The Tale of Two Trailblazers

By Erica Willick

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The Tale of Two Trailblazers

As your beloved GORGO has transformed in the past couple of years into a glowing vision of strength, beauty, and power she was always rooted in, we reflect simultaneously on our roots and our future.

These cover models of GORGO embody our fiery roots and trailblazing future. Doris Barrilleaux, pictured here at 84-years-old first lady of bodybuilding, pioneered the sport of recognizing women for their efforts in physique. She gracefully flexes beside visionary Valerie Solomon, Editor-In-Chief of the publication you’re reading right now. Both are driving forces behind the unwavering belief that we as women can change the landscape of fitness and health for ourselves.

So what makes someone a “trailblazer”? A trailblazer sees the world through different eyes and chooses to not shy away from the criticism and challenges that comes with doing things differently. They tame a wild trail through a forest for other people to follow.

These two women have trail blazed a path for us first Gorgo Girls, us women who know deep down we have power and strength beyond what is currently expected of us. Not because “strong is the new sexy”, but because feminine strength is timeless and a universal right for all women.

Trailblazer: Doris Barrilleaux (Aug. 11, 1931 - May 12, 2018)

Doris was confident, empowered, strong, and well into her 80’s, maintained a deep passion for women’s equality. Doris raised a family, worked as a flight attendant, became a successful photographer, pioneered women’s bodybuilding and worked hard for female control of it. She also put a tremendous amount of energy into spreading the news of the sport as well as promoting the benefits of strength training to the masses.

Doris remains active on social media and posts regularly about her annoyance of images of helpless women in real life or media. You could call her a Feminist. “Not the man hating kind” she says, “I only hate a few of them…just a few of those that were determined to control the women’s sport from the very beginning.”

Doris is called “the First Lady of Body Building” for her tireless work spearheading the movement to make women’s bodybuilding competitions a reality. In 2011, Doris was inducted into the National Fitness Hall of Fame at the Arnold Sports Festival for playing such an important role in women’s bodybuilding.

Doris envisioned a sport in which women were recognized for being in superior ‘natural’ shape and still very feminine. She envisioned a respected sport in which women were recognized for being healthy and strong. Many times in her autobiography Doris expressed that “the men took over” or that was the “man’s version”. The quest for bigger and the oversexualized poses in some classes she questions - Is this what women want for their sport? Doris saw the sport as art and one that symmetry and aesthetics were awarded, not merely size or sexiness.

Doris had almost lost hope in the work she and other female pioneers had put into the inception of women’s recognition for their efforts of being in good shape, until she met and developed a strong bond with GORGO Magazine’s editor, Valerie Solomon through a special feature that Valerie spearheaded in 2013. Valerie’s research for the feature, led to an in person visit and the two women, born decades apart, united in a vision for telling the world about the healthful benefits of strength training and a fit lifestyle.

Trailblazer: Valerie Solomon

A teen mom at the age of 19, Valerie Solomon, has seen her children as reasons, not excuses before most of us grew into adulthood and attempted to discover our identities. A mother to 4 boys now, she is known to hundreds of thousands on social media as Busy Mom Gets Fit.

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Valerie started into the fitness industry simply by sharing her journey that resonated with so many busy moms: trying to raise a gaggle of children, maintain our passion for fitness, keep our families running smoothly, work, support our husbands in their work, go after our crazy dreams, and deal with life’s challenges.

Yet she stands apart from the noise of the mainstream by choosing to stay true to her beliefs in herself and belief in other women, and then acting on those beliefs. Valerie believes we do not need to bend to what others want us to be just because it is more acceptable in current day’s norms. Whether those norms are skinnier or more submissive. She believes that we can be more, that we are equals. The mantra Valerie has coined for her fans is “I’m not beautiful like you, I’m beautiful like me.” Valerie encourages her community to post photos with these words written on photos that they feel represents their unique body. You can see a gallery of these powerful photos by searching #beautifullikeme in Instagram.

Throughout regular attacks on her large social media page for a “too muscular physique” or “selfish” mom gym time, Valerie has become further rooted in her beliefs instead of changing colors like a chameleon to hide. Instead, Valerie pursued her vision of a stronger voice for women like her and co-created GORGO Magazine in 2013.

Valerie craved more from women’s fitness content and was tired of fluff-filled articles crammed with fat burner advertisements, amongst sexualized airbrushed female images. She knew there were other women who felt the same, and put forward the ancient Spartan Queen Gorgo as the namesake for the magazine. At the brainstorming table, “Gorgo” (pronounced Gor-GO) wasn’t well received initially as the word sounded a bit ugly and strange to the test group of women used to “pretty” or traditional titles. However, Valerie stood her ground and insisted that the brand was timeless and required a unique title to represent the movement.

GORGO Magazine was published in November 2013 with Valerie overseeing all publications since it’s inception. Each cover model and article, has been scrutinized by Valerie to ensure it was “Gorgo-enough” for the readers and women she was committed to reach. Her unique ability to rally others to join the cause has resulted in the growth of the GORGO tribe to tens of thousands of women, and contributions from top writers and experts in the industry with powerful and thought-provoking articles.

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The birth and growth of GORGO didn’t happen in a vacuum. Life challenges still happened to Valerie, like it does to all of us. Yet, giving up was never an option. No matter how challenging life becomes, a trailblazer doesn’t ever quit.

Passing of the Torch

Valerie flew to attend Doris’s 84th birthday party, amongst the pioneers of women’s bodybuilding. Doris says of Valerie, “Our dreams and goals, while several generations apart, were identical. The more I learned of Valerie’s dedication, determination, and success in the women’s cause for being physically fit, I saw her as the new generation to carry the torch we lit with our first women’s physique contest in 1979.”

At the party, a ceremony was held where Doris passed the “Torch” to Valerie with a physical representation of a torch. Doris, a woman who had dedicated her life to the cause of equality of women in fitness and recognition for those efforts, sees hope in the movement with Valerie and GORGO.

Trailblazers clear the path for so many of us. Yet there is something weaved through the fabric of Doris Barrilleaux and Valerie Solomon that is weaved through millions of women, and weaved through our Spartan Queen, Gorgo. Strong women with a desire to live and do things a little bigger than their stature might lead you to believe is possible.

See the ripple effect of Valerie Solomon’s vision and YOUR power to impact others as part of Camp Gorgo banquet speech.
https://youtu.be/HbiWh3phN1k?t=5m4s

Becoming Protein Minded: A Non-Obsessive Option for Getting in Macros

 

By Valerie Solomon

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I’ve found a rhythm of eating that works for me on a daily basis as a busy mom wanting to get and stay fit. Although I do track macronutrients for a rigid competition prep and coach clients to do the same, on a normal daily basis, I eat in a way and teach a concept I call “Being Protein Minded”.  

It’s not realistic to think you can stay on a strict meal plan for life.  It’s no fun.  What is doable long term is to fit in the foods you like and work within certain parameters that have some flexibility.  Learn to track calories for a bit, and then learn how to get in enough protein.  Start making lasting changes slowly.  It is possible for a busy woman to learn to eat to progress without an endless diet you dread.

What is this “Becoming Protein Minded” stuff?

To become protein minded, I want you to think PROTEIN PROTEIN PROTEIN at every meal and snack.  If you are like me and most women I coach, and gravitate towards cereal, bread, crackers, and yummy soups…. that’s fine, but get a side of PROTEIN with it.   Want a salad?  Have a side of protein.  Want that veggie pizza?  Think about where you will get in your protein as well.  It’s a small mental adjustment that can really help you build the muscle and strength you want.  Get protein on your brain!

Tip:  Cook extra meat when you cook dinner and keep it in your refrigerator for adding in those protein sides when needed.  My freezer is full of leftover options!

Below, I’ll introduce you to some of the dieting concepts from my Busy Mom Gets Fit Next Step Plan.

