I can not even begin to tell you how many times I have taken up a new exercise programme, fad diet or just overall killer lifestyle aimed at punishing myself for putting on weight. I mean, how very dare I gain…*gasp*…half a stone. Ridiculous right? Finally determined to put an end to my anxiety fuelled swinging between self-loathing and restriction I started messing around in the weights room and later joined a beginner’s strength training programme for women.
While for various reasons I have now left the course, I will now never not weightlift. There is nothing quite like essentially picking up heavy stuff to make you realise that us women are strong and pretty damned awesome. Six months ago I could barely pick up a barbell and now I’m smashing personal goals including deadlifting 75kg, squatting 45kg and I have even got my first unassisted chin up.
Having always believed that the ultimate goal in life was “skinny”, my exercise in the past has been all cardio based. Now don’t get me wrong, I love to run, but no one had actually ever told me before that the way to get that always-out-of-reach fitness body was not actually through hours of punishing cardio. And I think that’s the key word here: punishing. It’s fabulous if you love to run but you should do it for the love, not for burning off love handles.
The amazing thing about strength training is that instead it is inherently about progression. When I finish a session I don’t think to myself “oh that run didn’t burn nearly enough calories”, I think “YAS! Just did two chin ups in a row, let’s now get three”. I’m constantly striving to do better and I have measurable goals as a result which makes me feel really good about myself. It makes me feel strong. And that in turn has reignited my love of all types of exercise…in fact when I’ve finished this post I’m off to do a cross country 5km run and I can’t wait.
Weight lifting, conditioning and just exercise in general makes me feel, well, fantastic. The whole experience since that first venture in the weights room, from the personal bests, surprising myself with my own strength improvements and just being surrounded by an amazing group of empowering women, has seriously helped with my anxiety management. My body isn’t where I want it to be just yet, but with the help of strength training I am happy knowing that the changes are coming. I also am eating more than I ever have before but it’s more nutritious, which is a whole other post in the making (watch this space).
I have finally found a lifelong way of exercising and I cannot recommend it enough: I am obsessed. Seriously ladies, go pick up a barbell, you will not regret it.