A Little Heavy Lifting Goes a Long Way

I started a new workout regimen a few weeks ago after months of doing hardly anything at all except an occasional yoga class.  I had a hard time figuring out when I could fit in exercise during the spring without running from work to pick up the kids from daycare, to cook dinner, to eat, to pack up and drive to the gym, and then to home for baths and bedtime.  While Brandon was on the road, there just wasn’t a way to do that without eating takeout, which kinda defeats the purpose of working out.  Kinda.

But Brandon has been mostly home since the end of May (yayayayayay), and as we’ve readjusted to living together again, it’s occurred to me that, yes, maybe I can go to the gym for an hour a couple of times a week.  I’m also on summer hours, which gives me an additional hour of daylight at home with the kids (we work 7:30-4 during the summer, with a half-hour lunch), plus the kids have been going to bed a little later than they would on a school night.  AND since Brandon is around more, I don’t feel like going to the gym when he is around is going to cut into quality time together.
I can come up with lots of excuses not to work out, and they are pretty legitimate excuses.
Over the last few weeks, though, I started weight lifting after hearing my friends talk about weight training.  They recommended The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess.  With a title like that, who wouldn’t want to give it a try?  Good job, marketing department at Avery Trade.  The book offers a case for lifting, a helpful training program that includes using all of the equipment on the “man’s side” of the gym– barbells and dumbbells and benches weight machines– along with a helpful diet and nutrition guide.
We’ve adopted rather healthy eating habits in the Wells household since last spring when we tried the Whole 30 program, and we probably stick to a Paleo diet 70-80% of the time (Friday is always pizza night… I still eat ice cream because it is heaven in a bowl… etc.).  My metabolism must be relatively high, and my genes must be pretty decent.  I’d be okay with my figure for the most part if I stopped drinking all of that whiskey with my husband (but who wants to do that?).
Benefits of good nutrition aside, I like the idea of being toned and in shape. Weight lifting is something I haven’t done much of before, besides bench pressing Henry on the floor and the occasional half-hearted dumbbell workout after a half-hour on the elliptical.  So I started this workout.  I walked into the gym the first time, my textbook on lifting in hand, and self-consciously maneuvered from station to station.  I felt like I would probably hurt myself, and the boys with their pecs and their biceps would offer to help and then snicker later.  I felt kind of blubbery and noodle-y.  Unsure.  Insecure.  I felt the way I did on the drill team in high school – lanky and out of place.
But after the first workout, my muscles burned and tensed.  And although I did manage to drop the long metal bar used for lat pull-downs on top of my head in the second workout (twice), I was starting to get a feel for the gym equipment.  I’m on my fifth workout now, and here’s why I’m going to keep at it:

Last night at yoga, I held eagle pose, twice.  I held half-moon pose with the help of a block.  The week before, I held crane pose.  After an hour of a challenging yoga class I was ready to keep going, partly because my body is actually stronger physically, but mostly because I felt confident.

I can lift the weights on the big-boy side of the gym.  I can squat a barbell with weights on the ends. I can do twelve regular push-ups.  I feel stronger.  My muscles exist and they hurt a little but mostly they are making themselves known, maybe even celebrating being used for something more than carrying in groceries.  I don’t think I look any different.  I am pretty sure I’ve actually gained weight (the scale can go weigh itself).  But that’s fine, because it isn’t just muscle I’m building.  It’s strength, physically and mentally.
I talked after yoga for a little bit with a friend about this holistic approach to health.  I think we can be strong spiritually and strong mentally, but if our bodies are weak and we lack self-esteem, those other areas of our person aren’t going to operate as well as they could.  Our whole person wants to be healthy, and if one area of our lives is out of whack, it’s going to affect the rest of our bodies.  
This is true in a negative way and it’s true in a positive way – so if everything is operating decently and I’m getting by with my pretty good health, adding in a new routine or a new habit (maybe meditation, prayer, running, weight lifting, yoga, cutting out soda, eating more vegetables, completing more crossword puzzles, reading more books)… whatever it is, is sure to enforce the other areas of strength in my life.  I might actually be able to do more than I thought.  And that might actually build my confidence.  And that might make me feel kind of good at the end of the day.  
I can come up with lots of excuses not to work out, and they are pretty legitimate excuses.  But if a few hours of strength building can buy me more energy for my kids and husband while improving my overall self-image, then maybe that’s a good investment of that time.  And I can’t wait to post photos of myself looking like this:

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

2 thoughts on “A Little Heavy Lifting Goes a Long Way

  1. “I can come up with lots of excuses not to work out, and they are pretty legitimate excuses.” – It's like you are inside my mind. I do come up with legitimate excuses. Chores to finish, office, cooking etc etc. But then they are only excuses. You inspire me to workout. And a wonderful piece of writing. Keep us motivated!


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