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Scarlett Johansson Trains Hardcore For Her Superhero Body

Scarlett Johansson AvengersNatasha Romanov is a superhero in a skintight slinky black catsuit, and Scarlett has to be in tip top shape to play her.

Scarlett trains “like a guy”, her words! Yep, you read that right.  Scarlett does chin ups, push ups, explosive movements and lots of circuit training to get into Hollywood superhero shape. Her trainer, Bobby Strom, gets her started a few months before filming. She eats lots of lean proteins, vegetables, oatmeal and drinks lots of water and trains with weights. Here is what he told Self Magazine about her workout:

“I was having her do a lot of balance, coordination, and core work, but what she really loved was the strength training – things like pullups and kettlebells – and the idea of feeling and looking strong.”

Scarlett Johansson, on her diet and the “secret” to getting in shape:

Salad and chicken and, you know, nothing else, pretty much,” she said, laughing. “It’s that old tried and true ‘work out like a dude and eat like a rabbit’ [plan].”

Scarlett stays in shape year round, eats well, and kicks it up a notch with her diet and training right before a big movie. So this isn’t how she eats and trains year round, its a high intensity plan for being in her best shape for a targeted period of time. The rest of the year, she still works out and keeps in good shape, but she’s a little more moderate, which is an important take home point as well.

Scarlett Johansson Avengers Body Workout

In general, this is how Scarlett trains:

– she uses “big bang” movements that use lots of muscles and burn lots of calories, i.e: squats, lunges, push ups, and even olympic lifts.

– she uses high intensity circuits, no more than 90 minute sessions per day.

– she uses a variety of tools like dumb bells, barbells, kettlebells, TRX and bodyweight movements

– she trains like a dude and is not afraid of some hard work for big results!!!

Scarlett Johansson for Dolce & Gabanna, 2012.

Scarlett Johansson for Dolce & Gabanna, 2012.

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Your Body Is Awesome & You Should Throw a Party!

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What a peaceful and beautiful thought it is, to be content with what you have and rejoice in the way things are? Granted, I understand that for many it might be hard to truly feel this way, and sadly, they may have a legitimate reason to feel that way… but we all have something to be thankful for. All of us. Something, someone, something positive in our lives, something good. In my darkest times, it has always been helpful to remember what I do have, always.

And slowly, steadily I have been lucky enough to come to feel that way about my body. I say “lucky” without a shred of irony, since in our society, with the constant message that you’re flawed, fat, unworthy, you’re lucky if you can shake it all off in any meaningful way and actually begin to feel good about yourself.

Instead of focusing on what you don’t like and what you want to fix, what about if you were content with what you had and you celebrated your amazing body and your good health and all the things your strong healthy body enables you to do?

What about if every day you thanked your body and felt grateful for your health and wrote down 3 things that were awesome about you, how do you think your attitude might change? I bet you’d start to feel happy and inspired and joyful, and learn to love your physical self. You might even throw a party and “rejoice”… (remember to invite me, please! hehe).

Nothing about you is lacking. You are good and you are enough. You have everything you need to be awesome and you already are; every day you get better and better. Each healthy meal, each training session, leads to a better you.

What do you like the most about your body?

What’s your best feature?

Whats the coolest thing you can do? Badass bench press number? Can you do the splits? Feel free to brag a little in the comments! It can be anything. I wanna hear it! Just a reminder, it doesn’t have to remotely be something that would make you “good” competitively, personal goals and triumphs, no matter how humble they may seem, are perfect. Please share!

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You’re a Real Woman & Why Strong is NOT the New Skinny

I’m not sure when exactly it was that I realized that instead of inspiring and motivating me, so called “fitspo” or “fitspiration” was mostly making me feel really bad about myself.

At first, I was so excited that strength was finally cool! When I started lifting weights, being strong was not cool. In fact, I would say most people thought it was a weird and obscure goal to have and even more weird that I was a woman. It was like, “that chick is strange and intense”… (I’m not sure that the assessment is actually wrong, ha). Like, it was okay that I was working out to be hot, but it was strange that I liked and cared about being strong. For me, I couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to be strong! I went through a phase where I thought once I explained myself, everyone would see the light and join my bandwagon, but they didn’t. They still thought it was a weird and obscure obsession, and questionably worthwhile. So when all this “strong is the new skinny” stuff started trending, I was so happy! Everyone was finally “getting it” and I was really excited… at first.

