Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I workout!

Weight training is probably the most overlooked part of fitness. Most people think about cardio and diet, but when it comes to overall fitness, many people just don't pull the weight, literally. It may seem unimportant if all you want to do is lose weight or get healthy, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Weight training is proven to help accelerate fat loss, and as far as getting healthy goes, it actually improves overall health by strengthening not just muscles for poise and agility when coupled with cardio workouts, but it actually strengthens your bones and helps prevent osteoporosis! Many women think that weight training will just cause them to bulk up in stead of slimming down, but this is also untrue. Women do not naturally produce enough testosterone to bulk up from weight training naturally. But weight training can be intimidating, so how can you overcome the uncertainty and get lifting?

I completely understand that weight training can be intimidating. The gym I am member of literally has the weight room blocked off by a hip-high fence-like divider. It is like looking into a club that requires a membership complete with a secret password and very strong handshake to enter, and once you are in there, you had better know what you are doing, or stay out of the way. At least, that's what I've thought as I watched from the treadmills and ellipticals I felt I had been relegated to. I knew that if I was going to infiltrate, I would have to be prepared.

I started reading a book that explained everything I could want to know about weight training. I read all about the benefits and overall importance, the etiquette, the muscle groups, and examples and explanations of more lifts than I knew existed. I was ready to go. I got to the gym. I slipped into the weight room and no alarms started sounding as I'd secretly imagined would happen when an interloper crossed the threshold. I started to grab some dumbbells and get a workout going, and then I blanked. I wasn't sure which muscles to work or which lifts to do for what muscle groups. I retreated before I was exposed.

I went home, and I made a plan. I combed back through the pages of The Body Sculpting Bible for Women- that's literally the book I'd been reading- and I started picking out which lifts I'd need to do to work the various muscle groups in the legs, and I wrote them out in the order I'd planned to do them, complete with the reps and sets for each, and I put them into groups of no more than 4 and labeled them as rounds. I also listed exactly which muscle groups each one worked so that I could concentrate on that muscle as I performed each exercise. Remember, we are practicing being mindful of our actions! I did the same thing for arms, back, chest, and abs. Then I decided which days I would work each group. I marched back in the next morning, with headphones in and notebook in hand. I stuck to paying attention to what was in the plan for the day. For all those muscly guys knew, I was following a plan that an actual trainer had given me! Obviously I am no professional or a trainer by any means, but I felt a sense of purpose and entitlement. After all, I am just as entitled to use the weight room as any other member of that gym, and by golly, I am going to get fit!

Ok, so what if you can't shell out the money for a gym membership, or there isn't a gym in your area? It doesn't matter! It just so happens that there are all kinds of body weight exercises you can do. If you haven't done a push-up recently, then you either remember how hard they are and decided to let it kick your butt into submission, or you don't remember how much of a challenge those suckers can be, and you need to experience it again! How about pull-ups? If you don't have a sturdy place to do them in your house, then head to a local park and find a nice little rung on the money bars! And you might be surprised how much of a challenge just body weight squats are! And when I was trying to get fit at home, I would even use things like a table from my dining set, one of those giant bottles of laundry detergent, or even rinse out the gallon jug after the milk was gone and refill it with water! These things might all be more challenging than you might think. So no more excuses! You can do anything for 10, including weight training!

Spin Update!
I was finally able to get back into the habit of spin class lately, and I am going three times a week. I was also able to get Matt, my fiance, to go with me! He did concede that the class was more challenging than he had originally anticipated. And the best part of all is that as I was leaving the gym yesterday, a woman said to me, "Hey! you're that girl from spin class who really pushes it! I sat next to you yesterday, and I was really impressed!" I'm not entirely sure she is correct in thinking that I am really pushing more than anyone else. I generally feel kind of wimpy, but I try my hardest and push as much as I can, and I suppose that's all that matters!

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