Be a Strong Woman!

Disclaimer: Our bloggers are not health experts. Contact your physician if you have questions about how hormones affect muscle growth or if you are thinking about starting a new exercise program.

By: Lydia Scott

The Struggle is Real

I have a struggle. The struggle is real. The struggle is kind of a pain in the patootie. See, I’m a big supporter of strength training. I can’t recommend it enough. Strength training is fantastic! I tell everyone I know who asks what kind of exercise I do. And when I tell them lifting weightsthe different things I do, and I get to the part about “strength training” and “lifting weights,” nine out of ten of the women respond exactly the same: “What? Lift weights? No way! I don’t wanna look like a guy, ewww!”

Then you hear the loud, frustrated sigh slipping from my lips. DUDE! Why in the world do you think working to be stronger is going to turn you into a, well…a dude? Really? You think some 100-lb leg presses are going to give you Mr. Universe thighs? Some 15-lb Preacher Curls are going to send you to the guys’ clothing section for white tanks so you can “kiss those guns?” Weekly 70-lb deadlifts are going to have you in a sumo-style diaper on the Power Lifter channel?

That’s not how the female body works. Unless you have a major hormonal imbalance, or you train for years specifically to be a competitive body builder through extremely intense diet and targeted training, you will not look like a dude. Or even dude-ish. You need higher levels of testosterone to really build bulky muscles. The physiology that makes you a female also directs your muscles to keep themselves on the long, stretched out, and softly sculpted side. Whereas, the physiology that makes a guy a guy directs their muscles to grow big and bulky, fast.

Don’t take my word for it though. Let these fitness experts share their insights on women and why weight training shouldn’t scare them:

“Muscle burns fat. All you need to know!”

– J’Aimee Mechling, Personal Trainer and Wellness Director

“Strength training accentuates your natural silhouette. Once you burn the fat, you build up the muscles that were hidden and naturally create a beautiful shape. You determine how muscular you want to look, and cater your workout regimen towards that goal. Hourglass or body builder? It’s up to you!”

– Miriam Smith, Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, AMPS Lifestyle Change.

Burn it!

Did you notice? Muscle burns fat. Yes. Muscle takes more calories to keep it going than fat does. If you weigh 150 pounds with a good supply of muscle, your body will automatically burn more calories just existing than if you weighed 150 pounds but have little muscle.

And me? Why do I do Preacher Curls, Romanian Deadlifts, standing kickbacks, chest presses, and an assortment of other strength-building exercises? For all the reasons J’Aimee and Miriam listed, plus I’m just sick of being weak. I mean, don’t you want to be able to toss that 20-pound bag of dog food in your grocery cart like it’s a sack of feathers? Or swing your 40-pound toddler around without getting sore or breathless? Don’t you want to be able to eat more without gaining a bunch of extra fat? Don’t you want to burn lots of calories all day and all night, instead of just the 45 minutes while you jog/row/bike/walk/dance? I do! I don’t like feeling weak when I know I don’t have to be. I love seeing my pants getting baggier, my legs and booty getting smoother and more shapely, and yet…I am not starving and I’m not slowly looking more dude-like.

Give it a try. Here’s a challenge to everyone whose doctor has approved them to engage in an exercise regimen like this: Twice a week, spend just 5 minutes lifting something. Your leg, the milk jug, the full laundry basket, a backpack. Then the next week, do it a little longer. Check back in a few weeks to let me know how it’s going!

Be a strong woman!

Being Eeyore

By: Lydia Scott

Poor Eeyore. He has such a reputation of being the slow, draggy, down-in-the-dumps kill joy of the Hundred Acre Woods bunch. Was he clinically depressed? Socially awkward? A chronically exhausted insomniac? Or was he simply an introvert with “resting angry calm face” entrenched in the loud, overly-active, bouncy, extroverted Tigger world?

I propose the latter. I mean, he always wore the cutest pink bow on his tail, and sad people just don’t wear cute pink bows. He was always willing to lend a helping hand to his friends and never expected a thing in return, which also goes against the grain for negative Eeyorepeople. Plus, more importantly, I can totally relate to Eeyore and all I am is an introvert with that permanent disinterested expression.

