Before I discovered weightlifting in college, I always felt a little bit lost when it came to fitness and working out. Back then, I was a mediocre cross-country runner dying to be a really good cross-country runner. But I was pretty good at throwing the shot put.
I started lifting weights for real in college (and by “for real” I mean actual barbell weights and not 3×15 reps of 10lb bicep curls) as training for my shot putting. We had this awesomely old-school football coach that took the female throwers (all three of us) up to the weird old football gym–think not renovated since 1950–to teach us how to deadlift, squat and power clean.
Back then, I used to squat 90lbs, and power clean with my elbows. Now I lift in my basement and at a fantastic Crossfit gym.
Weightlifting has taught me a lot of things–I sometimes feel like I wouldn’t be me without it. Yes, I realize this makes me sound crazypants, but on some levels, it’s true.
Heavy weights have taught me…
To embrace my shape.
I say this a lot: when I was younger, I always felt a little out of place because of the way I’m shaped. I was a chubby kid that took ballet lessons 4 times a week and I wanted so badly to look like a ballerina. This desire permeated my brain through high school and college, causing me to diet like a crazy mofo. It wasn’t until I started lifting weights and really using my body that I began to appreciate my shape. My square-shaped body (broad shoulders and strong legs) is built nicely for squatting and snatching…and it makes me feel useful.
The importance of meditating for stress relief.
One of the reasons I like lifting so much is the thought and technique that goes into it. It’s a lot like throwing the shot put: you think about a lot right before you step into the circle, and then, if you’ve broken every piece of the movement down in practice, you let go, and beautiful things happen. The process of breaking down a lift is meditative for me. It helps me feel relaxed and in control. I also keeps me in tune with my body because I have to feel every lift to know what I’m doing right and wrong.
Just like you usually can’t lose 1olbs in a week, you usually can’t add 10lbs to your one rep max in one week. I’ve been lifting for so long because I love setting goals and gradually improving. Weightlifting has taught me to be okay with things taking longer than I think. As long as I’m working hard, and being patient, I know that I will get stronger
To slow down.
There are some days when I load the bar too quickly and fail weights that I usually lift no problem. When this happens, I get mad and slam things around– I’ve been known to lift a 25lb bumper plate over my head and throw it at the ground as hard as I can. Then I remember to slow down. To take deep breaths and start fresh tomorrow learning from all of the slammings-around that happened the day before.
That I can do anything.
Lifting heavy things empowers me–I feel like I can do anything. If I can squat 1.5 times my body weight, then I can definitely give a nutrition talk to 35 people without throwing up from nerves. Lifting heavy things has made me strong–body and soul.