Fellow women, for your own sake, please add strength training to your workout routine. Really.
Since the beginning I’ve included light strength training with Body Balance, later on, when I felt I could handle it, I added CxWorx, and 4 months ago I’ve also added Body Pump to my workout routine. As I’ve done with everything else, slowly but surely I’ve increased intensity.
Other than the “official” reasons, there’s another one: I cannot describe how amazing it feels to be strong. If you want to leap, to pick things up, to pick yourself up, anything, your body simply responds. Quickly, effortlessly and efficiently your body does what you tell it to. It may sound silly, but it truly makes me feel empowered and independent, and I’m not even “strong-strong”, I’m just strong-ish.
The fear of becoming bulky never made any sense to me. Do people think muscles grow overnight or something? Are they not aware that it takes rigorous discipline when it comes to eating habits and workout routine? That it takes a ton of hard work and dedication? No, you will not become bulky, unless you really want that and strive for it.
Knowledge is power, knowledge should be accessible and shared.
I’m a huge fan o TED-Ed, for I completely understand the lesson without feeling stupid. Hoping you’ll feel the same, here’s a lesson on “What makes muscles grow?”
Acknowledge and appreciate your progress, but don’t let it come to a halt. You can always learn something new to improve your eating habits, you can always improve your technique during your workout.
As Daft Punk would say “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. Our work is never over.”
Are you planning on making a fitness New Year’s Resolution? Then I have some advice for you.
Personally I’m anti sudden resolutions. But if that’s your thing, and you are looking forward to changing your life into a fitness lifestyle, here’s what my experience has taught me. I hope it helps you!
– Knowledge is power. Look for reliable information online and always cross-check references. Don’t take any article/news piece at face value, research its contents. Learn how your body deals with different foods. Learn what exercise does to your body and mind. In my experience, for example, knowing in greater detail what a cookie does to your body and brain will take you half way away from it.
– Take baby steps. Some people go for that “all or nothing approach”, but that doesn’t work for most of us. Humans are creatures of habit, and trying to change everything in one go can easily be overwhelming. For me it worked to focus on one small change at a time. Many tiny victories instead of one gigantic defeat.
– Be patient. Changes don’t happen quickly, they just don’t. Successfully introducing alterations to your behaviour takes time, and consequently so do changes to your body. If you are overweight, I’m sure you didn’t put the weight on overnight, so don’t expect it come off overnight either. It’s a process, and processes take time. Focus on the changes themselves, rather than on the results.
– Focus on health and progress. If you choose to focus on being healthy and on achieving a little bit more on each workout, the weight will kinda take care of itself. Spend your energy trying to achieve optimum nutrition to properly fuel your body, and on getting out of your comfort zone during your exercise routine, rather that on losing X pounds.Your body and mind will reward you: you will feel amazing. Trust me.
– Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand. As you may have heard: “you can’t outrun your fork”. If you are looking for a sustainable, long term lifestyle change take into account that nutrition and exercise are BFFs not to be separated. You can work your heart out, but if you go home and don’t mind what you put on your plate you won’t make much progress, fat loss wise. I started exercising first, but I noticed a great boom in my body volume loss once I started eating better, baby-step by baby-step.
– Be prepared for setbacks. The road from obese to healthy is a hard one. You can clearly see some obstacles coming, others not so much. You will make mistakes, believe me you will! Accept them as a part of the path, and most importantly learn from them so you won’t do them again, or at least you will see them coming next time.
– Look for a support group. I was fortunate enough to not have to look for it. The right people sort of gathered around me. I firmly believe I would never have come this far without them. Positive, encouraging, challenging, empathetic voices were, and still are, crucial to me. I feel like I owe them a great part of my progress for they believed in me even when I, myself, didn’t. They were understanding without being condescending, so they kept (and keep) challenging me to do more, to be more. So my advice would be to look for people like this in your life, they will help you a great deal.
– Do the work. It’s your body and yours alone. No one can do the work for you. Even the best personal trainer in the world won’t be able to help you if you don’t do the work. Correcting your eating habits, giving your all during your workouts, that’s your work to do. Others can only guide and motivate you. It will be hard, very hard, but brace yourself for it.
And that’s about it for this post. If you browse through this blog you will find several posts in which I talk about the several pieces of advice I have shared above.
One final thought:
Now, why should you listen to me?
Well, I started changing my life in April 2014 and the last time I weighed myself – in October 2015- I had lost 46kg. Most importantly, the last time I measured – in July 2015 – I had lost 24% body fat ( I will measure everything again in February or March).
So I consider myself successful in my – forever ongoing- journey towards health. That’s why 😉
Just a little over a month ago I took up a new class, Les Mills Body Pump, and with it came a new level of fatigue. I noticed – when I actually should have seen it coming – that my recovery time after Pump is much longer than after all the other classes I take (Combat, Balance, CxWorx, RPM), and that weariness began to stand in the way of my performance on the following day(s).
