Why I Love to Weightlift

You know how you get when you talk about something or someone you love?  Like that super animated, talk really fast, lots of inflection in your voice type of talking?  That’s how I feel about fitness.  I love to talk about running, home workouts, barre… you name it, I’m excited about it!  Recently that excitement includes weightlifting.  I went from a cardio queen to a lifting machine (OMG, that totally rhymed, I am so happy right now 😉 ).

This was a huge transition for me because I used to HATE lifting weights.  I did everything I could to avoid it.  I would do extra cardio and then oops, ran out of time, gotta go so I’m not late for work all the time.  I just didn’t enjoy it.  And I didn’t see the benefits.  But so many fitness gurus talk about how weightlifting is super important for women—especially as we get older.  So over the past few years I started implementing it into my workout routine.  It truly does amazing things for your body.  And there’s a ton of different ways to go about doing it!  I also learned that it’s much more than “I lift things up and put them down.”  Form is everything.  Even when weights seem “light” you still need to make sure you’re in proper form so that a) you don’t hurt yourself and b) you’re working the right muscles for that exercise.

And that’s about as scientific I’m going to get about weightlifting because I don’t have too much textbook knowledge on it.  But I’ve been doing it for a while now and I am happy to say I see results from what I do and also (:knocking wood:) I don’t feel pain or get hurt often (I feel like I had to add the word “often” in otherwise I sound like a tool if I say “never” and I’ll end up eating my words).

Anywayyyy, there are three different approaches I’ve used over the years for lifting weights.

  • Light Weight/High Reps– This used to be my go-to strategy. I’d hit the 8 lb dumbbells and do bicep curls and chest presses for dayzzz.  I still use this method sometimes.  Usually it’s when I do an EMOM (every minute on the minute) workout.  I’ll use the 8 lb dumbbells and curl for one minute straight.  This will definitely fatigue my muscles even though I would normally use 15 lb dumbbells but do a lot less reps.  To me, it’s just a different way to work the muscles—I’m using lighter weights and doing more reps rather than heavier weights and less reps.  It’s a way to switch things up.  And not just for my muscles, but for me mentally.  I admittedly get bored of doing the same thing week in and week out so changing up HOW I do my lifting gets me more excited to do it.
  • Medium Weight/Super SetsSuper sets, by MY definition, is when you do two exercises back-to-back with little to no rest in between- 10 reps each. For example, you might do a bicep curl and then drop those weights and pick up your heavier weights for a bent over (hehe) row.  Your “rest time” is basically the time it takes you to put your curl weight dumbbells down and pick up your row weight dumbbells.  You can also do this in the form of quad sets where you do four exercises back-to-back.  This method is fun because it moves quickly and definitely gets your heart rate up.  Obviously you’re not using your max weight (at least not for every exercise) because your muscles will be SPENT with 2.5- 5 lbs less than your max weight—trust ya girl on that one.
  • Heavy Weight/Low Reps– This is probably the most effective way to get strong, quick. Meaning, build da muscles.  I used to HATE using heavy weights because I thought I’d look like a dude.  But I’ve used this approach and definitely like the way it feels to lift heavy weights.  Also, I’m pretty sure the only way I’d be able to build muscle like a man is if I started taking testosterone … which is not on my to do list.

Okay, so I told you HOW I lift weights, but I haven’t told you WHY.

  • I used to hate wearing tank tops or anything sleeveless because my arms didn’t look good. HA!  At 25 I was already thinking my arms looked terrible so I would try to hide them as much as I could.  So yes, from an aesthetic standpoint I like the way my arms and shoulders look since I started lifting weights.  I feel more confident in tank tops, sleeveless dresses, etc.  I like looking cut and definitely enjoy checking out my arms in the mirror sometimes. (What?! I’m just being honest here 😉 ).
  • I love seeing the progress I’ve made and feeling stronger every day. I also love saying things like “no, I got it” when someone asks me if I need help lifting or moving something.  I have my limits of course, but it’s nice to feel strong.
  • I believe that lifting weights has helped me other areas of fitness—specifically running. Even when I used to use weights at the gym I would rarely work my legs.  Now I do leg workouts with dumbbells and feel a huge difference.  I run once a week and I feel like I’m pretty much just as fast, if not faster, than I’ve ever been (in my adult life) because of incorporating leg workouts to my routine.
  • There are so many health benefits to lifting weights but that’s not really my wheelhouse so I’m going to let this beautiful graphic do the talking. (It had me at “feel good” endorphins and reduces stress and anxiety.  Anyone else?)

Benefits Of WeightLifting

Like I said , I used to hate lifting weights so if you’re in that camp, I totally get it.  However, I truly believe that it’s part of a well-rounded fitness regimen.  And it doesn’t necessarily need to be 3 or 5 times a week.  I will lift for 6 or 8 weeks and then take a break for a couple of weeks.  This gives my body time to recover and for my muscles to start craving the lifting again.  I totally encourage people to incorporate some sort of lifting into their routine.

