but January 1st of every fresh year always gets me excited.

You see, on January 1st 2013, I made a New Year’s resolution to try Crossfit. Here’s me in April with my newfound gym friends (Aleta and Miriam).

I thought I was swoll even back then! Good thing I’ve since learned how to pose. 

My life would not be what it is today had I never given myself that opportunity and taken the risk to be one of those corny Resolutioners. 

So I dare you to take a small step for the New Year. There are those who will tell you to start any time of year, but there is something just so refreshing about a clean slate. Come up with a plan over these next few days and go for it. 

If you’re lost on ideas, I put together a list of 100 different goals (that aren’t weight loss/physique related) you can try to tackle this year. Some you may have already crossed off in years past, some may seem too big to even think about. 

Coming from the girl who used to not know how to even flex for a gym photo, trust me, no goal is out of reach. 

Strength

  1. Get your first pull-up (This is one of my favorite and most rewarding goals I ever set for myself. Tackle this with my Extended Pull-Up program. Purchase this week for only $25)
  2. Add 10lbs to squat/bench/deadlift
  3. Do 25 push ups unbroken
  4. Deadlift 2x bodyweight
  5. Squat 1.5x bodyweight
  6. Bench bodyweight
  7. Run a full strength/powerlifting program
  8. Sign up for a powerlifting meet
  9. Try weightlifting (snatch, clean and jerk)
  10. Do the McGill Big 3 Challenge
  11. Hold a plank for 2 minutes
  12. Try pole fitness
  13. Record videos of your lifts and ask for advice
  14. Do a chin-up
  15. Rope climb
  16. Complete a 12-week strength program
  17. Build core strength to do windshield wipers
  18. Practice handstands 3x/week
  19. Do Turkish Get Ups
  20. 60 second double arm hang
  21. 15 second single arm hang
  22. Bodyweight barbell squat for 10 reps
  23. Do pistol squat with both legs (no not at the same time)
  24. Do a one handed handstand
  25. Train some strongman movements (try log press, axle deadlift, atlas stones

 

Diet

  1. Replace your sweets with a protein cookie
  2. Drink a glass of water every morning (#health)
  3. Give up alcohol for 1 month
  4. Commit to a specific diet
  5. Take creatine consistently
  6. Learn more about dieting for athletes
  7. Cook at home 4x a week
  8. Try flexible dieting
  9. Cut out processed foods with a Whole 30
  10. Drink more green juice
  11. Try going vegan
  12. Meatless Mondays
  13. Eat more salad
  14. Track on a fitness app (Try Lifesum)
  15. Incorporate a multivitamin
  16. Eat your before/after your workout (Like RPStrength)
  17. Drink an intraworkout shake
  18. Get at least 5 fruit/vegetables in a day
  19. Get 1g of protein/lb of bodyweight a day
  20. Eat an apple a day
  21. Pack your lunch
  22. Start a veggie garden
  23. Join a CSA
  24. Swap soda, juice, sweet teas for water
  25. Never shop when you’re hungry

Cardio

  1. Try a spin class
  2. Walk/run/bike to the gym
  3. Hit x # of steps per day
  4. Go on a walk on your lunch break
  5. Do a Tough Mudder/Spartan Race
  6. Schedule walks/runs with a friend
  7. 100 Unbroken double unders
  8. Run a 5k/10k/half marathon/marathon
  9. Bike to work
  10. Use a dynamic warm-up before lifting
  11. Play outside more
  12. Join an ultimate frisbee league
  13. Get better at snowboarding
  14. Learn how to surf
  15. Race/Walk for charity
  16. Go roller skating
  17. Go dancing
  18. Run longer than you ever have before
  19. Grab your mom and do jazzercize (remember that?)
  20. Try a HIIT workout, or bootcamp class
  21. Join a row team
  22. Do a color run
  23. Go to a trampoline park
  24. Wake up and dance at Daybreaker

 

Mobility, Movement and Wellness

  1. Do 5 sun salutations every morning
  2. Go to 1 yoga class a week
  3. Add 10 minutes of mobility/dynamic warmup to my workouts
  4. Do the splits
  5. Perfect the toddler squat
  6. Pack your gym bag the night before
  7. Get a standing desk
  8. Quit smoking
  9. Balance on 1 leg with your eyes closed for 15 seconds
  10. Master a Yoga pose
  11. Foam roll before and after your workout
  12. Meditate
  13. Try your luck with healing crystals
  14. Relax with a bath bomb
  15. Read 10 minutes before bed each night
  16. Join a mastermind or life coaching group
  17. Practice gratitude. Write down 10 things you’re thankful for every day
  18. Try a 30 day yoga challenge
  19. Start a journal
  20. Spend 10 minutes a day working on a new project
  21. Call mom every week
  22. Sleep 7 hours per night
  23. Floss your teeth!
  24. Get a singing bowl
  25. Get a sport’s massage
  26. MAKE THE WORLD STRONGER (by sharing Megsquats youtube channel with everyone you know!)