My slow and steady pace often comes across to Tigger-people as fruitless, draggy, and being annoyed by everything. My quiet, often-somber demeanor elicits inquiries of: “Are you okay?” “Are you sick?” “Is something wrong?” or apologies from bouncy extroverts (Tiggers) for being too happy. *insert-Eeyore-groaning-here*

Eeyore was neither sad, nor negative. He was a loyal, hard-working, loving creature who just needed to be left totally alone every now and then so he could recover from the intense, and often overwhelming, in-your-face energy of all those Tiggers and their world. I’ll bet he felt most connected to everything when he was in a place devoid of any other living thing that wanted to interact with him. Empty meadow at midnight? Middle of the stark desert? Heavenly, and completely recharging for ol’ Eeyore. Big room with Tigger and all his family? Pure exhaustion. Fun…definitely! But I guarantee you that Eeyore would need a 12 hour self-imposed solitary confinement after all that stimulating interaction, whereas Tigger and his posse would be more hyped up than ever from it.

The thing that makes Eeyore sad is that Tigger starts to feel sorry for being his energetic, in-your-face, bouncy self around the quiet, reserved, Eeyore. But ya know what? Eeyore really needs him. Eeyores need Tiggers, and Tiggers need Eeyores. Can you imagine a world with nothing but Eeyores? Aliens passing through would think Earth is a deserted planet! Without Tigger’s gregarious, extroverted, company-loving nature, Eeyore could forget that he needs people too. The more Eeyore slinks away into his cave, the easier it is to stay there. Thank goodness for Tigger, who will oft come drag Eeyore out for what (almost) always turns out to be a bouncing good time! Eeyore is a little jealous of bouncy Tigger, and even when he is at his quietest, is extremely grateful for all the Tiggers in his life reminding him that he is not alone.

And yep…Tigger needs Eeyore too. Dude, can you imagine a world full of Tiggers gone wild? Mayhem, I tell you. MAYHEM! Eeyore has a soothing, grounding effect on Tigger. He keeps him from wigging out over everything and teaches him that solitude can help him grow. Plus, it helps Eeyore be nicer. HAHA!

Being Eeyore in a Tigger world is exhausting, you know. I’m going to shuffle off to my cave for a nice nap now. You Tiggers play nice!

Traveling From the Sofa

By: Lydia Scott


I don’t know about you guys, but I often dream of picking up all my junk and all my people and moving to a quaint little cottage on the side of a hill in Scotland. Heck, I’ve never even been over the big pond, so who knows – I might hate Scotland. My responsibilities keep me from visiting any time soon, so like a lot of us, I settle for day dreams and Google tours. I will also gladly settle for Asheville, NC, which I have visited and 100% ADORE. Have you been? Gah! It’s heaven, and all the angels eat at the Admiral after having beignets at Mayfels. But I digress…

And y’all…guess what I stumbled upon recently? A new website that’s the equivalent of going to Asheville, NC and asking where the locals go so you can get the real flavor of the town. It’s called Findery. Findery is like Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Blogger, Google Earth and a history buff had a baby. It’s really new, so there’s still tons of room to grow, but what a fantastic wealth of non-polished, down-to-earth information there is! I’ve already started perusing my favorite places and checking out their Daily Challenges.

Check it out and look me up while you’re there!

The Art of the Haggle

By: Lydia Scott

Both in my job and in my home life, haggling happens. At work, I help customers looking for used pieces, and I used to work with vendors as the buyer. At home, my husband and I run an eBay business. Nothing fancy, but it helps out when we need it to. Truth be told, dollarmy honey does most of the real work and I just take care of the financial red tape. In both situations, we come across the need to negotiate for something. Usually it’s prices for goods, but sometimes it’s services.

Here are a few tips we’ve learned when it comes to trying to negotiate to get what you want. These may not apply to all situations, but so far they have applied to smaller negotiations like eBay sales, small furniture sales, yard sales, thrift store shopping, and even vendor negotiation. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll refer to the provider of goods or services as a “seller.”

1. Don’t low ball.

Insulting the seller by starting off with a low ball offer is a bad idea. Why? Because it insults the seller and shows a lack of concern for their need to make a profit. Basically, giving you what you want is purely a matter of whether the provider actually wants to, or not. It’s your job to make them want to help you out by selling their goods for less than the asking price. See #4, below. As the seller, we’ve had potential customers offer half (or less) of the asking price, and when we come back with a price that’s only a few dollars less than the original price, they stick with the low ball. That’s when the negotiations stop, and if they try to continue with the low ball, our offered price will actually increase. You wanna save some money, and we need to make some. Be fair or move along. Offering $100 on a $200 item is not a fair start in most instances. You’ll have more success by starting at a price that’s 10% to 30% lower than the asking price than you will starting at 50% lower. You want room to negotiate, but that does not equal half price.