From the sea of headless ab shots, sexualized, sweaty women with heaving cleavage and perfect round butts, the unrelenting captions telling me to not to stop and that pain was my fat cells dying or whatever BS… somewhere along the way, it became all about being sexy, objectification and defining another narrow and rigid aesthetic for us all to scramble to fit into.

This is also why “strong is the new skinny” is really just another crock of shit being spoonfed to us. Same old wolf, new disguise. The message really seems to be “strong is awesome only if you are small and ripped and, of course, sexy“… after all girls, we have to be sexy! We are nothing and nobody if we are not sexy, are we? And God forbid strong means you have big, powerful muscles. Strong is not sexy if it’s “too bulky” or “too much”… girls, you can only be strong if you stay small and cute, preferably in a push up sports bra with your boobs hiked up to your chin.

The sarcasm is oozing from pretty much the entire above paragraph, in case you missed it!

And that’s never what strength is or should be about. You get strong to be strong. Because strong is awesome. Thats the only reason and justification you need. Being strong literally makes you better at everything else in life that you do. It’ll make you a better runner, a better dancer, better and more powerful in any sport that you play. Better at your household chores and activities, better at just being. No lie. I mean, if you train right, training will improve and correct your posture. So literally, just standing there and “being” you are better. Your strong muscles hold up your bones and spine and pin your shoulders back more efficiently. Hence, you are better “just being”, get it?

You don’t get strong because its sexy, or because its the new cool thing and not because its going to help you fit into a new, oppressive paradigm for how you are supposed to look.

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I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, I think all bodies are beautiful when they’re fit and strong, within a healthy weight range and the individual is happy and enjoying their life. And whatever that looks like for each person, pretty much always looks some shade of great!

Short limbs, long limbs, boxy torso, long torso, naturally lean, naturally curvy, naturally thin… we ALL have our strengths and weaknesses, we don’t have to look exactly alike to look beautiful; and in order to be inspiring, it doesn’t matter how you look. To be inspiring in fitness, athletics and sport you have to have a great attitude, perseverance and the ability to do cool shit, like maybe squat 100kg, or run a marathon in under 3 hours, or do the splits or a backflip! All that stuff is pretty damn cool, but I admire anyone who is healthy and works hard to excel in a particular skill, overcome physical and mental limitations and takes care of their body and mind. People like that are cool. People like that are the real fitspo. Not some headless, nameless chick with abs wearing co-ordinated workout gear. What’s cool about that?

And, another thing: we’re ALL “real” women! Do you have a vagina? Well guess what? You’re a real woman. THE END.

Just because “thin is in” doesn’t mean we get to trash and degrade women who are thin by saying stupid crap like “real women have curves”… Do you know how dumb you sound? Stop saying that. Some women really struggle to gain weight and certainly covet fuller hips and thighs and bums, and it’s no easier for them to attain those than it is for someone significantly overweight to lose fat. Can you imagine how heartbreaking and hurtful it is to be someone who is naturally very thin and doesn’t want to be, to have the message thrown in her face that she is fundamentally inadequate as a woman because of her shape? The bold is wrong no matter what body type we’re talking about. That is a harsh and unkind message to put out there to people, lacking in compassion or understanding. You can’t expect to come out smelling like roses when you’re down in the dirt slinging mud at everyone else.

What inspires you towards your fitness goals every day? What is that you most like about your body? I’d love to hear about it n the comments!

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The New Years Resolution Post: Four Tips To Smashing Your Fitness Goals This Year

So, you know it’s a cliche. And you know you made the same resolution last year and for whatever reason you didn’t keep it.

But again, in for 2014, you want to make your health and fitness a top priority. Congratulations, that’s a brilliant a very rewarding goal. After all, without our health, what do we have?

Ask yourself, why is it going to be different this year? Why will this year be the one you actually make a permanent lifestyle change?

I don’t believe it’s “wanting it badly enough”, I think that’s BS. If you earnestly tried very hard to lose weight and get fit, and someone smugly responds that you obviously don’t want it badly enough, you have my permission to tell them to go fuck themselves. That’s right. Flipping them the bird is optional, but I recommend doing that too.

I think when we express a deep desire to be healthier, to lose weight, to be better, we certainly do want it badly enough. But often, we’re just not well-equipped with the knowledge, with a strategy and with the “how” to make it happen. So I’m going to share with you a few simple ways you can make sure your 2014 resolution to be fitter and healthier is one that is going to stick with you the entire year and beyond.

