Why Weight Training? Especially for Women 50+
Hello ladies, one of the best pieces of advice I can give you- especially when you begin weight training- is to stay OFF the bathroom scale!!!! Period!
I remember being naturally athletic growing up having more muscle mass than the average girl. I always weighed more that my friends who wore the same size clothes and no matter how hard I tried to “float” in water- I always sunk in the swimming pool. Later in life I realized it had more to do with my natural body composition….having more muscle and less body fat than the average gal my age.
….and as crazy as it sounds I actually complained because I had muscular legs, and didn’t like the “ripples” on my stomach…HELLO, that is called a flippin’ 6 pack-dumb-ass!!!!
Although I knew in my head that the scale was not an accurate indicator, I still bought into the scale as MY tool for gaging my weight. When I was 16 I went to Weight Watchers with my mother and took my 5’6” frame from a slightly plump 132 to a skinny 116….
I felt GREAT….but the problem is that was way too light a weight for my frame! How could anyone maintain that light of a weight and still have muscle???? My healthy weight at that stage of my life (which I finally realized) was 125 pounds- AND that was my set-point for decades!
Weight Training for Women Fast forward 10 + years…..
My friend, Larry, at the gym I belonged to, literally DRAGGED me off the aerobic floor one day and into the weight room. This was when very few females lifted weights. (Imagine the chalk debris on the floor of the weight room, hard rock and roll playing on the nearby boom box and men groaning as they lifted heavy weights beyond good form!) I am forever grateful to my friend Larry, for seeking me out as it literally was one of those times in my life when it altered my PATH on so many levels.
By looking at my “build” and knowing my commitment to fitness- this random friend Larry- who was really more into power lifting and an arm wrestle champion, thought I owed it to myself to be introduced to weight training. He was right! I remember as I began to get stronger I thought how much this would have helped me in my high school sports or intramural sports in college.
I loved my new strength….I felt empowered…it became a time for ME, as a young mom with two young children, when nothing could steal my alone fitness time …or come between me in the weight room. However…..and here is the KICKER, I was stoked by my new strong and contoured body….but I was not happy with the number on the scale- with weight training my weight went UP…crap! BUT the size of my clothes went down. Now that was interesting and so cool…………….
My new passion for fitness and strength led me to getting a job at this gym (the Olympiad) – as a membership director. I was on fire, unstoppable and I could easily transfer my love and excitement for exercise to all men and women whom I met who were looking for a gym to workout at. Because of this my sales easily exceeded the full time sales people…and I only worked 3x week. I had two young children at home, worked part time….but I found a niche in my life that brought me JOY and gave me strength and power. I shared/sold the love…and people got inspired and they joined the gym!
At age 29 I was in pretty good shape- leaner by appearance -but heavier by the scale…and I wanted a challenge in my life…something JUST FOR ME. I had seen many other women with less favorable genetics enter body building shows and totally transform their bodies within 3-6 months and I wanted to see if I could handle such a challenge!!!!! Larry thought I could!
So at age 29, with only 12 weeks before the next Vermont State Body Building competition AND for my 30th birthday (3rd decade challenge) I decided to challenge myself and entered the state wide Body Building Contest put on by Gold’s Gym.
This was all about me- not to impress anyone and to only challenge myself. I told few people….I mean I told my husband at the time and he was NOT a happy camper (but that is another story!) I told my brother for “big brother support” but never told my parents or other friends and trained with intensity on my own. I loved the challenge! No one could steal MY time away from doing something for me!
Weight Training and Diet
My workouts didn’t change drastically but my DIET did….and so did the intensity of how I did my workouts. Nothing would come in between me and my goal. At age 30, with two young children….I entered my first (and only/last!) body building show and get this….I WON!!!!!!
This experience set the stage for a healthy attitude about body composition, the benefit of muscle for health, body contour and also a healthy metabolism…but also to be honest- it did mess up my head for many years as compared my body and parts of my life to the insane low body composition of 8.5%. Not only was it unrealistic to maintain- but unhealthy to have and I stopped my menstrual cycle for well over a year!
Now the good thing: I love goal setting. As a result of this event in my life, I enjoy challenging myself with big goals. I enjoy assisting others- ESPECIALLY women- in understanding the BENEFIT of weight training for fitness and a healthy metabolism. What I don’t like is that in our society we STILL use the G.D. bathroom scale to measure our “success”. I still do- and WHEN I do, and the numbers on the scale are not favorable, it is a struggle to keep my composure and be OKAY with the number.
So here is the point of this “message” from me on 2/7/2013….- which was prompted by a personal training session with two women in their 50’s today……….
If you truly want long term success with a healthy metabolism and also a healthy body “size” you must change your perceptions and buy into several things:
1) You MUST embrace weight training (also known as “resistant training”!) Period. (For a great book check out my favorite “Body for Life for Women” that I recommend to all my clients and female friends. Dr. Pamela Peake takes the principles of “Body for Life” by Bill Phillips and puts it into a great book, understanding weight training for women in all decades of their life and our nutritional needs! If you do not keep your lean muscle- yes, you may lose weight but your body composition will be much higher FAT vs. MUSCLE than you would like…and that is not pretty!
2) You must understand AND accept that we all lose muscle as we age…both men and women. If we don’t replace OR add muscle, we WILL have a slower metabolism and gain body FAT……
3) You MUST eat healthy foods…steering away from packaged foods and eating as close to mother nature as possible
4) You will do best to embrace measuring your success by the way your clothes fit, rather than by what the scale says. I suggest “TESTER Clothes” (how clothes feel) – as well as using a measuring tape, or by measuring your body composition with several methods available…. And yes, if you have to…..because there is no other method to gage your success or body…. by the G.D. Scale)!
5) Understand that a pound of MUSCLE weighs the same as a pound of FAT….likewise a pound of potatoes also weighs a pound! A pound of anything IS a pound! The difference is a pound of FAT takes up as much as 5x more. SPACE as a pound of muscle
So….my message here and now is no matter where you are at- toss the bathroom scale, begin working out with weights (more on this in my next “blog”) add muscle, get stronger with more muscle and in SPIRIT and transform your life! My passion is sharing what I have learned over the decades and am happy to direct you to many areas that may support your new goals. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I am always happy to serve! As I do, on this topic, I get reminded myself and my life improves. So contact me.
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