A couple of you have commented that you want to see my workout/eating plan and tips on how I stay so motivated to work out. Those two posts are coming up later this week, but first I’d like to share with you the story of just how I got sucked into the world of fitness.
First and foremost, making and keeping a commitment to fitness and good health takes years to master. It is NOT something that you can turn into a permanent habit in 21 days or whatever the supposed rule of thumb is.
In high school, I was one of those lucky people who was a twig naturally, but eventually college and maturity caught up to me in my late teens and early twenties. In college, I gained about 20-25 pounds.
Towards the end of college, I began a 3-times-per-week running plan. However, I never really lost weight because I had zero muscle mass (well, not zero, but I wasn’t building any muscle mass). This frustrated me to no end and was very discouraging! Here I was, getting myself to the gym 3 times a week and pounding it out on the treadmill and I wasn’t seeing any results! What gives?!
What I discovered after a couple years of on and off cardiovascular exercise was that running was not going to take off the pounds if I wasn’t building any new muscle to burn extra calories throughout the day.
Sometime in 2006, I fell in love…with weight lifting that is. That year, I picked up my first dumbbell and never looked back! I had finally found my workout soul mate and couldn’t have been happier. This year we celebrated our 3rd anniversary. 😉
Ladies, when I began lifting heavy weights, I lost about 20 pounds in 2-3 months!
I didn’t change my diet, I didn’t do any extra cardio. The one and only thing I started doing differently was lifting weights for about 15-30 minutes 2-4 times per week.
There is something very important to point out that makes a lifting regime so effective. This is the point where women usually get scared off and go running to a Step class claiming they don’t want to become manly!
YOU MUST LIFT HEAVY WEIGHTS.
Please, please, step away from the 3, 5, and 8 pound dumbbells. Those do not do you any good. “Spot training” or “toning” is a myth that has been created by the media. The only thing that works is building real muscle mass with heavy weights that will burn crazy amounts of calories throughout the day. Essentially, when you build an extra 2, 3, 4, or 5 pounds of muscle, you’re working out ALL day because your body is burning more calories.
When I say heavy weights, I mean 15, 20, 25, 30 pound dumbbells. Of course, I know some exercises can’t be done with this high of weight and you have to use the 5s or 10s, but double digits is really where it’s at.
The weight loss happens fast, too. If you really start pushing yourself with the heavy weights, you will really start to see pounds fall off your body.
Your body will start to change shape, too. It will NOT change in a bad way. There is NO way you can look like a man unless you are taking steroids or you have some sort of crazy testosterone imbalance (in that case….uh, get thee to thy doctor). Instead, your body will look tighter, tinier, more compact. I remember when I was heavier in college, I would sometimes experience a sort of “blob” feeling – now I feel like I have a tight, lithe body that I have more control over.
I’ve been lifting as heavy as possible for over 3 years and not one part of my body has gotten bigger (as the media claims); on the contrary, each part of my body has gotten smaller.
A funny thing happened when my body started changing and the weight started falling off (without having to follow some exhausting, ridiculously time-consuming workout plan) – my whole life got better. I walked with more confidence, I slept better, I felt better throughout the day, I carried myself better, I just felt healthier.
Let me tell you, feeling and looking better than you’ve ever felt or looked in your life can be really life-changing. It can turn whatever you’re doing to make yourself feel this way into a passion. So, that was it, I was hooked. I was officially a workout addict.
I remember when I was younger, when I would first start up an exercise program, I’d think, “Oh, I can’t wait to lose 20 pounds so I don’t have to workout anymore!” Even if I would have lost 20 pounds, it wouldn’t have lasted. It’s so cliché, but it truly does take a lifelong commitment to maintain good health.
My love for heavy lifting doesn’t mean that I shun cardio exercise anymore. Surprisingly, it has made my cardio workouts ever better! I still do some form of cardio exercise a couple times a week, it’s just not my favorite part of working out.
My life is so much better now that I’ve found one of my many passions in exercise, but the key to making it stick was finding something I loved about exercise. Hate running? Don’t do it! Hate group classes? Never go to them again! Experiment until you find something that makes you feel happy or helps you relax at the end of the day.
Everyone’s passion for health is out there somewhere, you just gotta dig until you find your workout soul mate.
Coming up this week and next: How I stay motivated to workout & my workout/eating plans!
Yay! This is the post I’ve been looking forward to for days. You’re so inspiring in regularly working out, I definitely need to make this a priority in my own life.
