Shir Warr was born into an environment that encouraged body issues, but developed a positive outlook to inspire change in herself and others.
Body fat: 14%
For me, the best value in being part of the TRAIN group is the non-judgmental culture we’ve managed to build from the start: There are no “trolls”, no one will tell you you’re wrong or lazy. No one will force their opinion or training style on you (although you can clearly tell we each have very different approaches to fitness and health). As a CSCS*D and a personal trainer of almost two decades, I program my own workouts for the most part, but I’ve used some of the team’s workouts as finishers or as supplement to my own, and as a way to motivate the team as well. Another fantastic part of being a member of this team is being able to help others whenever I can, and of course, the sound and well-informed advice on fitness and nutrition from Charlie Cooke–I can always learn something here.
I was invited to join the TRAIN team and thought it would be fun as I was already a reader of the magazine. I felt it would be good for other women to have a peek at the life of a competitive athlete who has to manage year-round competition prep as well as real life, learn about some of the myths and truths of this kind of life. To be honest, I felt it was a great opportunity for women to NOT have a women-only section but instead to be equal in exposure to content that’s scientifically based and isn’t watered down into pastel colors and strawberries.
I grew up in Israel, in a society that rewarded women for being extremely undernourished. In the very judgmental Israeli culture, a woman should never be seen eating, and if her collar bones aren’t sticking out at least 3 inches she is considered fat and selfish. My mother and grandmother were always on a diet.
Add to it a family that looked down on athletics of any kind (“only hooligans play sports”), I was not exposed to anything aside from ballet, and so I’ve taken the Royal Academy of Dance system (based in England) from age 3 to 16, then continued to the Israeli Ballet’s prep school which was a 1-year program for aspiring ballerinas, and from which the troupe selects the next professional dancers. At the end of the year, the troupe’s manager walked in, took a quick look at all 42 of us and said that everybody was fat. This was the end of my dance career, and a speedy fall into a heightened state of self-loathing and low body image.
The years that followed consisted of me swinging between starving myself and binging, and smoking cigarettes. At the end of high school, having missed just about every single gym class, I had to take a test to receive my diploma. Imagine me running on the track, crying, with my mother standing and cheering me on the sidelines–I still have nightmares. Fast forward a few months, I was in basic training at the IDF, and because I was so out of shape, I resorted to faking passing out before long marches so that I can stay behind and not exercise… I served as an actor/musician in a performing troupe as part of the Israeli equivalent of the Marines and started college in my last year of service then continued to finish my Bachelor of Fine Arts in NYC, where I ended up staying.
While I was at work a few years later, my apartment was broken into–and this was the event that turned my life around and sent me to the Chinese Kung Fu, Wu Su Association in NYC to learn how to defend myself. I became an instructor, and also started going to the local gym where I ended up teaching classes and training clients, as well as becoming a boxing instructor sponsored by Everlast. I also became a professional martial artist, performing in demos and fitness conferences, and writing an online blog geared for martial artists and combat athletes. I also quit smoking when I joined the Temple in fear I’d be thrown out. Years later, when my son was born, I realized I didn’t want to fight anymore. Living with bruises and constantly being at risk of serious injury needed to stop. So, when we finally left NYC and moved to the suburbs I started bodybuilding. Being an extremely competitive person, this filled the need to keep achieving, and to keep improving myself. For the first time in my life I finally started eating properly. I won the overall champion in my class at my last show, and have been working on improving my physique for my next show.
Bodybuilding also helped me persevere through thyroid cancer and having to live without a thyroid–with hormones that are essential to basic existence now provided 100% synthetically, and ever volatile
Looking at other people’s positive results should inspire you to become more active and healthier. However, when I started competing, I would compare myself to athletes in the Mr. Olympia, and when I still looked different than they look, I was discouraged and anxious. Being part of a positive online community such as the Team Train environment, I try to help others do the exact opposite. I try to help them see that change starts where you are, not where you want to be, and that small steps eventually lead to big results. Learning to embrace what you can do and how you look and feel right now will improve your outlook and create a positive mental state. This is the most important piece of the puzzle. I’m learning to embrace my offseason “fluff” as well, understanding it is necessary for growth.
Meal 1: Egg whites, mushrooms, spinach, rice or oats, all-natural almond butter
Meal 2 (post workout meal): chicken breast, green beans, rice or sweet potato
Meal 3: Bison, lean beef, ground turkey or salmon, asparagus
Meal 4: Chicken breast or white fish, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, avocado or almonds/cashews
Meal 5: White fish or shrimp, green beans or asparagus, olive or coconut oil
Meal 6: Egg whites, whole egg, mushrooms, spinach, all-natural peanut butter
Advice to Others
Try to look at everything without adding emotions into the mix. If you stop labeling your situation or circumstances based on emotion, you’ll start seeing the entire picture, and you’ll be able to find the why, the what and the how.
- Stay your lane
Stop asking others for their opinion on how you should feel, look or live. Stop comparing yourself to others. Do what’s best for YOU.
- Manage your stress and get enough sleep, consistently
Consistency is EVERYTHING. Your eating habits, your training habits, your schedule and your recovery efforts should all be consistent. Without consistency there’s no progress, and there’s no knowing what works and what doesn’t.
- Hydrate and salt it up
Especially if you train hard or are very active, you need to drink lots of plain water. And don’t cut salt, especially if you sweat (ever wondered where those leg cramps came from?).