I’m currently on a train from Hartford to Washington, DC to spend the week with some family! Isn’t technology awesome? I love that I can use this time to finally catch up on some blog action. It’s been a busy past few weeks, but for good, productive reasons. Can’t complain about that!
In January, I started hitting the gym consistently again–not because of the new year, but because I finally had my strength and energy return after my still-undiagnosed-illness-thing started to subside. I had gained about 25 pounds from all of that, so I was psyched to get back into a healthy lifestyle and FINALLY feel like I had control over my body again. For about a year before trying it, I knew that I wanted to begin to focus on weight lifting.
However, for most of that year I felt a bit lost and intimidated by the idea of weight lifting. What if I hurt myself? What if I did things in such a horribly wrong way that some guy would have to come over and correct my form? What if the dudes at the gym were mean to me or chuckled at this girl trying use the barbell?
…total middle school girl-level low self esteem kind of stuff, right?! But then I see awesome people like Maria who are totally badass chicks that just. DO. it! Besides, one of my resolutions is to finish 2013 feeling strong. But sadly, many of the articles, websites, and blogs that I read about weight lifting for females (or anyone, really) were filled with horribly incorrect information. So I kept digging.
Being the type of person who needs research-backed methods and science-based reasons for attacking something new (read: I’m a huge nerd), I started doing some deeper reading online, and found a few things that totally changed my mindset:
- My friend Griffin retweeted a link to this fabulous article. If you are interested in weight lifting or are kind of lost at the gym, this article is a must-read.
- Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe. I bought a copy of this after reading the above article, and have since seen it recommended by many other weight lifters online. A fantastic book about not only proper form, but the physiological reasons why the various forms are the most beneficial ways to reap the benefits of lifting.
- Nerd Fitness. A site/blog/community led by Steve Kamb that is promotes fitness in the same manner of the first article I cited. Some great articles: “How to NOT suck at working out,” and “How to Work Out Properly in a Commercial Gym.”
I cannot even put into words how empowering it is to lift heavy–especially as a female. It means even more to me since I was so fragile while battling the mystery illness that had me so weak, I couldn’t even open a heavy door myself. I feel like I am finally in charge of my body–I get to determine how strong it is. And no one else gets a say in that. It’s completely up to me!
Since beginning this part of my journey, I have only gained weight–but in one month, I lost 6 inches off of my body! I’m learning to ignore the scale and focus more on how my body feels instead. I can feel arm muscles forming for the first time in my life–and it feels amazing. My lower body has always been strong, but my arms are the weakest part of my body…but not for long! My body is truly changing before my eyes. Lifting is transforming me both physically & mentally.
People always say that you need to find some kind of exercise that you absolutely love in order to maintain interest in healthy living. I’ve done all kinds of exercising throughout my health journey, but this is the first time that I have truly, madly, deeply (early 90s music references for the win!) loved a form of exercise. I have never been more motivated to work out, or more happy with the little victories.
I’m certainly not lifting anywhere near as heavy as many of the badass ladies out there in the world, but I every time I add an extra 5 or 10 lbs to that barbell, I feel so accomplished that I just want to go tell everyone!
So the moral of the story is this: it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. I definitely don’t look like I lift weights, and I’m far from skinny, but who cares? When I pick that bar, I prove to myself and everyone that I am a strong, healthy, motivated woman who is taking the steps to be better.
If you are curious about lifting, then just go do it! Read some helpful articles, check out youtube videos of Mark Rippetoe coaching people to use good form with barbell exercises, find women that inspire you, see if you can grab a friend to go with you to double-check your form, and then dive right in and go for it! Who cares if you’re barely able to lift the bar? Every rep changes who you are and makes you better, stronger, and more resilient.
And honestly? Most people will think you are a totally badass chick just for venturing into the squat rack.
Do you like to lift weights? Do you use only dumbbells, the barbell, or both?
What hesitations do you have about the gym/gym culture?
What form of exercise gets you excited to workout?