Reader mail 1

These are real women who wrote me, prompted by reading the site, to tell their story and share their ideas. I’ve enjoyed reading them all, so I encourage you to send me plenty more. Include your name if possible (first name is fine), but if you want to stay anonymous, let me know.

I don’t post emails without asking first, so don’t worry that your correspondence will appear without permission.

Dear Krista,

Thanks so much for the time and effort that you put into your web page. It has been a great source of information and inspiration for me.

I am 35 years old and I have 3 kids. The newest addition to the family is now 8 months old and was (largely) responsible for the extra 40 pounds I was hauling around. (Okay, I confess. He really wasn’t in any position to shovel cheesecake in my mouth during my pregnancy, but when you are already walking around looking like the Hindenburg anyway . . .) My husband (bless him) got a gym membership for me for our anniversary last Thanksgiving (no–it wasn’t an insult–I really wanted one, if only because the gym near us has a day care and at the very least I could be away from the baby for an hour or so). I started out doing step classes 3 times a week, trying to “burn off” that fat you know. Upon hearing me voice my frustration with the snail’s pace of weight loss, one of my instructor’s (who was pregnant herself at the time and looked great) suggested weight training. It sounded like a good idea, but I had no idea where to begin. All of the other ladies in the gym did those bazillion reps with itty-bitty weights and I had no patience for that. The ex-football player who showed me around the gym pointed me to the weight machines and basically said “Low weights/high reps for you dearie.” It was very frustrating.

THEN, I found your web page. I checked out some books from the library, got one for myself at the bookstore (A Woman’s Book of Strength by Karen Andes–it has some silly new age stuff, but on the whole has been very helpful not just with regard to training, but to the whole mind-body connection), and started getting busy.

I now walk fearlessly into the free-weight room, heft my share of decent weight, and grunt and sweat like a sow and have a great time. I have lost about 15 pounds ( I know we are not supposed to worry about that but–really–I had some to lose for sure), I can almost fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans, I feel great, and my husband says I look a lot more like steak than like jello these days. Most of all, I just love being stronger. I can hoist that baby car seat around without killing my back, and carry all the damn groceries in one trip. It is very cool. (I have always been a pretty tough cookie. I’m a former high school English teacher and my students will be happy to testify to the fact that I am no wussie little lady. Now I can feel my outsides starting to match my insides and that is a wonderful thing.) I now find myself preaching the gospel according to big weights to every woman who will stand still long enough to listen.

Next projects: learn to squat like Krista and beat my husband at arm wresting–yes! Again, thanks so much!

Adele Hite (Durham, NC, USA)

Dear Krista,

As of the 25th of March, I have now lost 92 lbs.; here is a before and after picture… I will be competing in the Mr./Ms. Buffalo contest on the 27th. My trainer Julie was the motivating force

behind my success; she knew before me that I would reach this weight. By following her instructions and working hard at the gym I accomplished my goal… doing a contest after 33 years is a dream come true. My body fat at the start was 40%. It is now 10.9%. Whew… 🙂 I went from 215 down to 123. Not bad for a 47 year young female wouldn’t you say? It took two years of hard work but it was worth every bit of it.


Melanie before, at 215 lbs. and 40% bodyfat

Melanie after, prior to competition, at 122 lbs. and 10% bodyfat

Melanie after, prior to competition, at 122 lbs. and 10% bodyfat

Melanie with her trophies

Melanie with her trophies

I took 3rd in masters and 2nd in heavy weight. I wasn’t quite cut enough for the judges, but all in all I lost a total of 93 lbs. for the show and my next show is at the end of May. Thanks again. I was up at 4:30 every morning to do my cardio for the show and again in the gym by 4 for another 2 hrs., 7 days a week to get ready for this show, I get a week off and then start all over again, will send new pics as I get more cut if it’s OK with you.


Update: Melanie took 3rd in both the Master’s and open division at the Can Am 3000.

Update 2: Melanie makes “Amateur Bodybuilder of the Week” at

Dear Krista,

What a pleasure to find a bodybuilding site devoted to women that is free of the usual male-influenced crap. And, as a bonus, it’s full of well-written, targeted articles. I was at an all-time physical low this past year and finally reached the proper mental state to do something about it. I became a gym-rat a few months ago — weights four days a week, cardio and abs six days a week. I even splurged on a personal trainer. My fantasy goal is enter a master’s competition in six years (I’m 44). The key word here is fantasy but, hey it keeps me on the treadmill….

Cindy Campbell

pamDear Krista,

I am a 41-year-old Senior Quality Control Systems Computer Analyst in New York. While web surfing one day, I came across your site, and I was very impressed. Although I believe our goals are slightly different, I also believe that we are like-minded on the topic of female bodybuilding.

I have NEVER been a “Barbie.” I was always the girl who played baseball with the boys, and wrestled with my older brothers. My idea of the attractive female form isn’t the soft, “sorority” girl, but rather the trim and fit body of a well-muscled woman. I have always been an avid fitness nut, but only relatively recently began a daily weight-lifting regimen, including both upper and lower body development. My routine includes reps of two-arm curls, French curls, upright rows, two-arm bench presses, lateral raises, triceps curls and more. (And that’s just the UPPER body!) I crunch 100 sit-ups every day, and support my muscular development with daily doses of creatine monohydrate powder.

I have been using a combination of free weight exercises for approximately ten weeks. The attached photos were taken at the end of the fifth week. I am happy and proud to share my training and diet routine with any ladies who might be interested in achieving their maximum potential.

My man says it best: “The well-muscled female form is God’s best work.”


donnaDear Krista,

What can I say but “thank you”.