2. Listen.

When the provider says “that’s the lowest I’ll go” the first time, feel free to come back with an offer below that number once more, but still higher than your last offer. But if he repeats that X dollars is the lowest he can take, either match it or walk away because you’re wasting time and increasing the chance that the seller won’t accept any offer from you later on no matter how much he wants to sell. Which bring us to….

3. Timing.

Pay attention to when the goods were put up for sale, and don’t be one of the first few responders unless you’re willing to pay close to the original price. Wait until your seller starts to get nervous. Once some time has passed and they still haven’t gotten the interest they hoped for, they are more willing to say goodbye to a higher amount of their profit than risk not selling their goods at all. Yes, that means you may lose out on your item, but really, if you weren’t willing to pay the asking price to make sure you got the item, was it that important to you? If your answer is “no,” then give it some time, and try haggling or try haggling again if you’d already been to the seller once before. (See how not insulting him with a low ball can work in your favor now?)

4. Make them like you.

This goes back to number 1. If you approach the seller with a smile (or if online, a friendly, caring, respectful attitude), and you keep the banter friendly and light-hearted, you’re more likely to make the seller actually like you, and then want to say “yes” to your offer. You draw more flies with honey than with vinegar, so be real, and be real friendly.

At the end of the day, both the buyer and the seller have the same goal: to make a profit. The seller needs to rid himself of goods for a price that helps him pay his bills. The buyer needs to obtain goods for a price that helps him keep his bills paid. See? Same goal. With a smile and a reasonable expectation, you can both go home happy and with some change in your pocket!

What about you? What techniques have you helped you save some cash when haggling for something you needed (or wanted)?

An Every Woman Blog Reunion

Every Woman BloggerLast week, we hosted a dinner for the Every Woman Bloggers to celebrate the holidays and thank them for their dedication to our blog! It was a fun evening full of delicious food, wonderful stories, and a fun ornament exchange.

Our bloggers provide us with inspiration as they handle being mothers, wives, professionals, sisters, friends, and providers. Please join us in thanking them for sharing their lives with us!

Not the Same Ol’ Gifts

By: Lydia Scott

I love Etsy. I can find pretty much anything on there – and not the same ol’ big box, mass-produced junk, either. The majority of the vendors on Etsy are small, local businesses who are either selling items they have custom-made or are reselling vintage items. Right now it’s especially my favorite, because…it’s Christmas. I also love that they accept Paypal, which christmas shoppingmakes my budgeting and shopping easy! Below are some of my favorite finds on Etsy, but this list is nowhere near complete. Oh goodness, no! Etsy is the place to go to in order to find those super-cool, “Where in the world did you find that??” gifts.

Know a jewelry fan who seems to have everything? I guarantee you can find jewelry on Etsy that your jewelry fan does not already have and will love! Some of my favorites: Sydney Elle Designs, Whittlers Roost, and Moonshine & Pearls. Most, if not all, of these jewelry artisans can make custom pieces for you, and I promise it is not nearly as expensive as you might imagine.

And for the folks who love their lawns and gardens, one of my favorite go-to Etsy artisans is aDOORnaments. Again, if you don’t see a garden flag or accessory that is exactly right, just email aDOORnaments. She can work with you on a custom piece that doesn’t make your wallet starve.

Have a craft beer lover on your Christmas list? Check out these personalized beer flight paddles. They make me want to become a craft beer fan! I could so see these paddles being used for serving anything from liqueurs to parfaits to shrimp cocktail at a fun dinner party!

Not sure on the specifics of what you need to buy, just that it needs to fit your cousin’s “bohemian” style? Or it needs to be a “wood gift for a man?” Or maybe you have a teacher who is a “dog lover” to buy for? Let the Etsy search engine pull up items for you that you never even thought of!

Give Etsy a try. Or, even if Etsy is not your thing, make a promise to check out some of our wonderful local businesses during your Christmas shopping this year. Go by Soda City Market one Saturday morning and peruse the goods there while you sip hot coffee and munch on breakfast made by local hands.

