Hours went by of me sweating my butt off on the elliptical, bike and any other cardio machine you find at your average gym. It was a safe zone, a place where you didn’t need much knowledge to use the equipment correctly. I saw the other ladies at the gym strutting their stuff on those two sliding planks below their feet and figured if they are doing it I should too. Boy was I wrong! After years of struggling with my weight, I felt hopeless from not seeing results quicker and tired of all the time I spent exerting myself. I under ate and pushed myself just to get a few more minutes on the machines. The trampoline effect of my weight bouncing back and forth, high to low was enough to break my spirits; I knew it was time to change. Weightlifting was that change.
Weightlifting had always been a gray space for me, where the only exposure I received was during my high school gym class. Never having been on a sports team, I would not have ever needed to lift outside of the 45 minute class period. I finally grew tired of running in place for what felt like hours and knew it was time for a change.
What I learned when I ditched the elliptical:
1. Lift heavy, your body will thank you.
Don’t be afraid to lift heavy. You will build muscle quickly, get leaner and burn more calories. You might be thinking, what do you mean “lift heavy?” I mean, if you are in the area with those fun-colored weights, you probably aren’t lifting heavy enough. Mind yourself. Some muscle groups require lighter weights, like shoulders for example. That being said, if you are using a pink dumbbell for chest presses you’re doing something wrong.
2. I became stronger physically and mentally.
I have always struggled with body image and wanting to be the way I saw women around me. Lifting not only gave me a sudden boost in physical strength, but I grew mentally tougher. I knew I was putting my all into my workouts and could feel the benefits pooling in. I would walk out of the gym energize and ready to conquer the rest of my day.
3. I don’t need to focus on anyone but myself.
You have zero time to focus on anyone but you during a lift. For me, I know I have about an hour to get all my exercises done. I found a plan and stuck with it. You come into the gym knowing exactly what muscle group you are going to work. Planning is key. To avoid injury, I made sure I understood all the moves I was doing and educated myself as much as possible. Focusing on my transformation and my goals is what became more important. I stopped feeling the envy of everyone around me. I was in control of my own image and worth.
4. I broke goals (and still do!) way beyond my belief.
There are no goals in using the elliptical. You get on it for a certain period of time and hope you see the ‘calories burned’ number increase. Let it also be noted how inaccurate that number is on those cardio machines. Try using a Polar heart monitor if you really want to know how much you’re working. Personal bests while lifting are constantly occurring. You see yourself lifting heavier every week, moving faster and physical changes come quicker.
5. The gym became fun again.
I can honestly say I look forward to going to the gym every day. Lifting has invigorated my passion at the gym. I am dedicating my time to building a healthier me and I have tons of fun doing it.
6. My waist grew smaller.
Say what?! Yes, my waist slimmed down and my pants got bigger on me. The results I saw with lifting had been significantly better than with any other form of exercise.
7. I became toned, not bulky.
A common myth about weight lifting is that women will become bulky if they do it. Of course, no girl wants to look ‘bulky’. Getting bulky is a complete myth if you are following a workout program and eating the proper amount of calories. Eating more calories than you should during a given day will of course make you bulky. Lifting heavier weights creates dense, tight and stronger muscles will not. As woman, we certainly do not possess enough hormones like testosterone to become She-Hulks. You instead will experience more definition in your muscles, a faster metabolism and stronger bones. So stop telling yourself you’re going to get bulky. You’re denying yourself a chance to transform.
8. I felt more confident and sexy.
Do I really need to say more here?
Was I able to convince you to drop those 3lb weights and liberate yourself from elliptical? Don’t let the myths about lifting deter you from giving it a try. Start by looking on Bodybuilding.com and use their Find A Plan tool to help with your transition.
More About the Author
Elizabeth (Liz) is a digital marketing professional living in the City of Brotherly Love. You can find Liz walking around Philly enjoying the local eats and brews. She is a strong health and wellness advocate believing the best way to decompress the day is at the gym. In her spare time, Liz gives back to her community, believes freely and reads often.