Get swole with Casey Johnston 💪
For everyone who's not a gym bro, but still wants to be strong.
A powerful new episode is out now! 💪
Casey Johnston is the author of the long-running column Ask a Swole Woman, which now lives on her newsletter, She’s a Beast. She also wrote a book for beginner strength trainers called Liftoff: Couch to Barbell, which outlines a 12-week program on the basics of lifting, and fosters an online community for women strength trainers (and everyone else who might not fit into the gym bro stereotype). Casey talks about how strength training changed her relationship to food, exercise, and her own body; why “losing weight” isn’t a great motivator; and how it’s an important life skill to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
When I was 13, I got into a snowmobile accident (46:00). My mom was driving, we hit a small rock, and I blacked out. When I woke up, my left leg was sucked inside the track of the snowmobile. I laid in the snow for an hour as they cut the track off with a saw to release me.
I didn’t break any bones, but I left the hospital with a permanent dent in my lower left thigh. Then my left knee started painfully popping out of its socket whenever I played sports. So I was told to start strength training to rebuild the muscles around the injury. That was the start of my two-decade relationship to lifting.
I love this episode because Casey verbalizes so many of the issues I (and I suspect many women) have struggled with since adolescence: loathing my own body, treating exercise as punishment, bouncing around to different diets, and the neverending obsession to be thinner. Casey preaches the strength training gospel: that there is another, better way to live. You can do functional exercises that will help you feel stronger in day-to-day tasks, like dragging 40 pounds of cat litter in the house. You can build muscle, which gives you a higher baseline metabolism. You can feed your body a lot of food and know it’s going to heal and rebuild you. You can do a half hour of exercise three days a week and see and feel a difference within just a couple of months.
Casey’s book, Liftoff: Couch to Barbell, tells you step by step how to go from lifting a broom in your kitchen to lifting a barbell in the gym. I used it to ease myself back into strength training this fall; three months later I once again feel confident in the gym, and am deadlifting 120 pounds! Plus, strength training is the best and most efficient aid to my mental health I’ve come across.
If you feel like the gym is not meant for you—it is. I hope this episode and Casey’s wisdom can be a jumping off point for some of us to cultivate a stronger, more nourishing relationship with our bodies in 2023.
Other interesting things we discuss in this episode:
Our mutual love of Jurassic Park, the book
Casey’s strength training journey, and my own
How to get comfortable in a new gym
How to find a stronger motivation than “losing weight”
The importance of just showing up when it comes to lifting (and anything else you want to be better at)
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Extra special thanks to:
My podcast editor, Chelsea Eichholz (Twitter), co-host of the Untitled Cinema Gals podcast
Logo artist Jaymie de los Reyes
You are not alone!
Yesss, love Casey, I just linked to one of her pieces of writing in my latest newsletter post. Can't wait to listen!