I was inspired last week by a fellow blogger that I follow to share the reasons why I love lifting heavy weight on a regular basis (Jen over at Burpeesforbreakfast.com - go check out her amazing work!).
There's something that changes inside of me when I know that it's time for my workout - whether it's leg day (the best day!) or time to hit upper body. My mood instantly lifts, and I know that I'm about to grow just a little bit more as I strive towards my ever evolving strength goals. But, besides the endorphin rush, there are a ton of reasons as to why I choose to lift heavy things most days of the week. (P.S. When I refer to "heavy" things/weight, I mean heavy relative to my abilities. To some, it might seem quite light, to others, it might seem super heavy! Everything here is relative to me, my strength, my story, and my journey.)
One of the reasons I love lifting heavy things on a regular basis is because, like most people I imagine, I'm quite lazy when it comes to making trips to and from my car. Being stronger means I can carry all 6 of my grocery bags (which weigh so freaking much sometimes!) in one trip. And let's be real here - that's a big win for me!
I spend so much time at the grocery store each week, they seem to know me by name. (Side note - sometimes I have my work clothes/name tag on, so that might help on their end...) Anyway, one day I was checking out, and the checkout lady offered to spread out my groceries between two bags instead of loading up just one. She smiled and said, "I don't want it to be to heavy for you." I appreciated the thought and let her do just that, but inside I smiled and thought - that's sweet, but I know that I can carry it all in one!
Of course, the physical aspect of being able to lift a certain amount of weight also fuels my love for lifting heavy things. There's nothing like picking a barbell loaded with 200 pounds off the ground or loading over 100 pounds onto your back and doing something with that weight - it is simply magical! I'm a numbers-oriented person, so watching my strength numbers continue to grow and climb keeps me focused and on track.
I remember in high school being so skinny and weak - I could hardly add any weight to the lifts that I was doing. I enviously watched the other girls add weight to the bar or machine, but I was just stuck. I realize now I was severely undereating and overexercising, but my teenage self didn't want to believe that or admit that. I guess there's still a little part of me that is wanting to prove to my 17 year old self just how amazing strength can be (and food too!).
There's also the health aspects. For instance, I know that bone health is super important, especially as women age, and strength training is by far one of the best ways to preserve bone health and prevent osteoporosis. In addition, having a strong core, glutes, hamstrings, and lats all help with preventing improper posture, low back pain, and injuries from developing. So often, the front of our body is stronger than the back of our body (chest and quads vs. back, glutes, and hamstrings) which can cause a whole host of issues. By lifting heaving things on a regular basis, I'm helping prevent those imbalances and injuries from occurring.
And I saved the best reason for last - lifting heavy weight makes me feel confident, empowered, and (let me be real here) like a true bad-ass! Growing up, I always thought I had to be as small as I could physically, but really, I was never small enough. Looking back now to when I was pretty thin (not my thinnest, but still about 30-40lbs lighter than I am now), I still thought I wasn't small enough. It's a vicious cycle to fall into, and I feel like a ton of women (and men too) also feel this way! However, since starting to focus on strength rather than size, I simple feel more comfortable in my own skin. I feel empowered in the line of work that I do to help my clients find that same love for strength training. And I know that I'm truly making myself better each and every workout.
Now, I still find that when I talk about lifting heavy, people always ask, "Well, aren't you worried about getting bulky??" My answer? Heck no! I've been trying to get bulky for over a year, and it still hasn't happened yet. Unless you are focusing 110% on your diet every single day, taking certain powders or additional supplements (like a protein powder or BCAAs), have the genetic disposition, and really honing in on your goals to gain muscle, you aren't going to get bulky. Instead, you'll find a sense of empowerment and strength from lifting heavy things - something no cardio machine could every provide!