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Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.

 
— Nora Ephron
 WELCOME
In the newsletter this week, we’ve got calisthenics challenges, life lessons from big losers, and a sugary-sweet letdown. Read on...

Think you could do 10,000 squats in 30 days? Joannah Soh is a Malaysia-based certified personal trainer whose challenge-based YouTube videos get millions of views. Her 10,000 squat challenge asked fans to do 335 squats per day for a month and was a big hit. She followed it up with other challenges— from “burn 10,000 calories in 30 days” to “the 100 push-up challenge”. 

Though the challenges may be stunts, Joanna provides sensible fitness and nutrition advice too. Example: she critiques the belief that you should avoid rice if you’re trying to lose weight. Instead of cutting it out she recommends pairing it with protein and vegetables, and keeping portion sizes reasonable: “You can eat rice, but you still need to practice portion control.” 

Proving yet again that challenges may be entertaining, but moderation is rule #1 for a balanced life.

Cheering you on whether you’re doing a thousand squats this week—or just a few, Katherine and Linda
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 WORKOUT OF THE WEEK
Massy Arias: from depression to dominance

Massy Arias began her fitness journey in 2012 as a method of overcoming debilitating depression. She perfected her physique to compete in bodybuilding competitions, but later shifted her focus to overall health and wellness, and became a Certified Personal Trainer. She now has 2.7 million followers on Instagram where she posts workouts with bilingual English/Spanish captions.

We love how Arias promotes the idea that women can be healthy with an infinite variety of body shapes. In an interview with Cosmo she said of her own muscular and athletic body type: “I love my body because I’m strong and I appreciate what I’ve created. It’s taken hard work.”

Originally from Dominican Republic, Arias came to the US at age 13 and succeeded thanks to an indefatigable work ethic (she told The Cut her day starts at 5:30 AM). Having overcome her own self-image issues, she now has a mission to teach women and girls to feel better about themselves. 

Try this: Massy’s 30-minute high-intensity Leg Day To Burn Fat and Build Muscle is based on using nine different exercises through three different circuits for enjoyable variety. For a more muscle-building workout with heavy dumbbells, her 28-minute Perfect Leg & Glutes Workout for Women targets the lower body.
nine exercises, three circuits, just thirty minutes of your day!
FITNESS
Lessons from people who have lost 50, 100, or more pounds and kept it off
 
Whether we want to lose weight or are trying to maintain, looking at the successes of people who have walked the path of major weight loss can give us clues to better eating habits.

Joe, who told his story to Nerd Fitness, lost 125 pounds in 10 months by counting calories and sticking to a paleo eating plan, which emphasizes meats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts, with minimal processed foods. He kicked his addiction to fast food and stuck to his plan through temptations—for example, eating a fruit bowl for breakfast when he went to a pancake house with friends. 

Glori Boyd, featured in Women’s Health, lost 96 pounds using 16:8 intermittent fasting, carb counting, and walking 10,000 steps a day. She fasts from 7 PM to 11 AM, and eats 1500 calories during an eight-hour window. Writing about her strategy, she says: “I do not deprive myself from the foods I love—I am just more mindful of my choices and portion control.”

For more, check out Eat This Not That’s inspirational personal stories and before-and-after photos of people who lost over 50 pounds and kept it off. Their tips include “be prepared by having healthy food options at home”, “think about your reasons”, and “make your health a priority”.
 NUTRITION
Do hair gummies actually do anything? Spoiler alert: no
 
Everybody from YouTube beauty gurus to the Kardashians is promoting “hair gummy vitamins”. But is there any evidence they actually give you stronger, longer hair?

The gummies typically contain biotin, a.k.a. vitamin B7. Your nutritional requirement for biotin is modest—30 to 100 micrograms per day—and you can satisfy it by eating common foods like eggs, meat, grains, seeds, nuts, and bananas. 

In fact, it’s so easy to get an adequate daily intake of biotin from food that it’s extremely unlikely anybody with thinning hair is suffering from a biotin deficiency. Plus, big downside: the gummies contain as much refined sugar as candy.

Even worse, some supplements have far more biotin than you need: an independent testing lab found that a popular brand of gummies had 150 times the daily recommended intake! 

Gummies have become a popular product for beauty influencers because they’re trivially easy to produce and have high profit margins, not because there’s any issue with biotin deficiency in the population. Our advice: spend your money on fruits & vegetables instead.
  WHAT WE'RE READING
 
 Craving some pandemic baking? If you love apple pie, try this healthier gluten-free version with an almond-flour crust (Oxygen)

 A list of the best running apps to help you track your progress and reach your goals (VeryWellFit)

 Did you resolve to eat more vegetables in 2021? These 40 salad recipes will get you started (SELF)

 Tips to recharge your energy during your workday in just a few minutes—try a lunchtime walk or tai chi break (Greatist)

 Want to lose weight? Know that you shouldn’t crash-diet, but not sure where to start? Here’s an evidence-based Beginners Guide to Fat Loss (Born Fitness)
Thanks for reading, Fit Girls! We’ll return to your inbox next week with more inspiration and knowledge. Got a tip for us or opinion to share? Email us—we love your feedback. Enjoyed this issue? Please forward to a friend—your referrals help us grow!
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