This post is brought to you by Katelyn Travers, a friend of mine and a hell of a good coach. She’s a living legend, having competed at a high level in powerlifting, bodybuilding, and marathoning, all within an 18 month time frame.
So believe me, when she talks about how to change physique or what it takes to make a major difference in your life, everybody listens.
Here’s What you Need to Know:
- Weights are the best way to change your bodies actual shape. Training with weights will also increase your energy and vitality, which will allow you to do more of the things you love.
- The confidence gained from doing something that was previously unrealistic for you will result in more confidence in the gym and in your life. As Walt Disney said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible”
- Weight lifting will also allow you to eat like an athlete, not a model. If you’re training hard, you need to recover hard as well, and that includes eating more calories.
Don’t Fall Into the Cardio Trap
In a world of advertising and blogs and happy hours filled with discussion on the latest exercise trend that can finally blast off your muffin top or nutrition supplement that can melt away fat from your inner thighs, it is almost impossible to know what is the best thing to do for your body.
I’ve been caught in it myself. From getting drawn into exercise programs just for women’s problem areas to diet plans that reduce your meal size to one fit for a toddler. But through all that and after some time, I have emerged with encouraging news. Challenging my body with appropriate weights and eating enough to actually fuel my body has gotten me to a place of feeling strong, confident and free from dieting-related stress. So here are my top three strategies to get you there as well.
1) Challenge your body with weights.
The weight room can be a scary, foreboding place for women. It can be filled with excessive body hair, smells and grunts of unknown meaning. But this is where miracles happen. One of the major miracles is that this can make your life seem easier.
Not only will lifting heavier weights change your body by developing your muscles and giving you the “long, lean shape” (aka muscle definition) you’ve been promised by a zillion magazine article workouts, it will help you better handle the things you do on a daily basis.
You will finally be able to carry in all your groceries in one trip because you arms and core are strong. You will be able to go on a hike with friends and enjoy the way up because your legs have been preparing for this. You will be able to rearrange your furniture just for fun because you don’t need to wait for your boyfriend or roommate to get home from work to help.
It is wonderful to be able to get more done yourself and have more energy. If it isn’t taxing for you to go about your day, you will have more energy for other areas of your life. If climbing up the three flights of stairs to your apartment or office is no big deal for you, maybe you will have the energy to cook dinner at home or go on a walk with your kids. In the gym, you aren’t just training your body for more training, you can also be training it for more life.
2) Embrace your newfound confidence.
A lesser publicized benefit of lifting weights is the wonderful effect it can have on your confidence. I started lifting as a very skinny girl who wasn’t very sure of who she was. Seeing myself stay consistent and disciplined with something was really encouraging. Tracking my workouts, watching the weights increase and seeing “new” muscles start to appear on my body helped me see more potential in myself. Both in the gym and outside of it.
It’s amazing the amount of women’s workouts that just seem random, but don’t seem to encourage actually increasing the weight. This is what makes you feel successful! Track your workouts and be proud of your progress. Whether it’s one more rep, one more minute or one more pound.
3) Quit being scared of eating or of not severely restricting your calories.
The wonderful thing about lifting challenging weights is that it’s hard. Your body has to repair and rebuild. The carbs and protein that we eat are used to do this repairing and rebuilding to help you become stronger.
Rather than not having much of a purpose except for potential fat storage, those calories will have a necessary role in building and maintaining your muscle. Even better news, once you’ve developed a bit of muscle, your body will have to use some of those calories daily to simply maintain the status quo.
For me, this has meant that I can eat a little more, go out for a burger, have ice cream multiple times a week (not extra-large blizzards every day, mind you) without worrying about it or feeling off track.
So be strong, be confident, and end the diet-stress cycle by challenging your body with weights. If you don’t know where to help, ask a friendly online trainer to get you started. Or simply start the challenge by writing down your workouts and doing a little more work in your workouts every day.