Why I Lift Weights

Me.. at the gym in a relatively silly mood, today. LOL

I love having conversations about exercise with my friends.. only because once upon a time, these conversations were really uncomfortable for us. We didn’t sit down and talk about lunges or squats, or how many miles we got in the other night. It’s like breaking new ground.

But now, it’s kind of strange.. because I always dive head first into talking about lifting weights, and I get the “deer-in-headlights” look.

“Keep that up, and you’re gonna look like a man!”

Say what?

I usually just shrug it off. They have no idea just how much I owe to weight lifting. That is… until I have the same conversations with other women who refuse to touch a single weight. “I’m not tryin’ to look all brolic! You can keep that!”

Sigh.

For someone like me, lifting weights is a godsend.. and it has nothing to do with looking like a man. When I was 330lbs, I complained – often and loudly – about not having any muscles. I could push things by laying my body weight against them, but I couldn’t lift anything. I had to use both arms, grabbing the roof of the car and the top of the car door, to lift myself out of a car. I couldn’t carry anything for very long. Squatting down to pick something up? You could forget it.

For me, lifting weights allowed me to regain my ability to carry out everyday tasks without assistance. It has also given me the opportunity to reshape my figure. I can strength train my legs, develop thigh muscles, and have the “thick thighs” illusion without all the excess unnecessary fat (and saddlebags…my goodness.) After losing all that weight, my booty was definitely trying to deflate. Lifting weights has allowed me to rebuild and reshape my booty. No more square booty!

After losing 145lbs, the theory is that one’s skin would deflate… something like letting the air out ofย  a balloon. The balloon, now without air, just lies on the floor… same shape it was with the air in it, but deflated and flabby looking. I was encountering that, myself. I’d snap into the down facing dog position for yoga, and the skin on my thighs would just droop forward, pointing to the floor. My tummy would, unfortunately, do the same.

Weight lifting, for me, has given me the opportunity to give my skin something new to cling to.. a new shape to embrace. Now, when my body burns the fat, the skin can conform to muscle as opposed to… nothingness.

Through working on my obliques and thighs, I’ve been able to work on developing my own “coke-bottle” shape. With arm exercises, I’ve been able to limit – and eliminate – that wobbly skin that I used to have under my arms from burning so much of the fat from there. Through things like yoga and shoulder exercises, I’ve been able to tighten up the skin that would’ve been sagging breasts (as I’ve mentioned before, I went from a 42DD to a 34C… I would’ve had two empty laundry bags hanging from my chest.)

Your body goes through a developmental process when you lift weights regularly. You don’t go hard in one session, go to sleep and wake up looking like the ol’ school Terminator. That’s not how it goes.

Women have to put in 300% of themselves in weight lifting on a regular and consistent basis in order to develop the kind of “manly muscle” we associate with weight lifting. Why? Because we don’t carry the levels of testosterone that make muscle development easy. So the excuse of “I don’t wanna look like a man” really… holds very little weight. (Oooh, bad pun, right?)

Secondly, the fact that it takes so long to build that kind of muscle, means that at any time… you can slow down and simply lighten up your workout to focus on maintaining it. Besides, if you’re putting in that much time and effort into your body that you’re weight lifting regularly, chances are that you’ll notice every little bit of growth your muscles experience. (I still remember the day that I recognized that I no longer had the “lunch lady wiggle” under my arms. I almost cried.)

Lastly, you control your weight lifting routine. You control how much weight you lift. You control how many times you lift it. There is no set standard for how you should start. As long as you’re doing your best to use proper form, you will be OK. You can go as slowly as you need, toning up as you go, without worrying about looking too masculine. You should look at as many health and fitness resources as possible though since the more information you have, the better prepared you’ll be to continue your journey. Besides, who knows – you may reach your goal, and decide you want to take it a step further!

So… let’s spend the week on exercising and figuring out what works best for us, shall we?

