(Want to know how I meal plan a month in minutes? Here's how!)
So here’s a funny thing: I don’t tend to write about myself here much at all. Meatified started off as a space for me to share my recipes, all driven by my dietary changes from vegetarian to omnivore to paleo to following the AIP. Over the years, the site has driven me to improve my food photography, hone my recipe development skills and even spawned a print cookbook. But I’ve been kind of shy about doing anything other than writing about food.
Probably not rare among the tribes of internet peeps, I’m pretty introverted. Unless I know you well, and then I kind of have a potty mouth and am often wildly inappropriate. I don’t plan on filling this place with F bombs any time soon, but some time camera-less this month has made me realize that there’s more to Meatified than just food: there’s me! My very belated idea of a new year’s resolution is to bring more of “me” to the blog. So buckle up, because there’s more to life than (tasty, AIP) food!
“My name is Rach and sometimes I have stories to tell!”
One of the best things to come out of running this place? Meeting and interacting with other kickass people and forging friendships that – gasp! – go beyond food. One of the lovely ladies I now have the pleasure of calling a friend is Steph of Stupid Easy Paleo fame. I came across her site, followed it avidly and one day, totally out of the blue, I sent her an email that just said something along the lines of, “you’re amazing, thanks for all the work you do!”. Admittedly, internally, I was probably chanting:
“Be cool, Rach, be cool… don’t scare the nice lady with too much fan girl-ing! BE COOL, DAMMNIT!”.
(Oops, too late. I definitely was not cool. Not even close.)
But even after that kind-of-awkward intro, Steph turned out the be a) awesome and b) my unofficial mentor. Unofficial in that she probably still doesn’t realize how much she inspires me. Fun fact: without Steph, Nourish probably wouldn’t even have happened. Steph is the one who told me, “you should write an AIP cookbook” (back then, there was only one) and she’s also the person who stopped me from running away from a publishing deal (and turning it down for the second time) because I was straight up terrified. (Yay, embarrassing true stories. This post-writing-experience should come with wine). Our friendship has been forged in the fires of mutual book-writing, food-photography-analysis, exchanging way too many photos of dinner (that one’s my fault) and cat videos.
So when Steph told me about her idea of creating a Women’s Strength Summit – a FREE online event totally for women, by women – I was first in line to be her (unofficial, uncoordinated) cheerleader. Because what is not to love about gathering together some of the most amazing female athletes, coaches, physicians, dietitians, nutritionists and more in one place to talk about all the ways in which a woman could be a strong, badass and unbreakable human?
All put together by a woman who is a fantastic athlete, coach, nutritionist and maker-of-amazing-food all in her own right? Well, pretty much nothing is better than that. I was all set to shout about this Summit from the rooftops in support of Steph, whom I both respect and admire. Because I knew she would absolutely rock it and put on the best Women’s Strength Summit possible.
But then I got to thinking: as a non-athlete or even current gym goer, how does the concept of STRENGTH apply to me? As someone who is currently limited in terms of the amount of stress my body and mind can handle (thanks, Hashimoto’s), is the idea of strength something that resonates with my life? If I’m not in a place right now to throw around a barbell, train like a beast or hit any kind of PR, does that mean that there’s no place in my life for any kind of strength? And then I thought, “well, that’s dumb, Rach — strength isn’t always measured in the physical sense, you goose”. Which is when I realized, as someone dealing with a big, stinky autoimmune disease, that:
Strength isn’t just for the athletes
STRENGTH, for me, was saying “yes” to writing that cookbook, even though it scared me.
STRENGTH, for me, is choosing to nourish my body instead of to punish it, after years of insane diet-oriented behavior
STRENGTH, for me, is not letting my appearance define my self worth any longer
STRENGTH, for me, is realizing that I deserve health and that I’m worth taking care of
STRENGTH, for me, is not pushing myself to do the physical things that I’m not ready for (yet!)
STRENGTH, for me, is also about finding ways to move that do benefit my health, body & mind
STRENGTH, for me, is about being inspired, not intimidated, by other women – and supporting them big-time!
