How Weightlifting Changed Me

I have a confession to make.

I no longer attend Zumba or U-Jam classes.

THERE. I said it. I used to LOVE dance fitness, and I still do. I did it for the adrenaline rush, the fun, and the feeling of being healthy. But something changed. It started to get…boring? I wanted something new in my fitness routine. I always incorporated free weights after cardio, but what if I prioritized weights before cardio? So I tried that. And it has been amazing for me not only physically, but also mentally.

I wanted to write about this today because I met one of my weightlifting goals: to squat 135lbs. That translates to a 45lb barbell, and a 45lb plate on each side of the barbell.

This took me  a couple months. I started with just the barbell in the beginning. It was about 3 months of just figuring it all out with how much I should be eating, how to do exercises with the right form, and actually getting serious about it.  5 months later, here I am.

I’m going to be honest. Not only was I starting to get bored of dance fitness, but I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. Obviously a plus side of exercise is looking good. I am confident in my body but it doesn’t hurt to feel even better. Initially I wanted a flatter stomach and bigger butt because I’ve just always had a slender body with no curves. I was eating less than 1500 calories a day and wondering why  my body wasn’t changing. Turns out, it was holding onto my body fat because I wasn’t eating enough. Now I eat around 2500 calories and it’s helping fuel my workouts. I feel STRONGER, physically AND mentally.

Weightlifting has empowered me. Growing up, I always felt weak and needed help carrying things. People would always call me “small.” Even as an adult, I’ve been called helpless and weak. Not only did I not have much physical strength, but I also had a very weak immune system. I would get sick often – to the point it was one of the reasons I had to leave Taiwan early when I taught there.  But now, I feel strong. I feel healthy, and I even get sick less. I think lifting is such a great activity to try, especially for women, because the confidence and health benefits it can give. Ever since I was little, my parents have made comments about my body. Especially my mother. Lately she has told me I’m getting “fat,” which is more annoying than hurtful (before it would have been a stab in my self-confidence). She just doesn’t understand. I want to be strong, not skinny. Sure, I gained some body fat, but that’s okay. In the long run, the muscle I’m building will help shed the fat faster. It’s important to love yourself in all forms! And no, I’m not worried about looking big or bulky.

So far, I’ve gained about 10lbs, but I’m okay with that. Hopefully some stays as muscle and the rest of it will shed off once I start the cutting phase (where I eat at a caloric deficit but still enough to fuel my workouts).

Don’t get me wrong, I still like dance fitness. I think I just needed a break from it. I can’t wait until I go back to a class in month or two and see how I feel!

If you’re reading this post, I encourage you to try weightlifting if you’re curious about it! 🙂

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