Over the years, lifting weights along with eating paleo have changed my life for the better in more ways than I can describe in one simple blog post. In my book, Everyday Paleo, I describe in detail my journey that led me to living a paleo lifestyle and how my own health and the health of my family improved drastically due to some major lifestyle changes. Consequently I love to write articles on this blog which focus primarily on paleo nutrition, lifestyle, recipes, how to feed a family paleo, and now and then you will find articles that also touch on fitness, mainly thanks to contributions by co-owner of EPLifeFit.com, our very own; Jason Seib.
Fitness is a huge part of my life but that doesn’t mean that I spend several hours a day thinking about my fitness or even working on my fitness! Fortunately, after several years of trial and error and finally learning from and eventually working for the best of the best, (and eventually actually listening), I have found a way to incorporate the way I work out into how I live my life. It. Just. Works. I don’t have to plan for hours on end or try to fit it in. I have simply made fitness a priority and not a drudgery or a duty or an appointment that I have to keep. My relationship with fitness no longer defines how I want to look or something that I may or may not continue. Fitness for me is insurance. Insurance that I’ll get through my day, live longer, and someday lift my grandchildren and maybe even great-grandchildren high above my head rather than sit quietly while I hold them in my lap.
A large part of my fitness is lifting weights and below I have shared with you the 10 reasons why I choose to do just that.
Why I Lift Weights
1. I can save my family. I know without a doubt that if I had to, I could carry and run or at least lift and drag every single member of my family, husband included, to safety if I needed to. Jaden asked me several years ago when he was around five, “Mom, why do you workout?” and my response was, “Because Jaden, if I need to, I can carry you and your two bothers and run.” His response was, “Cool!” I like knowing that in any event, I am capable. To me, that’s empowerment.
2. I don’t get hurt anymore doing silly things and old injuries are gone. I can clearly remember the times I have gotten hurt prior to lifting weights and I realize now that lifting weights is not just about being strong but it’s really about stabilizing joints, becoming more coordinated, improving range of motion, and learning body awareness. I clearly remember reaching behind me while seated to pick up a toy off the floor, and pulling a muscle in my back, simply from reaching my arm behind my back. Now I can move with freedom, aware of how my body works, and how to accomplish day to day chores and how to play safely and with ease. I also suffered for years from what was diagnosed at the ripe old age of 24, as chronic hip bursitis and at that time, I was told that all I could do to treat the pain was to rest. Anyone with young children knows that the “rest” treatment plan is impossible. Today, thanks to paleo and lifting weights, the only time you’ll find me resting is when I’m actually tired. That old searing, aching, throbbing pain in my hip that used to wake me up at night, sending John to the store to pick up more pain meds, is now a thing of the past.
3. I’m confident. Lifting weights has taught me a lot about myself. I used to be ashamed, I would apologize for everything, I was lost in a sea of insecurities that I constantly tried to hide. I have always been a fighter but anxiety and fear often knocked the fight right out of me and I would end up always back at square one; no matter what I thought I could accomplish, I always ended up holding myself back. Today, I am capable of talking about myself in a positive manner, and I can take a compliment and not feel ashamed or embarrassed like I used to. I know I am capable of doing things I never thought possible before. As I get older, I become more confident with who I am. I stand up straight when I walk into a room with my head held high, and I have lost my old insecurities that used to plague me. After experiencing my body heal; to go from being sick and out of shape to someone who is capable and healthy, has been the best confidence booster I could have ever asked for. I know that I can do it – no matter what that IT might be. Being strong is not just about what one can do physically; for me personally, lifting weights has given me more mental strength and toughness than I ever could have imagined, and this perk wasn’t something I expected or even hoped for when I first picked up a barbell.
4. My bones are healthy. It is scientifically proven that you can build bone density by lifting weights. So today, I say yes to a straight spine, sturdy limbs, and I say yes to longevity. I will not relent and listen to the top Hollywood female trainers who scream and preach and whine that women should never lift more than three pounds and that we should use stretchy bandy things to workout so that we won’t get “bulky.” Have any of you ladies out there ever carried a bag of groceries, a kid, your diaper bag, and your purse all at the same time? Of course you have; and I’m guessing that all of those things individually, much less combined, probably weigh a bit more than three pounds. These “Hollywood trainers” that scowl at weight lifting also make recommendations like eating a baby food diet, which probably has a lot to do with celebrities having wonderful issues such as osteopenia. I would like to have five minutes alone with some of those “Hollywood” trainers, but in the meantime, ladies, please eat real food and lift weights! Your bones will thank you.
