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!”
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!”
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 of 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?