I seriously dislike taking any kind of supplements and I haven’t taken absolutely anything since I changed my life (and even b4 that, tbh). However, having come to terms with the idea that my body needs a helping hand to timely recover from strength training, I talked to one of my instructors. I trust her completely, so whatever she says, goes. And she said ZMAs (just a quick overview here).
Ok, Ok… I can handle that. I guess. Kinda. I’m uncomfortable, but for a different reason than the one I foresaw: I feel horribly pretentious.
I’m no athlete, I’m no crossfitter, I’m no bodybuilder… I’m just someone who takes a few fitness classes, and look at me, taking a supplement like some big shot. I am aware this feeling is fuelled by pre-conceived ideas, but nevertheless it’s here.
On the other hand, most people look at me in awkwardness inducing awe when I tell them I workout 6 days a week. So I guess I do exercise more than average, and it is to be expected that my body needs some kind of supplementation to remain balanced.
So, like I said in the title: Supplements & Me – It’s complicated. Moreover, I’m naturally resistant to change, and this is something new I’m introducing in my life, so I’m sure to struggle with the idea at first. Perhaps it’s just me, perhaps other people have experienced the same mixed feelings, I don’t know.
I acknowledge I should respect rest more than I do. I take 1 rest day per week, but sometimes – alright… often – I end up not taking any.
There was this one time when I ended up doing something quite stupid: I went about a month and a half without a single rest day. There were several reasons, including special events and friends asking me to tag along in classes. It wasn’t a “let’s see how far I can go” moment, time just passed. My body became so tired that I got to a point when I was feeling truly frustrated in class because I had a really hard time executing exercises which I usually handle with ease and I had to lower my weights on CxWorx because I felt really unstable with my usual weights.
I had to force myself to stop. Trust me, I didn’t want to. I felt super annoyed that I could be taking this or that class, but instead there I was just sitting on the couch. I recognized it wasn’t a “want” moment, it was a “need” moment. And one must do what is needed, even it we don’t feel like it.
I can say I learned to esteem rest as part of the cycle. At this point I’ll skip 1 rest day at the most and on the week up until the next rest day I’ll pay close attention to what my body “tells” me.
Below you’ll find an article – of so many available online – about the importance of rest after exercise, please do read it!
For almost 6 months now I’ve been taking the Friday 7am RPM class. It started out with a heat induced insomnia – I couldn’t sleep anyway, so why not head to the gym and try the class? – and I ended up becoming a regular.
Up until the day I took the 1st class if you had told me I would enjoy 1st:RPM and 2nd:the 7am class I would’ve laughed, and laughed and laughed…and called you insane.
I used to look at cycling classes like “argh, how boring is that? Just pedaling along for an hour… I’ll never like that.”
I used to think “how insane are those people? Getting up ultra early to workout before going to work, I’m never doing that”
And then I tried it.
To me RPM is a battle between my brain and my body. My body wants to slow down, to quit, and my brain doesn’t let it. Every week I notice progress, and every week I push harder. I enjoy that, a lot.
Also, it’s not super hard to get up at 6am when you look forward to what’s about to happen. Moreover, I notice that when I get to work I’m in a good mood and feeling refreshed (thanks endorphins ❤ ) and the day just flies by.
The 7am class is really one of those things you don’t know until you try it, and I believe it’s a love it or hate it moment. So why not try it yourself? You never know! (I sure didn’t…)
PS: Additionally, the look on people’s faces when you tell them you take the 7am class is priceless!! xD
I can’t quite pin point when the switch happened, because I only realized it recently, but for a while now I feel like I belong at the gym. This may seem irrelevant, but to me it truly isn’t, because I used to avoid gyms like the plague.
Like with most people, when I started going to the gym there was a strong feeling of strangeness. Strange people, strange machines, strange grunting sounds from the weightlifters, strange music (the music played at the gym is a long stretch away from what I usually listen to), strange locker-rooms, strange equipment… strange everything.
I looked in awe at the regular class goers, executing the fitness classes with precision, fluidity and a touch of effortlessness. Useless to say I was the precise opposite.
Fighting the discomfort, on I went. Regularly attending and struggling on until the end of each class. After a while people started greeting me, from the security guards, to the instructors, and even the regular class goers who I admired. I grew accustomed to the movements, to the equipment and to the overall gym ambiance. The regular class goers and the instructors started talking to me, inviting me to events, and I ended up engulfed in the overall group of friends.
As I’ve talked about before, I ended up enjoying working out, and look at gym time as a high point of my day. Feeling welcomed, being cheerfully smiled at and greeted by everyone who works there and knowing I’ll get to catch up with my buddies plays a major role in feeling like the gym is a second home. This, in turn, gives me the confidence to try different things, to push harder, because I truly feel the support of my peers. The gym became the place where I overcome my limits, where I socialize, where I get my fix of endorphins,etc. In short: it became a place where I WANT to go.
And here’s a, very truthful, revelation: