Episode 153. Dr. Erin Simmons: Gettin’ Real on Women and Fitness
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Dr. Erin Simmons earned her Ph.D. in Nutrition from Texas A&M University, where she performed research on muscle protein synthesis and sport performance. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Biology from Florida State University, where she competed as a javelin thrower for the FSU Women’s Track and Field team.
Following graduation, she worked as a laboratory technician for the Navy Experimental Diving Unit before heading to Texas A&M University. Her research focus shifted to nutrition and exercise physiology, a decision facilitated both by her time at NEDU as well as her role as a volunteer assistant coach with the multi-year national champion A&M Track and Field team. Over the course of her six years with the team, she coached jumpers and multi-event athletes, led mobility and flexibility sessions for multiple event groups, and was involved in team-wide rehabilitation and prehabilitation.
She completed her dissertation in June of 2018 and shortly thereafter took a position as a Department of Defense contractor working as a research physiologist to study human performance and nutrition for the Navy Experimental Diving Unit in Panama City Beach, Florida.
Erin’s a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, a PADI Divemaster, and is working toward her Yoga Instructor Certification, expected this year. She enjoys reading, travel, watersports with her dog Hank, and cooking healthy food that still tastes delicious.
Erin pursued fitness modeling following her D1 track career but abandoned that pursuit once she learned what was involved.
I discovered that “fitness modeling” meant selling out to supplement companies and posing on stage like a show pony with an oompa loompa tan. It wasn’t for me.
Erin Simmons Fitness today:
I [turned] ESF into a community of people interested in health and fitness. I started posting workouts, recipes, and articles to give followers fresh ideas. As I have progressed…I’ve shared cool new science and debunked common fitness and health myths. I’ve only ever shared or promoted things that I use and believe in and have thoroughly researched.
In spite of excellent credentials, qualified women need to consistently defend their expertise to get respect, much more than their male counterparts.
Erin on social media
- Social media, in general, has become almost all visual.
- Pictures are required. Posts often get Likes based on the visual alone, before the viewer ever knows what the post is about.
- Posts presenting interesting science get comparatively few likes…unless accompanied by a catchy photo.
- Even in the university setting today, visuals are vital when teaching.
- Social media allows a person to paint a completely different version of themselves.
Women, figure competition and body image
- Fitness modeling differs from athletics. Aesthetic musculature may or may not actually be functional.
Example: Why do we have abs? They’re for core strength. Abs—for aesthetics’ sake only—misses the point.
- Women’s physique competition saved bodybuilding. It later progressed into fitness (which required some gymnastic skill), and then figure, and then later bikini competition, which only requires making four turns on stage…yet costs thousands to compete.
- Expectations for women’s physiques tend to be more unrealistic and unsustainable than for men.
- A victory or defeat in athletics teaches lessons on performance improvement, rather than sending primarily a self-esteem message.
Diets and habits
- Build healthy habits first. Start making the right choices. There are lots of ways to loose weight quickly, but those aren’t sustainable and leaves the person in a worse state than when they began.
- The anti-catabolic phase of diet is when fat is easily surrendered and the dieter feels good. Longer term, the body goes into emergency mode and “thinks” it’s starving and then stores fat.
- There’s research showing that a stairstep method to dieting allows the body to reset its metabolism. Obtain a slightly-lower weight, let the body reset, then reduce again.
- Erin eats pretty much whatever she wants [because she has a healthy relationship with food and exercise and a history with fitness and athletics].
- Whatever your journey is, if you make small changes that you’re dedicated to, you’ll make progress, much more than you would by seeking magic potions.
Erin and Scott talk dogs
- Erin’s a dog lover. She rescued her dog Hank from underneath a trailer following the traumatic death of her previous dog.
- Erin and Scott share some memorable quotes about man’s best friend.
- “My new goal in life is to be the person my dog thinks I am.”
- “I work hard so my dog can have [its] best life.”
- “Heaven goes by favor; if it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” – Mark Twain
More from Erin
Erin on her P(her)form brand from mPowHer Athlete
My p(her)form design was created to empower women and female athletes. Women are stronger than we think we are, but we sometimes hold ourselves back with self-doubt and insecurities. We hear that we are strong or fast or good…for a girl. Or that women’s sports don’t matter. Or that we should be seen, but not heard. I designed this shirt to remind all the strong women out there to stand up, stand out, and P(her)form!
Selected Erin blog posts
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