Do you identify with any of these statements?
- Weight loss isn’t as important to me as being stronger, leaner and generally more fit.
- As I grow older, I’m not gaining weight as much as I just seem to be getting lumpy. My clothes don’t fit right anymore.
- I’d love to walk up a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing.
- What an accomplishment to lift my luggage into the overhead compartment of an airplane!
There’s a common answer to these desires: Strength (resistance) training. Unfortunately, it’s a jungle out there. There are so many conflicting ideas about what it takes to get fit and stay strong that the average woman doesn’t know where to begin.
Start with these ideas from Green Mountain at Fox Run:
- Think before you pump. Spend time considering how to set yourself up for success. Can you design your own strength training program just by reading a book or following a video, then stick with a schedule for doing it? Or would you do better in a class, or even with a personal trainer? Because the specifics of weight training can be tricky, work with a professional to learn how to do it right the first time out. After that, do what works for you.
- Do it to feel great – not to lose weight. Measuring success by the number of pounds we lose usually doesn’t work, no matter whether we’re trying to build muscles, eat well, manage stress or just take care of ourselves in general. There’s too much baggage attached to that number on the scale. What’s more, the inches we can lose by weight training makes the actual weight superfluous. And chances are if we’re successful at taking care of ourselves, our weights will normalize at a healthy weight for us.
- Mix it up to keep it interesting. Switch off using free weights and the machines at the gym, or skip the gym one day and do a Pilates video. Or experiment with a power yoga class. For a playful experience that can alleviate that sometimes ‘work-horse’ feeling, try strength training in the pool.
- Make your own activity pyramid. The real goal is total fitness. Strength is enhanced by cardiovascular (walking, hiking, biking, swimming, etc.) and flexibility (stretching, yoga) activities and vice versa. But our busy lives too often interfere. Formally scheduling these activities into our days can play a key role in actually doing them. And don’t forget about enjoyment. Learning to love physical activity (making it intrinsic exercise) is the best way to keep going.