The scale hasn't budged since I started strength training 6 weeks ago. There are a few reasons for that, and I could be sad about it, especially because I was losing about 7 pounds a month for the preceding 5 months. But since I started strength training, my new pants are now too large. Both pairs are loose at the waist and baggy in the seat, so strength training is doing something fabulous!
When I was walking down the hall at work today, my stride was so long! I could feel my muscles just singing! I'm peppier, stronger, happier. I feel sexier! Thank you, strength training.
When I was shopping for new clothes on the weekend (well, secondhand new clothes actually), I'd grab shirts and pants that I liked and think "that will never fit," but they did! If I tried on stuff that I thought would fit, it was always too big. Still getting used to the new me….
The gym I'm using is operated by my workplace. When I first started going, I would chicken out if there were other people there. Since most people work regular hours, I could be alone if I could get there at off-times like 10 a.m or 2 p.m on a weekday. Now, I'll go at lunch time! There can be lots of fit, pretty people there sweating and grunting, and I just go in and do my workout! Why was I so nervous? Why did I let that stop me? It doesn't matter, because I kept going and now I love it! I smile at the gym bunnies and they smile back.
It's not like everything in my life is perfect now. Oh heck no. I still have bad days, get overwhelmed, feel like crapola. For so long, I tried to make myself feel better by medicating with food. And let's face it, it works -- somewhat. I'd eat and feel better. Or I'd at least be distracted by feeling overly full and ashamed of myself. You all know the downsides of emotional eating, so I don't need to enumerate them.
I have a new way to feel better, and it's much more effective than overeating. I can drag my grumpy butt to the gym and get all sweaty on the cardio machines, and it may take a while, but my mood will begin to lift. Then I can huff and puff on the weight machines, and start to feel strong and capable and proud of myself! It's like magic.
The weird thing is that I resisted doing it for so long. Changing my eating came first, and it went really well. Increasing my activity level came more slowly, but there are lots of cardio activities that I enjoy, so that part kept improving. But I couldn't seem to get around to strength training, even though Cannie wrote a very convincing blog extolling its merits.
Now that I've been doing it for six weeks, I can say without any doubt that strength training has increased my confidence, lifted my mood and my backside, and made me do a lot more laundry. (I had to make a special trip to Value Village just for more workout clothes.) The best part, though, is how I can get up off the floor.
I had this epiphany a while ago about why I didn't like to get down on the floor to do my back exercises, even though they really help my back. I was worried I wouldn't be able to get up without help. It's the same reason I didn't like to take baths. How embarrassing if I got stuck in the tub and had to call for help. I have some fusion in my spine, and sometimes my mobility has been not great. A couple of months ago I was on my living room rug doing stretches, and my friends arrived earlier than expected. I called out that I would be there in a sec, and then I spent agonizing minutes slowly getting up. I was almost in tears when I got to the door to let them in. For years now, getting up from the floor has been kind of nasty. It involved pain, and I usually had to do it in this slow motion way that ended with a modified push-up.
At the gym last week I got up from the mat, and then I realized that I'd gotten up like a normal person! I rolled over onto my side and sat up. No pain! I didn't even pay any attention to how I got up; I just did it in the way that felt natural. Now, some of that enhanced mobility can be attributed to my 35-pound weight loss and my gradual increase in physical activity over the past six months. But most of the change has happened since I started strength training.
Just three times a week, but sometimes I only go twice. My little routine only takes about half an hour, and I warm up with some cardio first. I'd guess it's about 15 hours total that I've spent at the gym, with half of that doing strength training. It's hard to believe that such a small amount of time could have such a profound effect!
I have core muscles now! I can feel the difference when I get out of bed, when I get up off the floor, when I do wall squats with a Swiss ball and dumbbells. Yes, that is me, formerly afraid of the gym, now using weird gym equipment and doing arcane exercise movements. All this would have been unthinkable a few months ago. I wonder what the next few months will bring!!!!
I know I'm preaching to the choir, because most of my SparkFriends are well ahead of me on the exercise front. You all have inspired me with your challenges and running and martial arts and home gym equipment and zumba and Wii and…. But I really hope that someone who isn't convinced about strength training reads this and decides to give it a try. It was Sparkers raving about how good it felt that made me think maybe I should give it a shot, and let me tell you, I'm so glad I did!