  • PART 1: CALORIES: choose your own food options and aim to fit them into the calorie parameters

  • PART 2: YOUR PROTEIN TARGET RANGE: learn to hit your protein target range daily

It’s helpful when learning to eat in a new way to have a guide.  There is a meal plan included for GORGO Premium Subscribers, but please know you CAN eat other things!  Continue reading to learn to fit the foods you love into parameters.

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PART 1: CALORIES
How many calories should I eat?!

You’ve probably heard the number “1200” tossed around a lot. Often 1200 calories is too few calories for most women.  Most women will actually see good weight loss on a 1700 calorie diet if they include exercise at the same time (that’s you!).

The number of calories a woman should eat largely varies based on body type, her level of activity, the state of her metabolism and her goals.  That’s a lot of “it depends”.  However, a good rule of thumb for a healthy-weighted woman looking to control her weight while staying healthy, is to begin at 10-17 times her bodyweight in calories (10-12 if you want to lose weight, 13-17 if you want to maintain, 18+ to gain).  As you progress and want to shed more fat, you can lower your calories slowly over time, but we do not recommend going below 10 times body weight for any extended period of time or staying at 10 x your bodyweight forever.

Graphic:  body weight x 10-17 = calories

Do you think this number is too high?!  It can be a scary thing to eat MORE to lose weight! If you are a serial dieter and have cut calories for long lengths of time, you know there comes a time where you throw up your hands because you can’t eat any less and your body is still not changing!  You’ve stalled your metabolism; your body goes into starvation mode.  With a better plan and learning to eat to fuel your body, you can get it running again and you may be surprised that you can eat a greater amount of food and get leaner.

If you want to learn more about this area, I recommend you check out the GORGO Magazine article called “I Want To Lose Fat AND Gain Muscle?!” in our OCTOBER 2015

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Track Your Calories

Now that you have a target number to shoot for, it’s a good idea to track your calories for a while until you get in a rhythm of eating at this level or until you reach your goals.  This may be as little as one week or as long as a couple months.  I recommend using an app such as MyFitnessPal to help you track.

Do I Have to Track Everything Forever?!

It’s not realistic to track calories every day for the rest of your life.  At minimum it’s an annoyance and it could promote obsessive food behaviors which I don’t support.  Yet it is often very important to track your food initially to reach goals and to learn how much you consume.  Consider it a “Food-u-cation”.

To put it into perspective, let’s say you track your food all week and hit your calorie targets each day.  Then the weekend rolls around and you just want to relax a bit so you say “Screw it, I deserve to take a break.”  In just the 1 day (even 1 meal), you can undo the work you did all week long tracking.  You may think what you chose to eat wasn’t “that bad”, but the portion size along with what else you ate that day can take you way off track.  Until you innately know what portion sizes and food choices are in accordance with your goals, I recommend you track your food, otherwise be satisfied and accepting if your desired changes don’t materialize.

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PART 2: Your Protein Target Range

A key element in building muscle tone, is to eat enough protein to support the muscle growth. I’ve not met a woman starting out on a fitness journey yet that eats enough protein.

By following the workouts in this magazine, you are officially an active women who regularly strength trains.  This means you should aim to eat 1-1.2g of protein per pound of body weight.  Don’t let this overwhelm you.  I’m introducing you to this important concept because you work too hard in your workouts not to get the best results.  This is often a missing key for too many women.

Let me hold your hand here to implement this part:

  1. Track your total calories following the guidelines above using MyFitnessPal

  2. Find in the MyFitnessPal app or on your MyFitnessPal diary webpage where “Nutrients” or “Macros” are shown.

  3. Write down the total number of grams of protein you ate for the day.

  4. Divide the total number of grams of protein by your bodyweight in pounds (e.g. you ate 126g of protein / 140 lbs = 0.90 = too low in protein! Target is 1-1.2)

  5. If the number is less than 1-1.2, work at increasing your protein each day.

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By knowing your parameters and what that looks like on a plate throughout the day, you can begin to ease up and buckle down when needed.  Keep protein on the brain.  

 

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