Don’t fear the weight room

Time to talk about one of my favorite things…. Lifting!!!!!!!!!

A few years ago when I was training for my half marathon, I had a goal to lose weight. I had my goal weight in mind, and I was going to get there by the end of the year. After having two kids I had the mommy tummy and I wanted to get rid of it. What could be better for that than running 20-30 miles a week?

I worked on my diet, ran a bunch, and very occasionally did workouts with my husband. As broke college kids, we couldn’t afford a gym membership and we didn’t really like the facility our school had, so workouts at home were mostly body-weight exercises like push-ups, sit ups, that type of stuff.

Now, I have to admit, my husband tried very hard to get me to work out with him more. He kept trying to get it through my head that though running was great, I needed to do those types of workouts with him if I wanted to get rid of my baby fat. And I didn’t listen. I’ve been a runner at heart for years, I know what I’m doing, I know better. Push ups? Psssssh, no! Those will only wear me out before my run!

Long story short, I lost the weight, but the belly stayed. Frustrating, right?

Fast forward to last year. Thanks to a pinched nerve in my foot, I had to cut back on my running. So what the heck was I supposed to do?

Our apartment had a fitness center. I went down there occasionally to “work out” but it was half-assed efforts. I hated weight lifting. Again, I just saw it was wearing me out for my “real” workout of running. That, combined with not really knowing what to do, lead to frustration.

Then, during another hours long Pinterest binge, I saw it. The solution to my problem. The answer to prayers. The Perfect Pin.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/193443746472836627/

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Photo from jerseygirltalk.com

I found this pin from this blog http://www.jerseygirltalk.com/ . This girl is amazing. In her blog, she details how she went from doing endless cardio and a very low-cal diet to weight lifting. Looking at the picture above, you can see her amazing transformation!

When I saw this pin and read this girl’s blog post, I knew that’s what I wanted. I wanted the strong, sculpted look, and I wasn’t going to get it with my present course of action. This girl recommended the book The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess.

I immediately got this book from the library, and I knew I had to have my own copy, so I ordered it from Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/New-Rules-Lifting-Women-Goddess/dp/1583333398/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1464187291&sr=1-1&keywords=the+new+rules+of+lifting+for+women

Basically, it comes down to this… We as women have been brainwashed to believe that we shouldn’t lift heavy weights. We should lift teeny tiny weights and focus on cardio. Weights are for men. If we lift, we’ll bulk out and look like men.

Ladies…. Come on… what part of that makes sense? Yes, there are plenty of women out there that are really bulky, but they do that for a reason. They spend hours in the gym and take a ton of crap to make themselves look like that. Lifting weights a few times a week is NOT going to make you look like that!!!

Okay, back to me. I’m sure I’ll get back to that later. So I got the book and studied it. The book includes recipes that are high in protein, but also balance carbs and fats. You don’t have to follow the diet plan. It’s more of a collection of helpful suggestions. And of course, is the workout plan. There are 7 stages to the plan and depending on how many times a week you work-out, it takes roughly six months to complete. I went 3-4 days a week usually, so that would’ve been 6 months. Less than that obviously makes it go longer, working out more than that (not recommended) would make it go faster.

Each stage is broken down into A and B workouts. The book gives you which moves you’re supposed to do, how many reps, and how many sets. (I really want to share pictures, but I’m worried about breaking some copyright rules and I’m all about following the rules!) You alternate the workouts, so say you lift on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Monday would be Workout A, Wednesday would be B, Friday A, and so on and so on.

It may take you a while to figure out what a good weight to lift is. Most of the phases start out with you doing more reps of each workout, so you would choose a lighter weight. Then as you progress, you add more weight. You want to be challenged, but don’t hurt yourself. You want to feel the burn, and you’re going to be sore. You can lift more than you think!!! Just try it, trust me!!

There is cardio mixed in the workouts, but it suggests doing it in intervals, I think a 2:1 interval. For example, if I was running, I would run two minutes and walk a minute. Or run two minutes at a faster pace and then go slower for a minute. It has you do the cardio after you lift. It goes into this whole explanation about it which I can’t remember right now.

At first I was worried I would be too tired to do cardio after lifting, and some days it was hard. (Especially since we lived on the third floor at the time!!) but, it was so much easier than if I had done it before lifting. The plan suggests only going for maybe 20 minutes, so it’s not like you’re going to be lifting weights for an hour and then working on the elliptical for another hour. Nope, those hour long cardio sessions not included. (I guess if you want to do them on days you don’t lift, that’s okay, but there’s this whole thing about how doing extended cardio breaks down the muscle you’re trying to build, so it’s counter-productive).