I  would love to hear other ideas and ways that people like to lift.  I’m always looking to try out new things.  Please share what you do in the comments!!!

 

Holiday Season Weight Maintenance Tips

'Tis the Season for Holiday Weight Maintenance Tips!

Today’s post is all about holiday season dos and don’ts.  It is so easy to get caught up in the holiday fun and completely forget about your health and fitness goals.  And then you wake up on January 1st and you’re already feeling sorry for yourself and the idea of taking on 2019 seems very distant. I see myself stress the minute Halloween candy hits the stores.  I even caught myself saying, “ugh, it’s so hard to stay on track through the holiday season.”  That’s like 1/6 of the year that I’m talking about… and ya know when it’s also hard?  The summer.  The dead of winter.  And also, ALL THE DAMN TIME.

Okay, so I’m not saying anything earth shattering here… we all know this.  So what can we do about?  I got some ideas for you, kids.  Don’t you worry!

Big Time Don’ts:

  • Stop saying things like “it’s so hard this time of year” and “ugh, I always gain a few pounds during the holiday season.” The more you say these things and put them out into the universe, the more you believe them.  (Cough, cough, self-fulfilling prophecy, cough, cough).  So if you’re constantly saying, “I’m fat”… guess what?  Your brain actually thinks your fat even if you’re not.  It is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to get out of this type of habit.  When you’re used to saying things like this it’s almost like it comes out of your mouth without you even thinking about it.  So, trying not to say these things is the first step.  But if you catch yourself slipping up (like I did a few weeks ago), you should follow it up very quickly with—“but it’s my CHOICE and this year is going to be different.  I am in control.”
  • Don’t forget about your workouts—whatever your routine is during the rest of the year (3x, 4x, or 5x per week) KEEP IT UP. This is not the time to slack.  In fact, I challenge you to add on an extra 10 minutes to your workout every other day.  (I’ll post up some 10-minute workouts on my Instagram page next week to give you some ideas!).

Big Time Dos:

  • Track what you eat. Whether you write it down on a piece of paper (like me) or use an app on your phone (My Fitness Pal and LoseIt are two great options), keep track of what you put in your mouth.  This is annoying and time consuming, there’s no doubt about it.  But try it for 4/7 or 5/7 days per week.  I guarantee you on those days you’ll eat better because you’re consciously noting what you’re eating.  And, because you’ll feel so good you might even want to track an extra day or two.
  • Don’t track what you eat on Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas or at your work holiday party. Life is about balance—you have to train your brain to understand that.  We all have a different definition of balance.  You might think my definition is too loose or too rigid.  Just find YOUR balance.  In my opinion, unless you’re a bodybuilder or training for a bikini competition, there’s absolutely no reason to track all the time.  You should be able to go away on vacation or enjoy a holiday gathering without tracking your meals because when it’s over you just go “back to normal” (whatever YOUR normal is—i.e. clean eating 75% of the time). There’s no thinking about it, it just happens.  And believe me, it doesn’t happen after a few days… this took me MONTHS to wrap my head around, but once I did, it made my life so much easier.  Getting “back to normal” after a few days of indulging became part of my new normal.
  • Keep it moving! If it’s warm enough outside, go for a walk.  If you go shopping, park far away from the entrance.  If you have stairs in your office building, take ‘em.   If you have a FitBit, or Apple iWatch, use them to track your steps.  Try to hit 10,000 steps per day.  This is a tip for all the time, not just the holiday season.  I get that it’s much more convenient to park close to the store entrance, but it’s not such a bad thing to get a few extra steps in.  Sidebar: if you have children with you, always try for a closer parking spot.   If you are buckling and unbuckling children from car seats and putting them in a shopping cart and keeping them alive, you’re probably getting a pretty sick workout anyway, so kudos to you, you deserve the best spot! 😉

I personally head into the holiday season on maintenance mode.  Truth is, I’ve gained about 5-6 lbs over the past few months.  Yes, some of it might be muscle.  But some of it might be from overindulging.  I’d like to lose that weight now but I decided not to get myself too stressed over it.  I decided to go 100% maintenance mode from now through the end of the year.  That includes:

  • Keeping track of my eating more days than not,
  • Increasing the intensity of my workouts,
  • Enjoying holiday parties and get togethers with family and friends,
  • Planning to kill in come January 1st.

The holiday season should be fun.  We already stress about gifts and parties and seeing our families.  Your health shouldn’t be an extra stressor.  My biggest piece of advice is to find something that works for you.  I don’t think anyone’s ever said, “completely letting myself go and throwing caution to the wind” was the best decision they ever made.  So find a way to balance it all out.  Exercise, eat well as much as you can, indulge when you want to, and get ready to kick 2019’s butt!

~L