Episode 57: “Strong Like Her” Women, Strength, and Empowerment

Running a marathon, summiting Mount Rainier, completing a double century bike ride, and competing in a bodybuilding show are the things my guest, Haley Shapley does in her spare time. Day to day she is a freelance writer whose first book, “Strong Like Her” traces the evolution of women and physical strength. She tells stories of elite athletes and people like me and you.

“I start in ancient times and go through today, looking at women and the many ways they’ve contributed to society throughout history that are related to physical strength.”

Of course, we talked about the importance of physical strength for women as we age. And not only for health but Haley believes it’s empowering for women, especially women who never thought of themselves as strong.

You’ll meet Edie, a now 81 year old woman who, at 75, realized she could no longer lift a 25-pound bucket of cat litter. That pissed her off enough to do something. She began at a CrossFit gym, unable to do one sit up, had never lifted a weight. WIth the help of a trainer and the others at the gym cheering her on she made progress. So much so that on her 81st birthday, she dead lifted 121 pounds never mind that measly bucket of cat litter!

Edie and others like her are proof that it’s never too late to get stronger.

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By now, you know the importance of strong muscles. As we age, we lose muscle. This can lead to dependence on others, a greater chance we’ll fall, and a feeling of weakness–physically but also emotionally.

The best way to maintain our muscle is weight bearing exercise and weight training. Don’t worry if you aren’t a dumbell kind of gal.

“Your routine might consist of using weight machines at a gym.. It could even be elastic bands or just your own body weight.”

Don’t forget about the bones. Osteoporosis is common in women after menopause when we lose estrogen. Weight training can also help with incontinence if you include squats, glute bridges, or yoga bridge pose.

Oh, and then there’s the weight thing. Lose muscle, replace it with fat, not a self-esteem booster.

Here’s good news for those of us who might have lost some muscle or have never done weight training.

“Beginners build it way faster than anyone else. No matter what age you are, you’ll get a lot of benefit at the beginning. So it’s definitely worth incorporating, no matter what point you’re at.”

In case you’re worried about bulking out with weight training, it’s not going to happen unless you work at that. Or you might decide you like the idea of sporting big muscles, showing off some pecs. It’s up to you.

Haley’s website

Find her on IG

We mentioned

The Spartan Ultra World Obstacle Race

Catherine Switzer The first woman to run the Boston Marathon–it was harrowing.

Title 9


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