PLEASE NOTE:  I have started adding a “Takeaways in Two Minutes” section to the end of my articles so if you don’t have time to read the entire post, you can get the gist of it in 2 minutes or less.  Look for it below! 

 

If you read Part 1 and Part 2 in this series, you have read stories from several different women discussing their experiences with getting extremely lean.  Some were good, some were bad, and some were downright terrifying.

Please keep in mind that this series was not intended to keep you from wanting to get very lean.  This series was intended to allow you to see that:

  1. Getting very lean may not be all it’s cracked up to be.
  2. Getting very lean requires a lot of sacrifice and most women don’t walk around like that all the time.
  3. Getting very lean can be a good experience or a horrible experience depending on the methods you use to get there.

Part 3 of this blog post is focused on point #3.  After reading each woman’s story, I have put together several lessons that can be learned.  A ‘”do’s and don’ts” list, if you will.

 

The Do's and Don'ts of getting very lean are very important!

The Do’s and Don’ts of getting very lean are very important!

 

Do’s:

-  Do find a great coach.  Every single woman who had a good experience with getting very lean says that they couldn’t have done it without a great coach.  Even other coaches and trainers hire coaches when they want to make big changes to their body.  Trust me.  You need one.

 

-  Do your research.  This is where the “great” coach part comes in.  There are thousands of coaches out there ready to take your money, and many of them are bogus.  Do as much research as you can, find one that offers exactly what you’re looking for, and don’t settle.  Jen Comas Keck wrote a great article about that here.

 

-  Do be honest about your priorities.  As I mentioned in this article, sacrifices must be made to get very lean.  You may sacrifice your health, your performance, your lifestyle, or all three.  And that is OK as long as you’re aware of that, and making an informed decision.  Just be honest with yourself.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re putting your health first by competing in figure or physique.

ANY high level sport/activity is hard on the body and sacrifices health to a degree, whether it’s football, powerlifting, endurance cycling, or physique competition.

 

-   Do listen to your body.  If you’re dieting and you start experiencing symptoms such as: fatigue, foggy brain, irregular periods, irritability, digestive issues, exhaustion, or depression, you need to take these symptoms seriously.  These are just a few signs that you are potentially doing long-term damage to your body and your health.

 

-  Do be mentally prepared.  If you read Part 1 of this article, you will notice that even the women who had good experiences with being very lean still discussed the toll that being very lean had on their psyche.  Knowing that this is a possibility ahead of time may make this experience easier to handle.

 

- Do recognize what you’re truly searching for.  So many people think that getting extremely lean is the road to other things: happiness, a fulfilling relationship, self-esteem, self-worth, respect from their peers, attention from the opposite sex, and much more.  (HINT: It’s typically NOT).  Getting lean will lead to… well, being lean.  You may garner a little more respect or attention for it, but it’s not the road to happiness or positive thoughts and feelings about yourself.  Those start within. (You can read about my struggles with self-esteem here).

 

It's no one's job but your OWN to ensure your happiness.

It’s no one’s job but your OWN to ensure your happiness.

 

 

Don’ts:

Don’t be afraid to ask your coach questions.  If your coach is going to go with you on this journey, they need to be available for questions.  If they aren’t, then you are not a priority to them and you need to look elsewhere.  Also, if they get defensive or rude when you ask questions, then they aren’t confident in their methods, and you definitely need to go elsewhere then.

 

-  Don’t let yourself be intimidated by your coach or your peers.  Intimidation is a nasty tactic that many coaches, trainers, and “competition teams” use to scare women into working with them or continuing to work with them, even after a bad experience.  Be strong and stand up for yourself.  Intimidation should never be a part of the coach/client experience.

 

Don’t be afraid to fire your coach if they aren’t listening to your concerns.  Yep, that’s right.  Fire them.  You are paying them.  They work for you.  If they aren’t doing their job to your satisfaction, fire them. Plain and simple.

 

- Don’t do anything that you’re not comfortable with (i.e. take extreme fat burners, etc.)  Many coaches resort to scary dieting tactics like: asking you to do dangerous cardio (i.e. shadow box in the sauna wearing a sweat bag for hours at a time), stacking multiple high-level fat burners, or requiring you to wear waist contouring contraptions that can cause digestive and postural damage.  DO NOT do anything that you’re not comfortable with.  If it sounds dangerous or crazy, it probably is.  Listen to your gut.

 

Remember, this is your life and it’s your decision.  If it’s something that you want to do, more power to you.  But please, please, please take the advice of the women who have been there and done that.

 

 

 

=======> Takeaways In Two Minutes <=========

If you want to get extremely lean, that’s cool.  Just make sure you realize that it will be difficult and it might not be the healthiest thing for your body long-term.  If you do want to achieve this level of leanness, make sure you:

1. Do your research and find a great coach who will listen to your wants and needs.

2.  Are honest about your priorities.  Whether you prioritize getting lean, being healthy, or achieving a high level of performance, this will help mentally prepare you for any consequences (goor or bad) of what you’re doing.

3.  Recognize what you’re truly looking for.  If you think being extremely lean will bring you happiness/respect/self-esteem/a significant other, you’ll be extremely lean and sorely disappointed.  

4. Aren’t afraid to ask your coach questions.  If they try to intimidate you or don’t listen to you, don’t be afraid to fire them.  They work for you.

5. Don’t do/take anything that makes you uncomfortable.  Listen to your body.  It knows best.

5 Responses to Extreme Leanness: Part 3 – The Do’s and Don’ts

  1. Theresa Greene says:

    This is really smart advice..Thank you.

  2. Thank you SO MUCH for this series. I just devoured all of the posts. I met with a figure champ in my area yesterday and that combined with your articles has maybe changed my whole focus. Thank the heavens for you! And please let us know, do you think it is possible to compete without losing your sanity and health in the process? Is there a way to open the field to various types of training and dieting?

  3. I loved this 3-part series! It really made a lightbulb go off in my brain! I have been suffering with terrible repercussions of having been under a BAD trainer for four months…it ruined me for months afterwards. When I was just starting to mentally heal, I got a text from said-trainer asking me to come back to the gym (prob bc they’d lost so many clients) and I stood up for myself, telling them that I was really damaged by them and that I’m training alone in a new gym and won’t be going back…but their practices left a real scar on me mentally.
    Anyways, I loved reading this Being lean comes at a HUGE price, and it doesn’t lead to happiness!

  4. Magen Petit says:

    THANK YOU so much for sharing this three-part series, Molly. I remembered you said you wrote about this and I couldn’t wait to find the time to read through each one. Now that I’ve finished all three parts, you have hit the nail on the head each time. As a bikini competitor and following my most recent show, I can absolutely relate to the “bad/ugly” side of competing. I am working toward doing another show this time with a coach who knows what he is doing. I appreciate these articles and plan to share them with the girls I know who are competing.

    Thanks!

  5. Shane D says:

    This series is really helpful when it comes to understanding the desire to become really lean as a woman – something that as a man I’ve never quite understood.

    Thanks Molly.

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