I am a 27 year old Australian woman who has been working out at the gym for over 12 months and it has become the best part of my life. It has increased my strength both physically and mentally and I have a much better eating regime than I ever have!! It is a joy to be able to carry in the shopping bags on my own and all at once!!!!!! I am only 5’1″ but I am stronger than a lot of my male friends yet I do not have the “typical muscley looking” body one would expect to have to have to have strength.

I have been desperate to find more information on women and weight training as I have slowly converted from the Nautilus style machines and a mishmash of bits and pieces to the “quicker results” of free weights. These give me quicker results and I am now pushing myself harder than ever. I am constantly looking for ways of improving routines and finding the “correct” advice and information. I know that not everything works for everyone but those basic principles surely are there. However, I have spent a lot of time being confused as to routines.

Your page has given me a lot of direction and I really appreciate it. I usually run (run because I like running and abhor walking) about 6 km per day and I’m working with a cross section of nautilus and free weights 3-4 times per week for about 1 hour… I have had a lot of conflicting advice (a lot of it from men) but as a regular net user I thought I would find some info that related to women.

I also feel I have come to a bit of a standstill with my training. I have had so many guys at the gym saying.. you shouldn’t be lifting such heaving weight… low weights high reps girly… that’s what you need… obviously from reading your page.. THEY ARE WRONG!!!!

I am going to start using your free weight routine and see how I go. Like I said thanks a heap and I will be reading your page continuously and if I ever get out the gym and get a new cartridge for my printer I might even be able to print some off!!!

Anyway, all the best and thanks. I have attached a photo so you know who the crazy chick from Down Under in Australia is.

All the best!!!


Dear Krista,

Hi, I am a 41 yr. old female bodybuilder.

This picture was taken at my first all natural competition. I placed 2nd in novice short class and 3rd in open short.

Bodybuilding is a way of life – I enjoy it tremendously. The show was on May 29, 1999. I took a week off, now I’m back to it hard and heavy, trying to gain some mass for next year’s show.

Thank you for your time, and thank you for your web site.

Michelle P. Easterling

Dear Krista,

I’ve been meaning to write you for, oh, about a year or so. Last April, I realized that *nothing* in my closet fit comfortably and that
the pounds that had slowly been creeping on since my freshman year in college had become An Official Problem. Your website was my
inspiration to start lifting seriously, and your link to Jerri Massi’s low-carb page gave me the jolt I needed to realize that while I might
not like Atkins’ writing style, the low-carb diet was a valid approach to nutrition. (I liked Mary & Richard Eades’ Protein Power much
better for readability, but I digress.)

Originally, I promised myself that I would write you when I had managed an unassisted chinup, but that slipped by back in November or
so. (I can manage five now, but only on the first of three sets.) The other night, I was stretching in my foo-foo “ladies only” gym in
the middle of my leg workout when I realized that, holy weight clips, I had visible quadriceps muscles. So I decided that I was going to
celebrate by saying thank you for the effort you put into your page and for the help you dispense on You truly have
been my mentor, and your web page has been a tremendous help to me.

Nearly all of my routines have come from your list (modified to deal with the foofiness of my gym – I’m cultivating a mean look so that
nobody says word one to me about doing deadlifts off the floor with the chest press bar).

I have no current plans to enter any competitions or pick up any cars or trains. Right now, it’s enough for me to know that just about
every morning, I’m stronger than I was the day before. As you say on your page, my body is no longer my failure but my ongoing success, and that has been a tremendous gift. Thank you.


Hi Krista,

I’m a 18 year-old college student. Late last year I was suckered (and believe me, coaxed, almost drug) to the gym by two of my friends who are soccer players and avid gym goers. It was the first time since high school gym class that I went to the gym. Needless to say I was
intimidated, and reluctant to leave my friends side and venture to the “guy’s side of the gym” where the sqwaht cages and benches reigned supreme. But after a day of working out on the machines and some slight free weights, I was hooked!!! I wanted to know more about weightlifting, then I found your website. I learned so much, and was so convinced that now I walk straight through the “girlie side” and straight to the free weights to sweat and grunt with the big boys.

Your website gave a lot of confidence to change myself physically and mentally. After almost 5 months of training, I have seen dramatic changes in myself (I have shunned the dreaded freshmen fifteen), and believe me, I’m gonna keep going. My goal is to bench press 100lbs by the end of the semester (I’m currently at 75lbs.) And, I actually love it when I get stared at because I’m the only girl doing squats, it gives me more drive. Hehehe.

Thank you,

Cathy C.


Dear Krista,

Even in Texas women have stumbled their way into the gym, and not for the purpose of delivering glasses of iced tea to their sweetie-pies. I am 45 years old, and have been lifting weights and watching my nutrition (not rigorously, but consistently) for about 8 months. In that time, I’ve gone from 29% body fat to 19% body fat, and have lost about 29 pounds overall (I’m 5’5″), now tipping the scales ever so gently at 133 lbs. (dress size – from size 12 to size 6). I do my best to adhere to scrupulous form, and a solid
controlled pace. I have just begun to incorporate your suggestions about varying the tempo of my workouts. It breaks up the monotony.

I really like the look on the guys faces when they see me executing my weight routine, slowly and with control and proper form. It’s like: “Hey – where’d you learn that?” Kinda makes their flailing arms and rapid-fire reps, not to mention the loud dropping of weights at the end, look kinda lame. I LIKE IT!

From one “feminist theorist” to another: ain’t it great to be a woman? I think so, and I feel and look better at 45 than I did at 25. It’s never too late to excavate your best body from beneath layers of enchiladas.

Emily Y.

Dallas, TX

p.s. My 76 year old mother-in-law is working out 3x/wk with her personal trainer (he works her ass hard, too!), and she looks and feels better than she ever has. Ain’t oxygen great?