5. My kids are learning by example. I love it that my kids want to work out with us too. We are showing them how to be active and the time we spend working out gives us MORE time with them and instead of laying by the pool, unable or unwilling to play, we are in there with them tossing kids up high, dunking and splashing. They see us run after them, swing on the monkey bars, and they know when they ask us to pick them up, we will always say yes. The other day, I heard a woman tell her child when he asked her to come play with him on the playground, “No honey, adults like to just sit and watch.” I could tell by how she looked longingly after him that she wanted to, but couldn’t. I lift weights because I never want to have to say that to my child. I will not let life pass me by any longer as I sit and watch. I did that for long enough and now; I’ll jump right in, every time that I can, because I can!
6. I get to hang out with my husband. Lifting weight is something John and I can do together and it has brought us closer. John has held me up and has got me through every single tough time in my life and he is my rock. When we lift weights together, I feel his support and encouragement and his happiness that he has a healthy wife, his joy that he has a strong woman to support him, and I see his confidence that we are teammates in this wonderful life. Together we are dedicated to being healthy for our children, and that pretty much rocks.
7. I finally understand what I’m doing in the gym. I used to be a gym wanderer. I would spend time on a treadmill, an elliptical, or a bike and then I would just kind of wander. I would try some machines and end up hurting something, not being sure how to use the machine, or being embarrassed. Often I would use a machine and instead of feeling like I was working out, I would just sit there and wonder, “Why on earth will squeezing my legs together as I sit in this strange and uncomfortable fashion on this lame embarrassing machine make my thighs smaller – I have tried this “squeeze my legs together machine” for half my life and my thighs NEVER GET SMALLER!?!??”
That all changed when I started lifting. I remember the first time I attempted to deadlift. I had Robb next to me, coaching me, making sure my technique was dialed. He explained to me how this movement would help me outside of the gym, and that I was also learning how to safely pick up objects (kids) and how the deadlift triggers a neurological and hormonal response that would make me feel better and become leaner!! Wow. This was the beginning for me! I realized that fitness, when executed correctly has a purpose and that my gym wandering days were over!!
8. I lift heavy weights because the rest of my life is a marathon. All day I’m running. Running after the kids, chasing the dogs who ran away again, picking up kids from school, taking them to the next thing, lugging groceries, playing soccer, tossing footballs, mopping floors, running through airports, chopping, cooking, washing clothes. It’s a daily freaking marathon. Lifting weights is my Zen. I have to concentrate, I have to be in my own body and present in that very moment. I get to sweat. I get to feel my heart beat, hold my breath, squat down low, stand up tall, hear the clank of metal on metal, grip tight to the bar, dig my feet into the ground. I get to be me, and have it BE all about me, even for only a short 30 minutes, I am working towards being able to continue this crazy life that is my marathon, so why go to the gym to run MORE. I would much rather lift weights.
9. I worry less. I used to worry about working out, how I would fit it in, and if I didn’t work out everyday, I wouldn’t be burning the right amount of calories to stay in whatever might have been my current size of jeans. I would start a program, like a boot camp I once did, and I would see some results, and then the boot camp would end, and I would worry. What do I do now??? I don’t know WHAT to do, and I would watch those results disappear out the window. Now, I worry less because of reason #7. I know what to do! I can go on vacation and NOT work out for a week or two and NOT WORRY because I know what to do when I come home and I understand that it’s not calories in and calories out but eating smart and exercising smart. It’s liberating and let’s be honest, we all need one less thing to worry about.
10. I lift weights because I love myself and I love my body. And not in a “check me out sort of way.” I love myself and I love my body because for the first time in my life I’m comfortable in the skin that I’m in. I am capable. I am not longer afraid. I am ok. I no longer look in the mirror and cry and fret over what I see, not because I see perfection looking back at me (because that will never happen and that’s ok because perfection is an illusion in our minds thanks to the above mentioned Hollywood trainers) but because I finally see health looking back at me. I lift weights because it’s part of my long – life plan, not my squeeze my hind end into a bikini plan. I have my head screwed on straight for the first time ever and that makes me happy. I no longer dream of perfect thighs, but instead I dream of all the wonderful adventures that life has in store for me because I am finally capable of really living.
Thanks dear readers for continuing to follow Everyday Paleo and for letting me share my life and journey with you. I love this little blog and although it’s changed and grown over the years, my heart is always here and I hope to continue to make Everyday Paleo as informative, fun and as useful as possible for folks and families striving to live a paleo lifestyle.