Results. It’s all about the results right? I started noticing changes in just a few weeks. This was much faster than when I was just doing cardio. The first place I started noticing changes was in my arms. After only a few weeks, I could start to see real definition in my arms. A few weeks later, I noticed my waist slowly getting smaller. I still had that mom-pooch, but I knew it would take a long time to work all that off. Even then, there’s always going to be a bit left over, not to mention the skin. Not to brag, but my legs have always looked pretty amazing, but I saw changes in my legs too.

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Nice, right? I’ve always been complemented on my legs. With some, I have an inside joke that my legs aren’t hot…they’re smoldering!

I quickly fell in love with lifting. I had to modify several of the moves because the fitness center was lacking in several things, but I did what I could. I would be tired and exhausted, but I felt like I recovered from it much more quickly than when I would run five miles. There were several days where I almost crawled up the stairs back to our apartment, or called my husband to help me up. (Thankfully our apartment was right by the fitness center, so I didn’t have to walk very far back and forth.) I quickly learned I had to plan my week according to when I planned on working out. I couldn’t do laundry and workout the same day. We didn’t have a washer and dryer, so I had to do laundry in the machines in the office. The laundry room was right next to the fitness center, but it just got too hard to haul laundry up and down, back and forth on days I worked out. Grocery shopping was also planned out accordingly for the same reasons.

I kept this up for a few months. I started looking more into body building. I doubt I’ll ever do a competition, but it was fun looking at all the stuff that goes into prepping for a contest. I started pinning more gym humor things on my Pinterest board. I experimented with protein powders. I was loving the gym like, and I got used to seeing certain people at the fitness center.

Unfortunately, life happened and I fell off the wagon. We moved to another apartment, so working out was put on hold for a couple weeks to move things. We had some unexpected hiccups with the move, so the added stress made it difficult. Then just after moving in, my husband had to go out of town for a couple weeks. I didn’t want to take the kids down to the fitness center at our new place just because I wasn’t really sure how things were down there, if the kids could stay out of the way, all that. Finally I was able to get down to the new fitness center. I was excited about it because when we looked at the place, it seemed awesome.

When I actually got down there, I was very disappointed. It was actually worse than the old fitness center. I tried for a few weeks to make it work, and it just wasn’t working. I was pretty bummed. I tried doing a few other things down there, including going to the classes a personal trainer did there once a week. I didn’t really enjoy the classes. I didn’t feel like the trainer really meshed with what I felt like I needed to do. I get it, he had a group to run, but I was kind of hoping for more.

I went back to trying to do work outs at home, but I just couldn’t get into the habit. Yikes. I was trying to get back into running just to do something. We were back in a familiar area that I loved, so I was excited to be back in my old stomping grounds.

Christmas came along and Santa decided to step in. My husband found a great deal on a body works machine. We knew we wouldn’t get like ripped from it, but it was a heck of an improvement. We were able to workout at home whenever we wanted. I think the first week we had it, I worked out every day. My husband could come home from work and go right to working out. It was an amazing improvement. I couldn’t really do much for my legs, but I worked my arms and upper body out really well.

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Then my friend started up teaching Cross fit classes. We do a lot of lifting. She has proper equipment, so I’ve been able to actually build up. I’ve deadlifted 185!! In the fitness centers, the most I was able to do was 100… with 2 50lbd dumbbells. Yeah, I’ve come a long way!! And I’m seeing more and more changes. My arms are looking even better. My butt is getting perkier. I’m starting to get abs!!!! Just like I’ve always wanted!!

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135 lbs! At this point, this was the most I’ve ever dead lifted.

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I’m from Texas, of course I’m packing hehe

My friends, I seriously recommend weight lifting. Don’t be afraid to lift heavy. If you don’t know how to do something, look it up on Youtube or have someone help you. Form is so important, so have someone watch you to make sure your form is right. I promise, incorporate real weight lifting into your workout regimen, and you will see that changes you want to see. Make sure your diet changes too to ensure your muscles are getting what they need. Don’t worry about the scale. You will gain weight, but you will lose inches. There are so many fantastic resources out there. I wish I could list them all, but I think the easiest thing to do would be to share the link to my Pinterest fitness board. I’ve pinned and saved so many things.

https://www.pinterest.com/mermgerm/fitness/

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My most recent mid-workout selfie, taken yesterday. It was in the 80s and super humid. See that sweat on my forehead! that was after I already wiped some off. 

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