Weightlifting makes me feel strong and empowered,
…and gives me a constant drive to achieve bigger goals and a healthier me.
The sport takes an incredible amount of discipline, mobility, coordination, precision, nutritional focus, and a continuous effort to always become a better self. After training for and competing in marathons, half & full ironman triathlons and Crossfit competitions, I shifted my focus to the challenge of weightlifting – and found my passion to be the relentless pursuit of trying to lift just one more kilo.
What I get from lifting that I didn’t get from running.
Ok, this isn’t a rant about why barbells are better than running (or endurance sports).
I love to run, and I loved being able to carry myself across long distances just by my own efforts. Running, cycling, swimming, and much of the metabolic conditioning that came with Crossfit jumpstarted me into the shape that I am now and really set the base for my athleticism (that I didn’t have prior to graduating college). Yet, through trying out Crossfit and being introduced to barbell work, I fell in love with being strong and feeling defined – with being able to back squat (and front squat) bodyweight, 1.5x bodyweight, 2x bodyweight (and now pursuing 300lbs, over 2.5x bodyweight).
What weightlifting gives to me is…
…power, and an “I can do” attitude.
I know that I can tackle and do things that others find difficult, because I was able to overcome challenges in the gym that pushed me to my limits. I’ll carry my groceries by hand, choose to take the stairs or walk the extra mile, and always take the more difficult (yet more rewarding) road because I know I can persevere.
And arm strength, and more leg strength. Unless you’re sprinting super short explosive distances, running really doesn’t strengthen your arms or core as much as bearing weight does. Every workout and move I do with a barbell forces me to engage my trunk and core to stabilize and support the load.
…shorter, yet effective workouts
Ok, running and biking long distances certainly made me feel accomplished, but it also took out so many hours of the day of doing the same movement over and over! I found that the shorter 1-2 hour workouts just a few days a week gave me more time, yet were more effective at making me feel in shape – In fact, lifting makes me more mobile, gives me more varied loads and protects my joints and ligaments more than continuous runs.
…a consistent and appropriate weight class measurement to stick to.
Ok, I realize some of you are like “get rid of your scale – why do you measure your health based on your weight?”
Because it’s a weight that allows me to feel strong and powerful for my size. I have to maintain muscle, yet I want to minimize extra fat or weight so I can be in the lightest class I can be according to my slightly under 5’0″ height. I’m not weight-obsessed, but I use it as a guide for keeping me on track with my sport. It’s a healthy weight, it’s a sustainable weight, and it’s a weight that makes me feel comfortable while enabling me to be my happiest self. It’s not just about the number, but what you can do with it.
…muscular yet feminine definition
I have shapely arms, shapely legs and a shapely rear because of jerks and squats and I’m proud of it. I don’t care that it’s hard for me to find 0 Petite pants with large thighs (so I end up wearing these Betabrand Dress Pant Yoga Pants most of the time) – I look strong and I feel great.
…humbleness, and knowledge of my potential and my limits
Weightlifting is an incredibly humbling sport – because there are always others out there who are stronger than you or who are right on your tail that could lift more than you at any moment when things line up in their favor. The sport gives me more goals obtain both for myself and for competition – and I know what I’m capable of yet and how hard I can push myself and when I need to back off.
Most of all, I know what I need to work on because the barbell doesn’t lie. You lift the weight or you don’t lift the weight. And if you can’t, you work week-by-week to build the strength to lift it one day.
…the drive to make sure everything else in my life (sleep, nutrition, work, stress) is up to par so I can train hard and get the most out of my workouts
Lifting just isn’t about the barbell work I put in 4-5 days a week – but everything else I do in life has to support my sport and my goals. I strive to maintain the best real foods nutrition I can (to feel strong when I lift but also to maintain weight class), to get my 7-8 hours of sleep, to manage my work and life stress, and to coach and share my passion with others too (because I learn and become better through teaching others).
I can’t say I’ll always compete forever, but I do believe that putting your body against loads in addition to your own weight – the ability to lift, carry and move things beyond yourself – is an incredible, empowering and necessary skill to be the healthiest you can be.