No Regrets – Who You Are

By: Lydia Scott

I am really bad about wanting to be helpful. Therapy has taught me about my “helper” persona and how it’s a blend of being a little bit of a hero and a little bit of a victim all rolled up into one. Helpers, like all the other personality styles out there, are awesome and important to have in our lives. Helpers want to make a difference, find the solution, make life easier, make things happen, and help you excel. We don’t want our needs to be ignored; yet we will be the first to turn down offers of help, questions of “are you okay?” and depressionsuggestions of rest. A little bit hero, a little bit victim. There’s not a thing wrong with our helpful ways, but it can cause us to crash and burn when life gets mean. And I’ve done that – crashed and burned. I was ashamed of it every time, and every time was really unpleasant, but I don’t regret any of it.

On three occasions in my life, I’ve crashed and burned to the point of having to take myself to what I call “the happiness hospital.” Behavioral counseling centers, psychiatric hospitals, inpatient stability centers…whatever you call them, they are where people go to get concentrated, inpatient help for addictions, suicidal issues, severe depression, or even just sheer emotional exhaustion. During one of my stays, I met a lady who said she admitted herself because she needed a vacation from her life and needed to be forced to take care of herself. It can be a really humiliating experience to take oneself (or be taken to) the happiness hospital, even though it should not be humiliating. While none of these experiences were high points in my life (and in fact occurred during the worst times of my life), I don’t regret any of them.

A middle class, stay-at-home mom “shouldn’t” have debilitating depression and severe emotional instability. Looking back at all three instances, I totally see what lead me to lose my grip on myself: feeling completely alone AND not taking care of myself on the inside. I was going and going, losing one thing or person after another, and never stopped to deal with any of it. I didn’t feel like I had anyone who could wrap their arms around me and help me feel stronger and not alone, even when I was married (the first time) and had family trying to support me.

It just snowballs until one day you physically can’t stop crying or you’re researching just how many pills you would need to take to not wake up tomorrow. If you’re lucky, you’ll realize you need help and you’ll stop the world in order to get it, even when the person who should be your biggest supporter responds to your plea for him to take you to the “mental hospital” with eye rolls, protests of “Why did you let yourself get so bad?” or, “Your problem is you need to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and try harder.” You keep trying, even when that person instructs you to not “come home until you’re well” when you ask what will happen to your marriage because of this. (Big hint…my first visit resulted in the staff psychiatrist telling me the primary cause of my issues was my marriage.)

Each of my stays at the happiness hospital lasted from five to ten days, and I was on suicide watch for all of them. I learned how to make do without a lot of comforts (my regular deodorant, shoelaces, shaving alone, eating what and when I felt like it), and I learned a lot about both myself and humanity in general.

There was the heavier set lady in her 50s who came in straight from home, had no one to bring her any of her things, and was in tears because she had no bra and was humiliated to be walking around with the girls swinging free. (We happened to be close in size, so I gave her one of mine). There was the elderly lady in a wheelchair who adopted me as her confidant, and would sit next to me for hours telling me about her life and sobbing over everything and everyone she’d lost. There was the high-powered, well-known attorney in the robe and slippers pacing the hallways, who turned himself in for drug and alcohol abuse that resulted from the horrors he dealt with in his cases.

There were wealthy people, homeless people, drug addicts, alcoholics, sad people, exhausted people, confused people, young people, old people, employed people, jobless people. And we all had common ground…we were all here because something wasn’t right and it wasn’t getting better. We didn’t need a new kidney or stitches. We needed teachers, guidance counselors, and friends to lean on, talk to, cry with. We needed to learn who we were and how to live life.

When I had to give up my kids and the alcohol and nightmares took over my life, leading to my last happiness hospital trip, I especially needed an identity and a purpose. I felt useless, worthless, lost, and like the biggest failure to ever exist. That visit helped me learn who I was, deep down inside, regardless of what role I was playing in life at any given moment. I was no longer a wife. I felt like I was no longer a mother, no longer a Jehovah’s Witness, no longer Daddy’s girl (he had passed a few years earlier), no longer had a home, and no longer had my friends. The counselors helped me figure out WHO I was, not just WHAT I was. They taught me to identify people who always wind up hurting me and how to keep those people from hurting me again.

Most of all, although it took three times, I finally learned how to say “I need help” before crashing and burning. I can never regret the incredibly human people I got to know, and the glimpse into the rawness of what really being a human being is built of. It’s built of pain, smiles, and hugs. And it’s built on not being alone.

Have you ever really identified WHO you are, rather than WHAT you are? How hard or easy is it for you to say “I need help?” Did you go through something extremely hard and unpleasant, but don’t regret it? What did you learn?