A couple of you have commented that you want to see my workout/eating plan and tips on how I stay so motivated to work out. Those two posts are coming up later this week, but first I’d like to share with you the story of just how I got sucked into the world of fitness.
First and foremost, making and keeping a commitment to fitness and good health takes years to master. It is NOT something that you can turn into a permanent habit in 21 days or whatever the supposed rule of thumb is.
In high school, I was one of those lucky people who was a twig naturally, but eventually college and maturity caught up to me in my late teens and early twenties. In college, I gained about 20-25 pounds.
Towards the end of college, I began a 3-times-per-week running plan. However, I never really lost weight because I had zero muscle mass (well, not zero, but I wasn’t building any muscle mass). This frustrated me to no end and was very discouraging! Here I was, getting myself to the gym 3 times a week and pounding it out on the treadmill and I wasn’t seeing any results! What gives?!
What I discovered after a couple years of on and off cardiovascular exercise was that running was not going to take off the pounds if I wasn’t building any new muscle to burn extra calories throughout the day.
Sometime in 2006, I fell in love…with weight lifting that is. That year, I picked up my first dumbbell and never looked back! I had finally found my workout soul mate and couldn’t have been happier. This year we celebrated our 3rd anniversary. 😉
Ladies, when I began lifting heavy weights, I lost about 20 pounds in 2-3 months!
I didn’t change my diet, I didn’t do any extra cardio (running, elliptical, etc.). The one and only thing I started doing differently was lifting weights for about 15-30 minutes 2-4 times per week.
There is something very important to point out that makes a lifting regime so effective. This is the point where women usually get scared off and go running to a Step class claiming they don’t want to become manly!
YOU MUST LIFT HEAVY WEIGHTS.
Please, please, step away from the 3, 5, and 8 pound dumbbells. Those do not do you any good. “Spot training” or “toning” is a myth that has been created by the media. The only thing that works is building real muscle mass with heavy weights that will burn crazy amounts of calories throughout the day. Essentially, when you build an extra 2, 3, 4, or 5 pounds of muscle, you’re working out ALL day because your body is burning more calories.
When I say heavy weights, I mean 15, 20, 25, 30 pound dumbbells. Of course, I know some exercises can’t be done with this high of weight and you have to use the 5s or 10s, but double digits is really where it’s at.
The weight loss happens fast, too. If you really start pushing yourself with the heavy weights, you will really start to see pounds fall off your body.
Your body will start to change shape, too. It will NOT change in a bad way. There is NO way you can look like a man unless you are taking steroids or you have some sort of crazy testosterone imbalance (in that case….uh, get thee to thy doctor). Instead, your body will look tighter, tinier, more compact. I remember when I was heavier in college, I would sometimes experience a sort of “blob” feeling – now I feel like I have a tight, lithe body that I have more control over.
I’ve been lifting as heavy as possible for over 3 years and not one part of my body has gotten bigger (as the media claims); on the contrary, each part of my body has gotten smaller.
A funny thing happened when my body started changing and the weight started falling off (without having to follow some exhausting, ridiculously time-consuming workout plan) – my whole life got better. I walked with more confidence, I slept better, I felt better throughout the day, I carried myself better, I just felt healthier.
Let me tell you, feeling and looking better than you’ve ever felt or looked in your life can be really life-changing. It can turn whatever you’re doing to make yourself feel this way into a passion. So, that was it, I was hooked. I was officially a workout addict.
I remember when I was younger, when I would first start up an exercise program, I’d think, “Oh, I can’t wait to lose 20 pounds so I don’t have to workout anymore!” Even if I would have lost 20 pounds, it wouldn’t have lasted. It’s so cliché, but it truly does take a lifelong commitment to maintain good health.
My love for heavy lifting doesn’t mean that I shun cardio exercise anymore. Surprisingly, it has made my cardio workouts ever better! I still do some form of cardio exercise a couple times a week, it’s just not my favorite part of working out.
My life is so much better now that I’ve found one of my many passions in exercise, but the key to making it stick was finding something I loved about exercise. Hate running? Don’t do it! Hate group classes? Never go to them again! Experiment until you find something that makes you feel happy or helps you relax at the end of the day.
Everyone’s passion for health is out there somewhere, you just gotta dig until you find your workout soul mate.
Coming up this week and next: How I stay motivated to workout & my workout/eating plans!