10 Reasons Why Strong Is The New Skinny

By Tahnee Lacey

If you read fitness blogs and follow lots of fitness Instagram accounts then I am sure you have read that "strong is the new skinny". There is a great article by Megan Clements on Breaking Muscle that nicely sums up how we have transitioned from idolizing thin girls to idolizing super strong, super fit “perfect” body types with the hashtag #strongisthenewskinny. However, these are still mostly unachievable body types. 

A few days ago I was talking to a friend who told me that her motivation for working out is that she wants to be skinny. She wants to walk into a store and buy clothes, instead of having to shop through speciality websites or a special plus sized section. I respect her goals. I respect the amount of frustration it must cause to not be able to just go and spend money. However, skinny is just a number. To begin with, there is nothing wrong with being skinny. The issue comes when we idolize these body types and dislike our own.

As someone who lost 50 pounds, I can honestly say that the desire to lose a number of pounds never goes away. You typically don’t hit your goal number and go OK, I’m good. I can just maintain my weight now and be happy. Oftentimes we let that goal number sink a little bit lower and lower, and for what? A number is just a number. A number is not a feeling. A number doesn’t make us feel happy. It doesn’t make us feel empowered. 

This is where strength comes in. Not everyone has fitness goals to have arms like my friend whose entire body looks like it is a chiseled Greek statue except she is a living, breathing, amazing human. Not everyone wants to lift 50 lb weights when they deadlift, and that’s ok. Strength is more than how much you lift or how smokin’ your arms look (and yes I have friend envy about her arms). Strength is a feeling of empowerment.

Here are ten reasons why you should stop looking at numbers on the scale and instead focus on how awesome strong feels:

1. Your friends call you the push-up queen. And you are OK with that nickname. 

2. When you check out at Trader Joe’s and the cashier looks at you and goes oh, you’re walking? These bags are really heavy. And you get to say, well it’s a good thing I lift such heavy weights sir! You slide those bags over your shoulders and saunter out the door like an amazing beast. During the ten minute walk home you concede that yes, these bags are incredibly heavy because it takes a lot of food to sustain your workout regime, but still #yougotthis.

3. Every time you lift extremely heavy weights you leave the gym feeling that .gif of Daenerys Targaryen walking through fire. You want to shout at everyone you pass, do you know how much weight I just moved?

4. You start to think of mileage in terms of something you could run. When your bus is going very slowly on your 3 mile commute to work you spend the entire trip thinking, I could have run this so much faster. 

5. You’re friends refer to you as their strong friend. When they are moving they ask you to actually move boxes instead of what they used to request of you, which was to watch their dog. You sort of regret this one. 

6. You swapped the skinny arm pose in photos for the pose I am going to call “how about them apples,” where you flex your biceps. 

7. You used to love using the velocity bands at the gym because it was the only time you could do plyo push ups. You are now working on getting max height in plyo’s...without the use of a band. You call this getting air.

8. You suddenly realize the majority of the people you follow on Instagram are runners, athletes, powerlifters, climbers or French Bulldogs.

9. You no longer worry about being skinny because you know that what you are capable of, whether it be running, lifting, carrying, squatting is so much more. So when your grandmother says you used to be pretty but you are beautiful now, you get offended. It’s nice for someone to call you beautiful, but you know that a number is not who you are nor what you can achieve.

10. You used to feel unconfident (despite the fact that we should love ourselves at every size and shape), but now you know how far you’ve come and you feel amazing. Your goals don’t stop. They just get bigger. You used to want to run around the block without dying. Now you want to run ultras and hit 300 on the Hip Press machine. Of course those smaller goals like box jumps and handstands still exist too because ultimately you want to be able to do all the things.

This is your journey. You know that a journey is just that, it is not an end. You will go even further. You will change. You will do really cool things with a body that you are taking care of (an occasionally filling with donuts).

Tahnee Lacey is a Chicago-based avid runner, lover of group fitness (trainer and participant), owner of cats and appreciator of donuts. You can follow her on Instagram here. 

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