In our series Fit Chicks, we chat with female fitness bloggers and trainers from all over the country. Equipped with their collective experience, expertise and practical tips, you’ll be happy to know that a healthier lifestyle is right around the corner.
Name: Nia Shanks, 31
Business/Blog: Lift Like a Girl
City: Paducah, Kentucky
Ever since becoming a trainer when she was 19, Nia Shanks has continually empowered women to be their best selves without feeling shame or guilt. In her book, there’s no such thing as “guilty pleasures,” there’s just pushing your body to do beyond what you thought possible.
Where did your love of being active come from?
Nia Shanks: My Mom. She was the first woman personal trainer in our area.
Describe the moment when you decided to start Lift Like a Girl.
NS: When I saw the power of training women with a focus in improving their performance with their workouts: choosing to get stronger instead of worrying about burning calories or losing weight. It was this choice to become more that was empowering, and I wanted to share that with other women.
You talk a lot on your site about offering women a sane way of working out and dieting. Why do you think trying to live a healthy lifestyle makes women go a little crazy?
NS: Because many diet and fitness routines all are about eating less, working out harder, and having a list of ‘good’ foods you can eat and ‘bad’ foods you must avoid at all costs. And every effort revolves around losing weight, ‘whittling their waist line’ and becoming less. In short, many women have ‘been on a diet’ or have been focusing on weight loss for years. How could you not feel like you’re going insane if you’re always dieting?
What are a couple of aspects of health women should work to maintain consistently?
NS: Focus on a few things you can do, consistently. Strength train 3 days per week, move your body in enjoyable ways frequently, and eat mostly real foods and get enough protein. That’s a great start for most. They can track the results over 8-12 weeks and then make another small change or two if needed.
What draws you to strength training? Why do you love it?
NS: It’s empowering. It allows women to discover that they’re strong than they realize. It allows them to be proud of what their body can do. When they focus on improving their performance, gradually, with strength training, things like fat loss and looking better are just side effects.
What’s your favorite healthy snack? Guilty pleasure?
NS: I love peanut butter; could eat it on anything. I think it could make an old tennis shoe taste good. As for guilty pleasures, I don’t have any. I learned a long time ago that I don’t have to label things as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ If I want something, like ice cream, I eat it. There’s nothing guilty about it. I don’t have to earn my food or burn it off. That language only leads to obsessive eating habits.
What’s a nutrition or fitness trend you’re a fan of right now?
NS: More and more women are strength training, and it’s absolutely awesome.
For the fitness veterans, how do you keep your routine interesting? Do you have any advice for those who feel burned out?
NS: There are several options. First, they can set a performance-oriented goal (e.g., deadlift twice their bodyweight, progress to doing 15+ push-ups, etc.). Second, they can use a different strength training ‘split’ (e.g., upper/lower split, total body). Third, they can use different tools (dumbbells, barbells) or exercise variations.
What are some of your goals for 2017?
NS: I just want to continue to become a better writer and do it in a way that makes women feel good and empowered. I want to continue to get stronger, pain free.
Photo: courtesy of Brad Rankin Studios
McGee Nall is a Paste intern and a freelance writer based out of Athens, Georgia. She was probably eating Nilla wafers and Nutella while writing this.