MegSkwaats at SuperTraining Gym

About a year ago if you would have asked me some of the things I dreamed of happening with my brand and my channel, it would definitely include training at SuperTraining with Mark Bell, and being featured on the PowerCast. Listen to my episode on the PowerCast or Watch it on YouTube.

Not only did Mark invite me to be a guest on his show, but also he gifted me the opportunity to lift with his team: Silent Mike, Dan, Smokey, Cali, Marcus, and more. Also there in Sacramento, I trained Untamed with Alan Thrall, someone I look up to for lifting advice and cues.  

I'm not a world record holder. I'm not the most famous person on social media. I haven't won a huge meet or gone to Worlds. I do care about the history and future of powerlifting, and I'm determined to make the world a stronger place. 

It means a lot to me to be recognized by Mark Bell and his team. Now I'm back home in New York City and despite being non-stop with interviews and more podcasts, I'm ready to reassess my goals and aim higher. 

Check out my videos so far from my time at SuperTraining and let me know what you think!

Surround Yourself with People who Support You

Bodybuilding.com teamed up with SuperTraining Gym to host a free Seminar. Luckily I was able to help demo the squat and talk to attendees during a Q&A session.

If you missed the seminar, you can watch the live feed of the entire event recorded by bodybuilding.com. Mark Bell has a pretty epic speech that I suggest you watch for life and lifting motivation.

SuperTraining x Bodybuilding.com

SuperTraining x Bodybuilding.com

I had such a great time with sponsored BodyBuilding.com athletes: Amanda Bucci, Leanna Carr, Brooke Erickson, Ashley Horner, and Karina Baymiller. All of the women I met there share a ton of interests, but I see in them what I strive to be myself. A hard worker, a good friend, a caring coach, and always striving to improve.

During Mark's speech in the LiveStream, he talks about surrounding yourself with people who make you better. I'm so thankful the opportunities I have set me up to be around men and women who want to lift one another up. 

I've had moments in my life where I needed to reconsider friendships or relationships that weren't propelling me forward. Unfortunately people in our lives aren't easy to let go of, but if you stay focused and continue doing what you need to do to improve, those people will adapt to your changes and new way of life. If they can't hang, they will fall by the wayside. Those who care, will join you in a happier life. I promise you.

The good news, is that one day, you will no longer run into people who don't want to see you succeed. You may, but you will pay them no mind because you're too focused on being great.

Check out my video where you can go behind the scenes of the seminar: 

Megsquats on Shape.com

I was so excited and honored to be interviewed by Lauren Mazzo of Shape.com last week over coffee on a rainy NYC afternoon. Read the full interview here.

We talk about my growth as a social media guru, my goals with powerlifting, my start with a dreadful bikini show and more. 

It would mean so much to me if you would share the Shape.com link with all of your friends so we can get more powerlifting articles in large publications like this. My dream of getting a barbell in every woman's hands will manifest with your help!

Fix your Overhead Press

The overhead press is one of my favorite movements. My programming focuses on increasing the weight of 4 compound movements: Squat, bench, deadlift, and overhead press. OHP develops my shoulders and makes me feel like a complete badass. Here are 3 fixes to common mistakes I see in this movement from beginners.

1. Set your rack height higher

Set your rack height high so that you can turn your lats on under the barbell and unrack in your pressing position. I sometimes see lifters begin their press with the barbell racked as if they are going to front squat, and rest the bar on their shoulder muscles. Avoid this and unrack the barbell with your wrists straight, forearms vertical and elbows just a smidge in front of the barbell.

2. Rest at the top

Take your breath at the top of your rep, the same way you would a squat. You'll get a bounce out of the bottom so you can complete more reps, and maintain good form throughout the movement.

3. Tuck your chin - Keep a straight bar path

Press the bar in a vertical line from your shoulders to the overhead position and tuck your chin. Don't try to move the barbell out of the way of your head. With a slight upper back arch and tucked chin, you'll avoid knocking yourself out.


WATCH MY VIDEO

If you'd like to see these tips in video form, check out today's post on my YouTube channel. Skip to 10:22 for for the OHP tips. I love getting your comments, so keep them coming. Let me know what other movements you'd like to see videos for!

If you're interested in learning more about the Overhead Press, Check out the StrongLifts guide here.

 

Coaching + Programming Launch: October 18th

Coaching and programming options will be available on October 18th. I'll be coaching you 1-on-1. Yep. You+I talking every week. Premium options are limited, so mark your calendar and keep an eye out for announcements coming in the next few weeks. The testimonials and results that we're seeing from our first group is amazing. I can't wait to make YOU stronger.

It's an exciting Monday, so I'll get back to work. Anyone else experiencing fall weather where you live? I'm loving the crisp NYC mornings, and the fact that my gym is a little less sweaty. 

Love,
Meg

Head Coach at Strong Strong Friends