  1. Set a nutritional goal that won’t leave you feeling punished, deprived and starved.
    If you eat fries, pasta and ice cream every day and declare that January 1st, you’ll eat nothing but salad, grilled fish and broccoli, I can almost guarantee that by January 31st, you’ll be back to eating those same burgers and ice cream and whatever else – and probably with a vengeance!
    What to do instead: Choose a more moderate approach. That might mean eating “normally” every day, but committing to having a salad for lunch or dinner. Initially, you might want to simply commit to cutting out soft drinks and hot chips every day. Have ice cream only once or twice per week, in a reasonable portion. You’d be astounded at what a huge impact these simple changes can have on your health and waistline. As time goes by and this becomes routine for you, you can step up your game and make further changes to improve your daily eating habits.
    perfect is bullshit
  2. Set a reasonable and very doable exercise goal. 
    Deciding that, as of January 1st, from doing no exercise per day, you’re going to be in the gym 2 hours a day and do a thousand crunches and a  zillion squats, because you read that’s what your favourite movie star did to get ready for her recent action flick (or your favourite fitspo girl on IG does this, or your friend, or whoever), is naive and unrealistic. We both know this is a pie in the sky strategy and isn’t going to work long term, if at all.
    What to do instead: Choose a  reasonable activity goal. For a beginner, that might mean 20 – 30 minutes a day of activity. That’s more than enough for someone who was previously sedentary. After a month or two of consistency, you can step up your efforts. Exercise is extremely important for good health, but too much can be counter-productive and unsustainable. Anything too time consuming and elaborate is probably going to last a month or two maximum. Adopt an approach you can turn into a lifestyle, doing things that make you feel energised and that you enjoy with a reasonable time commitment. As you get fitter, you can and should up the intensity.
  3. Find a support network.
    A support network might be a friend that has similar goals to you that you can begin your journey with, it can be starting a blog or online journal in a weight loss community filled with likeminded individuals, or it might be hiring a trainer than you stay accountable to and helps you design a good strategy. There are lots of ways to find support these days, you might try one option, or you might want to try them all to give yourself every advantage to success. Try everything and keep the stuff that works and you find helpful. Certainly in the first month or two, having a friend in the gym can help with the intimidation some people feel when they start going to the gym. If you don’t have someone, pay a trainer. It’s worth it if it gets you in there and has you doing the right things.
  4. If you fall off the wagon, get right back on!
    Don’t stop. We all have our ups and downs, but the difference between people that get fit and make it a lifestyle and those that don’t is quitting. Don’t be a quitter. There will be days that you ate too much or you missed a workout, but who cares? Pick yourself up and try again. This isn’t a pass or fail, one shot exam. Fitness is a way of life. It’s a journey. It’s always a work in progress no matter what level you’re at. In case you missed it, perfection is bullshit. Some days you’ll have more energy than others, some days you won’t be motivated to work out, some days you are just dying to have that piece of cake and whether you have it or not, ultimately doesn’t matter as long as you keep going in the right direction.

Remember, the successful strategy is not the “perfect” strategy, rather it’s the one you can  stick to long term and incorporate into your lifestyle. Stop trying for perfect. Perfect is bullshit.

My goals for this year are to achieve a 300lbs deadlift. I’d like to be more kind, gracious and patient in all matters. To stop dropping F-bombs… gah! So uncouth and unladylike! And drink less expensive cocktails… they’re a wallet and a fat loss killer and they have got to GO!!! I’d also like to get serious about yoga this year and incorporate that into my routine. And meditate.

What are your goals for 2014?

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The 7 Habits of People Who Achieve Their Fitness Goals

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1. Set Goals, Make Them Achievable.
Rule number one of achieving your goals is actually sitting down to think about them and setting them! Fit people don’t work out – they train with a purpose. That purpose may be getting into a pair of jeans in a smaller size, it might be improving their deadlift, achieving a faster 5k time, or a goal physique. It can be any goal that gives their physical training structure and purpose.

They don’t just go through the motions or just do “whatever”. The other important part of this is that the goals they set are achievable and they give themselves a realistic timeframe to get there. They are consistent and patient!

You might even consider hiring a trainer or a coach to help you set your goals, workout what you should be doing to get there and how long it should take you. Most goals take at least 3 months of consistency to see major changes, often it takes longer. Also, making this a lifestyle and real excellence in any physical endeavour is something you never stop working on. Set goals, work hard, be patient!

2. Fit People Keep Going.
Everyone falls of the wagon at one time or another, either with their diet or with training. The big difference between fit people and people who just want to be fit is that the fit ones get back on plan and keep going.

