The traditional run down of why one “should” lift weights really reads like a bunch of “should.” It increases metabolism and builds bone density. There is evidence it leads to increased longevity and improved physicality in daily life. I don’t know about you, but even though those are all great things I “should” care about, I’m bored already. Unless you have experienced the reality of physical set backs, it’s hard to get off the couch for sitting with ease in your elderly years.
What keeps me going back to the weights and why I so often share it as a part of my self-care is all about the immediate effects this kind of training has on me. It’s something I’m passionate about and really hope to convey to others. I really want you to lift weights.
- Because it increases overall confidence. The weight room can have kind of a dungeon-y effect. All the iron and training tools can be super intimidating. Moving through that fear and learning to lift itself begs you to ask in other areas of my life, “What else can I do?” Once you are comfortable, there is always more to learn. Everyday I have the opportunity to try something new, to add weight to a lift, to do something I’ve never done before. It’s invigorating to surprise yourself and constantly surpass your own limitations.
- Because it feels rebellious. As a woman there are so many ways I feel pressure to be small. To quiet my voice, “trim and tone” my body, take up as little space as possible. Working out with free weights requires you to take up space. There is etiquette about how to utilize the space respectfully, but you have to take up space! You have to stand tall to execute a lift. There is no hunching over quietly in the corner. It’s good practice for how I want to show up in the rest of my life.
- Because it feels powerful. I’ll be honest, somewhere between rushing my kid off to school and being up to my elbows in dishes I find myself not feeling super powerful. It can be easy to slide into a disempowered head space that doesn’t bode well when I need to handle bigger life things. I want to show up in my life feeling in my power. When life hands me a difficult confrontation or I need to stand my ground about something, it requires energy that I’m not utilizing while sorting socks. Strength training gives me a daily reminder of my power. Saddling up to a deadlift with my jams pumping in my ears puts me in a “hell yes I’m a bad ass” space that nothing else does. It boosts my self-concept everyday. It’s magic.
- Because it completely transforms your relationship to your body. The last thing on my mind at the squat rack is a list of insecurities about my appearance. Strength training requires your full presence. It requires I be in my body, listening to it’s cues, setting up my form and executing the lift. Both in terms of my past trauma that left me disassociating from my body in an unhealthy way and my old mantras about what’s “wrong” with my body are transformed when I lift. I get embodied. Physically present. Focused on the power of what I can do and nothing else. The more I show up to lift, the more I find myself focused on my presence in my life and in my body than anything else. I celebrate what I can do and push myself to do more. That has taken over the unhealthy mantras that were there before.
I talk a lot about movement as self-care because being connected to your body through movement goes a long way to alleviate stress, create a healthy state of mind, and lessen feelings of “stuck” we can often falter to. Any movement practice you enjoy is great for those things. But I’d love to nudge you to step outside of your comfort zone to specifically try strength training. This practice, like no other, puts me in a position of empowerment in my life that nothing else does. It defies stereotypes, asks you to change your self-concept and requires your presence like nothing else.
If you are interested in the best (and most affordable) help getting started from the beginning I can’t recommend my friend’s JVB and Jen Sinkler’s new program strongly enough. They’ve taken the time to create a program that is completely approachable to a beginner and getting you comfortable doing powerful things. More about it here. It’s available for the launch price until Friday 12/11. But regardless if you take them up on this particular offer, I hope you consider finding your way to the weight room. You will be sitting without pain into your elderly years, but the immediate benefits are likely to blow you away.