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Strength training is the BEST. THING. EVER.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The scale hasn't budged since I started strength training 6 weeks ago. There are a few reasons for that, and I could be sad about it, especially because I was losing about 7 pounds a month for the preceding 5 months. But since I started strength training, my new pants are now too large. Both pairs are loose at the waist and baggy in the seat, so strength training is doing something fabulous!

When I was walking down the hall at work today, my stride was so long! I could feel my muscles just singing! I'm peppier, stronger, happier. I feel sexier! Thank you, strength training.

When I was shopping for new clothes on the weekend (well, secondhand new clothes actually), I'd grab shirts and pants that I liked and think "that will never fit," but they did! If I tried on stuff that I thought would fit, it was always too big. Still getting used to the new me….

The gym I'm using is operated by my workplace. When I first started going, I would chicken out if there were other people there. Since most people work regular hours, I could be alone if I could get there at off-times like 10 a.m or 2 p.m on a weekday. Now, I'll go at lunch time! There can be lots of fit, pretty people there sweating and grunting, and I just go in and do my workout! Why was I so nervous? Why did I let that stop me? It doesn't matter, because I kept going and now I love it! I smile at the gym bunnies and they smile back.

It's not like everything in my life is perfect now. Oh heck no. I still have bad days, get overwhelmed, feel like crapola. For so long, I tried to make myself feel better by medicating with food. And let's face it, it works -- somewhat. I'd eat and feel better. Or I'd at least be distracted by feeling overly full and ashamed of myself. You all know the downsides of emotional eating, so I don't need to enumerate them.

I have a new way to feel better, and it's much more effective than overeating. I can drag my grumpy butt to the gym and get all sweaty on the cardio machines, and it may take a while, but my mood will begin to lift. Then I can huff and puff on the weight machines, and start to feel strong and capable and proud of myself! It's like magic.

The weird thing is that I resisted doing it for so long. Changing my eating came first, and it went really well. Increasing my activity level came more slowly, but there are lots of cardio activities that I enjoy, so that part kept improving. But I couldn't seem to get around to strength training, even though Cannie wrote a very convincing blog extolling its merits.

Now that I've been doing it for six weeks, I can say without any doubt that strength training has increased my confidence, lifted my mood and my backside, and made me do a lot more laundry. (I had to make a special trip to Value Village just for more workout clothes.) The best part, though, is how I can get up off the floor.

I had this epiphany a while ago about why I didn't like to get down on the floor to do my back exercises, even though they really help my back. I was worried I wouldn't be able to get up without help. It's the same reason I didn't like to take baths. How embarrassing if I got stuck in the tub and had to call for help. I have some fusion in my spine, and sometimes my mobility has been not great. A couple of months ago I was on my living room rug doing stretches, and my friends arrived earlier than expected. I called out that I would be there in a sec, and then I spent agonizing minutes slowly getting up. I was almost in tears when I got to the door to let them in. For years now, getting up from the floor has been kind of nasty. It involved pain, and I usually had to do it in this slow motion way that ended with a modified push-up.

At the gym last week I got up from the mat, and then I realized that I'd gotten up like a normal person! I rolled over onto my side and sat up. No pain! I didn't even pay any attention to how I got up; I just did it in the way that felt natural. Now, some of that enhanced mobility can be attributed to my 35-pound weight loss and my gradual increase in physical activity over the past six months. But most of the change has happened since I started strength training.

Just three times a week, but sometimes I only go twice. My little routine only takes about half an hour, and I warm up with some cardio first. I'd guess it's about 15 hours total that I've spent at the gym, with half of that doing strength training. It's hard to believe that such a small amount of time could have such a profound effect!

I have core muscles now! I can feel the difference when I get out of bed, when I get up off the floor, when I do wall squats with a Swiss ball and dumbbells. Yes, that is me, formerly afraid of the gym, now using weird gym equipment and doing arcane exercise movements. All this would have been unthinkable a few months ago. I wonder what the next few months will bring!!!!

I know I'm preaching to the choir, because most of my SparkFriends are well ahead of me on the exercise front. You all have inspired me with your challenges and running and martial arts and home gym equipment and zumba and Wii and…. But I really hope that someone who isn't convinced about strength training reads this and decides to give it a try. It was Sparkers raving about how good it felt that made me think maybe I should give it a shot, and let me tell you, I'm so glad I did!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • SHIRE33
    I started weight training a few weeks ago. I'm surprise at the difference, too. I have stenosis, and it has not slowed me down like I thought it would. I'm still over 200, but I just started wearing 14s, and normally I'd never be able to have done that. The strength training has made a real difference.
    3128 days ago
  • CHRISKENANDKIDS
    So happy for you! I love the way my muscles feel too. You move better, you FEEL better and you LOOK better. Congratulations! :)
    3128 days ago
  • HDHAWK
    Strength training is the thing that will change how you look the most!
    3129 days ago
  • MUSICALLYMINDED
    I agree so much with this blog. You are preachin' to the choir, sister. The weight loss has slowed for me, but I look smaller and get many more compliments than before. And I'm dropping pants sizes like crazy! It's great. I hope you don't get too frustrated with the scale. I just started taking a monthly photo to see my transformation that way, instead of just gauging success by the scale.