Remind yourself that this is a marathon, not a sprint. To be really fit, you have to make it a lifestyle. It’s not a short term program you stick to for a month or two and rebound back to your old ways (and old body) when you’re “done”. You’re never “done”! 🙂

Fit people are also consistent, but realise there is no such thing as perfection. Forget eating perfectly all the time, eat well 90% of the time and you will look and feel great. There is no magic workout, no exercise that changes everything in a week. There is only consistent diet and exercise. Slip ups happen. They aren’t the end of your fitness journey, unless you let them be.

Sorry if that doesn’t sound sexy or not what you want to hear, but that is the truth. The sooner you embrace a long term approach, the sooner you will see your best and fittest self emerge.

3. Do Something Active Every Day
Fit people do something almost every day. They follow their program. They walk a lot. They ride bikes. They try different classes. They hit the gym. They get in there and do what they have to do each day to achieve the goals they set. It’s one day at a time. All the little things you do each and every day add up to a big cumulative result in the long term. Your body craves movement, move it!

4. Work Harder on Your Weak Links, Make Them Your Strengths
Lacking upper body strength? Pull, press and push until your upper body becomes your strength. Are you inflexible and unable to do certain movements effectively (or at all!) because of it? Stretch every day. Schedule a regular yoga class. Limber up, baby! You will improve. You will be better. And stick to improving things you’re bad at tenaciously enough? They inevitably become your strengths. I’ve seen it time and time again in both myself and in my clients. The human body is an incredible organism that will adapt to the stresses you impose upon it, and the results can be downright astounding.

5. Trust The Process, Commit, Don’t Program Hop.
One of the biggest mistakes and inhibitors of progress is self-doubt, not trusting the process and “program hopping”. A program hopper is someone who cannot or will not stick to something long enough to see any significant result. They typically stick to a diet regimen or workout program for 4 weeks or even less and that just isn’t long enough to see a big result. Most people need to be consistent for at least 3 months before real changes and improvements take place.

6. Make All Main Meals Protein Based, Fill Up On Veges.
Active people have higher protein requirements because their bodies need protein to build and repair, especially if you lift weights. Your body craves exercise and movement, but a rigorous training program also puts a lot of wear and tear on your joints, muscles and tendons. If you aren’t eating whole, unprocessed foods and protein based meals to help your body recover, replenish and rejuvenate itself, you’ll end up worn out and eventually injured. Make sure you’re fuelling your workouts well and fuelling for sufficient recovery.

It’s also been shown that for longevity and disease prevention, one of the key components (in addition to regular exercise and solid sleep) is eating at least 2 cups of vegetables per day. Another benefit of vegetables is the fact that no one in he history of human existence has ever gotten fat from eating too much broccoli, so if you’re having trouble feeling full enough, just fill up on fibrous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach and zucchini. You can use garlic, onion and herbs to give them flavour. just don’t douse them in ranch dressing, mayo, butter or oil, that’ll definitely screw up your diet! Steam your veges and flavour them in ways that add no (or negligible) calories.

7. Measure Your Progress
Fit people measure their progress in useful ways. If they have a physique goal, they take progress pictures. If they want to run faster, they time their runs and push for improvements. If they want to get stronger, they keep a log of their lifts. You get the idea. It’s a very important part of making sure you’re on the right track towards achieving your fitness goals.

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When You’re Struggling With Motivation…

So I have returned home to Australia with a resounding thud back to reality. Or maybe I should call it “sub-reality”, because my current reality is far worse than the one I left behind in July.

I’m not going to bore my handful of readers with the mundane details of my life, but suffice to say, it’s a family crisis* and it’s hard and there is no easy fix or solution.

For the first time in my entire training life, I couldn’t give two shits about training. This is a new feeling. I started training at the end of 2004. It’s been a pretty long and consistent obsession for me. The apathy I feel right now is rather alien.

(my sleep is extremely disordered right now too, and that is definitely not helping… I usually sleep like a log. Some nights since I’ve been back, I haven’t slept at all.)

I always preach that something is better than nothing and that you should do stuff you like, stuff you feel like doing. Or at least focus on that. The bulk of your physical training should certainly be stuff you like and feel like doing most of the time.  So if you love lifting, lift! If you love yoga, do mostly yoga! If you love running… you get the drift. Sometimes, in order to reach a specific goal we have to follow a structured plan that may include things we don’t like so much. If you want to reach that specific goal, of course, you have to suck it up and just do the damn thing as prescribed. That’s a given.

But when the difference is between doing nothing and doing something, just getting out there and doing the thing you like or feel like doing always wins.