There are a million* ways in which strength is relevant to me as a woman and I bet the same is true for you, whether you consider yourself an athlete or not! Right now, for me personally, self care IS strength. And that’s good enough for me.
*give or take a few hundred thousand
I like to (jokingly) think of this as “Strength for the Un-Strengthy”
And the great thing about the Women’s Strength Summit: it caters to that side of womanhood, too. There are two phases within the Women’s Strength Summit. Phase 1 is all about a Strong Body, while Phase 2 focuses on a confident mind and body image.
As a result, my currently-Un-Strengthy self is really psyched to hear these presenters:
- Summer Innanen: How to Remix Your Body Image So You Can Start Loving Yourself
- Erin Brown: How to Feel Good In Your Own Skin: Tips for Turning Inward to Find Peace
- Coach Prime: How to Move Beyond the Past & Create the Life You Want For Yourself Right Now
- Dr. Alessandra Wall: Crafting a Life That Isn’t Just Right, It’s Right For You
- Chel Hamilton: How to Reprogram Your Subconscious Mind to Banish Bad Habits, Break Through Sticking Points & Achieve Your Goals
- Dr. Theresa Larson: 3 Must-Do Self Care Practices That Every Busy Woman Needs Daily
- Dr. Emily Deans: How to Improve Your Gut Health for Better Mood, Body Composition, and Digestion
- Dr. Jolene Brighten: Understanding Female Hormones & How to Find Balance for Better Health & Body Composition
And those are just my personal highlights, the ladies I CANNOT WAIT to hear. Bear in mind, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg: there are over 30 ladies taking the stage over the course of the Women’s Strength Summit between March 1st – 9th! The best part is:
You can watch the entire Women’s Strength Summit for FREE!
Yup, true story. Sign up with just your email (no credit card info needed, pinky promise) and you’ll get access to all of the presentations throughout the Summit: nearly FIFTEEN THOUSAND people have already signed up! For free, nada, gratis, NO PURCHASE NECESSARY, REALLY.
(Told you Steph would rock this!)
You’ll be able to watch the presentations for up to 72 hours after they go live, so you can watch them in your own time over those three days. That also means that you have until March 4 at 5:59 pm PST to watch the first day’s sessions for free — so make sure you sign up before then!!
Don’t worry, you traditional Strengthy types! There are so many presenters that you will love, too. You’ll be hearing from Danielle Natoni, Nia Shanks, Noelle Tarr, Jen Sinkler, Kate Galliet, Molly Galbraith, Emily Schromm, Jen (JVB) Vogelgesang Blake, Diane Fu, Juli Foucher and more! Check out the full schedule here.
Like I said earlier: for me, self care is my strength right now. But that doesn’t mean that I’m lacking in sources of inspiration among the ladies taking part in the Women’s Strength Summit. These are all ladies who aren’t afraid to be themselves or do what they love. They’re women changing the conversation from aesthetics to achievement, proving that there’s more to women in the gym than objectifying “fitspiration”. These are women paving the way for more women to choose a sport they love even if it’s not “girly” and showing that women’s bodies don’t have to conform to one so-called “ideal”. Showing us that women’s bodies are our own and that it’s ok to use them to shape our best lives possible, however that might look for us.
For me, it may never mean walking into a gym and learning how to expertly clean and snatch. My “best me ever” might be happily chowing down without worrying about counting calories, being able to enjoy long hikes, morning yoga and lots of snuggle time. Does that mean I can’t be inspired by women busting out PRs, teaching others about nutrition or doctors going beyond the bounds of traditional healthcare and dropping knowledge bombs while they’re at it? Hell, no!
One thing I’ve learned in this autoimmune journey: strength comes in as many forms as there are women. And I’m happy to learn from as many as I can. I’ll be glued to the Women’s Strength Summit to do so as it happens and I hope you’ll join me in supporting all these different forms of womanhood, whether Strengthy, Un-Strengthy, or somewhere in the middle!
What does strength mean to you? Is your concept of strength different since dealing with an autoimmune disease?