Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Dear Self: Please Always Remember This

You're a total and complete bad ass. And lifting made you that way.

My love affair with weights began a long time ago, in high school, on swim team. I grew up in a completely non-athletic home, and never even really knew about sports, running or even calisthenics, body building etc. So as a 15  year old high school sophomore who had joined the swim team, when they took us into the weight room for dry land training, I could barely lift a thing. Fortunately, one of the biggest reasons beginners progress so quickly is due to better muscle activation after a few sessions. I lifted in swim team, and then joined a gym after I left the team. I continued lifting off and on for years, but I then had a knee injury and quit cold turkey.

After that, I didn't consistently have a gym membership so I didn't consistently lift weights. I thought I was a "hard gainer" who didn't build muscle easily, but what I really had was an issue with training and eating, trying to do a haphazard lifting routine on a very low calorie diet.

When I really took weight loss seriously, I actually quit lifting. Why? Because I lost weight faster when I didn't lift. Um, yeah! That's all your muscle leaving your body! I hadn't quit my gym membership at that time, but I rarely, if ever, went into the weight room. I used the gym for the treadmill. I was running half marathons and training for my first full, and was successful at getting to a healthy weight, but I was no happy with how I looked. I was still skinny fat.

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know I have adopted many diet schemes. Weight watchers, "Real Food." eating "clean," Whole 30, and many more. All gimmicks. Now I look back at all the ups and downs I've had over the years, many, many ups and downs in weight, and the one thing I didn't have was a solid lifting program or a reasonable diet. I'm not sure why this year was different.

I joined a gym and started by only doing cardio. Then I looked at my bookshelf with "The New Rules of Lifting for Women" a book I had bought 8 years ago, and said, what the heck, I might as well try. I finished that program and then got excited about starting a REAL, LIVE BODYBUILDING ROUTINE! So I've been lifting weights consistently for 7 months now, and my self esteem is through the roof.

I didn't try to lose weight at first, I didn't even count calories, and then I found IIFYM (If it fits your macros) and flexible dieting. It's like Weight Watchers but much more reasonable calorie wise, and puts some emphasis on where your calories are coming from. I take the most flexible approach, stay at or under my calories, and try to get a minimum of 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass, at least 50 grams of fat and the rest in whatever I feel like. I eat a lot of veggies, lean meat and fruit, but also allow myself to have pasta, cheese, tortilla chips, even wine. I don't beat myself up over anything - a missed workout, a lazy day, a day of going over my calories, or even going under my protein. It's only one day, and I get right back on the program then next day.

I am still nowhere near my goal weight, but I see muscle in my legs and arms. I can squat below parallel. I can deadlift 135 lbs. I'm starting to bench press and working towards doing a chin up. Weight loss has been slow, but instead of counting the pounds until I can eat fries, I have a moderate amount of fries if I want them. What I am doing is sustainable, and I don't feel deprived. I finally feel like this is a journey, and as long as I don't dwell on my chubby midsection, I feel hot AF.

And I owe all of this to lifting weights. I love being strong, and I hope I always remember that no matter how tight money is, I always make room for lifting one way or another.

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