Moving always beats sitting on the couch!

Doing something always beats doing nothing!

So guess what? While I was away, I was actually itching to get back into my routine and I had all these fanciful ideas about how I was just going focus razor sharp on lifting, I was thinking about doing the Smolov Squat program, I was gonna completely ditch cardio and forget about doing any running, ever. Since, you know… apparently I don’t like running and whatever, right? Haha.

Well guess what I feel like doing today? Going out for a run! I am serious. Yes, I find this development so, so funny. Because you know, apparently I don’t like running. Make sure I don’t miss the memo on that one again, hehe.

I’m going to go out there today and run for 30 minutes or so. Because its good for me and its something and its better than sitting on the couch.

Have you ever struggled with motivation? Ever been in a rut? How did you overcome it?


* My beloved grandmother had a bad fall about 2 weeks ago and hit her head very badly… and unfortunately, the fall has induced severe dementia. It’s very unlikely she will recover to her old self. Our family is struggling, to say the least.

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Ditching the ‘All or Nothing’ Attitude in Fitness

My European adventure is drawing to a close and with 7 days ‘til I arrive in Sydney, I have been contemplating my fitness goals.

Part of that is thinking about how I want to evolve and what things I need to let go of, that may have held me back in the past. One of those is an all-or-nothing attitude.

I used to be like that about dieting.

I still struggle a little with it in training. I hate deload weeks and I have been known to get agitated when things don’t go as planned in the gym. I like intense workouts. I like to struggle and triumph. When the latter doesn’t happen, I can get pissed and take my ball and go home… sometimes funny, but never productive!

True fitness is a lifestyle and life has it’s ups and downs. One of the key qualities to being happy, fulfilled and successful is resilience, and you can’t be resilient when you’re rigid, afraid to make mistakes, or get upset when things don’t go 100% your way.

Don’t strive for perfection. Strive for excellence!

Strive to develop good habits and consistency. Strive to be better than you were yesterday. Strive to challenge yourself in some way, every day. Step outside of your comfort zone. Forgive yourself mistakes. They happen.

Those of us prone to an all-or-nothing attitude often end up with just the latter… nothing.

We’re prone to overtraining, because we try to push hard and train hard every single day, thinking more is more. It certainly isn’t.

We’re prone to struggling with our diets because we expect perfection from ourselves, with nary a calorie or macronutrient out of place. And when we can’t achieve that, we fall right off the wagon and binge… guess what? 100% diet adherence is overrated… and not possible without an adjunct obsessive-compulsive disorder. Certainly, eating well 90% of the time is necessary to looking your best, but perfection is a myth and unnecessary.

We’re prone to being competitive, which personally, I tend to find a friendly competitive streak in a person kind of cute 🙂 HOWEVER, not everything is a competition! Not everything is so serious. And no one said you had to be the best at everything or the most of something. Just be you and strive for constant improvement. Stay humble. Keep your ego in check.

Some of us never even get started because we think we have to be “dedicated” and “disciplined” and “train hard” to make any of it worthwhile and it’s all just too intense and overwhelming. So we do nothing. We sit on the couch instead. Well guess what? MOVING YOUR BODY in some way every single day is certainly worthwhile and good for your health, even if you don’t approach things with the razor focus of a professional athlete. Just move! Pick something you like doing and just go with it.

Do something. Walk for 20 minutes a day. Eat a serving of vegetables at dinner every night. Who told you that you had to eat perfectly and train like an Olympic Athlete for it to be worthwhile? Hey, they lied. Eat your veges and move a little each day. Baby steps. Will you look like a fitness model? No. Will you feel better and look better, and be glad you made those small changes? Yes! You will.

Something always trumps nothing.

The people you admire the most in sports and fitness, they have off-seasons, they have intelligently periodized training protocols (i.e: not pushing at 100% capacity all the time), they have diet slip-ups and off-plan meals. They have bad days at training, days where they feel tired. But guess what? They do things MOSTLY right and properly, and stick to their plans the vast majority of the time.

Getting it right over 90% of the time is what gets results and what is important.

Earnest effort is everything. Perfection is a myth. A fitness unicorn! You wanna go chasing unicorns? Be my guest. Have fun with that. Getting great results and maintaining them is a balance between consistent, intelligent training, good nutrition and incorporating all of that into your every day, real life.

Have you had an all or nothing attitude to your fitness? Have you been far too intense in the past or has your attitude kept you on the couch? How have you managed to find YOUR balance?