I definitely need to see what this “heavy weights” routine looks like because I’ve never tried that before. It’s usually cardio and light dumbells for me. Can’t wait to read the next few! 🙂
I totally agree and THANK YOU for pushing the big weight theory! Some women think that they will bulk up like a man if they go heavy but it’s just not true! Other than when I am teaching a lifting class (where we have to do each set for 2-3 min) I’m usually going heavy. Even in class I try to go as heavy as I possibly can within those time frames. I kind of fell off my weight training track but it feels good to be doing it again!
It’s hard to lift heavy when you’re teaching an hour like class like that. When I was teaching resistance classes, I would only be able to use 5, 8, 10 lbs. But we were also doing a gazillion reps per move! LOL
Very interesting. Weight loss isn’t really a goal of mine and I had a pretty good experience with little weights for toning (and resistance exercises).
I find strength training harder to get into though — with running, you put on shoes and you can figure it out. Weights intimidate me, still.
I totally agree about the weight room being intimidating. It still is to me sometimes….but, I’ve realized that most of the people in the room have NO idea what they’re doing so just act like you know and everyone will think you do! 🙂
I think every body is different. I know a lot of people who dropped tons of weight when they started a running routine. Glad you found what works for you!
Carrie, I must be a freak. I actually had to stop heavy lifting. I used to lift 20/30s and I did have man arms. That was 4 years ago, and I do ZERO lifting and my man arms are still intact. I am afraid of lifting one dumbell lest veins start popping out of my arms.
That said, this is a great post. I want to make working out as routine as brushing my teeth, but moreso on the cardio end. I would love to just be able to get up and run a couple of miles if I feel like it. But right now, endurance is not my friend.
Great post! I agree most with finding something about exercising that you LOVE. For me, it happens to be group classes! Cardio Kickboxing, Hip Hop, Yoga, etc. I am addicted and love it!!!! 😀
I don’t do weights and I don’t run. I have tried both before but I just don’t like them! Luckily, I am very petite and have never had weight issues. Therefore, I work out to feel good – both physically and mentally! And stay in shape, of course!
Thanks for this post! I just found your blog recently and am enjoying very much! I just recently got a work out DVD and have been using 3 lb weights. This defintely makes me think that I should bump that up!!
Thanks for this post and I am looking forward to the routines! I love group classes and have been training for a half marathon, but my strength training is totally lacking and I am looking forward to your ideas!
Who knew! That’s interesting! I want to try this, next time I go to the gym if I don’t get too scared maybe I will make my way over to the weight room. I have a couple of 3 and 5lb dumbells here and my brother has a few 25lbs. Wow those are hard to lift! Good for you!
Great post! I’m also a big fan of lifting, and I have been doing it for years. It’s always nice to see other women that really want to get in a stellar weight workout (instead of toning and applying lipstick in the mirror).
Great post, you made me want to go start lifting weights!
My concern is just not knowing what to do! I used to use the Nautilus stuff a lot at the gym, but only with moderate results (unsurprisingly)… When it comes to free weights, I honestly don’t know what to do. Like I don’t even want to go to the gym and start doing weird stuff by myself.
Would you recommend buying a set and a DVD or something to start?
To start, I would recommend trying out a resistance training class at your local gym. Most of them are taught by super nice & knowledgeable instructors. They are used to helping beginners along their way!
I LOVED this post. I am a newbie to your blog and as a personal trainer I preach this daily to my clients and others that I encounter. I used to be what I call “skinny fat” in high school. Now I am 30lbs heavier, yet wear a much smaller clothing size & get more compliments after lifting heavy weights for about 4 years now. Thanks for spreading the word and I can’t wait to read more of your stuff!
Thank you for this post! My friend A whines every time we do weight training. “Isn’t this machine for boys? Are you sure I won’t get muscles like a boy?” My mother tried the Curves diet (not just the workout but the planned-out diet too) and got down to a size 6! She weighed 160 but was a size 6! She had some pretty impressive muscles when she’d flex ’em (show off!), but she didn’t look man-ish at all. Weight training is great!
Wow my experience was the opposite. I used to lift heavy weights all through high school and early college, but I stayed really heavy (about 20 lbs overweight). I used to only do 20 mins of cardio 3x per week, and I HATED cardio. with a passion. Once I joined a triathlon team and started doing crazy cardio all the time, I lost inches like crazy. I don’t think weights will necessarily cause the pounds to fall off, I think it’s the combination of cardio and weights that do it.