One day I was at the gym on the StairMaster® and I saw this woman walk in front of me with the most beautiful, strong shoulders. I got off the StairMaster® and went up to her and said “You have beautiful shoulders”. She told me “Thank you, I do bikini body building competitions.” I was so interested that I got her number and we lifted the following week. I had lifted before then, but nothing like this. The next day I could hardly move my legs, sitting on the toilet hurt, and sleeping was uncomfortable. She inspired me to be a better version of myself. To be strong and confident, like she was. From that point forward, my life changed forever.
I knew that Kellie had done a bikini competition so I contacted her. She referred me to Chrissy and I began prepping for my first bikini competition (with the best coach ever).
I have been lifting ever since, and through this experience, I have learned so much about fitness, my body, my mind, and everything in between. As a certified Personal Trainer and Yoga Teacher, I make sure my clients learn from my mistakes. Looking back, if I didn’t focus so much on what others thought, or what I didn’t like about my body, I could’ve spent that time being happy. This is why I’m sharing these lessons with you, because I believe they can make a positive difference in your overall happiness.
Here are 10 Lessons I Learned from Lifting:
1. What people may or may not be thinking about you doesn’t matter
It just doesn’t. I spent a lot of time worrying about what others thought about me, especially in a gym setting. This made me apprehensive to try an exercise I had never done before or lift in a certain section of the gym. In fact, I remember my very first training session with Chrissy and she brought me into the “man section”. I was so scared I rethought why I wanted to lift in the first place. But I did it, I went into that part of the gym, got taught how to bench press, and guess what? Nothing happened. No one made fun of me for not knowing how to bench, no one looked at me in an odd way; I was just there, bettering myself.
After that moment, I began to rethink everything. Why did I worry about what others thought? Why was I so nervous to go into that part of the gym? Gandhi once said “Nobody can hurt me without my permission”. I wouldn’t say I was hurt, but I let other people dictate what I would do in the gym. I realized the way I was reacting was giving me a negative experience at the gym. So, I changed how I reacted by remembering WHY I was there.
I was there for ME, not for them, so I began to quiet the part of my mind that was saying “I look stupid” or “everyone thinks I’m weak for only lifting this weight”. Honestly, most people are probably too focused on themselves to even think about what others are doing around them. What people may or may not be thinking about you does NOT matter; what YOU think about you matters.
2. Appreciate your body where it is right NOW
I spent a lot of time in my fitness journey not enjoying where my body was, my lack of butt, my stomach, my stretch marks, etc. I ended up losing 15 pounds, and sitting at under 10% body fat for my first bikini body building competition. Then a crazy thing happened – I gained most of the weight back. I was back to the familiar place where I didn’t love my body. However, this time I vowed that it would be different. It took me many months of working through body image issues to realize that this body, what I have right this second, is beautiful.
I’m not saying that goals to improve your physique don’t matter, but whenever you look in the mirror and you say to yourself “I want to lose this here, I want to increase mass here, I hate my stomach, etc. etc.”, STOP. You are alive. Be grateful for your life, and your body, in this moment, and believe that you are worthy of self-love.
3. Getting muscle mass in HARD, especially for women
“I don’t want to lift because I don’t want to be bulky”.
I hear this over and over again. Good news to the women who worry about this: it’s VERY unlikely that you’ll get bulky. Thank our hormones for that. Women do not have the amount of testosterone that men have, so it is much more difficult to gain muscle mass. The huge women bodybuilders you see have been training for years to achieve that amount of mass. Their diets have likely been very extreme, eating and supplementing in order to gain muscle mass. If that amount of mass isn’t your goal, you will not achieve it.
What lifting will do, however, is make your muscles more distinct, help you lose weight, and make you FEEL strong (probably the best feeling ever). Don’t be afraid to lift and lift heavy.
4. Form is quite possibly the most important aspect of lifting
I know we’ve probably all heard this before, but it is so true. Proper form helps avoid injuries and leads to greater muscle activation. Greater muscle activation = greater muscle development. Thank you, form!
5. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is hard
Media often portrays health and fitness as an easy fix. Well, I hate to break it to you, but it isn’t. No, these 9 moves will not give you a flat stomach. Sure, they may give you more muscle in your stomach, but a flat stomach requires a lot more than just 9 moves that you perform every once in a while. Of course this is just an example, but these “easy fixes” are EVERYWHERE.
Being healthy and fit is a lifestyle, not an easy fix. Your lifestyle encompasses your diet, mental health, and exercise program.
If you have no idea where to start, send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can help!
This can be one of the hardest aspects of our fitness journey. Results do not happen overnight. You have to allow yourself to completely commit to a program and believe in the process in order to see your life change. I could not have learned to believe in myself without my coach, Chrissy. She taught me to dedicate myself to something and show myself what I am capable of. Life is a compilation of all of your reactions. React in a way that will give you a positive life.
Believe in yourself and work your butt off.
7. Get your zen on
People often ask me, “You are a yoga teacher, why in the world did you decide to do a Bikini Competition? They seem so opposite.” Lifting is way more zen-y than most people realize. Your breath throughout lifting is SO important. It protects your organs and enables you to perform the move correctly (and when you breathe correctly, you can lift more weight!). Also, when you are mindful of the muscles that are being contracted, you’ll engage your muscles more, and therefore see more gains in the future.
Just like yoga, lifting is about self-realization and showing yourself what you are capable of, while at the same time, realizing that it is a process. Be kind to yourself and listen to your body.
8. Enjoy the journey
When you first begin strength training, you may find yourself increasing by 5-10lbs each week. As you continue to lift, gains become slower and slower. It is important to avoid obsessing over gains. Instead, enjoy the process you are in.
So how might one enjoy the process? Mindfulness. Experience how it feels to lift. We want to listen to our thoughts, feel the emotions that arise, experience the sensations of our body and then let them go. Once we focus on the raw experience of the body and mind while being active, we begin to enjoy the journey.
9. Love what your body can DO
Many times, people begin strength training to look better, but that is not always why they continue. I began strength training for that exact reason, but after lifting and seeing myself become stronger, I began to focus on what my body can DO (rather than what it looked like). This encouraged me to become more loving towards my body.
Strength training is empowering. For many people, lifting weights helps them shift their focus from strictly aesthetically based to more outcome based (what their body can DO for them).
10. I love lifting
Last but definitely not least, I’ve learned that I love the simple act of lifting. 🙂