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About the Author:

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes food and fitness, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is also certified in sports nutrition by Precision Nutrition. She now lives in New York with her husband and children, and is working on her 6th and 7th certifications because she likes having alphabet soup at the end of her name.

83 Comments

  1. tdixon June 7, 2010 at 11:15 AM - Reply

    Hey! I liked this post (as if i don’t like any others!)

    Funny, the first thing that came to mind upon seeing the title of this post is that SILLY ARSE Shake Weight. Please tell me you’ve seen this and that you have opinions on it.

    Women shouldn’t be afraid or unwilling to weight train. I remember having to take it senior year in HS, all the girls HATED it, the guys ate it up.

    and not for nothing, a lot of men i know LOVE a woman with toned arms/legs. not brolic of course, but defined parts are sexy on anyone.

    • Erika June 7, 2010 at 11:25 AM - Reply

      Grrr…. I hate the shake weight. It does nothing that a half-full jug of water doesn’t do.

      And I’m convinced that it was created by perverts. LOL

      Thanks for commenting! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Sherida December 27, 2012 at 5:41 PM - Reply

        You look great Soror!

  2. Eunice @ Food4Fit June 7, 2010 at 11:30 AM - Reply

    Thank you for addressing this! I hear this excuse all the time, and it makes me want to scream just a little bit. ๐Ÿ™‚ All I can do is explain why this isn’t true, muscle boosts your metabolism, gives you definition, etc..etc.. but here you are a walking example. Sometimes people just need to see it, you know? You look great!

    I really love what weight training has done for my body. I feel so strong and fit. Love it.

    • Erika June 7, 2010 at 11:36 AM - Reply

      EXACTLY! I mean, considering all of the benefits that carrying extra muscle has, what do I look like passing ALL of that up just because someone else told me if I lift weights and go to sleep, I’m gonna wake up looking like a pro-wrestler? Yeah, right! I’m cool on ALL that. LOL

      Thank you for the compliments! And I’m with you – there is nothing better than that feeling of being ABLE. Not “able to lift” or “able to climb,” but just ABLE – that feeling that comes with developing strength? Girl, yes! Love it, too!

  3. Cjbrownsc June 7, 2010 at 11:54 AM - Reply

    Another great post!
    I learned the hard way after months of doing nothing but cardio, that I needed to add strength training into my routine.
    I kept wondering why I was losing weight slowly when hubby decided to tell me that if I added weights that it would boost my metabolism and I would continue to burn fat even while resting. I don’t know if what he said is scientifically correct, but it was enough for me!
    I haven’t been doing it long enough to see changes in definition, but my weight is doing at a faster rate now. I can’t wait to see the results I’ll have by the end of the summer!

    • Erika June 7, 2010 at 2:47 PM - Reply

      Yes! Switching it up a bit is always the answer, especially if your routine is lopsided in favor of one instead of the other. When I slow down on my cardio and rap up my weight lifting, I gain weight (obviously.) When I ramp up my cardio and do very little weight training, I still lose, but at a snail’s pace. That balance is REQUIRED!

      Hubby is…sort of right – we’ll talk about that tomorrow. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. JoAnna June 7, 2010 at 12:01 PM - Reply

    You look really great!

    I’m swimming 3-4 times per week and sloooowly adding walking. I re-injured the same knee I injured last summer. A slimmer friend recommended a “no-pain, no-gain” trainer who kept telling me I was lazy and unmotivated when I told him I could not do multiple jumping jacks, rope jumping and sprints without pain. I wanted to keep up so 3 weeks later, I’d lost 10lbs and gained 2 knee braces and pain meds, and dr’s orders to lighten up for 8-12 weeks or face possible surgery.

