As we all know by now, I used to be fat. Like, 36% bf fat. And when I was fat, I was always terrified to lift because I was worried about "getting bulky", so I hopped on a treadmill and got hooked on running in the spring of 2012.
Fast forward almost 3(?!) years later, and you will see me in the gym at the free weights, avoiding all contact with the cardio machines. I've even finished my lifting, stood in front of a dreadmill, stared it down, and left- I obviously won the staring contest. Lifting, not running, has become my go-to for working out. I started in the summer of 2013, and have been hooked on THAT ever since.
Some of the comments I've received since starting lifting- from family members, friends, and others about lifting- have actually been pretty ignorant. "You're going to get bulky, you're going to look like a man, you're going to hurt yourself, why do you eat so much?" And I have to say, I've been pretty passive about it when the people I care about do make these comments, instead of telling them to shut up and chew on another stick of celery. That time of passivity is stopping here, which is why I decided to write about this subject, after getting feedback from my other female friends who lift. So read on, and educate yourself. Maybe it'll help you learn to promote that strong is sexy, especially for women.
9 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Tell A Woman She Lifts Too Much
1. Lifting makes you curvy.
Not bulky. Females lack the testosterone necessary to to get absolutely ripped like guys. There are the outliers like Dana Linn Bailey, but here's a newsflash- you will NEVER look like her. Most female physique competitors are on a whole other level when it comes to weight training and dieting. Their dedication and self control is truly admirable and I can only wish to someday have a boyfriend who has abs like DLB.
I personally lift and eat with the intention to get muscular and struggle with building muscle! Ladies, when our muscles get bigger- they give us that feminine shape that our society tries to mold us into. Gone are the Kate Mosses and Kiera Knightly obsessions, cue Iggy Azalea, Beyoncé, Kate Upton- all women who men and women obsess over, who have an ass, and hips and aren't waif thin. If you can find a woman who has been on a proper weightlifting routine, given proper instruction and education on how to actually pick heavy things up and put them down and does NOT enjoy the results they see, then I'll run a 5k in a tutu skirt and sparkly leotard.
2. Lifting Is Black and White
This is one of my favorite aspects to lifting. While people may fail me, the laws of physics do not. 20 lbs will always be 20 lbs. What changes is me. I get stronger, I adapt. Weights teach a great life lesson. When you face adversity, whether it be losing your job, breaking up with a significant other, moving- the circumstance don't change. What defines the situation is how you adapt and react to it. If I hit a plateau while I'm bench pressing, it's not the weights' fault. It is up to me to change my routine, to find a way to break the plateau and hit heavier weights.
3. It Helps You Feel Empowered
I am by nature, not a weak-willed woman. There is a feisty(crazy) streak that runs rampant in the women on my mom's side of the family, and it is a trait that I am immensely proud of. Even so, lifting has helped me increase that feeling of independence. To go out into the free weights pad, be the only female there and still have the confidence to crank out some heavy weighted sets amongst all the guys? That feeling is amazing. When you get stronger and don't need the help of someone else to get your 50 lb bag of pet food into your shopping cart, or can pick up objects that most people wouldn't expect a woman of your size to be able to handle, that feels so empowering! Since I've started lifting, I've become more of a problem solver, because I've learned that I can be independent and figure things out on my own, which has lead to success not only in my personal life, but my professional one as well. "Self-driven" and "self-starter" doesn't even begin to describe where I am at in terms of my work ethic at this point.
4. You Learn More About Yourself
Lifting is my "me" time. It gives me time to think. It shows me what my boundaries are and exactly how willing I am to work to push myself out of my comfort zone. That last rep you gave up on? Well, despite nearly throwing up, I managed one shaky last one. That extra oomph you give at the end of a workout, the push- that is what turns you from ordinary to extraordinary.
5. You Push Yourself
Leg day. Enough said about that. To start up a leg day on a Sunday, when you are still extremely sore from the prior one on Wednesday? That takes guts.
6. You Eat A Lot
Wait... This is a good thing?
Absolutely! In a society where .5-3.7% of adolescent women struggle with anorexia (ANAD), by teaching females to fuel their body the proper way, to eat to perform at the level needed for their workouts, this is a godsend. I finally started seeing more results after I UPPED my calories. I consume on average 2300 calories a day currently. My lifts continue to get stronger, and my body reacts well to the influx of food. I'm building more muscle, but still cutting fat, because I'm learning how to do it the right way.
7. You Become More In Tune With Your Body
When I started to lift on my own, I first went and researched what I was doing. I read up on the biomechanics of a squat, I understood the importance and significance of a 5-6 day split, and because I educated myself, I learned more about how my body should work, and how it shouldn't. I learned the difference between what is just sore, and what is an actual injury. If I'm getting sick, or have a weak body part, I now know how to remedy that problem. This has helped me with doctors appointments, because if I feel that something is wrong with me and the doctor doesn't, I will fight back and ask for a second opinion. Let's face it, a doctor doesn't know everything and they don't know how you are feeling, therefore they won't know based on the description alone that something may be wrong. By pushing to get more tests, more work done, instead of going with the "doctors are the authority" stance that most people take, you are taking control of your health.
8. Exercise aids in improving mental health.
A recent study in 2012 (see link below) showed a significant trend in clinically depressed woman, that their self concept improved with exercise versus the control group. The two tested groups were running and lifting. No significance was shown between the two test groups, but from all the reasons I just gave above, why wouldn't you choose lifting instead of running as your main form of running?
9. It's F*ing Annoying
Lift heavy, be happy, be healthy. That's all there is to it.