weight liftingA couple of years ago I decided it was time to get in shape. I had a class reunion coming up and some other events wherein I would be seeing some people from my past and I wanted to look really good.

I hired a personal trainer (she is now a really good friend) and started strength training 3 days a week with cardio on the other days.

In the beginning I was really concerned about bulking up…after all, I did not want to look like a body builder, but my trainer assured me that that would not happen. I also knew that lifting weights was a preventative measure for osteoporosis and since that runs in my family, that was another reason why I wanted to start with some serious strength training.

After about a month, my trainer started to make comments about the changes she was seeing in my body. The definition in my arms, the slimming of my waist and the rise in my endurance. Of course, that only motivated me more. I was so excited. After about 3 months of this rigorous routine, cutting out all carbs and sugar after 12 pm, and supplementing with extra protein and vitamins, I had lost 20 lbs, and looked better than I ever did before! It was an amazing transformation to say the least.

As it turns out, my physical results are not the only thing that changed in my life. In fact, Michael Hyatt talks about 5 powerful reasons to add strength training to any workout and even though I was not striving to meet these goals in the beginning, they were added benefits that I would never want to miss in my quest for healthy living.

  1. Metabolism – I don’t think of myself as old but the truth is I am getting there. My metabolism has slowed down and I can no longer justify the candy and sweets I love to have whenever the craving hits. Adding muscle allowed my body to burn more calories and burn them for a longer period of time. Reuters reports, “unlike cardio activity, strength training will continue to burn calories up to 72 hours after the exercise is over through a phenomenon called after-burn.” It really did work!
  2. Weight Loss – As I mentioned, I did lose about 20 lbs. At first, though, I did see a gain and that was discouraging. But muscle weighs more than fat so as the muscle was built, the fat burned off. It took a while but patience paid off. And I was eating right and avoiding junk so that helped too.
  3. Bones – After the age of 40, women especially start to lose bone density. I know women who have literally lost 4-5 inches in height due to bone loss. I did not want that to happen to me, so that was another reason to start lifting.
  4. Mental Focus – Michael Hyatt talks about how strength training “improves memory, and several studies show that it helps with executive function, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and more”. At my age, anything that helps with my memory is a plus but the fact that it helped with anxiety and executive function were benefits I did not see coming.
  5. Emotions – During all this working out, I had some drama going on in my life. The interesting thing is, I actually was able to handle those “things” better than usual. I was not as quick to get angry and I was able to process solutions at reasonable pace as opposed to reacting quickly. Feeling good physically and mentally gave me the mental strength to handle my emotions much more constructively. The psychological health benefits were amazing.

24 Gramsof ProteinNow that Spring is here, and I’ve gained a few over the winter, I am gearing up to start back in to my strength training routine. I’m adding protein shakes to replace those more unhealthy meals, increasing my water intake and supplementing with vitamins to make sure I get all the nutrients I need.

I don’t really have anything coming up that I want to look good for, but now that I have experienced the benefits of what strength training can do for me, I definitely know what I’m missing when I’m not doing it.