    2 months ago, I was in NYC huffin’ and puffin’ to keep up with my 60+ year old aunt to catch a subway train. She (and the most of the people I saw) walk like there are snipers on the rooftops, just waiting to shoot anyone who doesn’t maintain the pace. When I was limping at the airport and offered a wheelchair, I swore to up my exercise routine. I got the nutrition part, and my Type II diabetes numbers are greatso this is the next step. The really nice thing about regular exercise is that you’re sore to start, but after 10-mins, it goes away for the rest of the day. And you feel SO much better for having worked those muscles, and inhaled that much more oxygen into your body.

    I don’t look like you yet, but give me a year or two…

    • Erika June 7, 2010 at 2:59 PM - Reply

      I’m jealous of ya – a bad childhood experience left me WAY cool on swimming pools, LOL!

      If you’re sore after a good workout, try stretching – it ALWAYS helps. Never fails (that is, if you didn’t seriously injure yourself.)

      I love a good trainer – that is, a GOOD trainer – but bad ones deserve to catch a beat down. Seriously.

      Stay on the path, and you’ll get to where you’re going in much less than a year. I promise. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Rita June 7, 2010 at 4:07 PM - Reply

    I’ve been neglecting weight training in favor of more cardio but with this series you’re doing I guess I’m going to have to put on the big girl panties and just hit it. I will try and lift weights tonight since I didn’t do much cardio.

    Thanks Ericka!

    • Erika June 7, 2010 at 7:12 PM - Reply

      You’ve got to make sure that you have a balance! That’s the best way to benefit from your hard work. And remember, you can only expect results when you KNOW you’re putting in your best!

      Thank YOU! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Naturally Single Mom June 7, 2010 at 7:08 PM - Reply

    I learned over the past year that lifting weights not only makes me shrink a little bit faster, but it’s nice to be able to lift STUFF that needs to be lifted, without being a little weakling.

    On days that I can’t/don’t feel like going to the gym, and don’t want to lift dumbbells during a TV show (which is a great way to sneak it in…you don’t even realize you’re doing it after awhile), I do bicep curls with my 2 year old. (As in, he is the weight.) Fun AND good for you, what more could you ask for? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Erika June 7, 2010 at 7:11 PM - Reply

      Ha! You’re a half-step ahead of me! Please believe I alternated between my gallon jugs of water and my then-two-year-old, too! LMAO!

      Three cheers for Moms who make their kids twice as useful! LOL!

  7. Tiffany June 7, 2010 at 10:13 PM - Reply

    I want to life weights to help get that coke bottle shape too but I have not a clue what I should be doing. When I go to the gym the personnel all give me diff routines. I don’t know what the hell I am doing.

    Peace, Love and Chocolate
    Tiffany

    • Erika June 8, 2010 at 12:14 AM - Reply

      Peace, Love and CHOCOLATE? I LOVE IT! LOL!

      We’re going to spend the week this week talking about exercise routines and what I think makes mine so effective, so don’t worry – hopefully, I’ll be able to shed a little more light on it for you. There are a million different routines that you can use to do this, you just have to keep at them ALL (yes, ALL of them) to see your results. We’ll dig into it, though. I promise. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. sundaze June 8, 2010 at 9:51 AM - Reply

    Love this post! I think cardio helps you look good with your clothes on, but weight training helps you look good with them off, lol. I typically gain a few pounds when I focus on weight training, but I lose inches as everything tightens up and gets sculpted. The high from seeing the numbers move down on the scale pales in comparison to the one I get when my skinny jeans are loose (and I haven’t had to starve yourself to get there).

  9. Chrystal June 8, 2010 at 10:41 AM - Reply

    Good points! Weight lifting goes hand in hand with cardio, maybe even just a little higher up on the scale. You can make huge changes with a little weight lifting!

  10. Tasha June 10, 2010 at 2:11 PM - Reply

    I’ve recently started exercising. I would like to add weight lifting to my workout. Right now I’m walking and doing crunches. What do you recommend that I start doing first?

    • Erika June 10, 2010 at 2:17 PM - Reply

      Hmm… check out this post – I think it’s a good way to get started. ๐Ÿ™‚

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