Lifting weights as a woman often gets a bad rep. But the myth that shouldn’t lift heavy is only perpetuated by woman who fear work and men who fear women. Many women shy away from the metal because they worry that if they lift they will look too manly (side note: unless on steroids, you will not look like a man. It’s physically and naturally not possible). Instead, a lot of young girls and women become what is called a “cardio bunny”: running countless miles on the treadmill hating your life. The number on the scale is still seen as the ultimate goal and while many women are striving to become to skinnier, they don’t seem to push to become stronger. It goes way beyond the physical benefits: it’s mental. Lifting weights has changed how I view myself in terms of being a woman and the connection I have with myself. Here is what “picking things up and putting them down” has taught me:
It’s taught me that failure happens. And you survive it. I am comfortable with failure. If I fail during a lift it means my body has reached maximum capacity; it can’t go any further.
It’s taught me that my body is worth loving. Ever since I started seriously lifting I transitioned from my body-hating teens to my body-loving twenties. I spent my time criticizing, like most women, instead of embracing the strong womanly curves that God gave me.
Lifting has given me confidence. I am in full control of my body when I lift. Feeling in control and powerful in your own body is an amazing feeling. Whether it’s wedging myself in between 2 meat head men by the mirror because yes, it’s arm day and I need those 35 pound dumbbells please and thank you, or strutting into a bar with a spaghetti strap tank on because all those curls and shoulder presses weren’t for nothing, I feel confident in not only how I look, but what I can do.
I’ve developed a deeper respect for how powerful, awe-inspiring and enduring my female body is. I mean let’s face it: we push out babies and that’s phenomenal in itself. But to challenge your body past even further and know it will survive? Now that is powerful.
Exercise is MORE. Many women exercise to lose weight, which to me means to a way to shrink or to stay smaller. Treating exercise as a means to me more as opposed to the never ending struggle to be less is so much more satisfying.
Gender does not matter. My body and its muscles have a function: to live and support myself no matter what. I feel like I can conquer any physical challenge that I am presented with. I can support the active person I am. It’s empowering to know that the idea of what a women’s body look like is not generated to one idea. Now you move and train your body should in no way be based on your gender or the social norms that society tells us men and women are “supposed to look like”.
Lifting has taught me to feel empowered. There are very few things that are more empowering than lifting weights. That has everything to do with being a woman. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard women say lifting isn’t “for them”. Every time I step into the rack I feel like I am shattering the perception of the limitations of women. Plus, being able to lift really heavy shit off the ground, onto your shoulders and over your head if really, really bad ass.
My hope for young girls and women of all ages and body styles is for them to realize just how powerful and inspiring it is to be a woman. Those stories about moms lifting cars off their children are not made up. Our bodies are made to withstand immense amounts of challenge and it would be a crime for us not explore how far that challenge goes. Over the next few posts I’m going to share my transformation not only physically, but mentally in hopes that just one woman can view her body differently. Your twenties are the perfect time to learn self love: you’re still young, gravity hasn’t hit yet and quite frankly you just deserve it!
xoxo – J