    3129 days ago
  • ADVENTURESEEKER
    I feel the same way about strength training!! emoticon
    3129 days ago
  • CANNIE50
    How on earth did I not see this blog before now? I felt happy just reading it - much like I feel after I lift weights! I completely concur on the benefits of strength training. I sort of scared myself the other day by overdoing it with deadlifts and chest presses, and then, foolishly, the very next day helping my husband move a t.v. downstairs (it was pretty heavy -those flatscreens are heavier than they look) and it was ackward. My back really hurt that evening. However, I put some O.T.C. menthol pain patches on the sore spot, went to bed, and VOILA, woke up free of pain. I attribute that to S.T. as well, because my core is much stronger. Anyway, enough about me. I am SO happy for YOU - woo hoo!!! Oh, by the way, I think you just may be a gym bunny now emoticon emoticon
    3143 days ago
  • UTMIZ_2000
    It's so much fun to read blogs when people have experienced an epiphany. So happy for you. I've done some weight training with Leslie Sansone Walk at Home program. I really want to get back into it after all my surgeries are done. I do have to be careful. The surgeon told me that after I get the new elbow I can't lift more than the weight of a gallon of milk. That's kind of scary. I will have to determine how heavy that is, but I think 2 pounds would be okay.

    So glad you are having such a positive experience with the strength training. Loved the Wonder Woman photo. That's going to be you really soon.


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    3150 days ago
  • LHLADY517
    Awesome. WTG.
    3154 days ago
  • TMCLEOD4
    emoticon emoticon emoticon

    Great blog!! Thanks for sharing!
    3154 days ago
  • CROOKEDLETTER
    Awesome! Strength training really is great. And it makes the cardio better and day to day fuctioning better and things a bit easier. And it relieves stress in a big way, at least for me.

    Love that you're loving ST!
    3154 days ago
  • KALIGIRL
    I'm glad you did too!

    Know what? The reason you're not 'losing' is 'cause you're 'gaining' muscle!. Love that it weighs more than flab.
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    3155 days ago
  • VALERIEMAHA
    What inspiring and motivational writing! I know I need more instruction on working with free weights, but for now it's me and Kathy Smith, X3 per week, getting stronger!

    Keep up the fabulous training!
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    Maha
    3155 days ago
  • KAILYNSTAR
    I love your blog!

    You are so right that strength training helps in so many ways. I do miss doing mine and hope to be at it soon.

    Congratulations for all of the improvements that you have made!
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    3155 days ago
  • PUDLECRAZY
    Way to go! I love weight training and started training with heavy weights this summer in an intense weight training class. I agree with all you say about this and love the way my body has responded to the weight training in terms of tone, strength, and energy. It has been really hard for me to miss my two sessions a week for the past two weeks while I have had the flu. I feel so much better when I get my weight lifting sessions in.

    Congrats on your better fitting jeans, an don't worry about not losing those pounds as fast, you are doing your body such good!
    3155 days ago
  • MARKSTIPANOVSKY
    Great sharing - thanks...
    3155 days ago
  • THINRONNA
    Thank you so much for this wonderful blog. I have had some troubles the past few months and have let my strength training go completely and I can really feel it. I live with pain again in my back and my legs. You are soooo right. ...And soooo inspiring! I will feel better when I get strong again. Thank you so much and congratulations on your excellent achievements!
    3155 days ago
  • LIBELULITA
    I love love love this blog and hope it will send an inspiring message to many more people than just me.I think that recuperating mobility is the main liberating benefit of losing weight.Just the other day I started to walk in my careful one-step-at-a-time (to protect my knees that suddenly fail on me) way down the stairs and suddenly realised that due to the strength have regained I may now actually be able to walk down normally now....but instead I ran down!!! This was impossible 3 months ago.I feeel like 20 yrs has come off my body. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3155 days ago

    Comment edited on: 11/22/2011 4:50:01 AM
  • CATS_MEOW_0911
    Love it! So glad you can see and feel the difference. I know it sure helps with my arthritis too. So proud of you, Tara!
    3155 days ago
  • SUNFLOWERSAVAGE
    First of all...so nice to see you!
    I loved this blog. I'm so happy for you that your strength training is helping you so much. You are sounding so much happier and more confident as well.
    I am that person that you wanted to reach. I have not done any strength training. I use hand weights when I do my shadow boxing, but I don't do any formal strength training. I am going to make that my goal for next week! I am really busy this week getting ready for a craft sale on Saturday and really only have time for my dancing. Next week I will definitely start...if I don't mention that I've done it, feel free to call me on it!

    Have a wonderful week Tara! emoticon
    3155 days ago
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