Add me to the "weightlifting changed my life" club too.
A few years ago, we had a Men's Forum here at 3FC and I saved a post that I wrote there in response to a question that I don't even remember ... but I saved it because it came straight from my heart and I didn't want to lose the words once they were down on paper. The Men's Forum is gone and so is my original post but here's my story of how a sedentary woman (we're talking couch potato) who had been overweight or obese her whole life learned to love weightlifting:
When I walked into a gym for the first time in my life at age 46 and 257 pounds, I was beaten down by all my years of failing at weight loss. I never gave up trying but each failure was killing my spirit a little further. Realizing that I was beyond clueless at what to do in the gym, I was fortunate enough to meet a personal trainer who taught me everything that I know today about nutrition, cardio, and lifting weights. But the true gift that he gave me — by teaching me how to lift weights — was the knowledge that I had the strength within me to succeed at weight loss.
What’s the connection between lifting weights and losing weight (besides building muscle)? You see, I always thought that I was a wimp — that I was physically and psychologically weak and weak-willed (after all, I was fat, wasn’t I?) Weightlifting showed me that I was physically strong (when you’ve been obese for most of your life, you build some strong bones and muscles by just hauling yourself around!) As I kept working in the gym, it was so cool to have baby muscles start sprouting under all the fat — I’d lie in bed at night and feel at these strange changes in my body (and it was fun to discover bones too — ribs! collarbones! hipbones! ). And it’s a cliché, I know, but being strong is a very empowering feeling.
But far more important than the physical changes, weightlifting showed me that I was mentally tough and could persevere. That I could pick a goal and achieve it. That I could push myself far, far harder than I ever had imagined. That I was capable of so much more than I thought. That I could push through discomfort and even pain and end up floating high as a kite on the other side. It’s hard to put the feeling into words but it’s the best feeling in the world. And I’ll bet any of you who lift weights know exactly what I mean.
I guess the bottom line is that I learned that the power to change my life lies within me. I had the strength to do what it took to lose the weight all along, though I didn’t realize it. Most of weight loss is head stuff, not the nuts and bolts of what to eat etc. You have to believe that you can do it — that you're the one making the decisions and choices. Weightlifting has shown me that I don’t have to take the easy road that most of the world does — it’s so much more rewarding to be physically and mentally strong.
And that’s why I’m the goofy 49-year old mom in the gym with dumbbells in her hands and a big old smile on her face.
Every word of it is still true today -- except I'm 54 now!